Monday, November 11, 2013

Being a Quitter

I've decided to not finish the Capture Your Grief photo challenge.  I had planned on just keeping at it until I finished it but I think I've just lost motivation. It is a lot of mental and emotional work to do those posts.  Maybe next year I'll finish the whole thing.

I've also decided to stop counting birthdays. Yup, I'm old enough to just stay the same forever now. 

That's it. That's all I have to say. I'm too tired to try any harder than that.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Capture Your Grief, Day 16,17, 18

Seasons

I found out I was expecting Landyn in early spring.  She was due in the winter but born in the summer. It is hard to say if one season is harder then another or holds more memories.  This last year has been reliving the year before. All of it has been remembering.  I'm not sure what the future holds as far as all that goes.  I can definitely see potential in the hot days of summer, the bright shining sun, bringing me back to those days. Time will tell.
Summer should be about fun...and mud.

Time

It has been 14 months exactly since she was born.  I didn't know today was the 25th until I started writing this so I suppose that is a good sign. The constant counting wears on me. Especially when my brain continues to count without me being aware of it.

Had she lived, Landyn would be 10 months old.
Her first birthday

Release

The caption for this one asked,  "What do you want to let go of on this journey of grief? Is it fear? Guilt? Worry? Deep sadness? Regrets?"

Um. Yes.  Seriously, what kind of question is that?  Who wants to live like this?

Wouldn't hurt my feelings at all if it would just all go.  But I kind of think that is impossible.  Over time I expect it all to slowly lesson, but not for an instant do I think I will ever be free from the emotions completely. 

If I could just let it all go.....

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Capture Your Grief, Day 14

Day 14, Family

 
 
I chose these two pictures to represent my family because "sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words".  This is what I see. We're un-perfect. My oldest being cranky.  My second oldest, the baby lover.  Our third boy just being himself. Our splash of pink. And a bald, squishy, slobbering 12 pound lump of wonderful.
 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Capture Your Grief, Day 11, 12, 13

Day 11, Triggers

Things that involve my whole family when I don't have my whole family. That gets me. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. 

Christmas cards that come with all of our names written out.  Every name but Landyn's.                    Of course I don't expect someone to put her name on it, but the fact that she is missing just stares back at me.

Picture day with the kids.

Even now, on our family vacation, it is just so obvious to me that she isn't here.
picture "borrowed" from bing

Day 12, Article

I've totally grabbed onto the meaning of "sorrows like sea billows roll". I understand what the writer of "It Is Well With My Soul" meant.  Often I would feel like I was drowning and other times like I was treading water but slowly losing energy.  Now is more like standing in water up to my neck.  There is solid ground under my feet.  Occasionally I have to hop over a little wave and there still are those giant waves that just take my feet out from under me and roll me around while I try to figure out which way is up. And even less often, but still does happen, the tide comes in and I'm back to the endless treading of water just to stay alive. 

So when one of the ladies in my support group wrote the article below I loved the symbolism and how I could relate.

click here



Day 13, Book

Easy.  No contest. The Bible.

Without the words, the comfort, or the promises I would have nothing. No hope. No future.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Capture Your Grief, Day 10

Day 10, Beliefs.

I wrote this post. Then I let it sit a few days. Then I reread it and deleted it. I'm still unsure exactly what I want to say.  I know exactly what I believe; I'm just not sure how to go about writing it all out.  I believe the Bible. All of it. I don't just believe God and Heaven exist; I have a relationship with God himself.  I believe my Landyn is there right now.  While there is no verse that says outright babies will be in Heaven I believe it to be true for several reasons....

 1.When King David (2 Samuel 12) lost his infant son he says, "I will go to him, but he will not return to me."  Knowing what we know about David I'd say he was expecting to see his child in Heaven. 

2. It just goes against what we know about God and his kind nature to not think he'd provide for babies also.

3. I have peace about it.  As a matter of fact, it is the sole reason I'm making it through this. There are times when I have to talk myself out of absolute insanity. I remind myself my daughter is there, I'll see her again, she is well and happy, everything she needs is there, she is cared for, and there is nothing here that compares with where she is.

I also believe I'm going to Heaven. You see, this extends much further then peace that my baby is safe and well.....I KNOW I'll be with her again.  I believe that God sent his son, Jesus to this earth as a baby. Jesus died on a cross and stood in for my punishment. I can, AND WILL, go to heaven because my sin is no more.   

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life."

"For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God."

"For the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

"IF you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved."

"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourself, it is the gift of God, not as a result of works, so that no one may boast."

Translation....God loves world, world sins, God sends Son, Son dies, accept gift, believe, LIVE.
It really is THAT simple.

My Landyn isn't dead.  She's not here...her earthly body certainly didn't serve her long, but the part of her that I want to get to know, that I love, still lives. 






 
     

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Capture Your Grief, Day 8 and 9

Day 8, Color.

Purple. Light purple.  I guess because that is the color of the blanket I bought to cover the casket. The very same blanket I snuggle with and cry on. It's hers. When I think of a color for her it is definitely a light purple. 

Day 9, Music.

There have been several songs that I've played over and over. Every time they make me cry.  My go to song. 

Picture above is "stolen".  Random photo from a search for storm pictures.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Capture Your Grief, Day 6 and 7

Ritual, Day 6

Being that she's been gone only a little over a year there  hasn't been time to develop rituals.  Keeping her grave neat and pretty has been very important to me. Last year we "decorated" for each different season. Pumpkins and mums in the fall, a tree for Christmas, pinwheels for spring, balloons and butterflies for her birthday. I already have her pumpkin for this year. I'm hoping to carve or draw a butterfly on it. We also got her a tiny tree at home for Christmas, and each year I'd like to add a special ornament.  We go the hospital's ceremony in May and the balloon release in October. We also had a family day on her birthday, went to the zoo. Really it was more for the sake of not sitting around being miserable, but I'd like to make it a tradition to do something that day.  It's about including her in our family, speaking her name, keeping her memory going.

Last fall.

Christmas.


Just a few days ago at the balloon release. I wrote on my balloon, "For a know the plans I have for you..."




 
Day 7, You Now.

Where are you in your grief right now? How are you feeling? How far have you come? Are you wrestling with anything? Is your heart heavier or lighter now?

Wow. That's a lot of questions. A lot of questions that involve a lot of deep thinking.  Honestly, right now, I don't know. I'm certainly in a better place then I was last year at this point. I really think between Ian being born and school starting back up again, along with the rest of normal life I haven't really had time to think or really look too hard at where I am. I do wonder, with a smidge of fear, once life settles a little if I'll crash. I cringe at the thought of revisiting the depression. Nights have always been the hardest, well right now I'm either busy in the night, or exhausted and out cold. I'm trying not to think about what may come and just deal with what is.  I miss her. I miss her tons. The last week has been really hard for some reason. I finally pulled her blanket out and I've been sleeping with it under my pillow. Just having it there to run a hand over helps a little.  I'm glad to leave last year behind, but not to keen on going forward knowing it'll always hurt.  I'm definitely still trying to figure it all out.  I think often I look like I'm doing better then I really am.

Capture Your Grief, Day 5

Memory.

There are so few. I hate that. 
The day I took that positive pregnancy test.
The few early ultrasounds with her little heart beating and her arms and legs moving.
Listening to that heartbeat.
Knowing in my heart something was dreadfully wrong.
Crying in the shower that morning before the ultrasound, unsure exactly what was bothering me.
The blue sky.
Driving to the dr, telling God I knew she wasn't mine but asking Him to make her be ok.
The ultrasound. The circle of her head. Her tiny, unmoving body. No flickering heart.
The fear of unknown.
Her tiny, perfect little body.
The feel and smell of the flannel blanket she was wrapped in.
Her cold, little forehead where I placed the only kiss I gave her.
Tiny toes and fingers.
Watching a stranger take her away.
Tiny, white casket.
Walking away from the grave.


This was as big as I ever got. I'm pretty sure she died very close to when this was taken.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Capture Your Grief, Day 4

Legacy.

The caption beneath the subject for day 4 said, "Do you believe your child left a legacy behind?"  My daughter lived for only a few months, I never even knew her. But her short life, and I guess her death, has taught me so much. The first thing that came to my mind was Angel Blankets.  If I had thought of this idea on my own without losing a child I think I still would have done it well, but I know for certain I would not be able to do it with understanding.  Her leaving gave me  an inside view to a world many will never see.  I know the comfort that can come of having that blanket to snuggle with. I've sent out almost 300 blankets to individuals and hospitals. Sometimes it feels so small, I wish there was so much more I could do for the mommy's that hurt, but I know there is significance in making something special for their little angel and using that baby's name. It acknowledges that tiny life and the very real pain many people live with every day.  There are the times when I receive thank you cards or as messages through facebook, moms who name their baby after I reassure them it's not too late, women who joined support groups twenty or more years after their loss who have never truly talked it out and grieved, and see the pictures moms send back of the blanket they received and I feel myself telling Landyn, "Look what you've done."  The brief moments I was given with her and the emptiness I now feel gives me opportunities I never would have had otherwise.

I've also certainly been through a test with my relationship with God.  I'm happy to say I've clung to Him tightly the whole way...as a matter of fact He's carried me through most of it.  I'm glad I was never tempted to walk away. That's not to say I haven't questioned Him. I mean, why me? Why a baby that was wanted? Why a baby that would have been taken care of and loved?  There really isn't an answer, the only thing I can do is take what's been put before me...Angel Blankets and literally hundreds of women and the chance to do my best to be a friend, to listen, to support, to remember tiny angels. Yes, I'd say she left me with something, something that hurts when I really think about what I'm doing...but something that also gives back to me and gives me something to do with the hurt I still feel.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Capture Your Grief, Day 2 and 3

Day 2, Identity.

We named her Landyn Alana Mullaney. Pretty, isn't it?  Our first 4 children's names start with J,K, M, and N.  Not in that order...and no, we didn't do that on purpose. But, I knew if we had another one we needed an L name to complete the sequence. Landyn was my first choice for a girl (which I totally stole from someone!) and Liam was our boy name. We ended up with Alana because it is Hawaiian and this baby was "supposed" to happen on our anniversary trip to Hawaii.  Of course, that didn't happen, but we enjoy a surprise baby too and kept the name anyway. Usually we have our baby names picked out once we know gender. This time, however, we did not know gender until she was born. We stayed with the name we had picked out ahead of time, though, because it was meant for her when we chose it.

She was 5 1/2 inches long, from the tip of my fingers to my wrist. She weighed only 2 1/2 ounces,  small for her length and age. Whether she had not been thriving and didn't gain correctly or was the correct size and began to lose the weight once she had died we'll never know. So small, but every tiny part of her was just perfect. She certainly had more growing to do, but you could easily tell she had the same nose as Kylee, 3 knuckles on each finger, and the tiniest toes. She was beautiful.

Day 3, Myths

This one is supposed to be myths about grief. There certainly are a LOT. This one came to mind right away. "At least you have other children" "You can always have more" "Now that you've had a new baby you can move on"  HA!  Each one of my children is unique and loved for themselves. I don't love my children as a group and think that as long as I have a few everything will be ok. I also did not give birth to Ian and gain the ability to skip happily along. No, I want ALL my kids with me. Every last one of them is wanted and loved. No one replaces another.

I see this and I see who is there and who is missing.  We aren't complete...

 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Photo Challenge, Project Heal

So I came across a neat idea for the month of October, which is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month. It is CarlyMarie's Project Heal, Capture Your Grief 2013. A different photo for each day, each working through different aspects of grief and healing after child loss. You can find the page here.  With life being as crazy as it is I don't know that I'll be able to do one for each day and I certainly won't be able to make a separate blog post for each. I may even be a rebel and do them out of order.  Let's get started..

Day 1, Sunrise

When I saw this I was glad the last few days had been very foggy mornings. I feel like a foggy sunrise represents where I'm at. It's not all dark and scary any more, but neither does the sun shine brightly. My life feels like a fog, the light is out there and eventually it'll burn through that thick fog, but for now I go forward carefully.  Of course, the next morning there was absolutely NO fog and the sun was out and shining quite happily. Haha, oh well, took some pictures anyway. Oh, and the kids thought I was crazy as I ran around the front yard in my fleece pajama pants and bare feet.  =D

I liked the way the sun reflected off the dew

Monday, September 23, 2013

Every Day Life. Ready? Go.

Over the last year my blog has become a diary of sorts. A place for me to sort through whirling thoughts and empty my head of chaos. It has been detailed and deep. Today, I don't feel like thinking. I don't feel like being intense. I don't feel like being deep. So how about regular life instead?

Fall is here. The air has a crispness to it. Something about how the air cools down in the evening hours that makes me want to put on my jammies and have a hot cup of something. I've been switching out summer and winter clothes. I should get a prize for the amount of clothing I've sorted through this week.

School is going well. This year is VERY busy for me. I'm so glad we followed through on sending Jake to kindergarten and not doing it at home.  With the two older boys I am very involved in just about everything they work on.  Part of it is trying to teach better, part of it is making up for last year, part of it is just the curriculum I chose. So far I feel pretty good about the year. BUT, the beginning is usually just review of the previous year so we'll see what happens from here. Kylee is enjoying her school time. This year I got her an actual curriculum. We are using the Letter of the Week from confessionsofahomeschooler.com.  I'm thinking of doing a review on it once we are a little further in.

I've been on a pinterest recipe kick lately. Figure I should DO something with all those recipes I like to pin. It's been nice to have something different and it seems to make menu planning easier. I'm thinking about trying to do some huge batches of pasta sauce and enchilada sauce and freezing them.  I have recently been cooking an occasional extra meal or extra coffee cake and freezing those too.  Trying to stay ahead of all these hungry people is quite the job.

Right now... I've got a quick version of scalloped potatoes with ham bubbling in the oven. Socks are waiting in the washing machine to be put in the dryer.  Four hampers of clean clothes are looking at me. The baby cant seem to sleep for more than a few minutes today. My daughter's hair looks like she hung it out of a car window....oh, that's right, we never even brushed it today.  My lips are chapped and I need to go clothes shopping. Yup, that about sums it up.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Questions

  When you've started this post a hundred time and can't come up with words, what then? What do you write when your child's first birthday has come and gone?   What do you write when that child spent that birthday in heaven and you had to figure out how to spend it without her?  How DO you have a birthday without the birthday person? Do you have a cake? Who will blow out the candles?  How can a mom plan for her baby's birthday by figuring out how to weigh down a balloon at the cemetery or which flowers to set by the headstone? Do you expect people to remember the date or should you remind them?  Do you feel hurt if most of the people you call family and friends have no idea of the date or the struggle you endured for weeks before?  Do you just excuse them because they really have no idea? How do you wrap your head around the fact that if she was here she'd be almost 8 months old? How do you make your head understand that instead you have a wonderful two month old? How can you have two babies you love so much within 10 months of each other? How can you not look into this new baby's eyes and just love every minute but at the same time feel your heart break in two because you never had that with the other? How can my most precious possessions on earth be 3 tiny sets of footprints, 2 pictures, and a blanket? How can I even be in this place, this place that people know exist but no one ever thinks they'll be?  How can I have formed wonderful friendships and bonds all with women who also ache for their little ones? How can I  feel safer sharing my heart with them then with most people I actually know? How can I honor my Landyn's life? By sending out the blankets?  By praying for and being friends with the moms in my support group? By being willing to listen to and talk with the hundreds of other angel moms I've come in contact with?  Is this why she died? Am I supposed to have a place among these women so I can understand enough to help in some way?  Can I really do this? Can I hurt and cry AND be a blessing to someone else? God, is this where you would have me? Am I doing it right? Are there even answers to any of this?


Happy birthday Landyn Alana. I love you and miss you more then words can describe.  
First birthday in heaven, 8/25/13

Monday, July 29, 2013

Birth Story, Gifts Given, and Lessons Learned

Jeremiah 29:11
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for hope and a future."

I'd been repeating this verses to myself for several weeks. Continually reminding myself that God knows what will be next and no matter what there is hope.  I can't tell you how many times I prayed for, begged really, God to break my water and start my labor in those last three weeks or so until my due date. And, then, my due date came and went. Under normal circumstances it is so disappointing to pass that date and not have a baby, but this time it seemed almost cruel. At one point there was a whisper in my head that God wasn't listening, and another time I asked Him why on earth would he make me continue to deal with the mental strain of having this baby inside when he was perfectly "cooked". Still the days ticked slowly by with me waiting for any sign that labor was actually starting. For weeks, I'd had every textbook sign that labor was coming and even a few times of casually watching the clock, but no real commitments from baby or my body that this was ever going to end. To say it was long and agonizing is a severe understatement.  The fears my mind would come up weighed me down and the constant battle of trying to push them aside was fatiguing. I just kept praying, "Please, God, let me keep this one. Let him be healthy."

On July 11, I went to the dr, who said there was progress from the visit before, we scheduled another appointment for the following Monday to set up an induction. I think at that point I pretty much gave up ever doing it on my own. Funny enough, even though it was frustrating it was also calming.  It is exhausting being on edge every second waiting for something to happen. 

July 15, a Monday, I kept waking up with contractions. I would fall right back to sleep but they were strong enough to disturb me each time. Finally, after about an hour and half of that I got up to see if changing positions would make a difference. From 5 am until 8 am I kept an eye on the clock and was starting to think this really could be it. Contractions were moving closer together, from every 12 minutes to every 8, and getting slightly stronger. I wasn't ready to fly off to the hospital yet but I was going to tell hubby not to leave for work just yet. Then, they stopped.  REALLY!?  At that point I felt my body had been changing and the baby had dropped. Sent hubby to work but made sure he would check his phone often. I thought for sure that afternoon or maybe overnight the real thing would happen.

I had a dr appointment that afternoon at 2 so hubby came home early to go with me. My mom had conveniently called up that morning and asked if I needed any help that day so I was able to leave all the kids at home.  Dr came in, measured my belly and said it was smaller....baby had dropped. Then she did the internal exam and was quite surprised to find I was dilated to 5 cm.  She said she was afraid to send me home like that being it was my 6th delivery and I was already half way there with no real labor.  She feared I would give birth in the car on the way to the hospital once things got started. So, she made arrangements to send me up to the hospital saying breaking my water and a little Pitocin and I'd deliver "like a bat out of hell". 

We quick ran home and grabbed my bags and headed to the hospital. Pretty convenient to have a baby sitter already in place!  We arrived around 4 and spent the next hour and half checking in, getting into a gown, peeing into cups, and getting IV's.  They started me on a slow drip of pictocin around 5:30.  When I say slow, I mean I got bored waiting for it to drip slow.  Well, it didn't really do anything. I had a few contractions here and there but I'd been doing that for weeks anyway.  They slowly turned it up, still nothing.  Just after 8:30 the dr came in to break my water and check my progress. Still at a 5...bummer.  She breaks the water and I decided to go ahead and get an epidural while I was still feeling pretty good....seriously, why be in pain if you don't have to?  They called the anesthesiologist and turned up my saline drip. I had to finish that bag before they'd put in the epidural. Well, it wasn't long and I was watching that bag, willing it to drain faster. Contractions coming every 2 minutes maybe (wasn't really thinking about timing them any more!) and turning painful quick. I was happy they weren't lasting long so it was still doable. I only had a handful of those and I was able to get the epidural. Putting that in only took 5-10 minutes and besides that first shot to numb you was nearly painless.  The anesthesiologist  asked if I was still feeling pain and I told her that the pain in  my belly and back was gone but there was a very sharp pain with a lot of pressure. The Dr was waiting in the hall so they had her come in to do a quick check. She lifts up the sheet and says, "Oh! I see the head!" Ryan, who was standing more towards the end of the bed trying to stay out of way said he saw the head too. I was pretty surprised. It had only been maybe 20 minutes since they broke my water and although I had been having more painful contractions there hadn't been that many and they hadn't been that bad. I do remember that I was feeling slightly dizzy and shaking with those last few contractions though, pretty sure I was going hitting transition then.  I told the Dr I didn't want any stitches so she said we'd just push nice and slow.  She said to give a little push and baby's head popped out half way. I got a "Whoa! We're having a baby!  That's enough pushing!"  The dr and nurses began quickly setting up for delivery. Not many minutes and only a few easy pushes later baby begins to yell before he is even fully delivered and then he's on my chest.  It's so hard to describe that moment. I don't think I completely realized how much I did not let myself hope to actually have a live baby. I didn't know that there would be shock similar to losing a baby. It just didn't seem real and several times through the night I would ask God to "Please don't let this be a dream."  I wasn't anticipating shock being my response. I had pictured joy, relief, even grief over never having had that moment with Landyn...but not shock. 

Baby was weighed (8lbs 12 oz!) and measured (20 inches) and finally wrapped up like a baby burrito and brought back to me.  The nurses and drs eventually trickled out and it was just me, hubby, and our little Ian.  I just looked at him for a moment and then I put my face against his and just sobbed. I don't even know what the tears were for...perhaps just a joint release of everything. I only allowed myself a few seconds of this and since then have had many similar small moments....15 months of build up to this delivery will not be able to be mentally sorted out all at once!  My parents and grandma came by a short time later even though it was now quite late, they stayed long enough to love on Ian for a couple minutes each. After that the nurse took Ian for his bath. I was surprised I was able to let him go without much thought. She came back to get me up for the bathroom. I'm pretty sure I probably shouldn't have been up yet as I wobbled to the bathroom and had a tiny bit of dizziness.  After that I was plopped in a wheelchair and moved to a "mother/baby" room. It was about 12:30 am at this point and baby was expected to be back from the nursery around 1 so I opted to just stay awake and wait for him. Ryan set up the chair-bed thingy and instantly fell asleep....labor must have worn him out. =P  When baby came back I had the nurse help me to the bathroom again, the previous nurse warned me not to get up alone since I had been a little unsteady before. This time went much better, though, and I even refused anything for pain as I wasn't really having any. Nurse left and I scooped up Ian. I just sat there, holding him, watching him breathe and sleep for the next three hours. It was quiet, it was just me and him; and I just soaked in every second of what I had waited and waited and waited for.

I prayed unceasingly that I would have a baby that was alive and God graciously answered. Ian means "God is gracious", Joseph means "God will add" and I knew whether my baby was alive or not both of those things would remain true but how happy we are that God answered in a way that makes our hearts rejoice. Funny enough, that was my single prayer through the pregnancy but God gave me so much more. My total labor time was 45 minutes and my delivery was very easy and I felt great after. There were no complications for either of us in the labor or delivery. My dr was smart enough to send me to the hospital instead of home. My water didn't break at home like with my 4 previous full term deliveries, that definitely would have added major drama! My hospital stay was not filled with flashbacks or grief. I was able to focus on what I had been given, not what I had lost. I have always wanted a thumb sucker and within minutes Ian had two little fingers in his mouth. Even though Ian's being here feels like I'm entering a new chapter in this grief process he has not in anyway filled Landyn's spot, even though he's here to hold my arms still ache for her...maybe it doesn't make sense but I'm glad the two events are separate. There are a bunch of other little things that were just added blessings....just because God could. Somehow those types of things always surprise me and this time is quite overwhelming.  I feel like my brain cant quite wrap around everything I've been given and somehow just being thankful doesn't seem enough. So many things I didn't even think to ask for myself....

Matthew 7:11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

And so, I'm greatly relieved to be done with that pregnancy. I am very ready to move on to this new chapter of my life. I don't think I so much learned something new as was strongly reminded how much I'm loved by my heavenly Father.  My mind feels clearer, my burden lighter, my heart full of love for this new person. Still one step at a time and sometimes going backwards instead of forward, but learning with each new day. God is good.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

More Fears

"Why are you STILL here?!"  This exasperated question comes from my 8 year old son first thing one morning.  Apparently his first stop in the  morning is to peak into my room to see if I've gone to have the baby yet.  My due date was two days ago so baby could....pleeeeeeease....come any second now. My children have been quite intrigued by this whole growing a human process. It's been 3 1/2 years since we've had a baby in the house so they don't really remember much of that and Landyn's pregnancy didn't really seem to register with them as I was just starting to really show when she died.  All of the kids call the baby by name and all like to feel and watch him bump around in there.  They've had a great time helping to set up and using dolls to try out the swing and car seat and other various baby gear.  They ask me daily, multiple times, when he is going to come.  They are eager to meet our new baby and love him already. I look at them and my heart just squeezes painfully as I ask God to please, please not hurt their little hearts by asking them to say goodbye to this baby they anticipate so much.  I've asked for myself and I fear my own pain in that circumstance but oh how I want to spare my kids.  This would be so much different for them than Landyn's death was. Last time their pain seemed to stem more from the family disturbance and my hurt, then from their own sense of loss. Then there wasn't a baby for them to feel move, they didn't see their mom growing bigger and bigger.  I want so much to guarantee for them that they will have this little baby to carry around and hug and eventually get annoyed with.  Life now is not what it ever has been in the past, I see everything through a different filter. These are not doubts in God's will but a very been there kind of understanding in what could happen.  "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Friday, July 5, 2013

What's Next?

Four days from now is my due date. This baby could literally be asked to be born any second now. I am very, very anxious for that moment and yet scared to death also. You see, even though I knew that people lost pregnancies, that they buried babies, I didn't really KNOW until I said goodbye to my own tiny, little angel. I am afraid of starting out this whole, horrible journey all over again, only this time magnified by twice the loss.  People say things like, "Well, everything is fine right?" and "Just trust God."  I'd like to tell those people that everything was perfect with Landyn, there were no warning signs. One appointment I heard her heart and the next I was told she had died. Life can be gone in a moment. There is no reason for me to think something will go wrong this time, but there is also no reason for me not to think that something COULD go wrong.  And as for the trusting part, well, no one can know how much I am trusting or not except myself. I happen to have full confidence that God will get me through anything....but that does not mean life will be all puppies and rainbows. Anyone who even suggests to me, or believes themselves, that trusting God means you'll skip through life without a tear is a shamefully ignorant person.  My fears do not lie with Ian's life, they lie with the deep, aching, unbearable pain that will follow loss for days and months and years. Once you've experienced it you certainly have no desire to start over.  I know he'll be fine no matter the outcome....but until I'm called home I have to deal with what I'm handed here. My anxiousness right now comes from wanting this baby out NOW. Being pregnant doesn't feel safe any more. It used to feel like the womb was the safest place but now I know that things can happen in there I can't see coming and I can't stop. I know God protects no matter the place but for my human sake I just want this baby out where I can hear him cry and feel his warm little body.  But I'm also scared, scared that I've made it this far and something will go wrong still. He's been an active little guy and I fear cord accidents, that one will happen before or even during birth. I almost hear the people questioning this but you have to understand that I have talked to hundreds of angel moms over the last few months and I have a very "eyes wide open" understanding of the things that happen.  I find myself fearing dumb things that have never crossed my mind before...having him out of my sight, going to sleep and not watching him, someone dropping him. It's silly I suppose but I can't help it, I just do my best to talk myself through it.  I haven't been excited, I won't let myself. I was surprised the other day to feel myself think, "Huh, I really might have a baby to take care of soon. Maybe I should be getting things ready."  That's not normal. Normal people at 4 days before their due date do not wonder if they will have a baby to put in those clothes, diapers, and various baby gear.  I really don't know which way my life will go from here.  But God has been reminding me that NO ONE does. There is no guarantee for anything on earth. Life is fragile. I'm working on the fear, I certainly don't enjoy it. But maybe knowing that things can go wrong and knowing my plans mean nothing is a good thing. I don't like not knowing what may come around the next corner but I know I can trust in Someone who does. As I find myself increasingly annoyed with people and careless comments of how I should feel or think, perhaps I should consider myself lucky in the lessons I've learned.  So, for know, I find myself waiting for what comes next. Will I have a little one to bring home and hug or will I be buying the headstone I've already designed in my mind?  I do know that I'm ready for THIS part to be over. I've been pregnant (with the exception of those few weeks in between) for over 14 months. Physically, my body is tired. Emotionally, I've never done anything this difficult, grieving one child while desperately hoping to get to keep this next one has not been a fun journey. I'm ready to move forward, to whatever is next. Praying God will answer my prayers MY way then immediately asking for peace no matter what He sends. " For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future"


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Verses

Heard some verses in church on Sunday (plus some I found on my own) that have had me thinking.  Landyn is never far from my mind and I'm always trying to figure out how to take that next step or just surviving where I'm am at the moment, so things like this stick in my head.  Heard these verses, have them memorized (mostly =) , but it sure is good when things like this are brought to your attention again.

James 1:2-4,12
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God promised to those who love him.

James 5:11
You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.

Romans 5:3-5
Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

Well, perseverance and persevere appear 6 times....that warrants a trip to the dictionary just to be sure I do actually know what it means.    I found...continued effort to do or achieve something, to persist, to carry on in spite of difficulty or opposition.  I like how the verses say rejoice while IN our sufferings. Not because of the circumstances, but during them. A "glass is half full" kind of deal...the good is there, you just need to look. But more than this, the story does not go "....and your baby died, and you were sad forever. The End."  Sure, she did die and I am certain the sadness will never completely leave, BUT there is MORE. After the testing, after the trial, after the suffering; you grow, you develop character, you gain hope, you become complete.  The verse about Job is interesting. Job lost everything. God did not do that to him. God let it happen, but He did not do it. Same thing? No...not really.  And after the trials were over God gave him so much more than he had.  God had compassion and mercy.  I look forward to this. I know it's not over, there is more. And IF I let it, it will be good. I so do not want Landyn's story to be that she died and her mother lost it forever. I want a happy ending for all of us....but I don't want to wait until I die for that...I want it to start now.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

....and counting.

Baby and I are at 30 weeks and 4 days. On Tuesday we switch over to single digits in our countdown until the due date.  Physically, I think this has been my easiest pregnancy. I didn't struggle too much with morning sickness (except I STILL gag over toothpaste!) and besides the normal pains and tiredness I don't really have any complaints.  Mentally and emotionally, however, I've never gone through anything like this that I actually volunteered for.  The beginning was...well...it's not something you can really put into words so well. Overwhelming, might be a poor attempt at putting a word there. After I passed week 20, which is when Landyn was born, I was able to relax considerably. It has been helpful that baby is very active...like crazy active. Sometimes I wonder if he's really that much more busy than my other babies were or is it that I am so in tune with everything he does, or doesn't do, that I notice more.

 Several weeks ago I went to a huge kid's consignment sale, one of my favorite days of the year. The sale has tons of baby stuff and there were a few things I needed. I wrote a list of what I was after, managed to get into the sale early, and shot right over to strollers. Picked out a stroller for a good price, got a bathtub, then wandered around to look for some things for the other kids.  After taking care of what I needed, I found myself looking at baby clothes for Jr. Ended up finding several outfits, some brand new, for a great price. Then it hit me. I was standing there next to the clothing rack with these hangers in my hands and I felt the panic. The panic that has your mind screaming, "But what if I don't get to keep him?!"  I wanted to just leave the stuff, all of it, and get in my car and go home. I had to actually talk myself into keeping the clothes, bringing it all to the register, and buying it.

After that I haven't done anything else in preparation.  There hasn't really been any need, time wise, so I just haven't thought about it. Yesterday, though, I started writing out a list of things I need to do before baby gets here. It's a long list.  Some of it, has nothing to do with having a baby, like finishing the spring cleaning and ordering next year's school books. It's on the list because I'd like to do it NOW before my mind is taken up with a new little person.  Other things on the list involve baby clothes and gear and shopping for random things he'll need.  I feel the panic. At some point I do actually need to be prepared to bring this baby home, but there is the fear of getting it all ready and not coming home with a baby. This is not a fear I can talk myself out of. Panic seems like such a wimpy word to describe what hits me when I let myself think about it. I shake, I can't breathe, I get an instant headache. The closer I get to the due date the more I feel this. Because if he was born right now more than likely he would be fine with a minimal hospital stay. I obviously want him to stay in as long as he needs to in order to be healthy, but I feel like I'm racing the clock. Every minute I wait seems an eternity. I want him out, I want to hear him scream and feel his warm little body.  I worry that the labor and delivery...just being a patient in the hospital...might send me into some kind of flashback. I just want it all over and I want to bring him home.

I laugh at the people that say it seems like my pregnancy has gone by fast. I've been counting minutes and seconds since I found out.  9 weeks and 3 days and counting.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Sleepless

It has been a while since lack of ability to sleep has had me sitting on the couch typing. I guess that's good. I had three weeks that I really felt good. I mean that fairly loosely....good meaning I could function and didn't feel that dark cloud lingering over me, in that time there was definitely still "moments". Three weeks, that's it. The past 5 or 6 since then have been a steady, slow decline. Don't know if it's just part of the normal ups and downs of grief or if it's that plus a healthy dose of pregnancy hormones. Either way I hate the feeling of slowly sinking.  Probably it doesn't help that the further I get from Landyn's birth the more I expect of myself and the less time I give myself to deal with whatever it is that I happen to be feeling. It builds up and I crash hard. What are my alternatives though? I have a family of 6 that needs me to function reasonably well. My day to day life is packed full. Sure, there is almost daily a time where Landyn is in my thoughts or I wipe a tear or two away but that isn't the same as letting myself think and feel and really acknowledge all this crap that bounces around in my head.  I miss her. Words can't even explain how much I want her here, how I long to just hold her.  I feel like part of me is missing and rest is just trying to survive.  I feel fake...often. I can pull myself together, go out, smile, say the right things, and not mean a single second of it. But I have to...it's what people expect, or at least what they are most comfortable with.  I'm not lying when I say I just don't feel like I belong anywhere any more.  Home is the "safest" place and there certainly is plenty to do here.  I'm lonely, so lonely. Part of that is self inflicted. Because I don't feel like I fit right or I have to put on a smile for others it's just easier to stay at home. I've found the more lonely I feel the more I pull away from everyone. Ironic.  But, *I* am still trying to figure myself out and half the time I can't so I certainly don't want to put that on others.  Overall I see improvement in myself but these specific moments when it all just becomes too hard to deal with...well, I wish they'd just stop.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Blankets

I find myself occasionally asking, "God, couldn't there have been another way?"  Because my Landyn went to heaven my eyes have been opened to a huge need and opportunity.  I learned to crochet with the intention of making a few blankets to donate to the hospital in time for Landyn's due date.  Never would I have imagined where this would go. A simple idea now a huge part of my every day life.  The first two months that I donated blankets I sent out 78. Over the last week I have received more than 50 requests for blankets.  The request idea kind of popped into my head after I offered to make one specifically for a mom I had been emailing. I hadn't decided yet if I would even do it, not knowing if I could afford it or have the time, and I got the first message on my Angel Blankets facebook page asking if I only donated to hospitals or did I make them for individuals. I knew I no longer had to decide. How could I possibly tell a mother I wouldn't give her that tiny bit of support.  To say the idea has exploded is no joke. I hate there is a need...but I love that there is something I can do.  Every time the requests take a jump so does the money, yarn, and blankets donated.  I feel, so clearly, God not only asking me to do this, but making it very easy.  The moms are so thankful. All they want is someone to acknowledge their pain and their baby. I can do that simply by making a little blanket.  I can't make it better, they know that, I know that. But, just to have something to hold on to when that ache in arms comes, just to have someone say your child's name. I know how important it is to me.  See, most people stay very far from the subject of our little angels, they don't want to hurt us by bringing it up. You know what? We are hurt by the silence.  Yes, we are deeply hurt by the loss...but pretending it never happened does not make us better.  We love our babies. We carried them in our bodies, now we carry them in our hearts.  Not only do I make blankets but I'm praying for these moms, I talk to them, I use their baby's names.  I can because I know and I share the same pain and frustration. When I ask if there could have been another way I don't know if it's my own logic or the voice of God himself that softly whispers, "No."

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Rambling Thoughts, A little of this, a little of that

Seems like time gets longer and longer in between blog posts. There is a lack of ability to put my thoughts into words that make sense. I also fear people getting tired of my continually writing about confusion and sadness.

Lately I've felt a lack of belonging. Well, maybe not just lately, but I guess I thought some of that would be gone by now.  I feel that I am only truly accepted, understood, and able to really be honest among other angel moms. It's starting to feel like I'm the  member of some secret underground cult. We pretend to be like everyone else, but when connected with each other we are able to talk about the things no one else can understand. How good it is to mention some struggle that would make "normal" people lift an eyebrow and not only not feel weird but to be reassured many others have had those exact same problems.  Some days I almost feel like I'm hiding, staying where it's safe amidst people who KNOW.

I have had great success with my Angel Blankets project. Here I thought I was making a one time donation and God has turned it into a full time deal.  I started my facebook page in December and since then have gained over 200 "likes" and sent out 83 blankets. Just recently I started taking special request orders and making blanket for specific angels and their moms. I let the moms choose a color if they have a preference and I try to make the blanket to the size of the baby. This idea has been met with a lot of thankfulness and enthusiasm. I received over 25 orders in just one weekend. Many mommas have nothing but empty arms and a broken heart and just want someone to acknowledge that their baby and grief is REAL. I've been overwhelmed at how I've seen God in this. I've tried to sit back, not stress, and just let Him work and right before I received those 25 orders He sent me a large monetary donation and a LOT of yarn. Then, I got quite a few inquiries of people wanting to make blankets and send them to me and even more money and yarn donations. It seems God wants me to do this...conveniently, my heart needs to.

Ian. What a long pregnancy this has been. I am at 27 weeks. It feels like years. There were only a few weeks in between Landyn and Ian's pregnancies, so basically I've been pregnant for a year this month. My body is tired. The worrying has gotten better. Now that Ian is bigger and I can feel him moving so well I am reassured often that he is ok. He moves a lot and for a 2lb peanut he can deliver quite the kick. Honestly this tells me more than any dr appointment. Not all the fear is gone though. I've found that when the sadness gets bigger so does the worrying. I don't think the fear will ever completely go away either. I have always been a fairly relaxed parent but I just don't know if I'll be able to deal with a baby in the same ways I always have. I think forward to delivery and finally getting him in my arms and I just panic over the thought of him leaving my room. I'm planning on asking for his bath and such to be done in the room. Not sure how they'll feel about that but I'm pretty sure when I wig out they'll cooperate. I've never had problems like that, I've actually always sent the baby to the nursery at night. Maybe by July I'll change my mind, but I don't think so.

Life is slowly heading towards a normal. I've been able to start functioning again. I can make grocery lists, cook dinner, do laundry, and do school with the kids. Some of you may not get that. It may seem odd to you that I couldn't do those things. Pretty much just dealing with myself mentally and emotionally has been about all that I could handle. It's nice to feel a sense of normal again, to feel that I can do the things my family needs me to do. It's not because the pain is gone, or even any less, its just that you figure out how to deal with it and accomplish life at the same time.

School is on the  home stretch. I'm glad. Our 4th quarter starts on monday. We have already started finishing curriculum and several more subjects will be finished in the next couple weeks. What then? Well, we do field trips, take hikes, go geocaching, and anything else that's fun and educational to finish off our required hours. I've already selected our curriculum for next year, the kids are not impressed. =]  But for now we are looking forward to summer and being a little lazy.

Today is kind of a slumpy day. Like I said, I've been more delicate. But, being that we're on break from school and my house is relatively clean I'm just taking the day to let myself be slumpy. So far I've done nothing but drink coffee and mess around on the computer. My 3 year old is still in her pjs. Oh well. I feel a book and a blanket afternoon coming.  Sometimes it's best to not push yourself, to not pretend, and just BE.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Why?

I honestly don't know if I'll be able to take what is in my head and type it in a way that makes sense to everyone else.  But, here's to trying....

I think in many bad situations most people look for a why. We want answers, we want reasons, we want to understand. Many of those people will be anxiously looking for what good will come of this bad thing. Kind of "If God closes a door, somewhere He opens a window".  I've been thinking on this a lot lately.  I think I'm just like anyone else. I want God to turn this huge sadness in my life into something wonderful. But then I think, even if He did, would it make me glad to have lost Landyn?  Would whatever this good thing is be so good that it cancels out the pain in my heart?

Let me tell you what I've seen happen.  Because Landyn died I have Ian. Because Landyn died I have a very personal view of the pain a mom goes through in this type of situation. Because Landyn died I started Angel Blankets so moms of angels will know someone, somewhere acknowledges their baby and their pain. Because Landyn died I've had to type out my swirling thoughts and others have gotten a glimpse of something they may never have thought of otherwise. Because Landyn died I've had others tell me of their own losses, some said they had never told anyone else, some had been pushed to "get over it" and had never really grieved, some are just alone and want another angel mom to cry with. Because Landyn died I've gotten a good look at where my trust lies.

These are all good things. But none of them take away the pain, the emptiness in my heart. You know what?  That's ok.  Every now and then I think, "God, couldn't you  have given me a passion for this WITHOUT my baby dying?"  Honestly, I think the answer is no.  True, God is God, and He certainly could have put awareness and sympathy in my heart. But would I be able to relate as well, would I be able to truly know the emptiness, the loneliness, the physical ache of your arms to hold your baby? No.

On the flip side of this, while all these things that are happening are good I DO NOT think that God took my baby's life so they could happen. Death exists. People get sick and die. Living and dying are a normal part of this world. Sure, God is God, He could have saved her, so in a way He allowed it to happen. But that all goes hand in hand with sin being in the world, the curse, and humans' free will. It's a bit complicated to think through, I suppose.  I really believe that these opportunities came to be by course of events through Landyn's death. I didn't have to take any of them. I certainly didn't have to choose to have another baby. Landyn was going to be our last. I could just let myself be angry, bitter, uncompassionate. I don't have to spend hours making blankets. I am not forced to share my inner most thoughts and pain for all to see. I don't have to talk with other moms and hurt for them.  I choose to do the best I can, to take those opportunities to make Landyn's death mean something. To not let the pain just be pain, but to teach me. To help others in small ways.  These different opportunities have come to be because I lost her, but I don't think they are the reason I lost her.

So that brings us back to the "why?".  In the first chapter of Habakkuk, Habakkuk is asking a big why and God responds with "For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe even if you were told."  You need to read the whole thing to understand that what is going on there is nothing like this situation but I think the same answer can be applied. If God was to answer me, if I shouted, "WHY?"  would I even be able to understand His answer? Would I even believe Him?  Would that answer be enough and make me feel all better?  Probably not. The things of Heaven just can't be understood here on earth and while we're here we deal with earthly thoughts and emotions. 

So maybe the question shouldn't be "Why?"  maybe the question should be, "What can I do with this?" It's one of my biggest prayers for myself. That I will take where I am and use it. It certainly isn't always easy. Actually, in many ways it comes with a lot of pain of it's own. Hearing that the hospital has used some of my blankets makes my heart hurt and brings back all kinds of emotions. I almost always cry while typing these posts. I hear other's stories and just ache for the pain I know they have. In many ways just shutting down and ignoring any of these opportunities would be a lot easier.  Easier, but useless.

So the next time you find yourself in a situation that has you asking, "Why?" remember that having that answer probably won't make you feel any better. Your energy might better be spent on asking yourself, "What can I do with this?"

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Angel Blankets

When I saw Landyn for the first time she was wrapped up in two blankets. The one directly around her was white with pink spots on one side and a light lime green on the other. There was lace around the edging. It was pretty and very girlie. The second blanket was laid over top of that and was yellow with little hearts and other designs. The pink one was a perfect fit for a tiny little baby and the other one had been folded some but was still tiny. I was so amazed the hospital had something just the right size for my girl that I asked the nurse where it came from. She said volunteers make them.

The day after Landyn was born I dragged myself out to Babies R Us...the very LAST place I felt like being... to look for the perfect blanket to put over the top of her casket. Even though others offered to go do it I wanted to do it myself. I wanted to pick out something special for my girl. Something that was pretty and just hers.  I found a super soft purple blanket with butterflies on the corner. I knew as soon as I saw it that was the one.

Her blankets have become some of my most treasured possessions. The one from the hospital I mostly keep in her memory box but the feel of it and the smell of it takes me back to those few precious moments I had with her. The purple one is my go to blanket when I miss her the most. I can't even count the number of nights I've slept with it tucked tightly in my arms and when the tears just need to flow I often go grab it. It helps to have SOMETHING, especially something that is hers, to hold. It helps to ease the ache in my empty arms.

And so, seeing how much those blankets meant to me I decided around Thanksgiving time that I was going to learn to crochet. I was going to make a donation of blankets to the hospital in time for Landyn's due date in January.  I wanted to be sure other angel babies had something special, made just for them and the right size for their here- to -soon bodies. I also wanted to be sure the moms had something to take home, something to hold.  My one time donation never happened. I can't just make one batch and feel like I've done something. Too many moms and too many angels.  I started what I am calling Angel Blankets.  For now I have only a facebook page, a few other interested people, and myself.  I am hoping to see this slowly grow until I have so many blankets I need to start making contacts in other hospitals. I want EVERY mom to have something to go home with.  I am looking for anyone who can make blankets; crocheted, knitted, sewed, or quilted. I am looking for people who aren't crafty to donate yarn  (or gift cards for the purchase of yarn), store bought blankets, or money towards shipping boxes.  Even if you can't help, trust me I know how hard time and money are to come by, you really CAN help by spreading the word. Tell your friends, tell your grandma who loves to knit, share my facebook page.

Anyone interested in more details can contact me either through facebook at www.facebook.com/babyangelblankets

or

through email at

beccabear48@yahoo.com  (please label subject accordingly so I dont delete!)


You can donate through paypal. I can send a box of approximately 25 small blankets for about $13. I can buy yarn for around $3.50 a small skein. There is a paypal button labeled on the top right side of my blog.
 


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Truth

So, I recently came to a conclusion. I've known it all along, but the words just finally came together in my head. I'm not going to heal. That's right, you read it right. This side of heaven there will be no complete healing. I will never reach a point of sighing and being glad I'm all better.  The best example might be thinking of an amputation.  You have to adjust, learn to do things different, you learn to function in spite of what you're missing. But, never, do you grow back what you're missing.  It's always gone.  In some ways this is freeing. I don't need to follow anyone else's schedule. I don't need to try to feel things I don't or can't. In other ways it's just another kick while down. There are days when I am so very, very tired of hurting and I just want it to stop. The pain does change over time, though. I've seen some of that already. It really is just an adjustment, finding how to be a different normal. February 25, was 6 months since Landyn was born. Just recently I've been able to slowly start getting my house, the kids school, and life back under some kind of control.  From the beginning there have been good days and bad days and very bad days. I think that will continue, but I believe the bad will, over time, not come quite as often. I think, as with body pain, you just get used to it in a way. You expect that hurt to always be there and it has less of a hold over you in time.  I've always felt slightly uncomfortable with people mentioning my "healing", it just took me some time to figure out why exactly it bothered me. Healing is a journey, a continuing, present tense. For this, there is no healed.

How anxiously I await the day God himself will wipe away my last tears and she'll be there and I can hug her and hug her. Sometimes I wonder if eternity will be long enough.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

My Valentine

We moved to this area the month before I turned 14. Shortly after, I met Ryan. He was in the same volunteer fire department as my dad. Pretty much, he was my dad's friend and I was nobody. I set my sights on him and the year and half of stalking began.  =]  In April of 1999 he came over to our house to hang out and things went from there. There wasn't much actual dating for a long time, he would just come over and hang out and we would do things with my sisters or cousins on the farm.  We weren't in any particular hurry, I was 16 and he was 18, but I knew he was the one.  We were together for over 8 months before we kissed and that was AFTER we both said we loved each other.  We got engaged over valentines day weekend my freshman year of college and were married in September 2002, a year and half or so later.  I gotta tell you, I got a good one.  There are so many things I could brag on but the first few that come to mind are: he works hard to give us what we need AND I get to stay home like I've always wanted to, he helps with the house without being asked, he doesn't "babysit" my kids he is their father, he can have the kids alone for days at a time and everyone has a blast and usually the house is cleaner then when I left it. In September we had our 10th wedding anniversary. April of this year will be 14 years that we've been together. We've never had a major fight, we've hardly had what could qualify as a minor fight. We been together for a long time and I not only have enjoyed every moment, I want it to stay that way forever. He's held my heart for a long time.

In August of last year, almost 6 months ago, we went to an ultrasound that told us our baby girl had died. My husband began to hold my heart in a whole new way.  In that room that day watching him with his head in his hands, knowing there was nothing I could do to fix it for him...there just aren't words to express the helplessness. He did not take many of those moments, though, soon my shock wore off and he was there helping me through my pain. He came right home with me that day, he made those phone calls I never could have made, made childcare arrangements. He was right beside me every moment in the hospital, I didn't get any breaks and he didn't take any for himself. In the days, weeks, and months that have followed he has been there even more, gone beyond what I would have asked of him.  I can't tell you how many times I've sought him out or he's just found me curled up somewhere sobbing and he just holds me. Since August I've lost count of how many times he has had to have sandwiches or toaster waffles for supper, or stop at the store on the way home to pick up a few things because grocery shopping was just too much for me to think about. He's picked up more take out then we've probably had our whole married life combined. He's done countless loads of laundry and dishes. He even took over the kids school work for a time because I just couldn't handle it. He does his work then comes home and does mine too. Never once has he complained or even acted impatient. He has never questioned my grief, my need for time, my inability to do even simple things. Never once has he even suggested I should be "geting over it".  He lost his daughter too and in some ways lost more then I did. He never heard her heartbeat, saw her move, or felt her kicks.  I hate that. Being the father every one asks him how I am doing. Not many people ask him about himself. I'm sure he sometimes feels inadequate to help me because he can't fix this, there is no making it better. But, he should know he's done all he could, and even more then he should have had too. There aren't words to express my appreciation, I'm not even sure that what I'm trying to get across is what is being typed. I do know that my feelings concerning him haven't changed though, he's mine, forever.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Soooo....what happened?

I figure there are people wondering what happened to Landyn.

The short version.
We don't know. We won't ever know anything for sure.

I'm sure that brings up questions of, "Well, why not? Especially these days with all the medical technology and knowledge. I mean, people don't just die for no reason!"  When she was born we were offered several options of testing. I decided to go ahead and send out the placenta and umbilical cord for testing. I decided against genetic testing and an autopsy. I knew from other's experiences that even these tests might not show anything conclusive and I was not comfortable with the idea. She was just so tiny, I didn't want anyone taking "just a sample of tissue".  From all appearances she was perfect. No knots in the cord. No visible placental issues. She, herself, was perfectly formed.  The pathology report done on the placenta and cord did show something, but no one knows quite what. It  showed signs of infection, but it is not unusual for infection to develop when that length of time goes by between the baby dying and birth. The placenta also showed signs of fragmentation, this could mean some separating of the placenta from the uterus, which certainly could cause death, or this once again could just be due to passing time.  There also was possible signs of a blood clot, which is why I was on blood thinners for several weeks and still take a low dose aspirin every day. So, really, even though the test results show something it's hard to know when exactly these things happened. Did one of these things cause her death or did they result from it?  Also, given the fact that I've had 4 normal, healthy babies this points more towards "one of those things".

So, that's the dr. tested side. Now for my theories.

What happened, the long version.

Being pregnant again so soon after losing Landyn has had one definite advantage. I can compare.  With Landyn I was having horrible headaches, so bad I was pushing the recommended daily doses of tylenol and still not feeling any better. I also was having very bad leg pains, mostly in my shins.  I actually thought this was my Lyme disease flaring up due to stress on my immune system from being pregnant. This seemed a logical explanation, but I remember thinking that my head hurt in a different spot and it was more my joints then actual bones with the lyme. I also can't believe the difference in movement between Landyn and Ian. I felt Landyn move early, at about 12 1/2 weeks. Just flutters, really, but I knew they were her. I can only think of 2, maybe 3, times I definitely felt her after that and that was in the earlier weeks too. I didn't really think too much of it until later weeks. That is pretty early to feel movement and when they are that small it's more of a wiggly sensation then actual kicking. Plus, it's hard to tell whether it's baby or just digestion and depending on if they are kicking in or out you can feel it more or less. Then, as the weeks went on I just never missed what I never had. Ian, on the other hand, I felt move for sure by 13 weeks and with the exception of a couple days here and there I feel him move several times a day. It really was eye opening to me, and very hard too, to feel his tiny kicks at 16 weeks, the same week Landyn died at. It really showed me how much was not right for her pregnancy. Now, that I've compared the two I really think she was sick...WE were sick.  Between the pain, headaches, and her lack of movement I can see now that something really was not right.  I'll never know for sure what we had, but it really doesn't take much to hurt them. Different mild infections and seemingly insignificant sicknesses for us can be super dangerous to a developing baby. Sometimes I wonder if I gave her something, she gave me something, or if we both just had it....but it was something. I don't feel guilt, I mean how could I possible put together a couple of "normal" things like leg pain and headaches and convince a dr my baby was in danger. But, I do just feel sad over the whole thing. I wonder if she felt badly or had pain. I hate that she was so tiny and had to go through something that eventually killed her. In some ways answers don't matter, they won't bring her back. On the other hand, how can I protect Ian from this unknown thing if I have no idea what it is!?  Even though this pregnancy has been super hard, I analyze every twinge, I know in my heart it's different.  From early on with Landyn I had this feeling, a feeling of something not being right. Really, more a feeling of something bad coming. At one point I wondered if we would be given a baby that wasn't "perfect".  As the weeks went on the bad feeling got stronger. I never seriously considered my baby would die, but I think until you've gone through something like that it's normal to NOT think that way. I felt it closing in on me, I knew, especially in those last weeks that something was horribly wrong. I cried the morning of my ultrasound, before I even knew, because I knew we would be given some kind of bad news that day. My body KNEW.  Landyn's birth weight was 2 1/2 ounces, Ian's estimated weight by ultrasound at the same gestational week was 5 ounces. I asked the dr about this and she said over time a baby that has died will sort of shrink. But, as I think on it more, to lose half your body weight would make you look shrunk...at least I would think. She didn't, she looked perfect. Makes me wonder if maybe she wasn't growing quite right in the those last few weeks. Once again, we'll never know.

And still, even with all  my comparing and wondering, I can't say for sure why she died. There is just no way to prove anything. So, the weeks are long with this pregnancy, the time between kicks sometimes very agonizing. I feel there is no safe zone. I won't truly breathe that sigh of relief until I'm handed a screaming baby. Until then, I do my best to trust, love them both, and miss her more then I can even say.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

A New Journey

I had my post partum checkup about 5 weeks after delivering Landyn. Everything checked out and the dr asked if we had thought about trying again at some point. I said yes. She cautiously asked when. I said, um, now?  She gave me the go ahead as soon as I felt ready. We decided instead of trying or not trying we would just live life and see what happened.  It took two weeks. Of course I didnt know it for a little longer but I was pregnant again just the same. By October 30, only 66 days after saying goodbye to Landyn, I knew I was pregnant. I find it interesting how my mind seems to have two parts, the part that is logical and knows what is true and the part that is completely illogical that I can't seem to not believe. Well, that illogical side was telling me that if I didn't take a pregnancy test, if I didn't know for SURE, then it wouldn't hurt so much if I lost the baby. It took another 3 days and a friend actually bringing me the test and standing outside the bathroom door saying, "Did you do it yet?  How about now? Can I come in yet?" for me to actually take it. Well, I didn't even get my hands washed before I had two lines. Pregnant. I was happy about it but really felt no joy. How could I? I now knew that a positive test no longer meant a baby to hold. We told our immediate family right away but I just couldnt spread the word further than that, untelling last time had been terrible.  I couldn't even bring myself to make a dr appointment for two weeks, that illogical voice in my head kept saying if I just don't go THERE they couldn't give me bad news.  I had my first check up at 8 weeks. The dr walked in and thankfully knew who I was and what I had been through without me having to explain everything. She asked if I was nervous and gave me a big hug when I immediately started crying.  She did a quick ultrasound and there was that beautiful, tiny flicker, a little heartbeat.  She told me for my own sake she would see me every 2 weeks and would do an ultrasound first thing until baby was big enough to get a heartbeat on dopplar without any messing around.  I was told I could come in any time I needed to hear the heartbeat. They have been very careful with my emotional state.  I knew that being pregnant again after losing Landyn would be hard, I was told it would be unlike any pregnancy before, I had heard you should wait until you are "emotionally ready".  I dont know that any amount of waiting could prepare me. To wonder every day if your baby is alive, to find yourself unconsciencely designing another headstone, to be so nervous before every appointment that you shake and your heartrate makes the nurses comment. This has been so very hard. I'm sure it didn't help having the two pregnancies so close together...but I don't know that waiting would have made much difference.  I felt like I was doing ok, normal for grieving anyway at first. But then between the grief itself, technically still being post partum, and the new wave of pregnancy hormones I tanked. I spent nearly two months with absolutely no desire to get out of bed. I probably wouldn't have if Kylee didn't come in and ask me to help her go potty. My bed felt safe and everything else felt overwhelming. When I did get up I sat around in my pajamas, I didn't want to shower, clean the house, do school with the kids, or leave the house. It was as if existing was the only thing I could handle and anything more was just too much.  I knew I wasn't quite right so I finally starting talking about it to Ryan, then one night I googled depression. I was actually surprised to find I had many of the symptoms. I thought depression would mean I would be sadder and crying more. Nope, I had just lost interest in everything.  I thought about calling the grief counselor from the hospital and the dr to ask for something to help. I think just putting a name to what was bothering me and the thought that help was right there if I felt I needed it made a huge difference. Ever so slowly I started getting good days. It's so hard to describe how different I felt, like a huge weight had been lifted, like the sun had finally come out from behind the clouds.  I really think it was mostly hormone induced and that makes me a little wary, like it might be lurking around some corner.  Now I'm back to "normal" with good days and bad days.  I spent most of those early weeks not able to really think about the baby. I mean I was eating well and taking my vitamins but I couldnt think past NOW. I couldn't think due date, when we would find out gender, or even what tomorrow would bring. It was just too overwhelming.  I had my first appointment with a high risk specialist at 13 weeks. She did an ultrasound to measure everything and  check baby out. Usually I get an ultrasound at the beginning to verify dates and one when baby is much bigger around 20 weeks. This time I could see all of baby at once. We checked and were pretty sure it was a boy. He was moving all over and even looked like he was sucking his thumb. I so enjoyed seeing him. That night however was a hard night for me. I feel like I became "emotionally pregnant" that day.  I just kept picturing that ultrasound and I think that is when the pregnancy really became real for me. He was perfect. I could see fingers, toes, facial features. I realized then how much I loved him and how much I had to lose. I felt so dumb so crying over having a perfect baby. It was right about that time I started feeling him move. Not much, but it was there. I had a small....ok, not so small...panic when I hadn't felt him move for about 5 days. I knew in my head that with just his size or the direction he was facing could make the movements harder for me to feel. Enter the illogical voice again.  It was not too long before Landyn's due date and my grandpa had just died, I think I was just overwhelmed. I called and asked for a heartbeat check. They would have gotten me in right away, but with a dr I didn't care for so I settled on an appt the next day.  Right away we picked up the heartbeat. The dr just let it go for a few minutes so I could just listen. She even wiped a tear from my face with her hand.  We are now to week 16, the very week the dr measured Landyn as dying at. We verified today this baby is a boy. His name is Ian, meaning God is gracious. And I truly believe that if I get this baby to hold and love and take home or only to kiss goodbye that God is GOOD. The dr measured him all over and he is right on schedule. He looks to weigh about 5 ozs. She checked the placenta and cervix and other then the placenta still being low everything is normal.  This whole pregnancy just FEELS different (more on that in the next post). These appointments are still hard. It's 1 am and here I sit, unable to sleep. I love seeing him and knowing he is ok but it hurts to know that is the exact size Landyn was and yet instead of moving all over she was dying. I want her, I want him, it's very complex and confusing sometimes....I wish I could have them both to hold.  It's so hard to put into the words what this all has been like. There is hurt and happiness at the same time.  The movement is getting easier to feel. I am amazed at how relaxed I get when I feel him move, it's the only time I know for sure he is ok.  July seems far.  I am ever so slowly feeling myself relax, letting myself get glimpses of what I hope is coming. Mostly, though, I just take one day at a time and am glad at the end of the day when I feel him move and know we made it through one more day.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Gramp

I didn't go and say goodbye. I couldn't. I was in and out of the hospital. I offered to bring food. I let exhausted family members nap in my bed because my house is closest to the hospital. They knew I cared. He knew I loved him. I didn't need to say goodbye.  Besides, I look at this as a very temporary thing. I know where he went and I fully plan to be there myself some day.

My pain and tears have been more for family then for myself. I hate to see them hurt. Even though the situations are nothing alike and you can't compare grief to grief I know all too well the pain of loss and the grief process.  I hope this makes me more sensitive and caring.

The calling hours were long. I couldn't believe at the end of the first hour it had only been ONE hour. It felt like 12.  But more than that I couldn't believe the people. SOOOOO many people came. Most of them didn't just come and run for the door, they STAYED.  We had a firemen's service the last hour.  I really wished I had counted them but there must have been 60 or more firemen in full dress uniform. Two by two they would pause in front of the casket and salute. These men weren't required to be there. They gave up their night, time with their families, shined their shoes, and went out into the cold to be a support to our family. 

The funeral was done very nicely.  I smiled more then fought tears.  The things that were said jogged precious memories and some brought laughter.  He was brought to the church and to the cemetary in the fire departmen's investigation truck. A unit he had served on for countless years.  As the casket was brought from the church there was a line of uniform firemen standing at attention.  The procession included another piece of fire equipment and multiple chief trucks, all with lights on.  All in a line we slowly drove past his house where a flag draped tractor sat in the front yard, down the road a bit, and past a line up of the farm's tractors with the giant cat loader holding an american flag from it's extended bucket.  Oh, the ache in my heart as we accompained him around the barn one last time. I'll admit, the tears flowed here. A massive flag hung between the two silos and flapped in the wind. Back out to the road and heading towards the cemetary we drove past the fire station he had been a member of for 50 years. The firehouse itself was decorated with the black and purple banners signifying a fallen member. The company's ladder truck was extended to the fullest with a flag flapping from the top. The engine was pulled out where we would drive right past, lights flashing, and two firemen stood at attention, one on either side of his fire gear.  As we drove the fire chiefs dropped out of line one by one to stop traffic at every intersection.

The grave side service was cold!  It was kept to the shorter side but was a wonderful way to wrap up the events from the previous days. Together as family and friends we stood huddled against the cold and said one final goodbye before his casket was lowered into the ground. I took a yellow rose and briefly touched the casket. It was a casual goodbye of sorts, more of a see you soon. 

Over those few days I heard him referred to in many ways. All true. He was a farmer, a hardworker, husband, father, good neighbor, advocate for farming, kind and patient, a jokester, the list went on and on.  But, for me, he was and always will be just Gramp.

Thank you so much to all of the extended family, fire family, friends, and aquaintances. I know first hand words are no good at a time like this. You did one better. You SHOWED your love. Everything from the line of tractors, to the fire department escort, to the farm themed flower arrangements. It was all perfect. A show of love and support.  We know he was loved, we know we are loved and that he is waiting and that's what will get  us through.