Monday, December 17, 2012

Light Slices Through The Darkness


My Mother-In-Law handed me the piece of paper that held the darkest of black ink. I never finished reading all the words. I read the names of myself and my husband and then the names of my sweet Emmy and Vivi. I sat it down and quickly walked outside - foolishly thinking I could run from the reality.

The reality that I would never see their names on a report card, an invite to one of their birthday parties, a graduation announcement or on their wedding invitations hit me with great force.

I would see their names in the darkest of inks in the section of a newspaper no parent ever wants to see their children's names and I would see their names carved in stone.

There are some realities that are just too real to accept.

And so, I say their names often, in the middle of a conversation, in prayer, in talking to my children about their sisters. I write their names as often as I can here and other places.

They are so much more than black ink and cold stone. 

Twenty children died the other day. Seven innocent women died along with them. Some of those women were kids themselves, just beginning their lives. Those women were daughters, sisters, mothers and wives.

Twenty-seven innocent people died at the hands of evil.

I can't wrap my head around it.

There is a lot I can't wrap my head around anymore.

They deserve to be honored. Their families that are left in the wreckage deserve for them to be honored.

Their names will be bleeding in that black ink and carved in hard stone.

Sadly, to me, their names are also linked to that horrific event that took place on a Friday morning.

They are so much more than that. 

Whose name will be uttered more in the media? The names of those innocent twenty-seven? Or the name that will sadly be remembered longer?

Their names will be linked to a horrific event and their names will be uttered along with agendas and policies as a way to defend someones stance.

It angers me. Unless the parents, spouses, or children of those twenty-seven choose to connect their loved ones names with such a stance, we, the general public, should not. We should not take it upon ourselves to use their names as a way to add weight to what we believe to be "right".

They are so much more than that.

Each one of those twenty-seven innocent were anxiously awaited for. Their parents watched them take their first breath. There was joy and excitement over first words and first steps. They were held in the middle of the night through bad dreams and illness. They were pushed on swings as their parents delighted in laughter that filled their worlds. Tears rolled down the cheeks of those parents as they watched their child march into school for the first time.

For six more, there were middle school dances, first dates, proms and high school graduations. More tears rolling down the cheeks of those parents as they dropped them off at college. There were college graduations. There were first loves to wedding days. And for some, there were babies.

I want them to be remembered for the people that they were and the people they wanted to become. I want their parents and loved ones to have that freedom.

I pray that the ones left behind are given the space and the freedom to grieve in their own ways.

I pray that the media leaves them alone.

These individuals were living their lives. They didn't ask for this. They didn't ask for their loved ones to be ripped from their lives and then be sensationalized.

They are so much more than that.

The reality for them is that their loved ones names will bleed black ink on a newspaper page, be carved in black stone and also be connected to the shooters and yet another school shooting.

How do you wrap your head around that?

The innocent twenty-seven deserve to be honored. I want to honor each individual. I was reading another blog yesterday where I found the way in which I will do it. For the next twenty-seven nights, from 8:30 pm to 8:40 pm, I will light a candle and remember and pray for one of the innocent each night. I will write their names down on a sheet paper and place it next to the lit candle.

Here are the names along with some words to help us know who they were if you choose to join me.

Charlotte Bacon 6                                            
Daniel Barden 7                                              
Rachel D'Avino 29                                            
Olivia Engel 6                                                  
Josephine Gay 7                                              
Ana Marquez-Greene 6                                    
Dylan Hockley 6                                              
Dawn Hochsprung 47                                    
Madeleine F. Hsu 6                                          
Catherine V. Hubbard 6
Chase Kowalski 7
Jesse Lewis 6
James Mattioli 6
Grace McDonnell 7
Anne Marie Murphy 52
Emilie Parker 6
Jack Pinto 6
Noah Pozner 6
Caroline Previdi 6
Jessica Rekos 6
Avielle Richman 6
Lauren Rousseau 30
Mary Sherlach 56
Victoria Soto 27
Benjamin Wheeler 6
Allison N. Wyatt 6
Nancy Lanza 52














Stephanie

Friday, December 14, 2012

Another Ordinary Day

Inhale.

Exhale.

The heart pumps with each contraction.

I've been there. I may not have been standing outside a school waiting . . . hoping . . . praying that my child would walk out but I have been there. I have been there waiting . . . hoping . . . praying that the unimaginable outcome would not become real.

For twenty-seven families today, their hearts are left bleeding heavy.

Why . . .

How . . .

What if . . .

If only . . .

Just another ordinary day with half eaten breakfasts, shuffling to find that other sock, making sure teeth are brushed, grabbing backpacks and counting down the days left until Christmas break. Just another ordinary day that turned itself inside out and became extraordinary. Extraordinarily awful. Extraordinarily horrible. Extraordinarily unexplainable. Extraordinarily painful.

So many want answers. So many want something to be done.

Answers will come and things will get accomplished.

But for those left in the wake of all this . . . those that have had their normal lives destroyed in a flash, the answers will sit empty. Never satisfying. Never truly answering the questions that don't make sense. The things that will be achieved will not be good enough because all the works and deeds will not be able to accomplish the one thing . . . the only thing they desperately want . . . that of their child walking out of that school and wrapping still growing arms around their parents neck.

How do you explain something that defies any realities?

How do you accept that you can't turn back the clock?

How do you learn to live a life that was a part of your worst nightmares? 

How do you learn to live again?

Inhale.

Exhale.

May the heart pump with each painful contraction.








Stephanie





Friday, November 30, 2012

An Overflowing Breaking Heart

I have been busy - having a new baby will do that. It's left me with little time to do much else. I'm not complaining. I'm trying to enjoy every second. Even those where I need toothpicks to hold up heavy eyes and those where my body is screaming for sleep.

Property of Julie Davis Photography
I've had a range of emotions since Little Man arrived almost two months ago. Some new, some old, some happy, and some full of grief.  All of them I have wanted to share but have had little time to do so.

Here I am again, sharing the hurt and the questions. To look here, one would think I'm always sad. That is not the case. I smile, I laugh, I celebrate moments but this . . . this has become my safe place. This is my place of safety to come to release those emotions that gnaw at me and cause this ache to hurt so sharp.

My Little Man is here and oh, how I love him! How I delight in him and relish him just a bit more. How I hold him a bit too much . . . a second longer than needed. How I smother him in kisses and then give him just one more. I talk to him - all the time talking. I tell him what I'm doing, what I should be doing and what his silly sister is doing. I watch him all the time. I watch as his baby blues observes and takes in the world around him. I watch him as he smiles and I become excited to see who he will become. I get excited over the opportunity and privilege to watch him grow. And then, in that moment - that moment full of excitement and joy - I am hit all over again with grief. Grief over the loss of my sweet Emmy and Vivi. Grief over the loss of knowing who they would have become. I find that I am lost, not knowing how to feel.

They should be here! Running around. Being loud. Making my days crazy!

But they are not and I realize once again, that I have not accepted that fact. I don't think I ever will. How does a mother ever accept the fact that her babies died? My mind can't make sense of it and my heart can't grasp it.

I miss them! It's so simple and yet so complicated. I miss them and I ache so desperately for them. There are no words to describe it. I have tried. For seventeen months I have tried to describe the chest crushing, breath stealing hurt and I can't. I can't because babies are not supposed to die! There is a word for one who has lost both parents and a word for one who has lost a spouse but there is no word for one who has lost a child.

They should be here! I want them here!

Little Man is here and I am so thankful! He doesn't make any of this easier and he has not helped me heal. He is my baby. He is not an eraser for my pain or a doctor to mend my broken heart. He is my baby . . . my son.

He doesn't negate the death of his older sisters and Emmerson and Vivienne don't negate the life and love of and for him.

But it can still be all so hard and confusing. During those middle of the night feeds, while gazing at him through hazy eyes, I let out a sigh of relief that he is here and I get to hold him. Though bone tired, I say a prayer of thanks that I get to arise in the middle of the night to feed and cuddle him. And during the darkness and sleepy fog of night, I wonder how I would have done it with two babies. I wonder and I try to picture what it would have looked like. And even though my arms are full, they feel so empty.

Some one said to me that had the twins lived, Little Man would not be here. Now when I question and try to picture the life that never was, I feel guilt. So much guilt! Wishing Emmerson and Vivienne were here doesn't mean I wish Little Man wasn't. How do you rectify this? How can I wish for Emmy and Vivi to be here when he is?

I don't know. I get confused. I get lost. I find that it's this delicate balance . . . it's this place, a time that doesn't exist. A place where you can look forward to today . . . to tomorrow, but one where you are also looking back at what might have been. Looking back at those moments that never were and trying to get them into focus.

This is my life. I'm teetering this line of acceptance and regret, this line where I am looking through the same lens at what is and also at what might have been. I am pulled in two different directions, between two different worlds.




They say that time in Heaven is compared to "the blink of an eye" for us on earth. Sometimes it helps me to think of them running ahead of me through a beautiful field of wildflowers and butterflies; so happy and completely caught up in what they are doing that when they look behind them, I'll already be there.
~ Unknown ~









Stephanie

Monday, November 5, 2012

Moments

Life is full of moments.


Moments . . .

. . . So big . . . So full . . . So fleeting.


All precious in their own unique design.


Some of those moments I let slip right through my finger tips when we brought our first born home. I let that upside down feeling of my new life get the best of me to be able to fully embrace all those precious moments.

It was those same moments that I let slip through that I found myself so desperately wanting 16 months ago.  All those sacred moments that I didn't get and that I will live the rest of my life wishing I had . . . those moments that were taken from me. The ones that I wanted the chance to hold on to with white knuckles.

Now? Now I am holding on tight with hands wide open.

I'm clinging to all these seconds . . . minutes . . . hours while I try so hard to keep my hands open so I can receive more.

I want more. It is selfish, I know. But I do, I want more. I want more of those delicious lips formed in an 'O'. I want more of those blue eyes searching for mine when he hears my voice. I want more snuggles. I want more of him forming himself in a ball as he rests on my chest.


It goes so fast. I'm going to blink and it's going to be over. And I just want more moments of him right as he is, right now.

I wanted more moments than the ones I did get with Emmerson and Vivienne. I wanted to bring them home. I wanted both arms occupied with the weight of each of them. I wanted to see their older sister interact with them. I want to see them interact with their baby brother. I want all four of my children here.

I want more.

I wanted more than what I got and because of that, I'm embracing each second. Cherishing it. Relishing it. Loving it.

I just want to live in the now and bask in the glow of the gift that was given.

Bask in the glow of all four gifts . . .









Stephanie

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

He Is Here!


Nathaniel Stephen
October 5, 2012 @ 2:39 pm
5 pounds 15 onces 
18 inches

He is here! There is no way I could have been prepared for the moment and the emotions.


So much of this pregnancy was consumed with grief and guilt. So much of this pregnancy was spent expecting the worse . . . believing I would come home from the hospital with empty, aching arms.

The last time those contractions brought forth life there was a stillness and a silence in the room. I didn't realize how much those moments affected me . . . haunted me. 

I didn't realize how much those moments caused me to fear the ones to come.

And then he was here. He was here, in that room that was quiet and he filled it with those precious cries of life. 

I fully expected to hear that deafening silence again. Those cries were a gift, a sweet salve to my heart. There was no question of when he entered the world. There was no question if he was alive or not. Those cries were a gift . . . 

He is here! And he is alive!

My heart split open. My heart, the one I thought was closed off to new love, split wide open. I finally let go of that breath I had been holding for 36 weeks and I fell in love.


He cried. He moved after he was placed on my chest. I looked up at my husband, disbelievingly proclaimed, "He's crying! He's alive!" And the tears flowed.

There are two worlds that can and do exist in the same room. I feared ever being able to feel that new love again after Emmy and Vivi. I feared I couldn't or wouldn't be able to. But then he arrived and cried and moved and my heart swelled with newness and love.


He is everything I never knew I wanted again. He hasn't taken their place (no one ever will) but he has shown me it's okay to be open to the new in life and new love. He has shown me that moving forward doesn't mean forgetting, it means living and loving life as you do. He hasn't healed me but he has taught me that there is still hope and beauty in the pain.






Stephanie

Monday, October 15, 2012

My Promise

Emmerson and Vivienne,

Today is a day where you are remembered. October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. A day where women who have lost pregnancies, have given birth to sleeping babies and/or have had an infant die are acknowledged and remembered. One in four women will experience this kind of tragic hurt. 

I don't care so much if people remember me and my hurt. I don't want people to act as though this hurt isn't carried with me always but it is you . . . you are the ones I don't want people to forget or ignore or pretend never lived. 

It is you. 

It is you I speak for and love.

Because of you, I promise you, you will ALWAYS be remembered. You will be remembered with love and the sweet newness of your skin. I will remember the way you looked exactly the same, but the way that I knew, you were completely different. Completely and distinctly unique. 

I promise you, you will always be acknowledged. Your life, your death and what you meant and still mean to us will ALWAYS be acknowledged.

I promise you, you will always be counted. Because of you two, I now have four children. I have given life to four precious beings. I will always count you. You will always be my babies. You will always have a place in our family. 

I promise you that your sister and brother will know about you. Your sister already does. She has days when she tells me she wants you two to come visit and play with her. She doesn't fully understand . . . one day she will.  

I've already told your baby brother about you and I promise I will continue to do so. There will never not be a time when he doesn't know that he has three older sisters. 

I promise I will always speak your names. I will talk about you to complete strangers. I promise, even in the discomfort, that your names will be on my lips. I will always speak your names. 

I promise you that you are not taboo. You shouldn't be taboo to anyone. I promise that I will try to my dying day to make the life and death of you NOT taboo. 

You were here. You were alive. Your heart beat and your limbs moved. It shouldn't matter how small you both were. You were a person. Deafening silence shouldn't be met when I speak of you.

You were here. You were loved. You were wanted. A life is precious no matter how brief. Eyes refusing to meet shouldn't be met when I speak of the love that was shared.

It is just not today but everyday that I think of you . . . that I love you.

I promise, I will always speak of you. I will always remember you with deep love. 



"There is no footprint too small that cannot leave an imprint on this world."
Unknown






Stephanie

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Does He Know?

I was sixteen when that boy-man became a close, trusted friend.

I was eighteen when I started to fall.

I was twenty-one when I promised forever.

Twelve years later and we are still holding on to each other. Still loving one another.

Somedays its the overwhelming emotion of love that we ride and others . . . well, others it's a choice.

Nothing in life is always a hundred percent easy.

Does he know? Do I let him know it enough, all the small ways that I love him?

Does he know?

All those years ago, when we became fast friends, I respected him immensely. Trust and respect were established on that mile long walk of friendship.

My heart always felt like it was going to explode in those early days of falling whenever I heard his voice or saw him with that blue baseball cap on.

I can still feel the crisp winter nights air and hear those fireworks from the night he asked me to be his wife.

I feel blessed because I get to see him when he is sweetly asleep with those dark lashes of his laying still on his face.

My heart melts when I see with my memories eye him holding our three girls shortly after birth. Do they know how lucky they are to have a daddy like him?

Does he know how I hope and earnestly pray, each time he leaves us for the sky, that he is returned home safely to us?

Does he know that I call him when he's on a trip not because I have anything to tell him but just because I want to talk to him? That I need to hear his voice?

Does he realize how much more I panic when I can't get ahold of him now then I did 14 months ago?

The course of our lives have changed. It has changed him. It has changed me. I know this. We are still holding on. Still choosing to love each other with each unexpected, hard blow.

Does he know that he even now, I would still choose him? I would do it all over again . . . with him?








Stephanie

Thursday, September 20, 2012

He Matters Too

I saw it. I heard it.

All those hushed questions, how is she doing? is she doing any better?

It hurt me. Why wasn't anyone asking him how he was doing?

Why was everyone so concerned about my mental and emotional state but few were concerned about him?

It hurt me. But I was so consumed by grief and sadness that I never spoke up.

They mattered not only to me but to him as well. He matters too.

Very few people asked him about . . . him. Very few people took the time to spend time with him. Very few people took the time to listen to him.

A lot of people asked him about me.

The day after they were born and then died, before I was even discharged, he was on the phone attempting to make funeral arrangements.

He was fielding many phone calls.

He got out of bed every morning (the same bed I would spend days on end in) and would take care of our daughter, prepare meals, go to the grocery store, do the laundry, all the things that I not only lacked the desire to do but forgot how to do.

He went back to work.

He loved me through it all. All the while juggling his own heartache.

Silently. And alone. 

He held us together. He held me together. He became so incredibly stronger than he ever thought he could become. He became stronger than he realizes. He was my glue.

Carrying his own grief, his own sadness, his own loss of dreams and love, he still pushed forward, living each day, carrying me through hoping I would make it through.

Living each day where his wife had become a zombie and he was left wondering if she would ever get out of that bed and resemble a person again.

He pushed forward and still no one asked him about him. I don't know if that hurt him, all those people asking him about his wife but never once concerning themselves with how he was coping.

Did he ever want to scream, they mattered to me too! I love them too!


I sat one night, sobbing, voicing all those dreams and all that love gone, so consumed with my own sadness that I couldn't think outside of self. I looked up and he was crying . . . sobbing really . . . and that's when I realized that his pain ran just as deep.

He put voice to his lost dreams . . . his lost loves. He would never get to take them on a Daddy-Daughter date. He would never get to walk them down the aisle and give them away. He would never get to dance that Father-Daughter dance at their wedding.

He loves them like only a father can love his little girls. He had dreams for them. He wanted them. They were not only my daughters but his as well.

They mattered to him so he matters too.






Stephanie



Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Rainbows

I never knew there was a name for a baby that was conceived after the loss or death of the baby that came before them.

There were a lot of things I never knew before my sweet Emmerson and Vivienne lived and died.

A baby after the loss or death of an older sibling is referred to as a Rainbow Baby.

I didn't like it at first. I have rarely referred to Little Man as my Rainbow Baby.

Rainbows. Are they not a beautiful display of creativity that the storm is over? Something beautiful left after the pounding rain and raging winds?

And while I know that this baby is something wonderful and beautiful, I have a hard time believing the storm is over. I ache everyday. I miss them every minute. Every second, I wish things had turned out differently. Rainbows are beautiful. This baby is beautiful. Even though the rain doesn't pound me down everyday, those dark clouds are always looming in the distance.

But there is a rainbow. There is beauty.





Rainbow Baby

A rainbow baby is a miracle baby conceived after the loss of another child. "Rainbow Babies" are the understanding that the beauty of a rainbow does not negate the ravages of the storm. When a rainbow appears, it does not mean that the storm never happened or that the family is not still dealing with its aftermath. What it means is that something beautiful and full of light has appeared in the midst of the darkness and the clouds. Storm clouds may still loom over but the rainbow provides a counterbalance of color, energy, and much needed hope.
~ Unknown ~







Stephanie

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

When Reality Becomes Real

This whole pregnancy I have been guarded. I have been reserved. I have been slow to move forward with any planning or preparation for this baby.

That is so unlike me.

Others have shown and expressed more excitement than I have. It is so strange to be in that place where others are beaming at your news and you are the one sitting in the corner, not displaying really any emotion.

I don't know if this is normal after what I have been through. I have questioned it and criticized myself for feeling and being this way.

I have no idea if this is normal.

My husband and I had started to shop for Little Man's bedding and items to decorate his room. It was done more out of not wanting to have to do it after his arrival than any force driven by excitement alone. As we were marking things off of our list, a part of me wanted to let out a sigh because things were getting done. The other part of me had to hold back the overwhelming urge to scream. I wanted to scream as things were getting marked off because what if, in the end, we are left with another room fully ready to welcome our baby but it too, sits empty?

I wanted to scream with fear.

And yet, at the same time, I still hadn't fully acknowledged that we may be bringing a baby home. It goes with the territory of being guarded.

It's fight or flight and I guess, more times than not, I have chosen to take flight during this pregnancy.

Last week, at 32 weeks gestation, I went into preterm labor.

My body left the flight mode and instead chose to throw down all forms of barriers and fight.

I have wondered so often if I had fallen in love with Little Man. I have wondered so much if I have bonded with him.

Those questions were answered. The reality became real. I am going to have another baby! And I want to fight for him.

I am bored. I would love nothing more than to be able to enjoy this (finally) wonderfully beautiful weather. I would love to be able to clean my home and prepare for Little Man but I can't. I am now on bed rest. And while I sit and lay around I am going crazy because I can't do for myself, I remind myself that I am fighting for Little Man. Fighting for some more precious hours . . . days . . . weeks for him to stay where he is safest. Where, for now, he is meant to be.

I am fighting because I love.

I love this baby. I know without a shadow of a doubt that this little guy is loved. I would do anything for him.

When I feel the urge to complain about the boredom or not being able to do what I really want, I stop myself because I would have given anything to have been able to do this for Emmerson and Vivienne.

I wasn't given that opportunity and I would have given anything to have been able to do that for them.

I don't need to be reminded of a different outcome. I know how different it could be. How different it was.

So this? This is an honor.

And I am thankful.





Stephanie





Monday, September 10, 2012

Mending Is Never Ending

For five days, those five days between that fateful appointment and the day that held the confirmed diagnosis, were the longest five days of my life.

For five days, I prayed - demanded really - that He fix my daughters.

I didn't say please, I didn't even ask, I told him to just. fix. them.

I didn't plead for healing. I was too scared. I was too much of a coward to pray for that. I know He can heal one of two ways and one of those avenues for healing I didn't want because it would mean goodbye.

Two days after the consultation, one day after the surgery that was supposed to have fixed everything, goodbye was whispered . . . uttered . . . cried out in anguish.

Goodbye.

He healed my girls. He fixed my identical twins, Emmerson and Vivienne.

He didn't do it the way I wanted. The way I had pleaded endlessly that He would.

It hurts.

I am now broken. Shattered. Crushed. Hurting . . . everyday hurting. Heart left open to bleed.

Everyday.

I don't know why He didn't perform the miracle I had asked of Him. Somedays, that angers me.

I don't know why.

I still believe He is a healer. I still believe He restores, repairs, renews . . .

It is me . . . crevices of my life that I never knew existed . . . are being healed.

He is mending me.

It's only been 14 months so I am still in the mending process. And 14 years from now, I will still be in the process of being mended. More progress will have been made but it is still a process. 44 years from now, the mending will still be the present action.

I don't believe I will ever be completely healed this side of heaven. I don't believe my shattered, crushed, aching, bleeding heart will ever be completely mended while I am still trodding this earth.

Heaven is where the complete and whole lie.

However, 14 months later, with a different lens to look at life through, I can see how He has slowly started the mending process.

Because I ache, because I hurt, because I bleed, I ache for others . . . for complete strangers in a way that I never would have been able to before.

I have a passion . . . a fire burning within, to do for others, to make beauty from these ashes. It is slow moving, but it is moving. And I hope the moving causes change.

I can see that the moments I did get with Emmerson and Vivienne and the love that was given to them is far more than some ever receive in 80 years of a life lived. They were loved! I was blessed.

I am blessed.

There will always be this heart of mine that hurts and bleeds. I know this. I am accepting this. I don't want pity because of this. This . . . them . . . they are apart of me and I would never trade that for a sky that rained down diamonds. Because I got to carry them and hold them and love them, I am blessed. What mother would trade moments with their children for anything of this world?

And because of this forever ache, I can see more clearly the hurt in this world. I can see and feel and just be when another is hurting.

I can comfort another.

Is that part of the mending? That the thorn in your flesh or the cross you carry can cause you to extend comfort?

I am weeks away from welcoming our fourth child (our first boy) into this world. The whole pregnancy has been one of hope, fear, and trying so hard to trust The One who seemed to let me down 14 months ago. I feel like a lot of this pregnancy has been one where the wounds have reopened and new ones have appeared. Maybe that's just my perspective. Maybe it has all been apart of the mending process.

Some have told me that this Little Man will help me heal. Little Man will heal me in ways I never could have dreamed.

I don't know about that. I am not hoping for that. As much as I want to be healed, I don't want the weight of that responsibility to be my son's.

There was a Son already born who beared that weight.

I want my son to be born with love and dreams and hopes. I don't want him to be born with the job of fixing his mother.

That's not his job. He can't fix me. He can't heal me and I don't expect him to.

There is only one who can. There is only one who can be called the Mender.


This post was part of a link-up with Angie Smith and supporting the release of her third book, Mended. If you are interested in purchasing it you can do so here or here.






Stephanie

Thursday, September 6, 2012

To Miss A Love . . .

Everyday, I think of you.

Even if I don't say your names aloud, the whisper of them lies in my heart.

There's no way anyone can possibly know how much I think of you. How often your names enter my mind and the love I have penetrates deep.

There's no way anyone can possibly know how much I think of you. How many times I wonder what you would being doing now. How many times I wonder what you would look like and how long your hair would be. Would it be long like your older sister's? How many times I wonder if your laughter would be the same or if I would be able to tell the difference between you two by your giggles. Would you even look the same to me? Or would you look completely different to me as you were different in personalities?

I miss you terribly.

There's no way anyone can possibly know just how much I miss you.

There's no way anyone can possibly know just how much my heart hurts because of the forever hole that now exists.

This ache is all too familiar and yet alien at the same time. Will it always be this way?

Will the hurt always surprise me in new ways? It is just so unnatural to lose a child. How do you ever live the same?





Stephanie


Friday, August 31, 2012

Changed


                          Source: vinyldesignsbycj.com via Cheryl on Pinterest



My daughter will never again be that six pound bundle I welcomed into the world.

In the last three years, she has changed. A. LOT.

She went from rolling, to crawling, to pulling up, to walking.

She went from cooing, to babbling, to uttering one word, to forming sentences and then conversations.

She will never again be that six pound bundle. She will never again be what she is today.

She is ever changing.

And so I am.

People have made statements like, you'll start feeling like your old-self again. It will just take some time.

My old-self?

Who was that? How do I find her again? Do I want to?

How can your life completely change but not you?

When you uttered an anguished sob of a goodbye, a goodbye that no mother should ever have to say, how do you not become someone completely different?

My old-self? She's gone.

I have a new-self. I am a new me.

Ever changing just like that six pound bundle I was blessed to welcome into the world.





Linking up today for a Five-Minute Friday with Lisa-Jo.






Stephanie

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Surfacing

It's been a busy time. It's that time of year. I have been busy and distracted but still, those memories and wonderings have surfaced. Exposing that raw pain.

I don't know what it is that has caused these emotions, memories and wonderings to rise to the top.

Maybe it's that this time last year, the reality was truly settling in. I stopped believing there was a way to turn back the clock and undo what had been done.

Maybe it's that I have been feeling them near me so much.

Maybe it's that my husband and I shared our story last Sunday at church. All those precious, terrifying moments relived.

Maybe it's that now, Emmerson and Vivienne would be walking and talking. I watch  Alexandria play by herself and I wonder how the three of them would interact together. They would have arguments but they would also keep each other company.

I wonder what my family of five would look like living the daily life.

Maybe it's that I have had a few dreams about Emmerson and Vivienne and in those dreams I got to spend a few more moments with them but they always end with me telling them it's okay to go. That we love them immensely and we will miss them just as much but that it's okay.

And maybe it's just how this grief thing works. Coming and going, never knowing when it is going to sit with me awhile, exposing that raw pain.

I find that I have several moments throughout the day when I feel like I am suffocating. Finding it hard to breathe because the pain is just too heavy. I want to scream that I miss them when I am in public. I find that I am suppressing an overwhelming urge to cry. I want to grab the nearest stranger and inform them that my family is not complete. There are two precious girls not with me.

I. WANT. THEM. BACK!

And I wonder, why do some babies live and some babies die? Why are there arms left heavy and empty? How does God choose which babies get to go home with their parents and which ones will take their last breath in their mommies arms?

How does He choose? Can some one explain this to me?

I miss them! I want them back! I've already missed their first year of life, now I am missing the stage of wonderment and discovery.

I want them back.





Stephanie

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Tangled

This is such a strange time, such a strange place for me to be. By nature I am a planner. I am a doer. I get things done.

I have less than nine weeks until my due date arrives and I have done nothing to anticipate his arrival.

Okay, that's a lie. I have relocated some pink blankets. And I just recently (and by that I mean with in the last couple of days) started looking at some things I could use to decorate his room. Last week, I started making him a quilt.

All of those things have been done in a cloud of fear. I get all anxious knowing I need to prepare but then I become paralyzed.

That whisper of what if sings in my ear. Resonates throughout every cell.

I am holding my breath. I have a sigh I long to release.

I just can't yet. It's not time.

I have less than nine weeks until his arrival and I have just now started to feel those little sparks that some identify as excitement. He kicks or jabs and I smile.

I can't do this.

I have spent the last seven and a half months guarding and protecting myself.

I can't get excited because what if?

I long to release this sigh. I crave to exhale.

But I am so scared.

I have scars that run deep. I have scars that hurt everyday. I don't want more.

Little Man gets the hiccups and I catch myself wondering if he will have those after birth as well. He kicks and I smile. Without trying I wonder what he will look like, who he will be.

I long to hold him. I long to hold them. I long to know who they would have been. And everything gets tangled.

I am anxious to know what his arrival will mean. I need to know.

I don't know if I can continue to wonder and anticipate if the ending will be one that results in ragged scars. If it will result in more lines on face etched by tears.

I don't know how you balance guarding your heart and falling in love at the same time.

I don't know if this tangled mess of my emotions will result in damage I cannot undo.

I don't know how to do any of this.

How do I fully submerge into this moment, in this blessing when I still ache to be in the moments that came before? How do I embrace the wondering and longing when there is so much of me still longing for what I so desperately miss?





Stephanie




Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Hard Not To See

When you open your eyes, it's hard not to see.

Not to see all the pain all around. 

Not to see all the people who miss and who ache.

There is hurt and ache and pain . . . deep searing pain and . . . death.

And people just want answers.

That awful, tragic question . . . WHY?

Violence . . . senseless violence. Horrific acts for seemingly no reason.

Car crashes that change the course of one's life.

Addictions stake claim and consume.

Cancer invades and persists.

Mommies and Daddies die before they get to see their children grow into the people they are to become.

Cradles sit empty.

When you open your eyes, it's hard not to see.

Not to see all the pain all around.

Not to see all the people who miss and who ache.


And it makes me wonder. We were never meant for this world. We were always meant for something more. Is this unsettling hurt . . . the seemingly senselessness and the question "is this all there is to this life?" . . . makes me wonder. Do we experience the pain, the loneliness, the bone-searing ache because we are meant to have a longing for something more? Something more holy? Something more complete? Something so beautifully perfect?

When you open your eyes, it's hard not to see.

Not to see all the pain all around.


Not to see all the people who miss and who ache.


But it's also hard not see that mercy and grace and beauty triumphs.





Stephanie

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

It's A Struggle


Source: via Joelle on Pinterest


On June 29, 2012, I woke up and was scared. He wasn't moving! He always moves in the morning. June 29 . . . The year before on June 29 I went into labor with the twins.

He wasn't moving!

Not again!

I got up, moved around, changed position, went downstairs for some water, laid back down . . . nothing!

Not again!

Over an hour later, he started moving in all his crazy glory.

I let out a breath I didn't realize I was holding.

Two weeks ago, at almost six and a half months pregnant, I started cramping, feeling a tightness that would come and go in my lower abdomen, intense lower back pain, and pressure. So much pressure.

Even after being in labor three separate times, I still wasn't for sure if this was labor or if it was the changes that occur with pregnancy.

I tried resting, feet up, warm showers, fluid, but nothing was diminishing the pain.

I called my doctor and she got me right in.

She did a thorough examination. Everything was fine. I was to take it easy for a few days.

I kept reminding myself of the age of viability. He was there now. A bigger milestone than that foolish 12 week one where everything is supposedly safe after that mark. When is anything safe? Who decided that after 12 weeks gestation, the baby was safe?

But who wants their baby born too early? Who wants to see them struggle under the weight of all that life-saving medical equipment?

I didn't need to remind myself that babies die. I know that they do.

And that's a fear. A very realistic fear.

It's a struggle. This whole pregnancy. I second guess everything. Every twinge. Every ache.

It's a struggle to prepare. We did go into that room two weeks ago. That room that our sweet identical twin girls would sleep had become a four letter word and then a storage space. We went into that room and started cleaning out. I started with all those girl blankets. I moved them and then I started weeping. We still have a room to clean out. It's a struggle.

I want to reach the end of this pregnancy. For so many reasons. I want the end to be here. I need to know the outcome now. I need to know that I will get to hold this baby. That I will get to feed him. That I will get to secure him in his car seat and take him home. That I will awake in the stillness of the night to his cries and get to comfort him.

The heart automatically guards against a hurt that caused everything to shatter. I shouldn't be judged. No mother who has lost a child should be judged for the way the heart guards.

It's a struggle when all innocence has been lost.







Stephanie

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Life Goes On

I haven't been excited. Part of me won't let me and a part of me just . . . can't.

There are pink and purple and frilly, girlie items I need to put away and replace with little boy stuff.

I just haven't. I can't.

I still envision the worse. I still think something tragic is going to happen. That is what I have prepared myself for.

But with each kick I start letting myself think . . . believe . . . that everything will be fine. Tragedy doesn't strike twice.

But I know that is false. And it's dangerous to believe that it doesn't.

My innocence has been stolen. That last thread gone forever.

This little guy makes his presence known. He moves so much more than his three sisters ever did. Alexandria rarely moved. I could always feel her curling herself up in a little ball and resting right under my right rib cage. I believed that she would be a snuggle bug. It wasn't so. She was born and she hasn't stopped moving since. Even in her sleep, she doesn't stop.

I think her sisters would have been the same way . . . constantly busy.

This little guy doesn't stop moving now. He's busy and I have no idea where he thinks he's going. He doesn't curl up, he stretches out.

I feel him move and I think of all that I missed with Emmerson and Vivienne. I feel him move and I am reassured, for the moment, that he is alive. Maybe that is why he moves so much, to reassure me that for the moment . . . he's alive.

I feel him move and I think I need to start preparing for this little guy. I need to go in that room and take care of some things. I need to acknowledge that he is coming and that Emmerson and Vivienne are not.

It's not that I haven't taken care of myself. I have. I have tried to eat as well and healthy as I can (as much as all the nausea and sickness will allow) and follow the restrictions that accompany pregnancy. I have changed my wardrobe from snaps and buttons to material that stretches and is forgiving. But that is where it ends.

I haven't planned, I haven't dreamed. Because what if? What if we don't get to bring this baby home either? I know that lightening can and does strike twice. I know that following all the rules doesn't always equal a happy ending.

And guilt overwhelms. What if the lack of planning and lack of dreaming not only protects but means a lack of love?

It's been hard. It's been different.

I was told, after I lost my twins, that if I ever got pregnant again, it would not be the same. It would be different. How can it be the same when all innocence has been lost? How can it be the same when what you once thought only happened to others has happened to you? You know that tragedy strikes even when you do play by the rules.

It has been hard because this pregnancy has taken place almost exactly a year later as the one with my twins. All those milestones have been hit at the same time, just a year later. The mind automatically goes to the milestones hit a year ago.

The mind automatically goes to my sweet look-a-like babies. My heart automatically feels that it is them.

I was told, after I lost my twins, not to drive for several weeks or do anything else requiring serious attention because I would hallucinate. I would see things . . . hear things . . . believe things that were not there. It happened while I was pushing with each contraction to deliver Vivienne. Emmerson was swaddled in a blanket and placed in a crib. From across the room, I saw her kick those blankets. I saw her move and I believed that she was alive. For weeks after, I awoke in the night when those cries startled me from sleep. See? It was all a nightmare. They were here . . . alive, crying in the next room.

That level of crazy has returned. Especially this past month when their first birthday was approaching. I feel this baby move and my first thought is that it is the twins moving.  Because some days, a year ago doesn't feel like it was a year ago, it feels like it is still the same year . . . like it is still the same moment. And because some days, I still feel like I am living a nightmare. And I still desperately seek an end to it.

I'm not out of touch with reality. I know what happened. I have a forever hole in my heart that weeps every single day. I own a piece of land in a cemetery. I know what happened.

I also know that life goes on. I have a husband that not only loves me but he adores me. I have a three year old daughter who needs me. Her eyes still light up when I walk in the room. For this brief moment, she wants to sit next to me, she will hold my hand in public. I have a little girl I need to raise. I have a little girl that I want to watch grow from that little body of hers into a teenager and then into a young woman.

Life goes on . . .

I know that life goes on. My stomach is swelling tight . . . for a third time . . . with the promise of a fourth life. A precious gift. With each pound gained . . . with each kick from within . . . I know that life goes on.

Life goes on and it is scary yet it is so beautiful.

I feel like God has gently, quietly, tapped me on the shoulder and whispered "you're not done yet. There is still so much more. Embrace it!"

Life goes on. 

Though it may be beautiful, though it may be scary, though it may hurt, I will embrace it.





Stephanie

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Jealousy

I wouldn't label myself as a jealous person.

Over the last year, I have heard, They are in a better place, Grandma is holding them and rocking them, They get to play with the angels now, They are safe.

And while I believe that, it doesn't take away the pain. It doesn't take away the fact that I miss them so much.

I wouldn't ask them to return from where they are now. I wouldn't ask but I still wish things had turned out differently. I still wish I could hold them. I still wish I could have watched them grow.

I won't ask them to come back, I know they are in a better place. But I can't help but feel a little jealous of the ones who surround them now.






Stephanie

Monday, July 23, 2012

Redeemed Outdoor Collection

Life has a way of sometimes pressing down and causing one to forget.

To forget what really matters.

To forget what they are living for.

To forget how much they matter.

I have plaques and various decoration items placed throughout my house to rattle this brain of mine when I get overwhelmed and forget.

They are nice reminders, gentle nudges to get your brain to remember and your heart back on track.

DaySprings offer some items that do just that.

The month of July they have included some beautiful outdoor items to their Redeemed Collection and these items offer beautiful ways to decorate the home (inside and out) as well as the heart.

Life can sometimes turn ugly. Life can sometimes turn hard. But if we keep faith and trust . . .


He makes everything beautiful!


We just need to give the appropriate attention and care and He will do the rest.

And what about for those days when you feel so small and wonder if what you are doing really matters at all?


If His eye is on the sparrow, how much more does He care for us?

To view the complete Redeemed Outdoor Collection click and possibly even shop(?) here.




If you like anything you see, you can type in this code, JOY2012 to receive 25% off your entire purchase.





Stephanie

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

First Birthday

The days leading up were worse than the actual day.

On the eve of what would have been their first birthday, I spent thinking, "a year ago, they were still alive. A year ago, we were so hopefull."

The days leading up were worse than the actual day.

On June 30, 2012, my husband surprised me by coming home from work a day early.

We had two really good friends come and stay with us.

It was bizarre to know that a whole year had past.

Four seasons had come and gone. The blazing sun of summer turned into the crispness of fall. The crispness turned into the quiet of winter and winter turned over and birthed new life. That newness has once again turned into the blazing summer sun.

Four season had turned into each other . . . a whole year has past and I have survived.

We bought two cupcakes, pink balloons, got in our car and drove to the cemetery. I had not been there since the day we buried them. That day, I saw the hole that had been dug in the earth and I fainted.

This past year, I have wanted to go and at the same time, I have not. The thought of going caused me to stop breathing . . . caused my heart to skip another beat. But the day of their first birthday, I went.

We went and gave them their cupcakes. Their older sister placed two pink hearts on their grave. That was her birthday present to them.

I was shocked to see that some grass had grown. Had that much time really passed for something new to grow?

I sat down on my knees at their grave and looked at their name plates from the funeral home (still no headstone. That's another hurdle. Baby steps . . . ), I noticed the flowers and ceramic angels that others had left. I noticed weeds. WEEDS!!! Their presence made me angry! I started pulling them, ripping them out of the earth. Didn't they know they didn't belong? Didn't they know that this place was sacred? Pure? The evils that accompany life never once touched them so why did they think they had the right?

Ripping and pulling.

Ripping and pulling just like the emotions on my heart.

I told them I loved them. I told them what kind of party I would have thrown for them. I told them how blessed I felt and continue to feel for being able to hold them and feel them the day of their birth. And then I tried to envision the celebration they were partaking in.

My husband and I held each other and we prayed. We thanked the Lord for them and the time we did get with them.

We sang Happy Birthday to them as a family and then we released the balloons. We watched in silence as they easily floated into the heavens.


That sky that I always catch my gaze floating to.

They floated so quitely and effortlessly. Those pink balloons became smaller and smaller until you could not see them anymore. They floated into the sky that I have now become obsessed with. I see them, my babies, in that sky. I see the beauty they paint with each sunset and swirling of the clouds.

The balloons floated to the East and later, in the West we saw a beautiful stretch of pink painted across the sky.


It was them. I smiled.

A whole year. A year has passed. I never thought I would celebrate my children's birthday without them physically present.

I never thought I would have a year to live like the one I just did.

A whole year has passed and I have survived. I have lived everyday with the pain, made it through holidays and special family events. A year ago there was so much uncertaintity laid before me, not knowing if I could survive this. I know now that I can. I don't want to live out the rest of my days with this ache and without them but . . . I know that I can. Joy is returning amid the pain.







Stephanie

Friday, July 6, 2012

Life Is A Story

I'm linking up today with Lisa-Jo for another Five-Minute Friday.

Topic for today: STORY








My life is a story. Part of the story I am living is something I never dreamed . . . never imagined would be part of me.

The story doesn't begin with what happened a year ago. The story doesn't begin the day that my husband and I said I Do or the day we started dating. The story doesn't begin with my first memory or the day my mother realized she was expecting baby #2.

What happened a year ago, however, has changed the course . . . the theme of how I thought my life was being written.

What happened a year ago was tragic . . . heart-wrenching . . . life changing.

What happened a year ago has taken who I was, who my husband and I were as a couple, my faith, and my role as a mother and started weaving in new fibers, different threads and textures. It has changed me. I can't remove those new threads without undoing everything that came before. And so, as much as everything hurts, I can't change any of it.

It has become a part of us. It has become a story that needs to be told.

It was always meant to be told.

It is a story that didn't begin a year ago or the day I took my first breath. It is a story that began with the creation of land and sea, light and night, woman and man.

Who am I not to share?





Stephanie





Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Year Ago . . .

I've been a ball of unraveling, frayed nerves. I lack patience and the ability to cope. I don't know what to do when my daughter falls and bruises her knees. I feel like I have a marathon to run when it comes time to fix a meal.

I've been this way a lot this past year.

A break. You need a break my husband says. 

So much easier said than done. 

I was invited last week by a mommy-friend to spend a kid-free, sun-filled blue sky weekend on a boat on a lake.

The breeze created by a speeding boat and the sun beating down served to refresh and recharge.

But that night, as I lay in a bed three hours away from my own, it found me and I silently cried. 

A year ago . . .

It wasn't so much the mundane of life, my husband's schedule and a defiant three year old that was unraveling and fraying me. It is the anniversary . . . the birthday . . . of my two babies.


It's funny how your head may not realize something is approaching but your heart does. 

Months ago, a mother who had to bury her 18 month old son over twenty years ago told me, "It's a lot like walking on the shore. The grief . . . the hurt . . . it's always there. Sometimes it's the little waves lapping at your toes and feet and other times, the waves crash over."

Those waves have been pounding me down. 

I thought it was just life and the busyness of it that was getting to me.

But after a day spent forgetting where I was, what load needed to be put in the washer next, deciding what that little girl of mine might eat without a fight, and the hour of the day, I realized the unraveling of that ball was something I couldn't run from. I couldn't stop it. 

A year ago . . .

This week has been full of thoughts and sentences that begin with, "A year ago . . ."

A year ago I was anxious for my next doctors visit. Hoping she could tell me why I couldn't eat or sleep, why I was in so much pain. Hoping she had the answers and the solutions. 

A year ago we were in that Ultra Sound room where the air stopped moving and my husband reached for my hand out of fear. 

A year ago I spent the four longest days of my life waiting.

A year ago we left for Cincinnati where I felt hope laid. The city where I hoped answers would be given and life would be saved. 

A year ago I laid in a coffin-like machine for over an hour where answers and precious pictures of my girls laid in each slice of an image. 

A year ago I was the recipient of an UltraSound technicians kindness as jelly and a wand roamed my swollen belly for over two hours. When the pain was too intense, she let me move and reassured me that she could work no matter the position I needed to be in. She smiled with us when Emmerson performed one of her many tumbling acts. She respected the silence when Vivienne barely moved. She reassured us that Vivienne's heart still held life.

A year ago we got to see and hear those two wonderful hearts beating when, once again, we moved to another area of the hospital for the Fetal Echocardiogram. 

A year ago we sat at a long conference table with highly specialized doctors and nurses and a big screen on one side of the room where we got to see every image of our daughters that were taken that day. We were given the devastating diagnosis and the hope in the interventions. So many questions were answered and just as many were left unanswered. The conference room where being an adult and a parent sat heavily on my shoulders. The conference room where I learned that laying down my life for another became a reflex response. 

A year ago I didn't sleep for three days straight. My heart was too heavy and my mind too burdened. 

A year ago when I underwent surgery for the sake of my daughters, I was at the most peace I have ever been before in my life. 

A year ago we all thought everything went beautifully and I would be able to carry my babies to 32 weeks gestation. 

A year ago all our dreams were shattered. 

A year ago life as I knew it had completely changed. 

A year ago there became an old me and the me that I am now. 

A year ago this Saturday I gave birth to two beautiful baby girls. I was blessed to carry them as they grew and I was blessed to hold them as they left my arms and entered the Kingdom of Heaven.

This week has been hard. It has been bittersweet. It has been unbelievable that a whole year has passed.  In some ways it feels like it has been a week instead of a year and in other ways it feels like a lifetime.

I don't know what to do on Saturday. I want to sleep the day away. I want to go to the cemetery. I don't want to go to that place where the last time I was there was the day we buried them. I want to get two cupcakes and sing Happy Birthday. I want to release balloons. I want my husband to be home instead of working. I want to be surrounded by people. I want to be completely alone. I want to sleep the day away. 

I want my babies to be here. 







Stephanie

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Turn My Mourning Into Dancing



You tend to think that life is linear.

It is not.

You would tend to think that you mourn and you rejoice on separate planes.

You do not.

So much of it happens simultaneously, meshed together in this thing called living.

I believed that I could not smile or laugh while the deep, dark pit sat inside. I believed I could not move on with my life until I had worked through this thing called grief.

I believe He can turn my mourning into dancing. But just because I dance doesn't mean that I also don't grieve.

I have realized that I will always grieve the loss of Emmerson and Vivienne. I have realized that there will always be a part of my heart that will ache.

I was not ready to take forward steps. I was just starting to feel like I could get out of bed in the morning and look forward to that day. Just that day.

I was not ready to start taking steps that would move me into the future. Steps that would take me, seeminly, further away from them.

And then I had a nosebleed and I cried. My husband saw that I had a nosebleed and we both stopped.

Silence became us once again.

I didn't sleep well that night.

The next morning, while we were both in the bathroom waiting, I cried.

I was so scared.

What does it say?

Nothing yet.

He starts cleaning up an already clean bathroom.

I can't look. Just tell me.

He hugs me and says yes.

I cry more.

Do you think they are mad at me? Do you think they feel like we betrayed them?

I have been fearful of telling anyone. I have been fearful for two main reasons. What if this baby doesn't survive either? What if people think that this baby "replaces" Emmerson and Vivienne or that I am "over" losing them?

How do you do it? When the hurt causes you to look back at what might have been, how do you look forward with the hope of what might be?

How do you move forward when you just became comfortable with where you were? How do you move forward when so much still sits with the what might have been?

It's feeling like your life had just started to form its new normal and then this new life is formed and I'm still grieving the new lives that never were.

It's hard and it's confusing and it's scary. It's not knowing how to move forward but knowing you need to. Knowing you have to.

It's seeing that there is an after and that scares you because that means there was a before. There was a moment in time that forever stays with you. And that moment can haunt you. 

I have not let myself get excited. I have gone to every doctor's appointment expecting bad news. Every one of them. I imagine everything that could go wrong and every illness or disease that this baby could have.

Really, all I want, is a healthy baby. I know a lot of people say that but this is a desire and a dream that comes from my core.

I want a healthy baby and I want to bring this baby home with us.

What if that doesn't happen . . . again?

I was angry for awhile. Angry that I had to move forward. Angry that I had no choice. Angry that I had to balance mourning with something new . . . something good.

I had to actually put Hope into action.

And while I know that Emmerson and Vivienne will always be apart of me and that I will always miss them and ache for them, I also have to live this life and rejoice in it.

I have to trust that what has been given has been given at the most perfect time. And that while I may still mourn, I can also dance.

Aaron and I would like to share that our fourth child, our first son, will be joining our family in October.

And so, amid the tears, we dance!







Stephanie

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