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. 


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!


Monday, June 11, 2012

Blessings Being Counted

Counting my way to One Thousand . . . 

338. Flowers picked by little girl for her mommy during an evening walk.

340. Tiny hands folded in prayer

343. Celebrating 60 years of life with my dad

342. The love between a Father and his daughter

345. Father and Daughter dancing in living room

347. Colors of the sun dragged across the evening sky

350. Tiny hands making their first pizza


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Life In The Black

I read a blog post a few weeks ago and it tore me open.

All those wounds scratched fresh.

I hurt.

I question.

I know there is reason. I know there is purpose in the pain.

But still, some days, it is not enough.

I have scars. I know we all have them. How can we expect to live painless lives, scarred-free hearts when the one good one did not? When the one who was born pure into a world confused in need of saving? How can I expect to not have wounds and scars and a hurt life-lasting when the pure one himself experienced spikes piercing through flesh and ligaments and bones? How can I expect to not hurt when he himself suffocated because of the weight of everyone else's shame?

But still . . .

It hurts. And when it hurts it is so hard to have perspective.

I find it ironic how when you are hurting, others find it necessary to point out that others hurt too. Maybe even more than you. It's that perspective you don't need or want. You don't need it because it diminishes your pain.

You buried two babies. Do you know there was a mother a world away who witnessed her whole family - husband, parents, children - brutally murdered before her? You lost two babies but you still have one living child. Don't you realize that there are people out there who can't even have a child?

Really?! Is that necessary?

I know there are people hurting everywhere. I KNOW this! But it does not make my pain any less. By sharing pain, some think it would subtract yours. It doesn't. Two hurts don't cancel each other out. Hopefully compassion and sympathy are doubled, but it doesn't take away the other's hurt.

It all matters to God. He is omnipresent and omniscient.

He never said, "Look here Stephanie. I know you just buried two of your babies. Two children that you had dreams and hopes for. Two children that you loved beyond measure. Two souls you loved with every cell in your body. Two hearts that you cherished so much, you would have willed your own to stop so that they may live. But you need to buck up. Your pain isn't even really relevant because this person over here in this country just lost her whole entire family and the ability to walk and her pain is just way worse than yours so I don't have the time or the patience to deal with it. In the grand scheme of things, your pain isn't even on the radar."

He never said that because it's not true. It does matter.

My pain matters. My pain matters so much to Him that He is wanting to do something with it.

Even though I know it matters and even though I know there was one sent to bear all scars, I still question.

I still struggle.

Somedays I find peace with knowing that God has purpose for all of this. I find peace with knowing that God is going to use me, through and by this, for something far bigger than I could have dreamed. He's already showing me and teaching me so much.

And somedays, I don't care! Somedays I am so angry! I don't understand!

I want my babies back! I don't care about Your big plans or purpose! All I wanted was to be their mom and to raise them and to watch them grow! I wanted to love them HERE! I didn't ever want to have to love them THERE while I am still HERE!

You could have taught me and showed me and changed me by something else! It didn't have to be through the death of my babies! Anything else would have worked.

Why? Why? Why?

What did I do? Why do I have a piece of scarred earth? Why do I have a family of five with two people constantly missing? Why do I have a three year old daughter who doesn't understand why she can't go to heaven and bring her sisters back? Why do I have a three year old daughter who sometimes is angry with me that she never had the chance to hold her sisters?

Why? Why? Why?

I don't want this! I don't want this ache! I don't want this breath-stealing hurt!



The questions . . . the demands . . . He hears. I know He does. Even in the silence . . . I know He does.

Somedays I am at peace knowing that I will see them again. I really am. They have given me purpose to live this one life the best way I can.

Other days, I don't feel its enough. I feel the pain is too great and the time too wide. I want them now.

I don't know what it was about that post. Maybe it was another reminder that everyday, people hurt and everyday, new people are joining in.

Or maybe those words ripped open my wounds and made me wonder . . . would I ever have compassion for these strangers stretched across the earth if my own heart didn't bleed? Would I know? Would I even begin to be able to imagine the pain?

Or maybe it was this, these words towards the end that sat with me and caused me to go back and re-read. Maybe it was the peace and anger dancing together because these words made sense to me.

Life's a piano. And its easy to think that the white keys are pure joy while all the black keys are pure grief.

But the thing is - The black notes can make music too.

The black notes can choose joy too.

The black notes - they are there to sing songs too.

I need those reminders, no matter how painful, that I can still choose joy. That this pain can still sing . . .



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