Saturday, June 9, 2012

Catching Up

There is a lot to be said for catching up...something that I never seem to be able to do. It seems I'm always one step behind, fully dependent on a God who is thankfully always many, many steps ahead!! With that in mind, here is a catch-up post for the month of May in pictures, covering Eliana's Day, Mother's Day, and Memorial Day.

5 roses for Eliana, one from each of us

In one sweet moment on Mother's Day, I found four little cousins all reading together

I'm so glad to know for sure that I will see my dad and sweet girl again in heaven someday. Praise God for hope!

For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?
1 Thessalonians 2:19

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Eliana's Birthday

Today was Eliana's third birthday in heaven. It is so hard to believe that this much time has passed since we held her. Time can play such funny tricks on us, and I guess that's because we're really built for eternity, instead of finite time. In some ways, those moments with her in my belly, and in my arms, seem like another, distant life. In other ways, it's as though time has stood still since that moment, and I can relive it like yesterday. I look at our boys, and I can't believe how they have grown and changed since then, where did the time go? And now Benjamin will soon be two!

Our little girl would be just like I have always pictured my daughter. For some reason, even long before Eliana, I have always imagined my daughter around the age of three. Little pigtails bouncing as she runs with a little too much energy. Giggles like bells ringing through the house, baby dolls, tea parties, still chubby cheeks and not too old for lots of snuggles. My heart and arms ache tonight to hold that little girl. Even as I type this, she was about to be born at this time of night three years ago...

It's funny how as much as I love my life, and all the blessings it holds, this ache will never heal. It is the scar I carry until I hold her again.

We had a beautiful day today. I wanted to have a fun day, like we would have if she was here. Mark took the day off, and we took our family, and our oldest son's friend to Incredible Pizza. If you don't know, this is probably similar to how our sons might imagine heaven.:) All-you-can eat buffet with all the junk food they love but don't usually get to have in excess, plus a slush machine which is, of course, Da Bomb. (did I really just use that phrase?) After you stuff yourselves then you get to go play video games, ski ball, etc.,to your heart's content, and they have lots of kiddie rides and a little slide for Ben too.

I have to admit I totally let them indulge more than usual today and didn't bat an eye when they continued to refill their plates and slush cups. My mom is cringing right now if she's reading this because of the amount of sugar and red dye that was consumed! We all had a blast, and I really didn't feel sad, except for a moment.

There was a little carousel with three horses, and I was video-taping Jayden and Ben going around when all of a sudden I noticed that one empty little horse, and I could almost see our little girl sitting there smiling and laughing. The moment passed quickly, as Ben decided maybe he didn't like his horsie so well and was squirming and fussing to get off! Believe it or not, when we were done with rides and games, we actually went back and ate a little more, and I take full responsibility for the fact that the kids were bouncing off the walls afterward! (Can you say spoiling?)

Seriously though, it's been over a year since we went there so this was really special for the kids, AND in edition to Eliana's birthday, C and J were in line for a reward for filling up their jars with marbles earned for good behavior. So, it wasn't quite like those naughty, greedy little boys in Pinocchio even though it might have appeared similar to an onlooker. (An apology to the parents of Caedmon's friend, I hope the evening went well!)

After that we stopped by home briefly, and then we had planned to release some balloons off a bridge over the lake, but we didn't have good luck getting our balloons, so we might do that this weekend when we visit her grave. The first store only had primary colors and I had really wanted pink and lavendar, then the second store said there is a helium shortage right now so hardly anyone in town has helium!?? instead my husband came out with five roses, one from each of us, and by then it was getting sort of late (especially for our wall bouncers) so we decided to just skip the lake for now, and keep the flowers at home in a vase.

Our last stop was to go to Mercy Hospital where Eliana was born, and donate lilywraps in her memory. They are just the cutest, and we would have loved to have something like this to wrap her in for that little bit of time we held her, so we were really excited to get to give them to the hospital for other tiny babies like Eliana. We went up to the labor and delivery floor, and everything was going well. I spoke with the admitting nurse and told her what we were donating. Then she asked if I wanted to take them to the NICU, so I explained in more detail about Eliana being stillborn, and how we were hoping to donate them for other families who are experiencing what we did. She was very nice and seemed touched by that little bit of our story, and then walked me down to the nurses station where we gave them to another nurse.

I had originally hoped to ask if any of the nurses were there who were with us when we had Eliana, but I caught cold this week, and didn't want to be spreading germs, and knowing hugs would be a must, I had decided not to ask. The Lord, however, had other plans because our angel nurse Michelle came up to the station right when we were about to leave, and gave me a big hug before I could even say anything! It was wonderful though, to get to see her and talk with her. She remembered Eliana and said that she thinks of us often, and someone had chosen a similar name recently, which reminded her again of our baby. She also specifically remembered me being in the hospital over Mother's Day. I am so glad that I did end up running into her.

It's really neat because the same thing happened when I delivered Benjamin. I had been assigned a different nurse, and then Michelle and I saw each other in the hallway, and I wished so much to have her with me, but since they have 12 hour shifts that didn't seem likely to happen. The next thing I knew, my nurse was telling me that she had to leave early that day, and then Michelle came in and said she had just finished with her other patient so she was assigned to me! That is another absolutely amazing example of God's goodness to me! I just love Michelle, she is a real-life angel!:)

Anyway,I was still feeling ok, and so glad to have been able to do that, so I also thought it would be fun to go down a floor to the newborn nursery and let the boys peek in the window while we were there. I'm not sure why I thought that was a good idea on this particular day, but I have always loved to get a peek in the newborn nursery, so down we went. At first we didn't see any babies except one in the back, far from the windows. When we walked down a little bit, we saw one more brand new baby with a large group of adoring fans getting a first glimpse.

From my angle, I didn't have a very clear view. I could just see this head full of dark hair, and these chubby little arms and legs wiggling as the nurse was poking and prodding.

"Look at her!" "Isn't she precious!" came from the fan club.

Suddenly, I was thrust back in time three years, and standing at the admitting desk waiting to explain the reason I was there, while I could hear a man on his cell phone exclaiming proudly about his brand new baby girl. Back to the day when I gave birth to a beautiful little girl with dark hair, silent and still, who never made it down to the newborn nursery to be admired. In fact, only a handful of people, our nurses and closest family ever even saw her face, and very few people speak her name. But she is still my little girl.

Sometime while we were there they had wheeled another baby over close to the windows, also with a head full of dark hair. My eyes were filling with tears, and I'm so glad I caught Mark's eye to mouth "Let's go."

As we left the hospital, I was again three years back, leaving my heart behind with an empty belly and empty arms. This time I wasn't leaving without my baby, I was leaving without my big girl, with sweet imploring eyes who would have been one more child to corral and try to stop from diving into the hospital fountain head first on the way to the exit. Of course if she was here we wouldn't really even be there at all, and today would just be any other day...

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Looking Back

So it has been a while, but many times lately I have found myself wishing that I was still writing, and wanting to record some of my meandering thoughts and happenings again. I've been thinking a lot about peace lately, and the title of this blog. I look back at the reason this blog began, losing my sweet, precious little gift Eliana, and I marvel at the fact that I had such peace during that time, I marvel because I know it wasn't that I had such peace, it was that I was given such peace from the Lord, the supernatural kind. I've thought about starting a new blog, with a new, fun, creative title, but still I find Peace characterizing my existence, covering us every day, so this is the space where I want to stay.

Tonight I was experiencing that peace again. I sat on the couch doing Benjamin's chest therapy treatment, part of his daily regimen to manage Cystic Fibrosis, and reflecting on God's love and goodness. With Eliana's birthday in just a few days, I have been thinking back a lot on that time, and the year that followed with Benjamin's birth and diagnosis with CF. I am in awe of how well God chose to prepare me for his diagnosis. I know He knew that I needed to know ahead of time that something might be wrong. As hard as it was wondering throughout the pregnancy if he would have CF or not, it gave me time to learn about the disease, and get rid of a lot of misconceptions that would have devastated me if I was told about CF for the first time as I held him in my arms. It gave us time to think, and pray, and trust, and place him completely in God's hands before we even laid eyes on him.

God also prepared me through Eliana. Had I not experienced the loss of my daughter, I don't think I would have gotten to experience the same depth of peace, joy, love, and thankfulness that filled my heart over Ben even as we learned about CF. Because of her, I am just so thankful to have him alive and healthy in my arms, smiling, laughing, playing, living, that I have shed very few tears over Cystic Fibrosis. When I have cried, it is for him, because I don't want him to have to go through all the trials in his life that come with this disease, but even in that, I know that God will use it to mold and shape him into exactly the person He wants him to be. There are definitely times when I am anxious about the future, believe me, I have my moments! But, underlying it all is that supernatural peace, that surpasses all understanding, knowing that the loving Father who takes care of my little girl, is taking care of Benjamin, and has the blue-prints already laid out for his future. All I have to do is trust Him...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Life lately

So much has been happening it's hard to know where to begin...The school year is definitely in full swing, which means not only has my oldest started kindergarten, but I am back to teaching music lessons, and our Wednesday night kids program at church and two weekly Bible studies have begun as well. Combine all of that with the normal day to day care of three children, and Benjamin's CF treatments and you have a recipe for a big pot of Busyness with a scoop of craziness on top! Each moment of the day seems to be spoken for, and at the end of the day, so much is still left undone. I am learning a lot about priorities, time management, and multi-tasking!

Things are generally going well in the midst of the Busyness. We can't stop praising God for Benjamin. He is such a huge gift wrapped in the cutest and cuddliest of packages! He has the sweetest disposition and loves to smile and "talk" to us all the time. It still just melts my heart when he looks into my eyes with such pure sweetness. He continues to do remarkably well with CF, with no lung issues and impressive weight gain. At 3 months, one week he already weighed 16 lb., 3 oz. and had nearly doubled his birth weight! At the CF clinic they always like patients to be around the 50th percentile for weight to height ratio, and for the first time at his last visit he finally made it, and even crossed over to the 67th percentile! He was in the 20th at his first visit, and down to the 15th at one point so it's so exciting to see him thriving like this. He is just so healthy right now and we're so grateful.

Recently I met a woman who works in the NICU at the hospital where Ben was born and she was telling me about a little 4 month-old with CF who has been in the NICU since she was born because of digestive issues. I am so sad for her and for her family, and it just brought home again how blessed we are for him to be doing as well as he is. At times I feel like I'm in denial about the disease because I almost forget that something isn't right with him. We do spend a lot of time doing preventative treatments though, hoping to maintain this level of health for as long as possible. With every feeding we give him digestive enzymes and do chest therapy twice daily to break up thickened mucous so it doesn't build up in his lungs. Last month they also added a breathing treatment twice daily before the chest therapy to open up his airways so the therapy is more effective. All of this takes most of the morning between dropping Caedmon off and then picking him up from morning kindergarten, so you can imagine how the day goes by so quickly!

Caedmon is enjoying school and last week I had the fun of joining his class on a field trip to the pumpkin patch. Jayden enjoys the free reign he has over the house and all the toys while his big brother is gone to school! All the boys are growing so fast I often wonder what Eliana would be like at this stage. Toddling around the house and getting curious, I'm sure. The other day at Mc.Donald's playland, Jayden (my 3-year-old) had a thoughtful look while he watched some little girls playing and said with a smile, "Mommy, I was going to say we don't have any girls...but you're a girl, and Eliana's a girl...she's our girl Mommy." So sweet.

At kindergarten Caedmon was featured to tell about himself and have the other kids ask him questions one day. He came home and told me "I told them I have two brothers, but I didn't tell them I had a sister. I decided to keep it a secret." Then he said he doesn't like to talk about her because it makes him sad.

For me, sometimes I am like Jayden. I can think of her and talk about her freely with a smile, feeling thankful for the beautiful blessing of her life, and joy that she is in heaven. Many times, I am more like Caedmon. I have her tucked away safely in my heart, and it feels almost too sacred to disclose. When asked about my children, I often tell people I have three boys and leave it at that, thinking to myself "and a princess in heaven..." I know now that I don't have to talk about her to prove my love for her, it is etched so deeply and permanently on my heart that it has just become a part of who I am. Whether I speak or fall silent, I am always and forever her mother and that is something that cannot be erased by the separation of time, space, or realm.

Sometimes when holding Ben I kiss him an extra time or squeeze him a little tighter as I think of Eliana. There are moments of sadness for what might have been with her, but it also makes loving him all the sweeter. My heart is full of a deeper knowledge of what a treasure and miracle he is, because of the understanding that she gave me. God has truly blessed us, many times over with these sweet little ones.

God is so good...

God is so good...

God is so good...

He's so good to me...

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Walk to Remember

Yesterday was 17 months since the day you were in our arms. I still speak your name every day. Sometimes now, it is spoken quietly in my heart, and other times we speak it out loud as we daydream about what you might be like now if you were here, or look back in rememberance of the short time you were growing in my womb, and the brief moments we held you.

Today, we walked to remember you, joining so many others whose babies are exploring heaven with you. We walked to a special memory garden and laid a white rose for you at the feet of the Hope Angel, and today, we spoke your name out loud to as many as would listen. Eliana Grace, we speak your name to say that we miss you, we love you so very much, we want the world to know: you are real, you were here, and even as you live forever in heaven, you remain alive forever here with us in our hearts. We will never stop speaking your name, and we will always long for the day that our faith becomes sight and our hope becomes a realty--that day when we hold you again in heaven.

A Walk to Remember

by Kathie Ratoj Mayo

I walk to remember
the steps you'll never take.
I carry you with me
as I firmly plant my feet.
Our trek started long ago,
before my belly swelled.
You were a love that grew-
like butterfly wings that beat.
Your gently flutters then became
kicks upon which I would dwell.
And I would talk to you, sweet babe,
about the world you soon would meet.

The sun always shone upon us then-
when you were in my womb.
And I was eager to show you the world
that would have been your home.
How you'd have loved the sun shining-
blue skies without a cloud.
The autumn leaves turning-
the snow falling all around.
The flowers in summer-
would have filled your eyes with smiles.
And the rain that might have fallen
would have caused you great surprise.

You would have traveled far with me-
holding me by the hand,
And I'd have shown you all I could-
more than I can imagine.

You hold my heart tightly now,
as though we're holding hands.
How far we've traveled, little one-
and my life with you has been sweet.
For I carry you in my heart,
as I firmly plant my feet.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

16 Months

It's been...
sixteen months since we held you
sixteen months since we had to let you go...
you would fit so perfectly into our lives,
and you still fit so beautifully into our hearts.
Wishing I could hold your sweet toddler hand in mine, and lead your wobbly steps beside me down life's uncertain path, but He has made your path so straight down those streets of gold. And one day it is you who will take my hand and guide me down that path.
Loving you always, sweet baby girl.

Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

First Day of School

I can't believe today I dropped that sweet baby off to kindergarten for the first time!! My oldest son Caedmon is already in school. We chose to do half day kindergarten for a smoother transition from home-schooling last year, and so that I can still work with him at home in the afternoon when there's time. He's been nervous about it all summer, and every time someone would mention it he would say "I'm not going to kindergarten!" but I love that after praying about it with him and going to the open house, he was excited to go, and couldn't wait until this morning came.

It also just came out yesterday that after seeing a scene of corporal punishment on Anne of Green Gables some time ago he was afraid that he was going to get a "spanking on the hands" from the teacher! If only I had known that earlier this summer I could have reassured him sooner, poor kid! Who knew that movie would traumatize a child! Once we got that cleared up he definitely relaxed more and when I picked him up today he was all smiles and excitement about the year ahead.

It's hard to believe this sweet boy who was not-so-long-ago my baby is now going to school. There are so many moments like this that I wish I could freeze in time. Watching him walk into his classroom today reminded me of how quickly he will be grown and going out into the world. I know it seems a little silly when he's only 5, but as quickly as these years have gone, I know the next ones will fly by even faster, and I will look back and wish I could revisit today.

Caedmon going to open house:

About to get in the car on the first day of school:

Sitting at his desk for the first time:

Jayden wished he could go too, but got to spend the morning on his scooter

Now, Ben, promise me you will not be going to kindergarten any time soon!