Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Walking With You: Thankful

Walking With You is an outreach of Sufficient Grace Ministries, led by Kelly Gerken. Walking With You is a group of mothers who have lost a baby or child who gather together each month to share our stories, to encourage, and pray for one another as we walk this path together. Our hope is that you will be comforted when you join us here...and maybe that we can offer some grace for the journey as we look to the Lord for comfort and strength.

Kelly writes: "This month we are focusing on our gratefulness for the gifts we were given and the ways our lives were changed by the lives of our babies. I know that many people are busy, so this can be as simple or in-depth as you wish. I hope you will link your own post with us, sharing ways that you are thankful. I do think that reflecting on gratefulness is very valuable...especially in the throes of grief. Grief is big and consuming. The simplicity of counting our blessings refocuses a grieving heart from the giants of pain, sorrow, and hopelessness to the hope, comfort, peace, and eventually joy that waits for us on the other side of the valley. The comfort that waits for us in the arms of our Savior."

I am going to re-post something I wrote back in July, documenting all the ways I saw the hand of God in our journey. It has been a blessing for me just to go back and read what was on my heart at that time, and remember God's grace all over again. Tomorrow, while I am sad not to be bringing Eliana with me to meet all our relatives at Thanksgiving, I am so thankful for the short time we had together, for the beauty she brought to my life, and for the promise of our reunion one day in heaven. I am also immeasurably grateful for my husband, two wild little boys, and Eliana's little brother or sister growing safely inside, precious gifts from our Loving Father.

Here is my previous post:

Throughout our difficult journey, the hand of God has been evident in so many ways. In the midst of our sadness, He has truly given us reasons to be thankful and rejoice. He has been our light in the darkness, and I want to display that light for the world.

and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.
Isaiah 61:3

Here are some of the many examples of God's goodness and grace:

1. Even though we didn’t get to keep Eliana, He answered my prayer, and our desires by giving us a baby girl.

2. Even though she wasn’t with us long, He allowed her life to continue long enough for us to find out we had a daughter and fall in love with her.

3. They almost had me wait until 21 weeks to have my ultrasound, but instead they did it early, at 17 weeks and I am so grateful to have known her more fully for a longer period of time.

4. We brought our kids with us to every prenatal appointment, but on the day we found out the bad news, a friend had agreed to keep them for me because it was a longer appointment with the glucose screen. I am so thankful that my children heard about it from us, instead of the technician, and didn’t have to experience the initial shock or my reaction to the news. It was definitely so much better that way.

5. I had the most amazing angel nurses at the hospital, and especially my day nurse who took lots of pictures and talked me through every step of the way.

6. Even though I wanted the induction process to go quickly and get it over with, God knew that I needed more time to process before giving birth. It was 21 hours from when we arrived at the hospital until she was born, and I was in a much better place emotionally when she arrived than I would have been earlier on. I am eternally thankful that I was able to experience my time with her in the best way possible.

7. They talked with me a lot about the possibility of the placenta not coming out and needing to have an immediate D&C after the birth. We prayed about this, and it came out without any complication. That was very important to me, because the last thing I wanted was to have to be under anesthesia during the precious fleeting time we had with her right after the delivery.

8. We were hoping to have some indication of what went wrong for peace of mind’s sake, and when she was born, it was very clear that the cord was both wrapped and knotted. The doctors say it is still not conclusive, but we feel assured that it is likely the cause of death. Of course it doesn’t make losing her any easier, but we do feel blessed to have an idea of what happened.

9. I am thankful God allowed me to live in this time period, with the current knowledge about the best ways to handle infant loss. I know in the past mothers weren’t encouraged to hold their babies or hold memorial services. There are so many things I have been encouraged to do to honor Eliana’s memory, and I know the healing process would be so much more difficult if I had to face it in isolation.

10. I am so thankful beyond words for a special friend who visited me in the hospital, brought me flowers, and lots of food after we came home. She is the one who was taking care of our kids the day we went into the hospital. The coolest thing of all is that she told us after taking her children home from our house, her oldest son was asking a lot of questions about what happened to our baby, and over the course of the conversation He made a decision to receive Christ! She shared this with us in the hospital before Eliana was even born, and it was so amazing because I had just been telling my husband and mom that what I wanted most of all was for Eliana’s life to have an impact on this world to reach people with the gospel! Our first little convert was that very day. Praise the Lord!

11. I feel that left to myself, I can’t even imagine the state I would have been in during our time at the hospital and immediately following. Before this experience, I had sometimes imagined what it might be like to lose a child, and I felt it might be the one thing that I could not endure. I always hoped I would never know that pain, but when it came time for me to face it, I was not alone. I have said this before, but it was a truly supernatural experience the way God carried us through the early days. I think our hospital room was filled with a myriad of angels, and a blanket of peace was wrapped tightly around us. Our hearts were broken, but we were not without hope and comfort. I am so thankful to have experienced God on such a deep and personal level, and to discover the true meaning of so many of His promises.

12. God showed His love for us on our first Sunday back at church. Instead of having a regular service, a band called Ineloquent played, and their whole concert seemed to relate directly to our situation. It was as if they were there just for us, which I know is not a coincidence.

13. We wanted Eliana's funeral to glorify and magnify God, and the Holy Spirit was very present with us that day. We had our current pastor and the pastor from my home church speak, and it flowed together so beautifully, finishing with my 3-year-old niece spontaneously singing amazing grace from behind the curtain in the nursery. I was so blessed by the service and I know many others were touched as well.

14. I know God had a hand in the timing of all of this. It all happened just after the semester ended for my sister who teaches college. She was able to come for the funeral, and stay with me for a week afterwards helping during a time when I could not have handled it on my own. I am so grateful that she was able to do that for me and I know it was part of God's plan.

15. Soon after we got back from the hospital, I picked up my Bible and began reading Psalms. I was convinced this was the assigned reading for my Bible study group, though I later found out it was actually Proverbs. I know God specifically led me there because He wanted speak those Psalms directly into my heart.

16. Two little boys and a house full of toys. The day we came home, my in-laws offered to keep our boys, but we both wanted to bring them home. It was the most amazing comfort to hug them tightly, hear them laughing, and watch them play. Tucking them in that night was emotional, but so beautiful. The love we have for them has been deepened by our loss, and we are so grateful for the way they fill our hearts and our days with this love. In many ways they have been my lifeline, the reason to get up in the morning and face each day.

17. We have been so touched, beyond words by the outpouring of love we’ve received from so many friends and loved ones. My sisters gave me two special gifts: an angel holding a baby, and a “reunion ring” designed as a heart with a tear-drop shaped hole in it that will only be filled on our reunion day. My mom also gave me some special gifts, and we received meals, gifts, cards, phone calls, visits, and hugs from so many people it is too much to list. God has blessed me greatly through my mom's group at church, our church family as a whole, and other friends and family.

18. I am so thankful for my husband and the wonderful gift He is from the Lord. These types of trials are never easy on a marriage, but He has been such a source of strength and encouragement. He has been so willing to pick up the slack with the kids and other responsibilities. He is patient with me in my grief, and loving to me through my sadness. I'm so blessed to experience all of our weeping and rejoicing together as one.

I know I will think of more things after posting this list, but I am just in awe of God’s grace to us in our trials, and all the evidence that He is still in control, working all things together for our good in the tapestry of our lives. I once heard that like in a tapestry, all we can see of our lives is the back side, with all the loose threads and changing colors that don’t seem to make sense. God can see the front side of the tapestry, where all the things that appear to be a mess are woven together into a bigger picture that is perfect and beautiful. Someday when this life is over, we will see it as He sees it, and understand the full purpose He has for our lives. I don’t know what my tapestry will look like, but I trust that God's work is always perfect!

Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
1 Corinthians 13:12

Monday, November 23, 2009


So, I have taken a little sabbatical from blogging these last couple of weeks, because our lives have been so busy. The cool part is, some of the busyness has related to remembering Eliana, so while I haven't gotten to write about her, I have had other opportunities to think of her lately.

Last week the funeral home we worked with had a special ceremony for the families of children lost this year. It is really an amazing and touching thing that they do. They have a children's garden on their grounds full of metal statues they call garden dancers. Each one depicts either a boy or girl and has a child's name cut out of the metal. I first noticed these in 2007 when I attended a funeral there for another baby at our church, and I wondered about them. Never would I have guessed that I would soon know all to well what they signify.

We received an invitation in the mail to come to a memory ceremony, so we decided to participate. It was at 2 PM, naptime for our youngest, so my husband carried him in on his shoulder, and I was relieved to see when we entered they had big frosted butterfly cookies available to help keep my oldest entertained, and to give our younger son if he woke up during the ceremony. They had a neat program, led by a women who had lost her baby boy in 2005, with a poetry reading, candle lighting, and beautiful violin and harp music. It was emotional to be back in the same place again, where we had her service, but also peaceful to be able to return, and realize that some healing has taken place since we were there in May. At the close of the ceremony, we were told to go outside and get our little dancer.

We went out into the children's garden, and began looking at all the names on the dancers. At first I didn't see ours, but a woman helped point her out to us, and there she was, dancing in the sun, with Eliana written beautifully across her dress. It was so special to see her standing there with all the other kids looking so pretty and joyful, and to know we would be bringing her home.

I think it's such an act of love that the funeral home does this for each family. It was all started by the family of the woman who led the ceremony, to memorialize their son Allan, and bring comfort to all the families who would come through those doors after them sharing similar losses. One thing that has been so precious for me to see through all of this, is how so many people work through their grief by loving and reaching out to others, and turn the love they have for their child into something beautiful to touch the lives around them. I've seen that through so many of you through your blogs, and others in real life.

We took the dancer home in the car and put her underneath a tree at the side of our house. Right away the boys wanted to stand with her and get their picture taken. I felt so glad to have something so beautiful as a memorial, with her name on it, especially since we haven't been able to afford a grave marker for her yet. It's been bothering me for a while that we haven't been able to create a place just for her yet, besides the momentos set up in our house, so I'm really glad this can be the beginning of setting up a special spot in our own yard.

At the same time, it hurt so much to be bringing home a metal statue bearing the name Eliana, when all we wanted was to bring home our little girl, and to watch her blossom and grow and dance in the sun-light. Somehow the reality of all we are missing hit home all over again, and the pain of leaving the hospital with empty arms.

Bittersweet is definitely the word for our little garden dancer. I feel so blessed to have been given this special gift, and yet so deeply sad to have only a hard cold statue to represent the soft, lovable baby I want so much to be holding. And yet, here she is, with her cute little bouncy pony-tail, arms stretched toward the sky with her little heart balloon, and a smile on her face, with the most beautiful name in the world. Always a part of our family, always a part of our souls--Eliana.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wednesdays for Wyatt

Here we go! Our third Wednesday for Wyatt! It’s quite simple to participate. All you have to do is copy and paste this post on your blog, and come back here to link up with MckLinky! Once you do that, your all set to win a great giveaway.

So far, we are up to 1,443 signatures! Lets try to keep them steadily rolling in.

For those of you who are not familiar with my family and what we are trying to achieve, here’s a brief run down...

Our son Wyatt was diagnosed with a fatal condition at our 18 week ultrasound, but chose to carry him to term. We waited to meet our son with love, all the time praying we would get to see him alive.

On June 1, 2009, Wyatt made his way into the world by c-section. To our amazement he had a faint heartbeat and was breathing! He died two minutes later, but I’ve clung to the two minutes my son and I breathed the same air since his passing.

Upon calling to get a copy of Wyatt’s birth certificate, I found out he was listed as a stillborn. You would assume it was a mistake (like I did), but there was no mistake. According to the definition of live birth in Tennessee my son was not “alive enough” to be deemed a live born baby. His two minutes of life has gone unrecognized by my state, and I intend to change this piece of legislation so I can solidify the validity of my son’s short life.

Wednesdays for Wyatt was created to help spread awareness for a law that needs to be changed, as well as to generate more traffic to my petition. So if you’re reading this, thanks for taking the time to help our family!

This contest will be open today only. I will close MckLinky down sometime before midnight, so make sure you get linked up ASAP to make sure you are entered to win this giveaway! Thanks for helping everyone, and good luck.

Monday, November 9, 2009

6 Months

I can't believe it has been six months since we first held our baby girl. In many ways, I am frozen in time. I've continued with my commitments and responsibilities, my son has had another birthday, but sometimes when I am absent-mindedly opening my planner, I flip to a month much further back than the one I am in, and have to stop to think, "Oh yeah, it's not August, it's already November!"

In many ways, I imagined myself at this time much further along in the grieving process than I find myself today. Although functioning, I'm still often in survival mode, living one day at a time. Suddenly a huge dead-line will sneak up on me as if out of nowhere, or, the classic example, one week I actually completely forgot to go to work because the schedule was different than every other week, and didn't even realize it until the next day when I was about to go in! Of course, I can blame some of this on preggo brain, but I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I am still just existing, but not fully investing myself in the long-term.

Many of the things I'm doing now are things I wouldn't be doing if my little three-month old daughter was here. It makes it hard to fully commit my heart to these things, because they are all playing second fiddle to the single greatest thing I would be doing instead, had she lived. This, of course, doesn't include our newest Little One. Although there is little chance we would have had babies this close together, it is definitely possible. Baby June is my little compass, helping me to orient myself, to keep track of the days and weeks, and look ahead, albeit cautiously, with hope toward the future.

While in many ways it seems I've barely moved forward, in other ways it feels like far too much time has passed since Eliana was here with us, growing and kicking in the womb. I feel her slipping away from me, as the memories begin to fade, and the gap gets wider and wider separating her existence from mine. I know she isn't as far away as she seems, but it still saddens me as I feel time increasing the separation.

If she was still here, she would be getting stronger every day, pushing up on her arms during tummy time and trying to roll over. She would be smiling at her big brothers, and snuggling up to her Daddy when he came home from work. We would still have her sleeping in our room, and probably coming into our bed in the wee hours of morning when I would be too tired to get up for a feeding session. Now that this much time has passed, it's hard to even picture these things. They are like a hazy, distant dream that will never be.

Eliana, I still miss you terribly, and wish I could just go back and hold you one more time, making more precious memories. But it would never be enough to last for all the moments I will spend without you. You are always in our hearts, and on our minds. One day this separation will be over and I will hold you in my arms again, together for all eternity praising our Lord. Happy 6 months in heaven, Sweet Baby Girl!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Baby's First Christmas-In Heaven

As the holidays are quickly approaching, I am reminded of Eliana in two different ways. First, we will soon enter the time when I found out I was pregnant last year. As I've posted before, I originally intended to keep it a secret, and surprise my husband on Christmas, but excitement got the better of me, and I gave him an early gift instead. He opened a little package with a Christmas ornament of a baby carriage, so in a way, that is Eliana's first ornament, and that was her first and only Christmas with us.

Fast forward a year, and I am thinking of her as I imagined she would be this Christmas, chubby cheeks and curly dark hair, wearing the beautiful green velvet dress from my Grandma and the little burgundy shoes from my mom lighting up our Christmas in her own special way. I would be hanging a Baby's First Christmas ornament for her this year, and watching her smile at all the Christmas lights and decorations.

Unfortunately for us, that was not our path for this year, we don't get to have her celebrate with us, but we know she gets something better. As happy as our Christmas would have been with her here, it doesn't compare to what she will experience, celebrating in the very presence of Jesus, having the best Christmas party ever, in heaven! I wish I could see her little face light up with joy.

Since I won't be getting to hang the traditional baby's first Christmas ornament, I wanted to find a way to celebrate Eliana's first Christmas in heaven, so I came up with this design.

I would like to make many more for baby's who are spending Christmas in heaven. This is one more tangible way to celebrate and commemorate the lives of our butterflies who flew off too soon. Please let me know if I can make an ornament for your little one! You can comment here, and also e-mail me your address at so I can send one to you. If 2009 isn't your baby's first heavenly Christmas, let me know, and I can make one with a different year on it, or have it say something different and customize it how you would like it. Feel free to spread the word, I would love to make one for as many people as I can.