“…I Will See You Again”

Recently I discovered the labor nurse (whom I so clearly believe was a key in saving my life during my first labor/delivery with my daughter) was also with me when I delivered Elliot and Alexis. (I use the word discovered because I have little to no memory of the people around me during that day as I was in such great pain.)

I tell the story of our first encounter at Baby Loving Mama. Feel free to read it there (FYI: nominations for the nurse program are open until June 29th, 2012)

I’m not sure I have it in me to explain the full story of what this nurse, Kathy has shared with me in the last day. She gave details about my labor/delivery that I’m not sure I’m fully capable of processing right now. I consider them a gift, but one that is filled with both joy and sorrow which seems to be a standard thought for this entire journey. Maybe when I find the strength to actually share the story of that day I can include some of her memories as well.

The sweetest gift is knowing that SHE was the one who weighed them and took their footprints. Such amazing gifts that I treasure every single day. I know that my babies were being lovingly cared for by a team of nurses who all wept for them when they weren’t in my arms.

That said, in the midst of sharing this information with my mom she gave me this bit of scripture to hold near. Mom explained that Jesus was speaking to his followers about the time when He would leave them.

A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.

New King James Version: John 16:21

What a gift to learn that Jesus found some sort of relation to a woman in labor, and that He linked it to a message regarding the hope that we will see Him again and have joy. There is such truth in the reality that woman can so clearly divide the moments of absolute agony with pure joy the moment their child is born. I clearly remember that when my daughter was born three and a half years ago. I was critically ill and yet my joy in her life overshadowed all of that in the following days.

With my babies my joy was never pure. It was always tainted with agony, physical and emotional pain. I don’t know how to divide those moments because the pain continues. I don’t know how to forget the moments of pain because I am then forgetting the only moments I had with my children.

I will forever connect the day that I see Him with the day that I will see them… my children. I pray this is another verse to provide comfort to any mother who has had to endure the labor and delivery of a child/ren that they fully know they must give back to God too soon. I can’t explain what that is like and I can’t explain how I survived it. I can only pray that He can provide the comfort that I need to continue living with the joy eternal that I hope for in Heaven that “I will see you again.”

Names in the Sand

I was recently blessed with an amazing gift from a woman named Carly in Perth Australia. She’s dedicated her time to honor the memory of babies in Heaven by writing each of their names in the sand at sunset on a special beach. Each sunset is unique to your child. (If you didn’t name your child she will draw a sweet heart in the sand.)

After her son Christian went to Heaven, he came to her in a dream. She saw him writing his name in the sand at this beach and since then she’s been blessing families with this special memorial. Since the winter of 2008 over 15,000 children’s names have been written in the sand at sunset on Christian’s Beach.

She’s also started CarlyMarie Project Heal which includes international days for bereaved families (Bereaved Mothers Day, Bereaved Fathers Day and Day of Hope). The site also has a large list of support tools for loss and grief.

She does these beautiful memorials for free (if you like the image you can purchase a digital file for a reasonable price but the web post is totally free). I’ve purchased my beautiful sunsets to print but am posting the images here with her watermark with hopes of giving back to Carly and her mission. With hopes that another mother will see them and know where they too can get a beautiful sunset name. See Carly’s site for more information. Thank you Carly for all you do!

Numbers

I find myself counting – everything. I’m constantly looking for some sign from God that they’re with me. That they’re ok. Looking for something to carry with me for comfort each day. My glimmer of hope and thanksgiving in the midst of sadness. It’s a balancing act every single day.

We’ve been searching for a burial location for the babies for months now. We think we’ve found a place in a local cemetery that I grew up visiting. My great-grandma and grandma are both buried there. Memorial day always meant baby ducks and geese to visit. Grandma Lilly always made sure that I had some bread to feed them. What a joyful thing to watch in a place that revolves around such loss.

We’ve visited here several times this spring and my daughter loves the duck ponds. And wouldn’t you know as I was uploading this image I counted – five little babies. This is where my head goes every day. Two brown and three yellow. Maybe that means that my miscarriage and ectopic losses were a boy and a girl. That would total two boys and three girls in Heaven. Maybe it means nothing. But I still search and wonder – and count. I certainly don’t believe that they ARE my babies – but I like to think that God sends me a message once in a while to help me know that they’re safe with Him.

Three yellow flowers at Gooseberry Falls on mother’s day! It’s not uncommon to see three little flowers. I know that. But when they catch my eye and I think of my babies – it brings a moment of comfort and I have to believe that is a gift from God.

So I move ahead trying to capture the beauty around me in 3’s and 5’s and am thankful each day when I see them.

Tiptoe Through the Tulips

The day before they were born a friend came to visit. She told me a story with intentions of comforting my worries about raising a daughter with disabilities. It had been two weeks since we learned of Alice’s problems and my mind was struggling to accept what this meant for our future. For her future. Would she survive surgery? If she did what would her life be like?

WELCOME TO HOLLAND
c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved.

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability – to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It’s like this……

When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.”

“Holland?!?” you say. “What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.”

But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It’s just a different place. It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around…. and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills….and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy… and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away… because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.

But… if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things … about Holland.

Neither of us realized that this story was instead speaking to my life of grief. I’ve never looked up the actual story (not realizing it was published online until this very moment writing this) but my friend told it nearly word for word that day. The image sticks in my mind so clearly. I walk the parallels.

I’ve actually been to Italy as I’ve also been blessed with one amazing little girl here on Earth. I know the joys of being a mother. I packed those bags and studied those books and spoke that language even though it took us much longer than most to get there (our “flight” was delayed and rerouted with infertility). Many people can plan their trip easily and hop on a plane whenever they’d like. Not so for us.

My mind is still muddled about how I relate to this new life. We boarded the plane for Italy but I’m not sure where we landed. Is it Holland? Are there tulips and windmills in this new destination we’ve landed in? I’ve certainly met a new culture of people. Grieving parents who share similarities in their grief and struggles. But are there tulips? I’m still searching. I’m determined to find some sort of hope on the other side of this. I’m thankful to have a visual reminder to search for that hope.