Today Derek and I took part in a wonderful opportunity to share our story about pregnancy and infant loss.
We were able to join Derek's dad, Randy Carlson, on his radio show Intentional Living and talk a bit about our journey as well as offer some encouragement to anyone who's going through the challenges of life after loss.
With it being Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, Derek and I have been talking a lot about ways that we can do our part to break the silence and encourage others. We're hoping and praying that God used us today to encourage others, and offered some helpful thoughts for anyone out there that has been through loss. If you want to listen to the show you can use this link. Sorry in advance for my mousey voice!
It's been a long time since I last posted. To be perfectly honest, I just didn't have anything to say. But I'm here today because today is close to my heart and I couldn't be silent.
Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. Actually, the whole month of October is, but the 15th is seen as the international day to remember the little ones that have gone too soon. I didn't know this day existed until Zuri passed away. I had been sort of looking forward to today as it provided a chance to feel connected with other bereaved parents as we all take a moment to remember our children. Now that the day is here there are so many thoughts that are swirling through my head...
I miss my babies
Thank you God for the time that You gave us with them
One day we'll be together again; I'm looking forward to that day
You will always be loved, my little ones
The scripture that keeps coming to my mind that is bringing so much comfort is from Isaiah 25:8, "He will swallow up death forever, And the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces...". This life is temporary, but on the days when the pain is just too great, I rely on the Lord who is my strength and my refuge.
If you are looking for some ways to remember your little ones today here are a few ideas:
- Release balloons
- Make a donation in honor of your child
- Perform a Random Act of Kindness in honor of your child
- Plant a rose bush, tree, or other plant that will make you smile whenever you look at it
Tonight Derek and I will be lighting two candles to join in the Wave of Light
In an effort to do my part to break the silence and raise awareness for this day, I just want to encourage those out there that might know someone who has gone through a loss. Whether the loss was recent or some time ago, it's okay to let them know that you have not forgotten their children. We are called to "rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn".
Be blessed, friends.
As most of you already know, via our Facebook post, Derek and I are excited to share that hopefully our family will be expanding again. There is hope in the midst of this difficult journey, but being pregnant after a loss is a journey of its own. Recently I was asked to join a wonderful group of ladies who share their experiences with pregnancy after loss, so I'm also blogging weekly over at Pregnancy After Loss Support, feel free to check it out. But don't you worry, Hippy Momma followers, I'll be sharing my journey here as well in the next few weeks. Until then, I just want to say thank you for all the love and support that you have poured out to us. It means so much to know that we are not alone in this.
Wednesday, February 12th, we woke up looking forward to the idea of going home later that day. I was also looking forward to spending a little time with Toby later that afternoon when Derek's parents were going to bring him over.
For whatever reason I was feeling down. It probably had something to do with the fact that I wasn't getting as much sleep as I needed, but I think it was a need for me to spend some quiet time with the Lord. After Derek left for work, I read my bible for a bit and turned on some worship music. One of my favorite worship songs ( I don't know if it's really categorized as a worship song, but it always has been one for me), "Carried to the Table" by Leeland. A peaceful calm came in the room, and I was ready for the day ahead.
My mom came to keep me company. We watched tv, talked, laughed, generally enjoying each other's company. We played the Disney version of Scene It. After lunch we decided to watch a movie. About 10 minutes into the movie I suddenly felt lightheaded and my head hurt all at the same time. And then I felt a contraction.
I was a little annoyed with the onset of the contractions. Unfortunately they are a horrible "side effect" of PROM. I got up to use the restroom, hoping that it would help alleviate the contractions. After getting back into bed I laid down and tried to breath through each one.
Things got blurry at this point for me. My sense of time was completely thrown off, so my recollection of the timeline of events might be confusing.
I remember the phone ringing and it was my doctors office returning one of my phone calls (I had called them earlier in the day to update them about my condition); my mom told them what was going on and that I'd call them back.
My mom started calling and texting friends to ask them to pray for me.
The contractions weren't stopping, no matter how calm I tried to be, patiently breathing through each one. With each one that started again, I began to get more and more concerned. Finally I asked my mom to call Derek and tell him to come; I didn't want to start thinking negatively, but I knew that if our daughter was going to be born I'd never be able to forgive myself if I didn't let Derek know and he somehow missed the birth.
Derek was on his way. My mom called my dad and asked him to come.
My mom was waving lavender oil under my nose and massaging magnesium oil all over me (magnesium oil can help stop contractions). The contractions were really painful.
The nurses kept coming in to check on me. I asked them if there was something they could do, but there wasn't.
Derek arrived and it felt so good to see him. He held my hand and worked hard to help me through each contraction. He turned on peaceful music and whispered prayers for me to hear. At one point I remember telling him that the music that was playing wasn't really helping, and I asked him to turn on worship music instead. The first song that came on was "Carried to the Table".
My dad came and began praying over me and the baby.
One of the nurses came in. I asked her if I could hear the baby's heartbeat; I needed to know that she was okay.
When the nurse found the baby's heartbeat I got scared; it sounded fast. I looked at Derek and said "it's too fast, she's not okay". Everyone tried to assure me that she was alright, it was good that we could hear her heart beating.
I was literally surrounded with prayer and comfort.
The contractions were getting more and more intense, and I was having a hard time handling the pain as well as the emotions. There's a big difference between being in labor when you're full term and ready to meet your baby; it's another experience when you're very preterm and not ready to meet your baby. It felt like I was fighting the labor, willing it to stop.
I tried getting into different positions to help ease the pain, but nothing was helping. Finally I asked if I could get something for the pain. I was hoping that if the pain could ease up long enough for me to catch my breath and focus on relaxing, maybe they would stop.
The nurse put a shot of something into my IV. A minute later I got drowsy, but not sleepy and started to feel better. I laid on my side, Derek still holding my hand. He opened my bible and started reading different verses to me. My mom and dad left the room to talk with Derek's dad who had also come.
I was feeling like I was coming down from a hill that was swarming with buzzing bugs. Derek's peaceful voice broke through with the encouraging scriptures. I clung to them, believing them, proclaiming them within my heart.
The contractions continued, but with the help of the pain medication I was able to breath through a couple of them. But I was disappointed that the contractions were still coming. I kept praying "God, please, please make them stop. It's not time yet. She's not ready to come out yet. Just a few more days, please."
Then a big contraction hit and I opened my eyes. I remember gripping Derek's hand and asking him when the contraction was over "why aren't they stopping?". He looked back at me and said everything would be okay.
Then I felt the thing that I'd been dreading since the first time I'd felt real contractions at the hospital; I felt like I needed to push. The nurses had already told me that they'd wait and hope that the contractions would stop, but if I felt the urge to push, they'd just let my body do what it needed to do.
I started crying and told Derek that I needed to push. Just then my mom and a nurse came back and Derek told them. I was crying and trying to breath calmly at the same time.
The doctor came in and checked to see if I had dialated. I was praying that I was just mistakenly paranoid and that I hadn't felt the urge. I kept praying that this nightmare would end.
The doctor calmly told me that I was 10 centimeters dialated. I just started weeping and crying out to God.
I could see Derek looking down and I knew his heart was breaking. My mom started crying as she held my hand and told me everything was going to be okay.
The baby was coming now.
This couldn't possibly be happening, it was all a really really bad nightmare. Please God, no. Not now. We had tried so hard to be hopeful, to believe that God could do the impossible. I knew that He was big enough, that nothing was too much for Him to handle. Please God, please. We were only at 22 weeks and 1 day, we needed to at lease make it to 23 weeks and 4 days. Please just make it all stop, keep her in there Lord. Please God, please.
I can honestly say that the idea that my baby really could die had not crossed my mind. I knew it was a possibility, but I was clinging to the hope and belief that God could save her. I had talked to people who had gone through similar situations and their baby's had survived. My story was going to end on a hopeful note. This was not part of the plan.
To say I was distraught is an understatement.
My doctor came over to my side and held my shoulders. She looked at me with love and compassion in her eyes and said so clearly, "You've fought for her as long as you could. Now it's time for her to come out. It's going to be alright. Okay?" I will always be so thankful that God provided an amazing doctor for us during this whole ordeal.
A NICU doctor came in and prepared the warming station. She came over and explained to us that at 22 weeks it was unlikely that there would be much they could do to sustain her life. They would check her and let us know what her odds were, but ultimately it would be up to us to make the decision as to wether or not the doctors would try to save the baby.
A few minutes later, I pushed twice, and Zuri Rose was born. She didn't cry. The room was silent as we all held our breathes, waiting for the doctor to asses her and tell us if our little baby had a chance if they tried to sustain her, or if it would just hurt her more.
Immediately I began praying that the doctor would feel that Zuri had a chance at survival. I felt so helpless just lying there waiting.
My mom stood next to the doctor, watching her tiny granddaughter and praying for a miracle. The doctor looked at us and said that she was just too little. Derek and I cried.
The doctor brought Zuri over and placed her in my arms. The snowstorm of emotions swirling inside of me was so overwhelming.
I'd been here before, fresh out of labor holding my newborn, experiencing the surge of hormones that would make me naturally bond with my child. But this was different.
I was happy and devastated at the same time. She was here, my little girl. This little person who had shared my body for weeks, she was here. I was overwhelmed with love for her. She was so beautiful.
The pains of afterbirth came and I remember recalling something I'd read, that with subsequent births those pains could be worse than with a first baby. They weren't kidding, this hurts. I shut my eyes from the pain. Someone told me to just look at my baby.
She was so tiny. Derek and I marveled at her. She looked so much like her big brother; same long limbs, same nose, same soft and round cheeks, same little pouty lips. She was perfect.
She gasped for air and the sight of her fighting for life took my breath away. Derek looked at my doctor with tears in his eyes and asked, "are you sure there isn't anything they can do?". That's when I saw that my doctor was crying as well. She shook her head and said it would only cause Zuri more pain.
My mom went to get my dad and father in law.
Derek held his little girl. He sang "Jesus Loves Me" to her. This sweet little girl that he had waited for, prayed for (he had been hoping for a girl from the moment we found out I was pregnant), she was here and in his arms.
My mom got to hold her and tell her how much she loved her. My dad got to hold her. Derek's dad held her. Then she was given back to me. (Later in the evening Derek's mom and brother got a chance to meet Zuri as well)
Those precious, fleeting moments will always mean so much to me. I had been afraid of what it would be like to see my underdeveloped baby. But now that she was here in my arms the fear was replaced with awe as I marveled at the amazing work of God's hand. This wasn't just a premature baby, this was the little girl that God had so graciously allowed me to be the mere vessel that sustained her life for those 22 weeks; but He so clearly had been the one to knit her together, piece by beautiful piece.
As I held my little one, all I could do was tell her that I loved her so much, I was so sorry, and that everything would be okay. My mind flashed to that scene from "Steal Magnolias" when Sally Fields expresses how honored she felt to be there when her daughter's life began as well as when it ended. I'd always thought the words were beautiful, but now they meant something different. It was indeed a privilege, but I didn't want it.
All of this happened in such a short span of time, it's kind of crazy to recall all of it and remember that we only had about five minutes with Zuri.
And then she was gone.
I will always love you, my sweet Zuri Rose. Your father and I chose your name because we knew, long before we even saw you, that you would encompass beauty in so many ways; that's what your name means, beautiful. I'm so thankful for the time that we got to have together, those precious moments will always be so beautiful to me. Your sweet little face brought me joy and motherly pride in a moment that was filled with so many emotions, but I will always feel so blessed to have been able to be there when you took your first and your last breath. Even though it was so hard to let you go, it truly was a beautiful moment when I knew that you were with the Messiah. The first thing your little eyes got to see was Him, and that beautiful thought has brought me comfort in the weeks and months since we parted on this side. I will always miss you. My heart will always ache because you're not here. I look forward to the day when we can be together again, when I can hold you and kiss you. It will be a beautiful day.
My dearest son,
you are two years old and as such, you are programmed to explore new areas of your abilities. There are days when it can be challenging to parent you, but those are the days that I just have to remind myself that this phase won't last forever.
I know that one day the first words out of your mouth in the morning won't be shrill, ear-piecing, shrieking demands of "stawberry yogur!"
One day, you won't throw fits in the street because I wouldn't let you get in the car when we were out to take a walk. (I'm still trying to figure out the logic there...)
Sometime soon you won't get mad at me when I can't name that one character from "Bob the Builder".
I know that one day I will look back and laugh at the thousands of times that you burst into the bathroom (note to self: fix lock), and ask to "check mom butt?". Thanks for always lookin' out for me, kid.
There will come a day when you won't do this
after I ask you to simply put the already contained ball pit balls in your room.
One day, you won't pick up a tube of my fanciest lotion and quickly squeeze out the contents while I try to stop you with horror on my face as I stumble over the many toys you've strewn about the floor, strategically placing each one like a booby trap.
One day you won't use the carpet as a napkin to wipe the green smoothie from your face.
In the not-so-soon future I know our house won't smell like tacos after every I vacuum, reminding me of the day you decided to grab a bottle of cumin out of the pantry and dump out the fragrant spice all over the carpet, and of course the only way to clean it up was to vacuum it.
Someday soon you won't freak out every time a little peanut butter oozes out of your sandwich onto your hand.
One day you won't ask me to smell your armpits and laugh. Okay, maybe you'll keep doing that well into your teens...
I know that someday soon all of these things, and many more sweet little quirks about you, will fade away to be replaced by new attributes.
But until that day comes, there's "The Bachelor" as a guilty pleasure, and lots of chocolate to help me find my sanity.
Dudes, I don't know if it's the hotter-than-the-hinges-of-hell heat here in the great AZ, or the 5 a.m. greetings Toby has been offering for weeks- but I've got a bad case of blogger writers block. Like every day this week I've sat down to write but I have no idea what to talk about. I could overshare talk about the happenings of the day, but I love you all too much to throw that kind of boredom at you. I have some fun DIY projects I've been working on but you want to know something? Putting together a project post with a two year old around is like trying to take a picture of a beautiful sunset while rabid squirrels swarm around your feet. Not that I'd know, just speculating.
One of my constant struggles is being an insecure blogger. Ultimately I'd love to see this blog be a successful source of project inspiration or encouragement or just a good 'ol place to waste a little time. I'd also love for it to be a way for me to make a little money. But breaking into the blog scene is tough, and with so many blogs out there sometimes it's hard to not feel like they're better blogs and sheesh why do I even bother? But if I've learned anything this year it's that you have to keep going even when you don't feel like it, and that it's okay to ask for help along the way.
So! With all that unloaded, I'm opening up the floor for suggestions. Post ideas? Topics to try writing about? Things you want to see more of? Seriously guys, take advantage of this situation because you're catching me in a moment of creative writing desperation.
Leave your comments below or shoot me an email. Bring on the ideas!
cerca July 11 aka Cow Appreciation Day (aka free food day)
So we have this big blank space above our tv.
I've been wanting to put something in this space for a really long time but I've gone back and forth about what to put there. For a long time I thought I was settled on making a sunburst mirror, I even collected all of the required items. That was last year, and still- no sunburst mirror. Then today, I saw that A Beautiful Mess was talking about this awesome mural fence they made for their office house backyard and I was smitten.
and the DIY wheels started turning in my head. I'm still not entirely sure where I'm going with these inspirations, but I think today will be an artsy project kind of day. I don't know, what say ya'll? Am I headed in a good direction, or should I turn back as fast as possible? I lack confidence when it comes to home decor so I will gladly accept any an all input.