Monday, February 28, 2011

A Moment

It is not often that I write two 'Pause' (as I refer to them) blogs so close together. Usually something will happen or I'll find a thought sitting in the back of my mind that won't seem to leave me until I write.
What I am writing today has been on my mind since I opened an email late last night. It has stayed with me throughout the day and while I am writing about it now, I know that this writing will not be something that will ease my mind. At the same time, it is something that needs to be shared if only for my belief in the power of prayer and my petition to you to join me in prayer. Even if you are angry with God- or don't believe- just take this moment. Please.

Last night I got the following forwarded email from a dear friend. Her friend's son is Avery.

Today, February 27, 2011, around noon is when this all started. Avery was eating a hot dog and starting choking. We called 911 and ran two houses over to grab our neighbor - an off-duty Dodge county sherriff. He and his wife helped us out tremendously!

We were transported to Oconomowoc Memorial Hospital and they wanted to have flight for life take Avery to Children's Hospital. Flight was unavailable, so we came by ambulance.

After being here for a while, we finally got to talk to a doctor and we were informed that Avery actually had no heartbeat for about 40 minutes. Lots of other little details as well, but.... So as of the point of writing this (9:10pm), he is still unresponsive. His pupils do not dilate and he does not respond to any stimulus. He is on a ventilator that is breathing for him.

After reading the email I immediately began to pray- I dropped to my knees and prayed. I thought of my own children, how often they have eaten hot-dogs, laughing...

Today I read more information about Avery. He is given a 30% chance of survival and if he comes through he will be a 'totally different child'. I looked at the picture of the sweet little boy (probably about 2 or 3) and I broke down in tears.

A moment.
One moment that has changed their lives forever.

And the sad thing is there is no happy ending in all of this. I sat talking with my husband about sweet Avery and we prayed for him because we believe his sweet soul is in-tact. We prayed more for his family and those who love him- those who had dreams for him- those who are at this moment (like I) at a lack for words.

Why do moments like this happen?

And that is a question I do not have the answer for.
These moments.
Moments that many of us here have had- a moment that has changed our lives- forever.

And so what can I do? What can you do? And the first thing that comes to mind is pray.
Pray for a miracle.
And after the miracle of restoring Avery to the little boy with the sunny smile and bright eyes- Pray for the miracle that his family would feel God's grace through this- that they would feel His peace- that they would know His love.

Oh Avery.
Just a moment and your life has changed.
And although we will never meet and I will probably never even know your family-
this moment- your story-has changed me.
Made me pause.

Please pause with me and join me in prayer.

Dear God,

I know that you hold a sweet special soul in your hands right now. A boy that you sent in this world to change it. A boy that brought smiles and joy to his family.

I do not know what your will is for Avery and his future but I pray that he would feel your love and know you. I pray that his family would look to you for comfort- would feel your grace and your love. Please let them feel you in those quiet moments when they feel empty and alone and confused. Please let them feel your hands upon them. Please let them feel you as you weep with them. For you know their pain more than anyone else.

Oh God bless them.

In Jesus' name I pray,

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Not my whole story...

I was sitting at my daughter's dance studio, reading my kindle when I noticed a woman walk by. She was pregnant- only two months- and though I tried to focus on my book, I couldn't help but be drawn to the conversation she was having with two other mothers.

As I listened, I smiled. They were all sharing their 'pregnancy stories' comparing them. They had such fun sharing their stories- it was as if they couldn't take a breath- they had only a half hour to chat and they needed to get it in- the details... Part of me wanted to join in and share!

There were two! The way my husband almost passed out when he found out- He was trying to get used to the idea of being a father- He wasn't sure why our baby had 'two heartbeats'. I smile remembering the way his face looked that morning. When the reality of what 'two heartbeats' meant.
I was so sick! I lost so much weight- 13 pounds that first trimester. I joked that I should have gotten pregnant BEFORE I got married so I'd be so tiny on my wedding day...

I had PUPP- A horrible itchy rash- a reaction my body had to my babies. It was absolutely miserable!

I loved every minute of it! I was huge (measuring 40 weeks at just 6 months) and near the end of my pregnancy I had to sleep in a reclining chair. The babies were too heavy on my lungs and it was hard to breathe laying flat or even on my side for too long.

But I loved it.

And yet, I sometimes feel I can't share my story- even though I loved it- love telling it to my children. Because then I get to the end, the delivery- and then... well, the laughter stops and that uncomfortable feeling settles in.
And my story stops the laughter.
That is what I hate about my story. The way it stops the laughter- skips the record- cancels eye contact- and as much as I want to share it with pregnant moms, be part of the conversation, I can't- and I feel terrible for those first time moms who know my story- the way it ends.

On New Year's Eve we had my old college roommates over to ring in 2011. One roommate and his wife knew our story, lived it with us. I had spoken often with his wife about Andrew and she was so sweet to ask questions, show concern. She knew my pregnancy story.

The other roommate I hadn't seen in years. It was great to see him and meet his pregnant wife. This was her first pregnancy and she was over the moon. She saw our house full of children and naturally started asking questions about pregnancy... delivery...

We were much like those girls in the dance studio, comparing stories, laughing... I had commented that I couldn't wait to get my tummy tuck since my body was so wrecked after my first pregnancy. When the pregnant mom asked how much Joey had weighed, I paused. Six pounds. I felt foolish talking tummy tucks after delivering a 6 pound baby- but I couldn't finish my story... he had a brother who was six pounds 11 ounces... they were in separate sacs... separate placentaes... I was huge! I carried all out front! I had to sleep in that reclining chair...
But I stopped.

I let her think I was crazy and probably a little vain but I sipped my wine and enjoyed listening to the stories. And then it was on to talk of the delivery. Me? I had had an emergency c-section so then all my other children were delivered that way. I don't even know what a contraction feels like.
Oh... it's a long story... the recovery was horrible. I had never been in such pain (from my surgery and my broken heart), but the other sections weren't as bad. I knew what to expect...

I chose that night to keep Andrew's existence a secret. Or rather- not share his story.- the whole story. I had a choice and I didn't share- and even now I know I did the right thing.

But that wasn't always the case... I remember that day (months after delivering my boys), someone asked me if I only had one (referring to Jonasen) and I remember nodding. Yes.
As soon as I nodded I felt sick to my stomach and needed to get to my car. I drove home hysterical. I pulled over to the side of the road- head in my hands. Oh forgive me Andrew. I don't know why I said that. I don't have one, I have two. Forgive me. Forgive me.

But that New Year's Eve night, I looked at her face- beautiful with the glow of pregnancy and I told her she would do great. That there was nothing like becoming a mother. I didn't tell my whole story- because I looked at her and I saw me-

So happy.
So excited.
The nursery was ready, the baby books already being filled out.
She was beautiful.
And I would have been so angry had someone told her that this would be her story- taken that glow- that smile that she wore everywhere.
For she only had it that first pregnancy- and she never got it back.

Ignorance is bliss- and after she has that beautiful baby in her arms, maybe I'll tell her the whole story. I'll tell her how beautiful you were- how beautiful you all were- and how with every heart that beat in me, I grew to be a mother, and I have a story for each precious soul and what a blessing that is.
My story.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Your picture... Another Piece

Oh Andrew-
It's so odd- you're always in the back of my mind, and yet when Joe says your name it steals my breath- only when he says it- and I don't know why... Perhaps it's because I am waiting- waiting for that next question- the ones he asks when trying to put his story together... your story.

Last night your dad was at practice and your three youngest sibs were tucked into their beds fast asleep. I was a bit tired after a long day at work and was reading a bit in my bed when Joe came in. He had a smile on his face and came in my bed, gave me the biggest hug and told me what a wonderful mom I was (he has a sweetness about him- a trait he inherited from his namesake, no doubt). He was looking at his belly button and asked me why we have them. I told him that his belly button marked a very special place. I explained to him that there was a cord that was attached between the two of us- how it was what kept him alive- it was how he breathed, how he ate- and then he said, "Did Andrew's not work?"

And for some reason, I found myself telling him more about his story- your story. I told him that when you were both in my tummy you did lots of flips and somersaults- that you were having a regular party in there- but that with all that fun, that cord wrapped you guys up and that you were caught in a tangle. He asked me if that is what happened to you and why you died. I nodded- but I also told him that he was wrapped up in it too- and that God knew to get me in that hospital- so that he could be born- and that he would be ok.

I watched him as he took in my words- adding the newest piece that I gave him to his puzzle. He did not look alarmed or even saddened. I watched him so closely, Andrew- and I wish I could have crept into his mind- but he's seven and I do not want him to see my grief- the magnitude of it. So when I share your story, I try to share the joy- the hope. I told him that perhaps when you both got tangled, and God called you home, that you said to God, "My brother needs to be with my mom." And sometimes I like to believe that is the way it happened. That somehow you protected him- or probably more so... protected me.

And then he asked what you looked like. I told him that you were bigger than him! That you were bigger than all his sibs. I told him that you looked a lot alike. That you were pink and beautiful and just looked like a sleeping baby. I told him how I carried you both back to my hospital room- how we had some time together- I put my finger in your hand and told him how you seemed to grasp my finger. He smiled.

And then he pointed to the dresser where I have your picture- high above where he couldn't really see it. He said, "Is that his picture?" "Can I see it?"

And I hesitated.

I remember when I got those pictures of you. How I hated them and loved them all at the same time. I hated that they were taken long after you left me- after your body began to change- I hate that sometimes I wonder if they are replacing those memories I had that September night... And then I love them. I love that I have a picture of you. A reminder that you were real- Not some made-up story- Not a dream that I had, once upon a time...

Those pictures.
The ones your dad doesn't like because they, too, are not his memory. The ones that I looked at for hours until I could see them without being overcome with sobs. The pictures that I chose to keep in my room only- for my eyes only-

Until now?

And here he was asking. I got up from the bed and picked up your picture. Your darkened lips, your reddish hair, your darkened hands... and in those steps I prayed, that Joe would be ok to see this, that I would be ok sharing with him- for, after all, you are his brother...

I sat next to him and we looked at your picture. I didn't even look at Joe's reaction, I couldn't take my eyes off your face. For though your picture is always there- like you are always in my mind- I hadn't sat and really looked at it- not really- not like that.

Joe took a breath and mentioned your hair. And I told him that he and the others all had little wisps of hair before they were bald for two years- He didn't mention your lips- your hands- your coloring. Perhaps he saw you as I did- as a perfect little person.

And then we talked of heaven and how you have a perfect body now- one that doesn't get sick or hurt. One that never needs a band aid. I told him that he would recognize you- that I would recognize you- and I watched as that made him smile.

And tonight I am thinking about those words- and that conversation that again turned suddenly to his poor fish, Rocky- that you must be taking care of- even now as I type. We fell asleep in each other's arms until daddy carried him back to his bed when he came home.

And I wonder now as I type this if you were there- somehow seeing all that took place- somehow felt all the love that grows for you still. Oh Andrew, there is so much that I wonder...

But for now he has yet another piece- and I wonder when the next moment will come- the next question...

But for now, I know he is full, he is at peace, he is safe. And though he talks about God and how He is always with him, he has also mentioned you- and just like being a twin must have been so special- having a twin is special too- and I'm so glad that he has you- still.

I love you.

Always and Forever,
Your Mom

Monday, February 7, 2011

Finding the Words

Late last year, I was contacted by Franchesca and Carly who are two amazing women who also happen to have children in heaven. They were putting together a calendar for the Babylost and asked if I would be one of the people to offer some words. I felt honored to be asked to do this and so I read back over some of my posts here to find some words that particularly touched my heart.

As I read and remembered and thought about the words I had written, there were some posts that really stood out. Most were written before anyone had even read this blog. My only problem with the quotes that I treasured most was that they were too wordy (If you haven't noticed my motto seems to be, "Why say in 10 words, what you can in 100!" Needless to say I had a bit of a problem).

And so I thought- and prayed- and thought some more about Andrew. About E. About the gifts they have given me- Gifts which seem too numerous to count. I wanted what I shared with others to be about hope, about living- because that is where I am in my journey and before getting here I remember secretly wishing I could feel happiness again (though my comfort was in my grief).

And so while pondering all of this- all the goodness to be shared- the words that came to my mind in a moment- without thinking were, "He's grown me. Wise beyond my years- if only life's lessons didn't come at such a cost."

Those were the words they sent me- my babies- and in September, people who purchased the calendar will read those words and hopefully feel that too- for in that moment in September we were aged. They grew us. We are bigger and better and more full of life and love than we could have ever imagined... but it took time to get here.

For he has grown me.

We all have a story. And many of those reading these words tonight have a character in their story that is no longer with them, but changed them in ways that have yet to be seen. I used to be someone who thought in black and white, but now I know there is so much more- so many layers- so much hidden that is still waiting to be discovered- even for me.

He's been gone over seven years now- and still he speaks to me- changes me- grows me.

Oh- but what a cost- if only those life changing lessons wouldn't have come at the loss of a life that I would have given anything to know. Anything.

**And if you'd like to see the calendar, the beautiful photographs and the amazing words from people who have lived this, click here.

-As always, thanks for reading...