We will see you soon pretty lady. Please hold Ayden for me, and tell him all about his little brother. Sing to your heart's content. Worship, worship, worship as I know you love to do! Sit with Jesus and soak it all in. You're home. You're whole. You're where we all hope to be someday. I love you so much. And as much as we're all going to miss you, we all know you're where you've wanted to be since all of this began. You will remain an inspiration in our lives. I will tell my children, friends, strangers, anyone who will listen, about Jill Hollis and the impact she made on my life, and how my faith was strengthened through her witness.
Please pray for Jill's family and friends, but also smile just a little because it's what Jill would want you to do....
Here's what I know about Collen so far:
1. He's super adorable (should have been a given, right?)
2. He's a good sleeper
3. He loves to snuggle...especially with mommy
4. He does NOT like to have his diaper changed
5. He is warming up to "bath" (bird bath) time. I think this will change once he's able to get a real bath!
6. He loves to eat and does so with gusto.
7. He's not very patient when it comes to eating. When he's hungry, he wants his food right at that moment! And there is no such thing as "snack time" - he wants the full course.
Our first week with Collen has been a blur. We're dealing with jaundice issues, and to be honest, it's really stressing me out. He is coombs positive, which was explained to me to mean that our blood types are incompatible, which caused his red blood cells to break down...which led to the jaundice. Because of the coombs positive, he was at risk of his jaundice levels getting very high, so they kept a close watch on it. His levels got up to 19, which led to us having to put him on a bili blanket (a blue light that helps break down the bilirubin, which he expels in his urine). He was on the blanket for about 4 days, and his levels went down. We went a day without the blanket to see if his levels would go down on their own, and they only went down a tenth of a point. We go back in a week to check his levels again, and by then my hope and prayer is that we're finished with this jaundice mess! Like I said, it's stressing me out because, as you can imagine, all that is running through my head is the bad things that can result from jaundice....
I am nursing this time around, which has been interesting. It's HARD WORK! I stay exhausted, and it is so confining. I like that I'm able to feed him, but it's tough being the ONLY one who can feed him. I know I can pump, and I may do that later on. Right now, I'm just trying to get the hang of it all. I plan to stick with it....we'll see how it goes.
Collen is finally back up to his birth weight. Woo! He almost lost a whole pound by the time we left the hospital, so it was lovely to get that news today! We've had to take him to the doctor 5 times since he was born because of the bilirubin levels. Poor guy has had to have his little heels pricked so many times... :( I'll be glad when all of that is over with because it's about to worry me to no end.
We were sent home on an apnea monitor for peace of mind while Collen is sleeping. That has been interesting. Because of the bili blanket, we haven't been able to use the monitor. We put him back on the monitor last night, and I eventually just turned it off. It went off 3 times for no reason (well I guess there was a reason, but it wasn't Collen). I'll have to work on it because the first time we used it, it worked perfectly. Talk about unnerving.....uughh...
Collen and I have certainly enjoyed our time together. Saying that I love him would be a complete understatement. I adore him, and I can't imagine my life without him. I already worry myself crazy over every little thing and pray relentlessly for his safety and his future. I plead with God continuously to please let us keep him....not to take him from us.
Having Collen without Ayden stirs up a whirlwind of emotion in me. Emotions that I don't really allow others to see. I have moments when I just have to let myself break down because I miss Ayden so much....and while I love them both with the same intensity...I love them differently. A lot of you told me that would be the case, and you're right. The love is different, but it's just as strong. It's a strange feeling to be able to distinguish between the two, but I'm glad I'm able to.
I just wish Ayden were here....so badly.
I've shared two really neat moments with Collen that make me sure that Ayden is here with us. On two occasions, Collen has looked "at me" (in my direction) while I've ben holding him, and he has broken out in the biggest grin - an intentional grin. Developmentally, it is way too early for him to smile at someone. The first time it happened, I thought, "That's bizzare! He looked right at me and smiled...on purpose...no gas or poop behind it!" (haha) The 2nd time, I paid closer attention, and I realized he was looking over my shoulder, and he broke out in the grin again. I like to think he is smiling at his big brother. And...by the way...they share the same smile. That just melts my heart.
I see so much of Ayden in Collen. It's comforting, in a way, because I've missed "seeing" Ayden. But at the same time, it's hard because I look at Collen and see a child I love so deeply and one I miss and love so deeply, too.
I'll be sure to keep everyone update as we continue to learn more about Collen and watch him grow. He's such a blessing, and he is an answer to desperate prayer. Thank you all for your prayers and thoughts. Please continue to pray that Collen's levels will go down and my sanity will level out as well!
Before I go, please, please, please keep my friend, Jill in your prayers. Things aren't looking good. We may be looking at the end, and my heart just breaks to know that she is going through all of this. We've all known that it would end sometime. Jill has spoken to me on several occasions about what is/was to come with the ALS and how she is just ready to go. Part of me is ready for her because I know she's ready. I know that Jill's passing means she will be finished with the body that's failing her. She will have a body that will allow her to walk, run, dance, jump, and worship without ceasing. The other part of me, though, is sad because I'm going to miss her so much. I'm sad for her because she's having to suffer through all of this. She's having to endure a body that's failing her while being completely aware of it all. Please pray for Jill...pray for God's will to be done in the situation and for it all to be a peaceful process. Also, pray for Jill's family as they are watching all of this. You can prepare yourself for this kind of thing, but you're never really prepared for the end result. Jill is a beautiful woman of God, and I know that when she meets Him, He will certainly say, "Well done, Jill."
Surprisingly, I remember almost every detail of that day. I remember driving to the funeral home, the steps into the building, sitting down with one of the nicest, most compassionate men I have ever had the priviledge to meet, and then spending time with Ayden. I wasn't scared. I wasn't overly emotional. I was a bit numb, but I remember feeling so strong. I don't know where that strength came from. It was strange because I found myself in "Mommy mode"....still protecting my child by being the strong one.....when he wasn't there anymore. I remember seeing him and not being able to cry. I could never look at him and cry. He had made my life complete and happier than I could have ever imagined. Although I knew he was gone, he still made me smile. I was in awe that I had a part in making someone so beautiful. And although "Ayden" wasn't there in that room, seeing him there made it feel like he was still with us. So, that day wasn't as difficult because we were still able to see him, touch him, and be with him.
I remember Jeremy and I requesting to be alone with him before the rest of the family saw him. We didn't want to be with everyone else when they saw him because we wanted our emotions, reaction, conversation.....all of it....we wanted it kept private....between the 3 of us. Our pain was/is different than everyone else's, and we wanted to keep ours separate. Our grief process has been one that we've shared together and kept very private between us because we knew that our experience was going to be different than everyone else's. No one else could relate to what we were going through. We wanted to be strong for each other, and we didn't want our family and friends to feel the need to try to comfort us or "make things better." Because nothing anyone said or did could help.....we just needed each other. Looking back, I'm sure that over this last year, many have felt like we have pulled/pushed away, but we have had to face everything in the way that worked for us, and finding strength in each other is what has held us together and pulled us through.
I remember going home, looking at the hand molds the hospital made, walking around our back yard and watching the butterflies, crying....a lot....at any given point in the day, getting ready...unsure of what to wear but knowing I would not wear black that day - I eventually decided to wear the last thing Ayden saw me in because when I first put it on I remembered thinking, "Well, if no one else thinks I look pretty in this, at least Ayden will." I remember walking into the church to see the beautiful flowers and the pictures of Ayden that a friend of mine so graciouslly had enlarged for us. I remember the sanctuary filling up with people and seeing face after face walking towards us. I greeted people and thanked them for coming as I stroked Ayden's head.....still so proud of my baby boy. I remember looking back at that moment and thinking how difficult it must have been for everyone else to see him there, but how comforting it was for me to be able to reach out and touch him.....I just needed to be connected to my son.
I remember walking up on stage and not knowing how I found the strength to speak. I remember Jeremy's words and how he worked so hard to make them perfect.....and they were. I remember the music....songs chosen with so much care....songs I still can't bring myself to hear or sing to this day without weeping. I remember going to the memorial park and asking to see Ayden one last time. I remember feeling a peace there.....a peace I still feel each time I visit because I know he isn't there. We remember him there, but our Ayden isn't in that place.
I remember going back to the church for a family meal...wondering why it was customary to feed the family who is grieving the loss of a loved one. How did I even find it in myself to be able to swallow any of it? How was I able to smile on that day....or make small talk with friends? How was I able to keep moving?
You would think that after a year, it would be blur.
I remember it all.
I haven't posted these pictures before, and I debated posting them even now. However, I wanted to share our lives a year ago today to show you how far we have come. Some days, these images seem like yesterday. Other days, it feels like it has been longer. However, the reality of it all remains fresh, and I continue to feel the pain of Ayden's absence every day. I long to see him and hold him again. I pray frequently for Christ's return because I can't seem to imagine another day in this world without Ayden. I miss him every day. I grow more and more in love with him every day. And every day I wish he hadn't been taken from us. I plead for answers still....with no response. Yet, I continue to serve the God who allowed this to happen because I know that His will is good, and although it is beyond my understanding, He will reveal His purposes to me some day. Ayden's short life has touched so many, and I know that his life was not fruitless. He has touched more people than I ever will in my life time. I continue to be so proud of my son, and I know his life was not in vain. I make it my mission to ensure that he is never, ever forgotten. We will never forget, and we will forever treasure the amazing and wonderful blessing that God gave to us in Ayden. We never took a moment for granted, and for that reason, the memories of our time with him remain to be so clear and vivid. I hope that never changes.
This chapter in our lives isn't one that we can just flip through...turning the pages to move forward to the happier side of the story. Our loss will continue to be a part of our story and a part of who we are. It won't define us, but it will shape us and propel us through to the ultimate ending.....where we're with Ayden again. What a happy day that will be....
This is the video that was shown at the Celebration of Life Service. The sound on the video isn't working, but I hope you will watch anyway.
Lord, we will never understand the WHY in all of this. You blessed us with a child we loved and continue to love with every ounce of our being. From the moment of his conception, we gave him to you and trusted you with his life. We accepted your plan for his life before we ever knew what it was. We trust you and believe in your promises despite the tragedy we have endured. You have promised to restore us, comfort us, and be our refuge. You have told us to lean not on our understanding because this is not within our ability to understand. You have promised us rest. And above all, you have given us life after death through the sacrifice of your son. You have given us hope. Comfort us, Lord, and continue to remind us of the hope we find in You. Let us be a light to others enduring trials and suffering so that they may also know You and Your unfailing love.
Yesterday certainly didn't go as I had hoped it would. We had to take Collen to the doctor for a weight check and, what we thought, was going to be a quick check of his biliruben levels. His levels have been going up, and he has been a nice shade of yellow/orange since the hospital. I don't have to tell you how worried I have been over it all. Anyway, we had to get the levels checked at the hospital. Do you know how tiring it is, 4 days after delivering a baby, to trek 45 minutes to Greenville for a weight check...biliruben check...hour wait for the results...and then what turned out to be a 3 hour wait for bili blanket? I was exhausted....and feeling incredibly weak...and not really understanding why none of this was caught before now. So, we found out his levels had increased since leaving the hospital (I wish they had just put him on the blanket there....), so we had to wait for someone to bring us a bili blanket to use. We got to Greenville yesterday at 1:45 for the weight check and didn't get home until after 9pm. My 4 day old was put through all of this, and I couldn't for the life of me understand why anyone thought this was okay. I get that his levels needed to be checked...believe me, I understand how important it is. I just wished the whole process was a little more accomodating to the fact that this child is only days old, his mother is still healing, she is an emotional wreck, and sending all of us in circles isn't helping.
Today, Collen's coloring does seem better. He's a trooper, and he is such a sweet baby. I can't stop looking at him, and I could hold him all day long. I can't even begin to express how big of a blessing he has been...especially over the past few days. He kept me occupied and helped me keep my mind positive. Although, looking at him did bring sad moments because as I held him, I longed to be holding Ayden again as well.
The rest of this week will be a process. I'm taking it one moment at the time and trying not to become too overwhelmed....if that's possible. Once things slow down, I'll write more about everything, but I just wanted to put up a quick update and let everyone know what's been going on. Thank you all for your sweet comments, messages, texts, etc. yesterday. Knowing that so many people were thinking of us, and of AYDEN, meant so much and made the day a bit more bearable. Thank you for specifically telling me that Ayden is not, and will not be, forgotten. He lives in our hearts forever, and the day of our reunion can't come soon enough for me.
Please pray that Collen's levels improve and that things progress well from here. I need one less thing to worry about....
So happy to have Collen here with us!
My wonderful midwife, DeEtte. It was such a blessing to experience the births of both our boys with her!
Snuggling with Mom
And of course, I can't go into a delivery without adding drama to the situation. I won't go into detail on what happened, but boy do I know how to keep everyone on their toes! Everything turned out fine......and Collen is here, healthy, and beautiful....that's all that matters. He will go home on a monitor just because of our history with Ayden, so that will keep us from being too terribly paranoid - although we always will be.
....and not complaining about it one bit. :)
I went from 2cm to 3cm in 5 days. I'm hoping the progression from 3cm to 4cm (the beginning of active labor) is sooner than 5 days from now.
I'm a bit more effaced...close to 75%. And Collen's head is at -1 station....still a little bobbly as DeEtte puts it. ;)
I'd be lying if I said I wasn't anxious and ready to get this show on the road. I'm so ready to meet this little one, I literally lie in bed and just hope and pray for the pang of a contraction. I have been having false labor, which is such a tease, and I have also been experiencing a definite increase in braxton hicks contractions....which is a good sign.
But, for now, he's staying put. This is fine with me as long as he is okay. Right now, I'm worried that with every day that passes, he is going to lose room as he continues to get bigger, the fluid is going to get low, the umbilical cord is going to prolapse or get caught somehow, or the placenta is going to start to age. I monitor his movement so frequently....and begin to panic if I DON'T get a reaction from him at times. I've just heard and known of people who have made it this far only for it to end in tragedy, so my fears lie in that possibility right now. Ultimately, it's out of my control. I know this. But that doesn't bring any sort of comfort or solace....just even more anxiety and fear because I'm not in control of the situation. (The book I posted about, Plan B, addresses this issue, so I'm trying to work through it....)
I had a talk with Collen today after our appointment. I told him that this 1cm a week business is fine right now, but we've got to get things moving here soon. 1cm a week from this point forward isn't going to cut it, big boy! It's time for you to meet your mommy and daddy who are so excited to meet you!
When I was at 3cm with Ayden, I was already at the "huffing and puffing" stage of my contractions. And this time, at 3cm....nothing. I'm grateful - don't get me wrong - that I've made it through "early labor" without any contraction pain, but goodness....I'm ready for it to get moving! I am looking forward to a shorter labor this time around. That will most definitely be a welcomed event.
A lot of anxiety is building up these days not only because of Collen's soon-to-be arrival, but also because August 25th is quickly approaching. I'm really hoping that Collen decides to be born before we reach that day. As I've mentioned before, when we found out we were pregnant again, in December, I knew that meant the due date would be late August. My only reaction was, "God, what are you doing?" I counted back the days from Ayden's due date to his birthday. He was born 7 days early. I remember counting back 7 days from this due date (August 31)....August 25th. At that point, I gave up trying to figure it all out and just decided that it's all completely beyond my understanding. Since that day, our big "what if" has been..."What if Collen comes on that day....what if he is born on August 25th." Of course, we'll be elated on any day he decides to make his debut, but still....what if? I'll continue to look to God and say, "What are you doing?" His plans are not my plans, but I will accept them none-the-less. So...as I said...a lot of heaviness is approaching us in the coming week. The 25th being the day Ayden passed away and the 27th being the day of his memorial service....and then the days following that.....hard days to remember. So, having Mr. Collen around would definitely lighten the mood a little bit and remind us of the joy we've been promised through him and the blessing that he will always be to us. I don't believe it was a coincidence that God decided to give us Collen in the month of August. He connected Ayden and Collen in this way for us, and as we remember our sorrow a year ago, we will eagerly await the joy that is to come in another son....one who will know all about his big brother from the day he is born. We hope that as he grows older, he will see the significance of his birth and the blessing of joy he is for our family.
Come soon Collen! We can't wait to meet you!
Say hello to our little ones Declan....we'll see you and ours very soon.
It Wasn’t You…
It wasn’t you who finally made it come true
It wasn’t you who gave me the first taste of kicks
and wiggles and squirms; bulging belly and backaches
and entrance into the coveted Mommy Club.
It wasn’t you I spent hours and hours
researching every little thing for…
deciding on each item bought
so specifically and purposefully.
I didn’t read all of those books for you.
I didn’t see you in that crib…
on that changing pad…
in that chair…
in that room.
It wasn’t you I spent years and years dreaming for.
It won’t be you who enjoys me
as a “New Mommy” because I am not.
I am seasoned in a way that many others can’t imagine.
I was your brother’s mother first,
and though he is not on this earth,
I still parent him.
I love him.
I dream of him.
I miss him.
I grieve him.
So your mommy will not be the same
as I would for him.
Because it wasn’t you.
But make no mistake: It IS you.
It is you who gives me hope.
It is you who makes me smile again.
It is you who I now include in my dreams
and cherish the thought of every one.
It is you who holds a place in my heart
that no other ever will.
It is you I’d again give my life for
and it is you who will know me in a way
that no other would.
You will know the mommy I’ve become.
The mommy who is so honored
to have two sons
and so humbled by their presence in my life,
no matter how brief it was,
has been or will be.
It is you who will know the mommy
capable of the deepest sorrows
and the greatest joys existing within,
and it is you who will grow knowing that in all things,
there is a season.
It is you who epitomizes the power
of God’s restoration and healing,
and it is you that reminds me again and again
that He was and is and always will be faithful.
It wasn’t you who first showed me that,
but it is you who perpetually maintains the concept.
You will never be him
and he will never be you
and I am blessed, for I have known
and loved you both.
No, it wasn’t you
…but it never had to be.
You are both cherished.
The highlight of today, of course, was my 37 week check up. I had gained yet another 2 pounds (what in the world!). It's packing on here at the last minute.... My weight gain total is at 31 pounds now. I'm hoping it plateaus after this week...but if not, oh well.
Collen was pretty active; his heart rate was in the 160s. My midwife estimated him to be between 7 and 7.5 pounds, but she said we could do an ultrasound just to check (more on that in a moment). She also checked to see if I had made any progress since last week. I'm a full 2cm and 50% effaced (sorry if that's TMI....I feel weird typing it, but it's important to know, I guess). She said his head seems engaged, so he's definitely in position.
I have been having sporadic contractions but nothing consistent. I haven't even had many braxton hicks contractions. So, hopefully my body will get in gear soon and get things going!
On to the ultrasound....
She measured his head first. And whoa, buddy, Collen has a big noggin. I looked up on the screen as she was measuring to see, gestationally, how big it was measuring. I am 37 weeks 2 days; his head is measuring at 41 weeks. Eeeek!! I called Jeremy and thanked him, very sarcastically, for passing on his immense head size to our son. She never officially told me how large his head was measuring, but she used the term "healthy" to describe it. And I said, yes....his brother had a "healthy" head too, but not THAT "healthy."
Sidenote: Ayden's head was his biggest feature in the womb, too, but once monthly check ups started, his head always measured smallest. Perhaps Collen will follow the same pattern....
Next, she measured his abdomen, which was described as being plump. ;) I like a cute, plump baby belly...
Then, we took a look at his face. As you probably guessed, we found all sorts of cute chubbiness....cheeks so chubby that we could barely see his eyes.
Oh, weight! I almost forgot. So, as I said, my midwife predicted 7-7.5 pounds. I told her we'd see how good she is since Ayden fooled all of them last time! They had predicted 6.5 pounds for Ayden on the day he was born. He turned out to be 7lbs 14oz! So, I was not at all surprised today to learn that Mr. Collen is a whopping 8 pounds! So, if he follows Ayden's pattern and comes at 39 weeks, we're looking at a 9 pounder. Yeah.....fun times ahead.
I asked the ultrasound tech. to check the fluid, umbilical cord, and placenta to make sure all looked well. She said I had plenty of fluid (woo!), the umbilical cord looked good and was just floating around in there (woo!), and the placenta looked beautiful....like it hadn't aged at all (big sigh of relief and another woo!). I didn't care that he was 8 pounds....potentially going to be 9 pounds at birth....I just needed to know that conditions inside were still favorable for him and his viability.
So, it looks like a lot of walks are in my future. I'll do what I can do help him along, but it's really up to him! We briefly discussed induction because of his size, but elective inductions can't be scheduled before 39 weeks. I'm not a big fan of inductions anyway because of what I've heard about pitocin and babies in distress during inductions. We decided to see how things look next week, and if I haven't progressed more, we may look into helping things along a little bit.
I found out that I did test negative for the Group B Strep, which was surprising since I was positive with Ayden. My midwife explained that if it is not present at the time of the test and you are a carrier, it can take 5 weeks for it to travel through the digestive tract from the time of the negative test result, so it shouldn't be a factor this time around. Yay! That means my water could break and I wouldn't have to worry about rushing to the hospital to get antibiotics in me. I'd still need to rush, but not as urgently. Whew....a big relief.
So, after my appointment, I headed out to take care of my "To Do" list. I'm proud of all that I've accomplished this week. With Jeremy working, I've had to take care of getting things in order with the new house....contract, earnest money, other decisions. I've had to make the phone calls, send the emails, and verify information. I've also been on the phone harassing people about getting Collen's insurance in order and making sure mine is taken care of. The following was checked off of my list today:
1. Drop off signed contract and earnest money check for house.
2. Drop of paperwork for Collen's insurance....all things should be covered on our end, just have to wait for them to get their stuff in order.
3. Meet with insurance agent for my insurance (since my coverage from work ends on 9/1) and find a reasonably priced plan - done, and feel satisfied with my decision. Decided to stick with Blue Cross since they've done a good job for me so far. Also got a homeowner's insurance quote while I was at it....
4. Have lunch with Lauren and catch up on some girl time. :)
I'd say that's a pretty productive day for a waddling pregnant lady carrying around an 8 pounder. ;)
We got word from our realtor this morning that our offer was accepted! WE GOT THE HOUSE!
After searching and searching....an unfortunate circumstance with a house we really liked....back to searching....we finally found THE house for us.
This house went on the market about a month ago. So, while we were searching and putting in offers on other houses, this one was being prepped to jump onto the market. I remember first seeing it pop up onto the MLS site and thinking, "How did we miss this one?!" I think it popped up while we were under contract with the house we thought was going to work out. I remember feeling a little sad that we had missed out on this one. Then, when things didn't work out with the house we were under contract with, I knew we had to go see this one.
It's not the biggest house by any means. We looked at plenty of houses that were in the price range of this one with a lot more square footage, but this one continued to stand out. We love the location and how we only have neighbors on one side of us. A corn field lines the other side. It comes with over half and acre of land, and it's part of a neighborhood but not IN the neighborhood, which we prefer. It's on the side of town we both preferred, and the school district is great! There are a lot of opportunities for adding to this house in the future, which wasn't an option we would have gotten with many of the other houses we looked at. There's room to add a garage with a bonus room and to add a deck....and even expand some of the rooms. So, a lot of possible growth in the future.
The house suits us perfectly, and we can't wait to move in!! This house is newer, built in 2003, so the inspection should go well. The house has been well cared for, so I have a great feeling that everything is going to go smoothly. I'm believing it and claiming it!! So, hopefully, we can get things moving quickly and get into our new house SOON!
We can check "find the perfect house for us" off of the list now. All that's left:
- Have a healthy delivery and meet Collen very soon :)
Thanks for all the prayers and well wishes during our house search. It has certainly been an adventure. We're so happy to have found the house that we feel is perfect for us :)
So far, it has been a very enlightening read. I can relate to so much of what the author is talking about.
I thought I'd tell all of you about it - because all of us have some part of our lives that didn't quite go as we planned. And now, we're faced with Plan B.
How will you face your Plan B?
April a year ago - Ayden was born
May a year ago - First Mother's day, first visit to church, the beginning of our summer together
June a year ago - First Father's day. various milestones, watching him grow, seeing his personality shine through
July a year ago - Family vacations, more milestones, even more personality, laughing, smiling
The beginning of August still holds happy "a year ago today" memories, but with each day that passes....the 24th gets closer. And the 24th marks our last "a year ago today" full day memory of Ayden. The morning of the 25th....our last happy memory with Ayden.
Past the 25th, the "a year ago today" memories shift to memories of despair, pain, brokeness, heartache, loss, and just plain hard days.
When I thought about it all that way, the return of the grief made a lot more sense.
It's going to be an interesting month. I know a lot of people have already thought about that, and I so appreciate the kind gestures and sincere thoughts people have shared with us. It means a lot to know that you remember that this month will be difficult and that you're keeping us close in thought and prayer. Please continue to do so. There's no solution or answer...nothing can fix the feelings and emotions that are sure to come. Jeremy and I have grown so much closer throughout this process, and we know that the only way to get through it all is to face it together.
Obviously, August of 2009 will remain the absolute worst time of our lives (up until now, and I pray we never experience tragedy of that magnitude again....). The months afterward were difficult, confusing, foggy, and a time where we were just picking up the pieces....trying to figure out how life without Ayden was going to work.
Over the past year, we've stumbled through our "new normal" having good days and bad days, and as the months passed, the good days began to come more frequently. I can only speak for myself here, since Jeremy doesn't share every minute of his days with me. There hasn't been a day that I haven't thought of Ayden or felt sadness over losing him. Not one day. However, the depth of the pain has lessened as time has progressed. There are days when I don't cry. There are days when I can even smile when thinking of Ayden instead of becoming reduced to a puddle on the floor. Most days, I can talk about him and what happened without becoming overly emotional. But, I still have days when it just becomes so overwhelming, and I am crushed beneath the pain. I had one of those moments the night I wrote the blog post previous to this one. I hadn't cried like that in a very long time.....it reminded me of the days following Ayden's passing. The type of moments when you can't even breath because the weight is that heavy. In those moments, I feel so alone. In those moments, I just need to see him, hold him, touch him.....and I can't.....and no one else can make those moments easier. I have to let them come and work through them.
I approached August as just another month. I wasn't going to put a lot of weight on it or even acknowledge what this month marks, and will continue to mark, for our lives and future. But, even with me pushing against it, it seems that August has pushed me back a little bit in the grief process. I have become stand-offish and cautious again. I am much more emotional (yes, I realize pregnancy hormones may have something to do with this, too). I am also very quick to share my honest, blunt feelings on some things....especially when it comes to Collen and his arrival....and how I need things to go concerning his birth and bringing him home. I retreat within myself when anyone mentions Ayden, and when I see his pictures, I hold back the tears. I don't want to talk about any of it, so I just keep it in and let it out in my own time. My guard is back up, and I guess it makes complete sense that it would be. This is the month we lost our first child, and it is the month our second is expected to be born. A lot of fear and emotions surround the coming weeks, and I'm facing them one day at a time.
I remember when we found out we were pregnant again....back in December. We desperately wanted another child as quickly as possible, but I remember telling God that if it didn't happen in December, I wouldn't be too disappointed because I knew the due date would be towards the end of August. I knew that a baby being due in August would mean a whirlwind of emotions.....unexpected, unpredictable emotions....so not adding to that was going to be fine with me. Well, God had different plans, and as soon as I saw that 2nd line appear on the test, I said, "God, what are you doing?" I just couldn't, and still don't, understand His timing, but I know that His timing and will are perfect and good. So, whatever He meant for us to get out of all of this, I know He designed it for our good...no matter what the outcome. Collen has brought joy back into our lives. The joy Ayden brought will remain separate....as will the joy of future children to come. They will all have their own, individual places in our hearts and lives. So, Collen won't in any way replace or fix any of the pain we feel as we go through life missing Ayden, but he will bring so much joy and replenishment into our souls and our hearts.
I was thinking tonight about how our lives will never feel complete again. Without Ayden, we will always feel his absence. At first, that thought was pretty depressing, but then I realized that in this world....none of our lives are complete....because this is not our home. None of us will feel complete until we're with Christ. Some may have the happiest, most blessed, seemingly "whole and complete" lives imaginable, but until we're with Him, living apart from this world and the darkness it holds, none of us is living a "complete", "whole" life. I'm thankful that this world isn't all we have to look forward to. Otherwise, our story would be drastically different.