When it hits you out of nowhere...

When we first lost Ayden, I remember writing about how hard it was for me to listen to music.  For me, music - especially Christian music - brought so much to the surface that I wasn't ready to face.  Jeremy was opposite, which made grieving together difficult because we had different outlets.  Music helped him. It hurt me.

August will mark 3 years.  Today was the first time in 3 years that I forced myself to listen to one of the songs played at Ayden's service.  While I have gotten much better about music, there are still moments when I turn the station or just turn the music off altogether because I know where it will lead.   I was dropping Collen off this morning and switched over to our local Christian station.  Once I heard the first 2 words, my arms reached out in a reflex action to turn the station, but I stopped myself.  After 3 years, I can't keep hiding from it.  In front of Collen, I can't turn a song just because I know it will bring pain to the surface.  I don't want to teach him to run and not confront tough situations (although, yes...this is helpful in certain situations....sometimes you just have to spare yourself the pain in that moment....).  So, I listened. For the first time in nearly 3 years.  And right there on the way to the babysitter's house, the tears were flowing.  But it was good.  I felt good to let it go.  What felt best was thinking of Ayden...remembering...even the hard parts.  Life moves so fast these days that while I do think of Ayden every day, I don't get to sit and dwell...and just mull through the memories.

The song was "Cry to Jesus" by Chris Rice.  It has a doubly special/difficult meaning now that I am also without my dad, but I love, LOVE the "Fly to Jesus" part. I certainly can't wait until that day come for me as well.  We chose this song for Ayden's service specifically for the order of the words.  It fits the loss...it fits the process...it fits life during its most difficult times. Come to Jesus, Sing to Jesus, Fall on Jesus, Cry to Jesus, Dance for Jesus, Fly to Jesus.  So grateful that He's there and will embrace in every moment.

Chris Rice - Untitled Hymn (Come To Jesus) Lyrics 

Weak and wounded sinner 
Lost and left to die 
O, raise your head, for love is passing by 
Come to Jesus 
Come to Jesus 
Come to Jesus and live! 

Now your burden's lifted 
And carried far away 
And precious blood has washed away the stain, so 
Sing to Jesus 
Sing to Jesus 
Sing to Jesus and live! 

And like a newborn baby 
Don't be afraid to crawl 
And remember when you walk 
Sometimes we fall...so 
Fall on Jesus 
Fall on Jesus 
Fall on Jesus and live! 

Sometimes the way is lonely 
And steep and filled with pain 
So if your sky is dark and pours the rain, then 
Cry to Jesus 
Cry to Jesus 
Cry to Jesus and live! 

O, and when the love spills over 
And music fills the night 
And when you can't contain your joy inside, then 
Dance for Jesus 
Dance for Jesus 
Dance for Jesus and live! 

And with your final heartbeat 
Kiss the world goodbye 
Then go in peace, and laugh on Glory's side, and 
Fly to Jesus 
Fly to Jesus 
Fly to Jesus and live! 

Happy Mother's Day

I have had the privilege to meet so many wonderful people through my blog....people who have connected just to tell us they are praying for us, and others who share this life of the loss of a child.  I will never forget my first Mother's Day.  It was Ayden's first Sunday at church, and he was introduced to the congregation that day.  I would have never guessed that our church family would gather together in that same place, nearly 4 months later, to join us in saying goodbye.  Some days, it still doesn't seem real...

This year marks my 4th Mother's Day.  Being a mom has to be...hands down...the best thing I have ever, ever done.  I never knew I could love another the way I love my children, and I have been blessed to carry 3 of them in my heart - always.  I now know the meaning of unconditional love, sacrifice, selflessness, and living in the moment.  I've learned that the little things can wait for a game of hide-and-seek, tickling on the floor, kissing a boo-boo, examining a "paterpillar", and watching Curious George before bedtime.  I know too well that those moments can be gone in an instant, so I choose to drink in those moments and savor every second.

Happy Mother's Day to you all, and if this is your first Mother's Day without your child, please know that you are so close in my thoughts and prayers.  Take today to remember and be thankful for that child who made you a mother....cherish the memories and smile that you knew them - one way or another (depending on your loss) - and they knew you as their mom.  In the womb...or out...these babies know their moms, and they know the deep love you have for them.

While I'm at it - wishing a very Happy Mother's Day to my own mom.

Isn't she a beautiful lady?  I think so.  And boy did my daddy think so.  I've never met another man who thought his wife was so beautiful.  

There is so much my mom has taught me.  Over my 29 years of life, my mom has been a constant source of advice and wisdom.  I owe my survival of the teenage years mainly to her and the advice she gave me. Too many to list, but here are just a few things she taught me:

1. Always consider the consequences of your actions - BEFORE said actions.

2. You can be anything you want to be.  My parents never discouraged my wild dreams.  I had a huge imagination as a kid, and they loved it.  They never crushed my spirit, and I'm so thankful for that.

3. Family is important; they aren't here forever; never lose touch with them.

4.  Take time for the little things - the moments that create memories - like picnics in the backyard and popcorn while watching Sunday  night TV.  Those are memories I will never forget.

5.  Being a good wife and mother take patience, teamwork, and yes - submitting to your husband as the spiritual leader of your family.  I always admired that my parents worked as a team, and ultimately, my mom left my dad to make the big decisions - and his word was the final word because she trusted him to make the best decision for our family (and he always did).

6.  Pray and listen for God.  In times of despair and joy - pray.

7.  Without my mom, I would not have the unnerving urge to clean my house every week.  She taught me the importance of "a place for everything and everything in its place."  I credit her for my ability to avoid too much clutter (I'm married to a chronic clutterer - he comes by it honestly).

8. On the note of cleaning, I finally understand why we always had to clean the house BEFORE leaving to go out of town.  As a kid, I never understood and hated it!!  But now that I know how exhausting and demanding it can be to be a mom....I totally get why the house should be clean before leaving.  Because when you get home, all mom wants to do is crash...crawl into bed...and find a few moments to herself.

9.  Some people are just better off not being a part of your life.  I used to struggle with not being 100% on great terms with any and all people.  My mom used to tell me all the time that there are just some people we are better off not having in our lives.  That doesn't mean we don't love them or care about them.  We can wish them all the best, but that doesn't mean they are required to be a fixture in our lives.  I have found peace in this...especially after realizing that I can only be stretched so thin.

10.  Forgive. Be gentle. Be patient. Be kind. Love.

And the bonus:  Stand up for yourself.  There is a way to do it with grace.  You don't have to be argumentative, but you are allowed to speak up and speak for yourself.  And when it comes to your children - nobody messes with a mommy's babies.  Woo...I've seen the wrath of my mother when myself or my sister were hurt by others.  The "mother hen" comes out, and while she could "cluck" with patience and grace...we knew we didn't have to worry about that situation anymore.  I've never been good at standing up for myself....until I became a mom.

Thanks to her, I get it.  I totally get it. All the times I was frustrated over her decisions or felt like she was being unfair, I understand now that she was looking out for my best interest.  She knew what was good for me because she had been there.  She always acted out of love - even when I didn't see it that way.  Thank you, Mommie (yes, I'm 29, and I call her Mommie) for ALL you've taught me over the years.  There's no way I could ever repay you, but please know that I was listening, and I am applying it all to my life and the lives of my children.  Love you.  

Charlotte - 22 weeks

First, I want to say that I am beyond grateful and feeling so blessed to be carrying this sweet baby girl. I have friends and know of so many people who are struggling with infertility and/or pregnancy, and I feel so undeserving of being blessed with 3 pregnancies that (so far) have been successful. It's hard not to feel guilty a little bit, but I Know that my friends would not want me feeling that way. However, I remember the same thoughts and feelings being expressed to be after we lost Ayden. It just isn't fair...it isn't fair for people who desperately want a child and would be the most awesome parents to be the ones who, in turn, suffer loss and disappointment. I know that my friends who have experienced loss are happy for us...and while we have not experienced the loss of a pregnancy (yet...b/c you never know what could happen), we certainly know the heart break of losing a child. As I tell so many people...loss is loss. No matter the form or timing, it's never easy, and it stays with you. I also want to say thank you to those of you who have shard your stories of babies with 2 vessel cords....good and bad. The good have brought me so much encouragement. My stress level goes down with each passing week, and the more I hear from people who have had successful 2 vessel cord pregnancies and deliveries, the more the stress lessens. The unhappy stories help keep me very aware and cautious and are a reminder that you just don't know what will happen....and ultimately, it is out of your control, and you have to put it in God's hands. And yes, that is easier said than done. I was telling a good friend today about my struggle with letting go of control and handing it all over to God. I told her that I am very honest with God, and there are times when I get really real with him and express my struggle with trust...how it is hard to trust when the God you put your faith and trust into allows such pain in your life. But then he reminds of all that I have to be thankful for....which is so, so much. Yes, losing a child is the worst possible thing that anyone could ever imagine going through (in my opinion...) and then losing a parent 2 years later...very, very hard. Yet, yes..it could be worse. I have not experienced anything close to what Job experienced or the loss that many others have experienced. And I don't want to. It is my fervent prayer that we are spared from any more loss for a while...that would be nice. But, if it is in His plan....well, we'll deal with it when we get there. Now to happy, light news :) I had a prenatal checkup yesterday. No ultrasound :( , but all the other usual checks - weight (yuck), blood pressure, heart beat, measurement of belly/uterus. So far, I have gained 3 whole pounds. Woo! After 3 pregnancies in 4 years, my body is not anywhere near where it used to be. I've gained quite a bit of weight over the past 4 years from bouncing back and forth from pregnancy to pregnancy. My body hasn't had a real break in between, and I have to say I'm ready for one. My body is just tired. I'm not arguing with gaining only 3 pounds because I can afford to not gain a lot of weight. If I gain a pound a week from this point forward, I will have a grand total of 20 pounds. Woo! My blood pressure looks great - it's always lower. Charlotte's heart beat is staying at a strong upper 140s/low 150s!! Keep pumping away!! . I am measuring at 21 weeks, which shocks me because if you were to SEE me....I look well beyond 22 weeks pregnant. Movement is becoming more and more active with each day. This is most reassuring because feeling her bouncing around brings me so much assurance. She has her moments when she likes to get very still and scare me, but we thankfully have a doppler at home and can check her heart beat in an instant. She is pretty active almost all the time, and I'm loving feeling her get stronger with every passing day. I will start getting monthly ultrasounds once I hit 28 weeks. We will be keeping an eye on her weight gain and growth...keeping a track on her progress. So far, she looks great. :) My main concern is obviously a spontaneous loss. I've heard of it happening with 2 vessel cord babies, but it can happen with the most normal of pregnancies, too. And, as worrying as this is, it could be SO much worse. I'm thankful that the odds are in our favor and the majority of these babies turn out just fine. I've been in the smaller spectrum of a statistic, and I know it can happen again. But, I'm going to stay positive. My other concern is delivery. I have read of a lot of 2 vessel cord births ending in c-section because the stress of labor is too much for the baby. Again, that can happen in textbook pregnancies as well. With this being my 3rd pregnancy and delivery, the odds of a normal, vaginal delivery are very good. I shouldn't labor long. With Ayden, it was a long 36 hours. With Collen, 12 hours. With Charlotte, I'm hoping we can get into the single digits! So, labor and delivery should not be too stressful for her, but if it is, I have no doubt that we will be in good hands. Thank you all again for the words of hope and encouragement. I'm starting to get used to the idea of a little girl. It's definitely new territory, but I'm looking forward to learning all about our daughter. :) I know so many of you know people who are struggling with infertility, multiple miscarriages, the loss of a child...please remember them in your prayers. Pray for hope, comfort, peace and strength. You may not have words to say...but you can certainly pray and lift them up. Also, please continue to pray for Charlotte's health and growth. We all know that anything can happen in an instant. I am trying to let go of control day by day....I know God has my best interest at heart. I just have to convince myself of that sometimes.