Our Family

Our Family
Fall 2015 - These are my people

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Our Story - Part Six - Three Month Marker & Funeral Day

I'm linking up with Tesha today.  If you are visiting from Tesha's blog, thanks for stopping by.  You can read more about our Solveig Sofia and her stillbirth by searching "Solveig" in the search box or looking on the blog labels to the right.

Today marks three months since Solveig Sofia was born still into our lives.  Oh how we miss her...

It has been almost three months since we had Solveig's funeral and I'm just now taking the time to write about it.  There have been many days that I have tried to begin writing this part of the story and it just didn't come to fruition.  But I finally felt the strength to write this portion.  This is a long one, but I wanted to capture it for our own memories.

Saturday March 3, 2012

This was the day of Solveig's funeral.  It was hard to sleep the night before, yet we were exhausted and needed as much rest as possible to endure what would be a long day.  My heart was anxious, knowing that what we would face that day would be extremely difficult, yet so important and special.

I remember waking up with such a deep ache that morning, yet some type of supernatural strength which was needed to get through the day ahead.  A funeral is meant to help celebrate a life.  The life we were celebrating was not as full or as long as many others who have funerals, but it was still meant to be celebrated.  For to not celebrate the life of our daughter would have been in our minds such a shame.  She was worth celebrating...every ounce of her 3 lb. 11 oz. body and beauty was worth more than gold or silver or all the riches of this world.  Solveig was alive and well in my body for 33.5 weeks before that cord of hers tightened for the last time.  And those 33.5 weeks are worth celebrating.  It's worth celebrating the life that the Lord gave to us for such a short but blessed time.

But having a baby who never saw the light of day and preparing and hosting her funeral is perhaps one of the hardest things that we humans may have to face here on this earth.  That being said, we wouldn't have done it any other way.  Many say that this type of grief is often held so privately and many choose to forgo a funeral for a baby, or some would choose to have a smaller ceremony just for family.  If you know me and Erik at all, you know that we love to be with people and we've been blessed with some incredible people.  We wanted so much to be able to share our daughter with our people and to make the celebration of her life a communal one, with our church body, family and friends.  And I know that I couldn't do this journey on my own.  Some are more private in their grief, and I respect that.  But I just operate differently and feel that I would shrivel up and die if I didn't reach out and talk to people about this loss.  It really helps me to talk with others, have hugs from friends and family and hear the name of my Solveig spoken and honored.  So, that is one of the reasons we had a funeral.

Back to that...

We got ready at home.  Erik and I went shopping the day before the funeral for a suit since he hadn't gotten one for something like fifteen years.  I had a long, black velvet dress from my performing wardrobe  that actually fit my postpartum body and hid some of my baby rolls, so that was perfect.  Bug and Buzz had dress clothes that they had used previously so we didn't have to shop again for them.

After we were all dressed up, we headed in to church.  I felt so anxious on the drive there, but I knew that I had to do this and that God would somehow get me through.  Erik and I prayed on the way there, asking God for peace and strength to get through that day.  And He did.  Did He ever.  There is no way that we could have gotten through that day, were it not for the prayers of countless friends and family members.

When we walked into the church, I was on a mission to get everything in its place in the short amount of time that we would have before the visitation.  I'm glad I had some type of focus, although I must say my mind felt like mush for a lot of the time.  Our funeral director Dan helped to organize a table in the foyer of the church where we would do our visitation.  On that table was a beautiful quilt that my friend Kelly made for us (I'll post a picture sometime soon), and on top of the quilt was to be laid Solveig's casket.  Also on the table was this picture, taken by our NILMDTS photographer, Jen.

Although it is in black and white on the blog, Jen also touched it up and did one with color for us to keep on a canvas.  It's beautiful.  And we have it sitting on our dresser in our bedroom.  I love it and it is such a sweet memory of our baby.

Next to the table was a beautiful flower arrangement that we had chosen for our baby.  It wasn't your typical funeral flower arrangement.  I didn't really feel the need to get a banner that said "daughter" or anything like that.  I wish I had a picture of that arrangement, but I don't.  We didn't take any pictures at the funeral or burial, and I will always wish that we had.  But I'm going to see if I can get a picture of what the flowers looked like.  They were in a cross formation, and I think they were white and light pink.  I cannot even remember now.  But I just remember that when we were flipping through the floral book at the funeral home, I saw that cross and knew that it was the one for our baby.  It was yet another reminder of Christ's death on the cross that made it possible for our baby to be in Heaven upon her departure from Earth.  And a reminder to us that we will be with her there again one day, because of the cross...because we believe that Christ gave us salvation by faith in Him through that cross.

Before the visitation, we had planned to see Solveig again in her casket in a different room...just us.  My mom was able to see her again too.  I wanted to have every opportunity possible to see my baby's body, even though she was visibly changing ever more each day that she was gone.  I didn't care.  She was still my baby, and she was so beautiful.  It just helped me to see her again.  Her little pink cherub casket was so pretty, and she was wrapped so beautifully in her delicate white pointelle cotton outfit and soft white blanket.

After we had a little bit of time with Solveig, the funeral director closed her casket and brought it out to the table in the foyer.  We didn't have an open casket because we didn't have Solveig embalmed and the sight of her purple body probably would have been too difficult a sight for most to endure.  We didn't feel the need for them to see her actual body.  But having her casket on the table was good, and having her picture next to it was helpful.

Having grown up with my dad working in the funeral business, I developed an understanding that the open casket funeral/visitation is very important.  If at all possible, it is good for people to see the body so that they can truly reconcile the death of the individual.  But since our little one was so tiny, it would've probably been quite difficult to embalm her and we just didn't feel the need.  If she was older and it would've been possible, we may have opted for embalming.  The most important thing for us was that our little family and some of our extended family got to see Solveig.

It wasn't long after everything was set up in the lobby that we had to take our places and begin receiving our guests.  Thankfully the funeral home had a high stool with a back that they brought along for me so that I could sit down the whole time during the receiving line.  Remember, I had just given birth three days prior and my body could not possibly stand for very long.  My friend Alisha was my "bouncer" that day.  Thanks, dear Alisha.  She had the assignment of letting people know to not hug me too hard.  My milk had just come in the day before and I was in excruciating pain from that situation.  So, Alisha went through the line and said, "Melody is just taking half hugs today since she is still recovering."  Perfect.  It worked so well.  And medication and distraction helped to mask some of the pain.

Seeing so many people line up to greet us and having the chance to talk with them was really a blessing.  Again, I have no idea how we did it that day, talking to so many, but for the grace of God.  The love and support that was poured out to us and physically present in that church was immense and comforting.  Thank you to all who came that day to support us.  You have no idea just how much that meant to us to have you there.  And to those who were not able to make it but wanted to, please know that we understand and we appreciate your thoughts and prayers over us in your absence.

When it was almost time to start the service, we were ushered away for a time of prayer with the pastors and the family in a different room.  A few minutes later, we lined up to start our procession into the sanctuary.  My sweet friend Charles, a phenomenal concert pianist, was playing lullabies on the piano for the prelude.  I had asked him to play the Brahms Lullaby as the last piece, for us as the family to enter and process down to our seats.  Erik carried Solveig's tiny, pink casket in his arms and I walked just behind him holding the kids' hands.  We had to deliver the body of our daughter to the front of the sanctuary and place her casket on the communion table.  But for us, it felt so much more like we were placing her on an altar before the Lord, as a sacrifice unto Him.  We know that He gave the sacrifice of His son on our behalf and we no therefore no longer are called to physically offer such sacrifices on our own, but the symbolism of Solveig being laid on the altar was too obvious to not notice.

Less than eight years prior, Erik and I had walked down that aisle of our church sanctuary together after saying our marriage vows.  Now, here we were walking down the aisle with one of our precious babies in a casket and two of our other babies walking with us.  It was so surreal, and yet so entirely real and hard to grasp.

The service was so beautiful.  All week from the moment that we found out Solveig was gone until the day before the service, we were planning the music, readings, musicians, other participants, and so much more.  There are a zillion and one details in planning a service, and especially the funeral service of our daughter. Thankfully I have had some practice planning worship services for our church, and that helped so much.  Occasionally I have been able to fill in for our worship pastor when she has been busy or out of town.  I'm so glad for that rehearsal of planning a service.

We prayed and prayed all week that God would be glorified that day in that church, and that Solveig's life would be honored.  I really believe He carried out that service through the vessels who were participating in it that day...our musician friends who were fabulous - Gwen, Jason and Ricky who helped led worship, Cindy who sang a solo, Evangelion Chorale who sang one piece and Dennis for helping lead the choir...then Heidi, Janet and Natalie - all mamas who had stillbirths - they read scripture, and their presence on that platform was for me so powerful...and our pastors Rich and Sid for leading the service and speaking...it was a rock star team of people and we're so incredibly grateful for your leadership.  Thank you so very much.  We were able to worship that day in the service, and I'm so glad that God allowed us to have that experience.

Perhaps the most powerful portion of the service for me and for many others was my Erik and his gift of sharing his heart through words.  He really does have a gift and it was incredibly evident that day.  Sometime I would like to share with you what he said that day and write it on the blog.  I'll try to do that soon.  It meant so much to me that he got up and spoke at Solveig's funeral.  I didn't know if he could do it, but he felt that he had some things he wanted to say.  Thank you Erik for doing that for our daughter, and for the rest of us.

At the end of the service, after we finished singing "Jesus Loves Me" as a congregation, the four of us (Erik and I and our two kids on earth) went up to the front to snuff out Solveig's candle.  We had placed five candles on the front table with her casket.  Hers was in the middle and it was a deep pink.  Next to it on either side were placed two other candles...two short ones for our kids and two tall ones for us.  My friend Karleen said that when we snuffed out that candle and the smoke rose up, it was such a symbolic moment of visualizing Solveig's spirit rising up to meet Jesus.  I thought the same thing.  It was a touching thing for us as well.

We walked out and went to a very nice reception there at the church with many of our guests.  It was good to see more people and to share in a meal together.  Since we weren't able to host our friends for our daughter's wedding one day, we were glad to be able to share with them in her funeral luncheon.  It may be sad for us, but it was joyous for her...since she was already dancing in Heaven.

Her funeral day was challenging, yes, but again I will say that I'm so grateful we chose to honor our daughter that way.  It was for us such a healing thing to do, and for us it was the right thing to do.  I'm so glad that we were able to have a funeral.

Thank you to all who helped make it possible.  We're forever grateful.

And I encourage you dear readers...if you lose a loved one, whether young or old, having a funeral is such a beautiful way to honor the life of your loved one.  There are resources to help in planning such an event, and people who know how to do it.  I hope to write more about this in the future as I have some passion for it.  Anything you can do to help honor the life of your loved one will help you in your grief process.  And even though it may be hard at the time, you will always be glad that you made the effort and took the time to honor your loved one.

God be with you all.  And thank you for your continued prayers over us.  The road is long, but God is ever present and has not left us.  We still believe.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

12 weeks ago...

Twelve weeks ago we said hello and goodbye to our baby girl, Solveig Sofia.  Some days it feels like it just happened yesterday and some days it feels like a lifetime ago.  Time has in certain moments been at a standstill, and yet we have had to keep going because that is what life does.  But one thing remains the same...I miss her.  I will always miss her.  I will always wish that she could be with us here on earth.  And as long as I'm alive, I will always long to be near her again and long for Heaven in a way that I may not have known before this.  There are still many moments where I just get weepy and I need to hold my pink teddy bear and Solveig's white, soft blanket in my arms.  I'm okay with that.  It's comforting to me.

Yesterday Erik and I celebrated eight years of marriage.  I had a rough day, and was relieved and blessed that we could go out for dinner, just the two of us.  Thank you sweet Jenny O. for your gift card to the grill with the macaroni. :)  We really needed that.  Sometimes it feels hard to be celebrating what are to be happy moments in our life when what should have been one of the happiest moments was turned into one of the saddest.  But I believe that Solveig would have wanted us to continue being happy and to look for joy, even in some of our darkest hours.  So, sitting with my sweet man last night was good.  He is such a calming force in my life and I'll be eternally grateful to the Lord for drawing us together.  Erik brings perspective into my world, healthy perspective.  He encourages me when I'm needing it the most.  He hugs me and shows up when I am happy and when I'm sad.  With him, my life is never boring and for sure quite interesting.  Thank you sweet Erik for being with me all these years.  May there be many more. And may we continue to find joy, even in the midst of pain.

There are many more things that I wish to write about and not enough time to do all that processing, but I'm hopeful that I'll get a few more entries done this week.  Thank you for staying tuned, and thank you for your love and prayers for us.  That means more than you'll ever know.

This photo was taken right after Solveig was born.  We were so glad to finally meet her...and yet, so saddened.  Joy in the sadness.  And we are together, through it all.  Thanks be to God.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Update on the Bracelet Story Contest

Awhile back, I wrote about my special charm bracelet and also about how I had submitted my story for the Brigh_ton store in their charm bracelet story contest.  You can read that post by clicking here.

Many have asked whatever happened with that contest and my submission.  I never did hear anything from the company directly, but I did get an email about voting for the finalists in the contest.  I went on their website and read about their stories, honoring special women in their lives, and got to see their lovely bracelet designs.  The winners have been announced and you can read about it and see their bracelets by clicking here.

Some are wondering if I'm disappointed that I wasn't asked to be a finalist.  Well, perhaps a little bit.  But it's okay.  I'm not going to get all hung up on that, as it really doesn't matter to me in the grand scheme of life.  There are "bigger fish to fry" as some might say.  It was fun to write my story though, and I'm glad that I could at least share it with the company and with everyone who reads this blog, regardless of the results.  And I'm thankful for the sweet ladies at the local mall store who helped me in the first place.

My bracelet that I wear almost all the time holds on it jewels, earthly treasures.  My real treasures are in the lives that I love here on Earth and in Heaven.  They are the jewels on my crown, so to speak.  I cannot wait to join my sweet babies in Heaven one day where I'll be surrounded by more beauty and treasures than anyone could ever imagine.  And for now I am so blessed to love my husband and our two living children.  They are treasures of the most grand sort...worth more than any prize of earthly proportions.

I love the way the Message translation of the Bible describes this passage from Matthew 6:19-21.  It says,

"Don't hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it's safe from moth and rust and burglars. It's obvious, isn't it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being."

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Bug is Six!

Today is my Bug girl's sixth birthday!  I can hardly believe that she has already made it to this age.  Six years ago today, I was in the hospital, very ill with Preeclampsia and being monitored closely during my labor.  Bug and I had our heart rates and blood pressure going up and down and it was pretty touch and go.  I almost had to have a c-section, but thankfully was able to avoid that. :)  Little Bug made her entrance into the world at 11:45 pm and she was so tiny, weighing in at 5 lbs. 2 oz!  I had never held a baby that small and thought that she would break if I did something wrong.  Such joy flooded my soul and I was overwhelmed with her beauty.  Erik and I began our journey into parenthood and we were so excited and clueless!  What a precious miracle my little girl is.

Thank you, sweet girl, for bringing to our lives so much joy and laughter!  You are very funny and you keep us on our toes with your inquisitive nature.  Bug, you like to follow the rules (most of the time), and you tend to look out for the good of others, especially your little brother Buzz.  You do almost everything with him and you two are practically inseparable when you're home at the same time.  We're so glad to see you enjoying one another most moments.  My Bug, you sing right on pitch and you like to do pitch matching with me.  You've been taking piano the last several months from your Grammie and seem to be enjoying that new venture a lot.  Dance is still a passion for you, and you love to dance to any fun music that you may hear...even in the grocery store!  Small dolls and stuffed animals are your friends, but most important to you is your dog, Bailey.  You love her so much and you can often be found laying with her on her soft pillow, or throwing her a ball in the yard, or playing chase with her.  You also enjoy drawing, painting and coloring pictures and could spend hours doing that and creating bracelets, necklaces, "mouse webs" (aka strings tied up like crazy around our house), and many other fun creations.  I love your creativity. You love school and you usually do your work quietly there.  When you bring home homework, you like to get all the week's work done the first day of the week rather than spreading it out!  Maybe you'll avoid procrastination, unlike your mama. :)  You love your teachers at school, Mrs. P and Mrs. M, and you enjoy learning new things, especially science, reading, art and music.  You also love doing active things and can often be found jumping up and down on the trampoline in our neighbors yard, running and jumping and climbing on the swing set, and chasing your brother.  Bug, you have always used big words from the time you were little, and you still like to do that.  In fact, recently you said something to me along the lines of, "Mommy, I just like to listen to the words you are using and try to copy them."  Mommy needs to heed warning to be careful what words come out of my mouth, since little ears are constantly tuning in!

Bug, your daddy and I love you so much, and we cannot imagine our lives without you.  You have made life so rich.

Below are some pictures of our life with Bug:

"Bug" - 5 lbs 2 oz, right after delivery and "cleanup time" at the hospital - 5/19/06 - 11:45 PM

Very tired and drugged mama & daddy with tiny girl

5 days old - in our backyard at our first home - one of my favorite pics of us with our little girl, taken by our sweet neighbor Dave - we miss you Dave!

1 year old! - 2007

2 years old - ladybug birthday party - 2008 - I made ladybug cupcakes - so fun!

Bug & Buzz - 3 & 1 - 2009 - Dora party for Bug

4 years old - My Little Pony cake for Bug - 2010

2011 - May - 1st ballet - age 5 - she was a mouse -so cute!

The 3 Musketeers - wearing Auntie Dar's old wigs, before Bailey ate one of them...Spring 2011

CandyLand Birthday Party for the two kids - I made the cake and had SO much fun with it!
I also made a whole bunch of decorations for the party.  What a blast. 2011 - Bug, Age 5, Buzz,  Age 3

5 years old - riding Buzz' bicycle - 2011

6 years old - wearing her strawberry dress...the ones that I bought in duplicates for her and for her little sister Solveig.
  So glad I saved them rather than returning them.
May 2012

Happy Birthday to my sweet Bug!!!  LOVE YOU so much!  May God bless you in your life.
  And may you grow to love Him more and more each day.  You are a blessing.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Bug and Buzz

One of my classmates from college asked why I call my kids "Bug" and "Buzz" on the blog.  (Hello, "anonymous" classmate. :))  Well, the main reason is that I'm trying to protect their identity in the blog world as there are some cuckoo types out there who might do strange things if they knew my children's names...and this blog can be found out in cyberspace.  Bug and Buzz are the nicknames that our kids have taken on since they were just babies, and we actually call them that a lot of the time in our lives!  

Our daughter "Bug" was so tiny when she was a baby, and I think we just gave her that name because of how small she was...like a bug.  I think it's cute!  Then when Buzz was just a few months old, I asked Bug if Buzz was her buddy, and she said, "No, he's just my Buzz!"  So that's where that name came from - our then two year old.  Very funny.  And honestly, the nickname suits his funny personality quite well.  

There you have it - Bug and Buzz!  They and their daddy are some of my favorite people in the whole wide world, and I love sharing life with them.

Summer 2011 - Buzz Age 3

Bug and her Daddy Erik, Summer 2011 - Bug Age 5

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Mother's Day

I'm linking up with Tesha today.  If you're new, please go over to the sidebar and click on my recent posts or on the labels for stillbirth or Solveig if you want to read more about our sweet girl.  She was born still on 2/29/12 at 33.5 weeks gestation, 3 lbs. 11 oz and 18 in. long.  I still need to get some tabs or something at the top of my blog page for different subjects but don't know how to do it.  If you know how, would you please leave me a message?  Thank you so much.

Mothers' Day was two days ago.  It was such a bittersweet day for me.  Sweet because I have two wonderful, adorable kids here on this earth...and bittersweet because I have three babies in Heaven waiting for me.  I wish I could have hugged those three and had them with us for Mother's Day.  I really miss my Solveig as she was the one that I held here on this earth...the one that I carried for 33.5 weeks until learning that she had died prematurely inside of me due to the umbilical cord wrapped around her and a knot in the cord.

One of my sweet friends named Mo prayed over mothers in our Sunday school class on Mother's Day.  She prayed for those of us who have lost babies or who have struggled with infertility or other issues.  She has such a kind, loving heart that seems to have more room than the average heart...and I admire her so very much.  Thank you Mo for your sensitivity to me during this time.  You're a beautiful woman of God and I appreciate you.

In all honesty, it was painful to be at church on Sunday without my littlest, newest baby in my arms.  I felt such a deep emptiness with her missing and yet such a fullness and appreciation for my two living children.  At times I think, "who am I to complain about not having my babies here?  For with me are two of the most beautiful creations I could ever imagine, and I'm incredibly grateful for them."  My gratitude for my little ones is not diminished by my grief, but my grief and loss is ever present and it is not just going to go away today or tomorrow or in another month or year.  I imagine I will feel this pain for a long time.  But I will also find joy amidst the pain, because He does that for me...the Lord also gives me joy.

As I stood in the back of the sanctuary praising God through some of my very favorite worship songs that Sunday, I was so moved by the music and definitely felt the presence of the Holy Spirit.  Thank you Jon and Karla for leading in that time of worship.  After the songs finished, the reality of it being child dedication Sunday hit really hard.  Several sweet families got up to bring their children before the church and before the Lord, to dedicate them to Him.  I love these types of services, usually.  But this time, it was different.  I felt so bad, but I had to leave.  We were going to leave anyway after the worship songs as we had to get home to prepare for company.  But I had to leave because it was hard to think about the fact that we weren't going to be dedicating our baby to the Lord that day, or any other day to come in the future.  In fact, we already did dedicate our baby to the Lord.  We gave her back to Him the moment that we knew she had left my body.  I'll never forget my sweet Erik and what he said the moment Dr. M left the room following the news that our baby had died inside of me.  Through tears and with his steady voice he said, "She's with Jesus now, Honey.  She's with Jesus."  We surrendered her back to Him the day we brought her to her grave and buried her...and we continue to surrender her whenever we think about wanting her back...so, in other words, for me that is every minute of every day right now.  I think about having her back and wanting her present with us all the time, but the intensity of it isn't quite as much as it used to be.  But whenever I sit around wondering why she isn't with us, I have to remember that we surrendered her...

we surrendered her...

and she is not in her grave...

she is with Him...

So this year around Mother's Day, I am thankful that I knew my precious Solveig in my womb for 33.5 weeks...and actually had her there for 34 weeks.  I'm thankful that He has given me a wonderful husband to be the greatest daddy in the world to our Bug and Buzz.  I'm thankful for my mother-in-law and how she raised my husband to be a wonderful human being, and for the love she has bestowed upon our family. I'm thankful that I get to be the mama for Bug and Buzz...they are some of the richest blessings I've ever known.  I'm thankful that God has given me a great mom who has been so present in my world and has loved me through thick and thin, and has modeled for me how to be a woman of deep faith in God.  And I'm thankful also for my aunties who have been like moms to me and my brothers and grandmas for our kids.  I'm thankful for all the women in my life who have shown me friendship, grace, strength and love...there are some of you who are like mamas to me and I appreciate you and love you so.  And I'm thankful for the friends who have stood by my side, especially through this journey of grief.  You  are such special gifts to me.

May the Lord give all you women out there a special hug of grace today.  May He surround you with His love, whatever journey you are on.

And know that I'd give you a hug too if I could.  Bless you, dear ones.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Please Pray For Joel


We were blessed to have the opportunity to go and visit my brother Joel this past Thursday.  It was so good to spend some time with him.  My parents were there with Erik and I, and we had the chance to lay hands on Joel and pray over him.  It was a very powerful time.  And there were also some funny moments.  You see, Joel is a goofy guy and has a great sense of humor.  That comes in handy during moments of extreme pain.  As we walked with him through the hallways of his hospital, he had his little i_P_od in hand and he played us some new tunes that he had downloaded.  People were trying to figure out where the songs were coming from.  Only Joel could get away with playing his tunes in the hallways of the hospital!  It was fun and it made all of us smile. :)  He had his landmarks on the walk, including the different water fountains and the different statues.  (He even touched one statue for good luck!  That's my brother!  Funny.)  And he greeted people as he passed them too - he is a very friendly guy, and his kind spirit is contagious.  I'm so proud of him.  And my heart hurts to see him aching, literally aching in his physical body.  He was in a ton of pain that day, and no pain medicine could touch his pain.  How I wish I could have taken the pain from him.

I just spoke to Joel tonight.  He seemed to be in good spirits.  And he told me that he is set to have a CT scan tomorrow at the hospital.  We would love your prayers for my brother and for this new CT.

We know that He is in control.  The Lord is on His throne, always.  He is with Joel.  And He is with us.

I hope that you had a blessed Mother's Day.  It was bittersweet, to say the least.  I will write more about that later...

Blessings to you,

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Not Able To Draw...

Today at my MO_PS group, our speaker talked about planning how we want our family to be and how we want it to look.  She was coming at it more from a spiritual perspective and did a great job reminding us of the importance to include our faith in the day to day of raising our kids.  She shared how special it was that her parents quoted scripture a lot in reference to different situations that would arise, and how she still today remembers those scriptures readily because she heard them so many times.  My parents did a good job of that as well.  Thanks, Mom and Dad.  You definitely helped implant many verses into my brain.  The one that really stands out in my mind is "children obey your parents, for this is right."  Ah yes, the times of not wanting to obey were many!  And now, as a parent myself, I understand why they kept telling me that verse and why they wanted me to remember it!

I hadn't cried for more than about a minute in days.  Things were going along swimmingly well.  And then today, at our meeting, our speaker had wanted us to participate in a certain exercise.  She had given us packets with some materials to help us with our family planning and outlook, along with lots of scriptures and thoughts to encourage us.  On the front of our packet was a blank page that said something like "my family picture."  She asked us to draw what we wanted our family to look like.  Well, at that moment I completely lost it.  The anxiety welled up in me and the reminder that we just lost our baby girl exactly 10 weeks ago and that her due date was exactly one month ago hit me smack in the face.  For you see, I had it all planned out in my head.  For years, I have wanted three or four kids...probably my whole life.  My whole life I had planned that I would have at least three kids, because naturally having grown up in a house with three kids it seemed like a good number.  Of course, after having our two miscarriages the reality of possibly not having another became quite clear.  And then our sweet Solveig was such an amazing miracle.  We knew, and still KNOW, that she was a true gift from God.  During her pregnancy I was planning out in my mind what our little family would look like, and it finally felt complete because she was in the picture.  Then life happened, and her life was taken away.  Her life was taken away to Jesus, where she continues to live.  As my friend Kellie says about her daughter, "Makenzie is in future, she's just ahead of me."  And my Solveig is also ahead of me, along with our other two babies.

So, now that our little Solveig is not in our earthly picture, how do I go about drawing a picture of how I want my family to look?  Do I draw it with Solveig in the picture?  Because obviously, that's how I want it to look.  I want her here.  I miss her so immensely today that it almost feels like she just died yesterday.  And honestly, I didn't know that I could feel that way again.  My body and my spirit are aching for her today.  I literally feel her presence absent from me once again.

Needless to say, I couldn't draw that picture.  Tears fell in rapid succession from my eyes and covered the pages of paper that were beneath me.  My friends at the table all understood.  And one even said, "we're not going to draw pictures right now."  Bless her heart.  :)  Love you Trisha.

We cannot see into the future, unless God gives us visions.  But not many of us have that kind of spiritual gift.  Furthermore, there is a lot about our futures that we do not know because God doesn't want us to know it all.  Imagine, if we knew everything about our futures, we'd probably be a mess every second of every day!  Because the reality is, we will ALL face difficult things in our lives.  Every single one of us.  We are not meant to live this life with freedom from pain and trial, for this world is full of it.  BUT...we can know that we have a hope and a future if we trust in Christ.  He has given us hope for all eternity in Heaven!

Even if I don't know what my family is supposed to look like like on paper, I do know that God knows.  He knows exactly what it is supposed to look like.  And Solveig will ALWAYS be part of our family, as will our other two little babies.  They may not reside with us here on earth in their physical beings, but one day when we are in Heaven, we will be reunited with them.  And in the meantime, here on earth, we can ask God to help us focus our days with purpose and intent.  We can ask Him to help us be the family that He has called us to be.  And He will draw our picture, even when we are at a loss...for He has the strength that none other could ever have.

In my mind, my angel babies are flying high in the sky, above our family picture here on earth...high above these little monkeys who will one day get to play with them in Heaven. Won't that be the BEST playtime ever???

This photo was taken in Michigan last August...the day that we found out we were pregnant with Solveig. :)  That was really a sweet day.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Her Name In The Sand...

Today, I'm linking up again with my blog friend Tesha.  If you're visiting from her website today, I'm glad you're here.  If you're trying to find my story, I haven't yet put a special button on my blog to say "start here" or something of that nature.  But if you go to the labels on the right hand side, you can pick the label "Solveig" to read about my daughter.

If you don't know Tesha yet, I encourage you to read her story here about her sweet family and their loss of their precious son, Jonathan.  He was born too early this past January, and dear Tesha has done a beautiful job of honoring her son through her story on her blog.  She has been a real encouragement to me and to so many others.

Briefly for the newbies...
Solveig Sofia was born still February 29, 2012 at 8:03 am weighing in at 3 lbs. 11 oz.  She was 33.5 weeks in gestation.  Her cause of death is known, unlike many others who experience stillbirth.  Solveig had the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck three times, around her arm, around her middle and also a true knot in the cord.  We are devastated by this loss, but we are choosing to trust in the Lord through the midst of the difficulty.  He has shown Himself to be so real to us during this trial.

Sunday May 6th was International Bereaved Mother's Day.  Tesha did an awesome thing in honor of my precious Solveig and MANY other little babies who are in Heaven.  She wrote their names in the sand using shells.  How amazing is that???  I cannot tell you what it did for my spirit to see my daughter's name written out like that and on her blog!  I was so surprised and had no idea that she had this wonderful gift in store. :)  THANK YOU TESHA!!!  I wish I lived near the ocean so I could find beautiful shells and flowers to create these things as you have done.  For now, I'll have to settle for Minnesota rocks and shells and lakes...which are also great, and pretty in a different way than your landscape.

Here it is:

Isn't that so cool?  There is nothing quite like seeing my daughter's name spelled out.  It warms my heart and gives me the chills all at the same time.  Here's a few more pictures that Tesha made for me...

I miss my little Solveig so much.  The days of feeling intense, gut wrenching pain have waned a bit.  Now it seems I have more moments of feeling that pain, but they last for a much shorter duration than they did previously.  I still think about Solveig every single day, throughout the day, but I'm able to go on and do other things more than I was even a few weeks ago.  That seems healthy and good, and I'm grateful that I've gotten to that place.  I know that the waves will come and go though, as that is how grief tends to operate.

But for this moment on this day, I'm going to again be grateful that I had the chance to carry that sweet girl in my womb and know her there.  And I'm going to look forward to holding her in Heaven again one day.  I can hardly wait!

I miss you dear Solveig.  I'll ALWAYS love you and think of you...


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Pray...Brother Joel

UPDATE ON JOEL 5/7/12 - Thank you for praying for Joel!  His surgery today went well and he is currently recovering.  Please continue to pray for him...pray against infection, pray for complete recovery...thank you so much.

It has been awhile since I've posted anything about my brother Joel.  Here's a brief synopsis of Joel's history:

Joel is married and has three children.  He was diagnosed with colon cancer in the fall of 2009 at age 37.  At that time, he had major surgery to remove a large portion of his colon.  Then he went through chemo. for awhile and was finally declared cancer free. Two years later, his cancer reappeared, this past fall of 2011.  However, this time the cancer was in different places - his liver and his lungs.  Joel underwent some more chemo. and then the dr.'s checked to see if his cancer had shrunk or spread.   Apparently his liver tumor has now shrunk some and his lung tumors are stable.

Tomorrow, Joel will be having liver surgery.  Approximately one third of his liver will be removed.

Please pray for Joel and his family.  Many of you have been praying for him these past few years, and we so appreciate that.

Thank you so much.  I love my brothers and am so blessed to have them in my life.

The below picture captured a fun moment with my brothers and our dear uncle last Easter in our home...

left to right - Brothers Joel & Eric and our Uncle Ron - Easter 2011

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Outfits and Blankets

Ever since we had Solveig nine weeks ago today, I have felt the need to take action and do something to help other people who have gone through the loss of a baby.  One thing that I wrote about before was how special it was for us to have a special outfit and blanket for our baby.  I also purchased duplicates of those items so that I will always have the duplicates with me to help remember Solveig.

I was lucky to have the time to go out and find these items, but many expectant parents have no forewarning that their little one is going to die and thus certainly don't have time to go out shopping.  Or maybe they don't have the energy to go and get something.  Maybe they don't have the funds to purchase these special items.  Whatever the case, there are people who don't have special outfits or blankets for their babies after they die, and they might not have a lot of options at the hospital they are in.  Some hospitals have a few items that have been donated but they can probably always use more.  Our hospital did have a few outfits and hats that had been donated...but I can honestly say that the outfits weren't things that I would probably choose.  I sort of feel bad even admitting that, but it's true.  People have different ideas about what is beautiful and suitable for them and their babies, so it would be nice to provide a variety of lovely options and then let the family have their choice of what they would like.

All of this to say, I really would like to start collecting new, beautiful baby blankets and outfits in preemie and newborn sizes to donate to the hospital where we had our Solveig for people like us who are experiencing stillbirth/antenatal death or postnatal death of an infant.  And I'd like to try to donate these in pairs, so that there is a duplicate outfit and blanket for the parents to take with them if they plan to have their baby buried in that outfit as we did.

I don't really know how to go about this, but if you're reading this and you feel led to participate in this effort, please let me know.  Perhaps a non-profit thing will come from this...or maybe just a small sized effort. :)  Regardless, I know that I intend to donate outfits and blankets in pairs to the hospital in honor of our little Solveig.  Maybe that will be one of the ways that we commemorate her birthday each year...or more!

I'm looking forward to going back to the maternity floor with bags full of outfits and blankets. :)  I think that will be healing...