Our Family

Our Family
Fall 2015 - These are my people

Monday, May 5, 2014

Buzzy's Heaven Thoughts

Buzz and I were just reading a sweet book about an owl who flies to a little boy and becomes his pet.  Later, after helping the owl recover and regain strength from an injury, the little boy releases the owl back into the wilderness.  I was asking my Buzz if he liked the story.  Here's what he said.

"It reminds me of Solveig."

I said, "why is that, Honey?  Because of the owl flying away?"

"Yes," he said.  "Solveig's spirit flew right to Heaven.  We got to hold her when she was dead.  But her spirit flew to Heaven.  I'll get to see her again someday when I go there.  But our hearts are connected.  They'll always be connected.  She was the most beautiful little baby girl."

I didn't make that up.  I loved that he said that their hearts are connected, and that he thought she was beautiful.  And while he was saying all of these precious thoughts of his, of course the tears came into my eyes.

The reminders of Heaven and wanting to be there are truly encouraging to me.  I really have been missing Solveig a lot lately.  I think it has a lot to do with Spring finally being here…the season that she would have been born in.  So, hearing my son talk about his little sister is really sweet.

There is a movie out right now that we really want to see, all about Heaven and how it is real…based on the book of the same kind of name.  We can't wait to see it.  You see, we read that book just a few months before we lost our Solveig.  It was so comforting at the time, thinking about our babies that we had miscarried and other loved ones.  And then when we lost Solveig, it just became that much more real.

We even have the children's version of this special book and our kids really clung to that after we lost Solveig.  It was Bug's favorite book for awhile.  She wanted to bring it to school to share as her favorite book for her birthday.  But because of wondering if she might get in trouble sharing it during regular school time and not on recess, I decided that she shouldn't bring it.  This was such a bummer and really hard for a six year old to understand…the separation of church and state…issues that are challenging from time to time in the public school setting.

But I digress.  If you haven't read that book that I'm referring to, I highly encourage you to do so.  There's no way that this kid could've made all of that up.  It really is a beautiful picture of Heaven.

I long to be there.  It is my hope.  It is how I keep going.

One day, sweet Solveig…one day…we will be reunited, and I will hold you, FULLY ALIVE!!!!!  Until then, dance and play and sing and run, and I will think of you and hold your daddy and siblings here on earth.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Her Due Date - 2 Years Later

Today marks the anniversary of Solveig's due date, two years after the loss of her.  I don't know why this day seems so significant still, but it does.  None of my kids ever made it to their due date for their actual birthdays.  They were all born earlier.  So the fact that I even remember her due date and that it stands out to me in this way is kind of interesting.  But of course I remember it, because she came and went in such a startling way that it will always be remembered.  She will always be remembered.  All days surrounding her life and what could have been will always be remembered…just because.

I remember being so excited for a spring baby when I was expecting Solveig.  All of our babies have happened in the spring, except for Buzz who was technically a Summer birthday by one day - June 22nd.  But my pregnancies were all through the same seasons.  There was that hope and expectation of new life in the Spring.  Such a beautiful thing it is to have that kind of hope during a pregnancy.

So when we lost her at the end of the winter and buried her on a cold day, it did not equate to the warmth and new life of spring that we had expected.  But it was that way.  And even in the cold and bitterness of winter and loss, we still felt warmth…warmth of God's love for us, warmth of family and friends who came around with hugs, prayers and meals, warmth of one another's embrace here in our home.  And when the cold wore off and the spring set in that year, I remember sitting outside with my big kids, wishing that I was holding our little girl in my arms and feeling the empty void of her absence.

Now that she would have been two, I sometimes picture her running about with her big brother and sister and her little brother too.  Wouldn't it have been something for them to all be together here?  Life would have been even more chaotic than it already is…and there are many moments that I would give just about anything to have it that way.  I would love to have her here with us.  We would all love that.  Her daddy and I talk about it often. I wonder what she is doing in Heaven today.  I wonder if she is waiting for the tulips to spring up from the ground, or perhaps she already has flowers around her all the time.  Maybe there are no seasons in Heaven.  Maybe it's all just moderately temperate all the time.  And I like to think that there are no mosquitos causing her to swell up with bites and no ticks to imbed themselves…because there is no disease in Heaven.  Maybe she is twirling around in a little sundress, singing songs of joy, with pigtails in her hair and a big smile on her round face with rosy cheeks.  And her big brown eyes (I'm sure they have to be brown) are open wide and filled with laughter.

To hold her again will be one of the greatest gifts that Heaven will bring.  I can hardly wait.

I thought she was due to be here on Earth…but her real due date was for Heaven.

When am I due for Heaven?  I wait, with great expectation and hope…knowing that this short blip of life here on Earth will last but for a moment.

For now, Uncle Joel, Aunt Ethel, Grandmas and Grandpas, other aunties and uncles, cousins, siblings and friends are with her…she is not bored!  She is not sad!  She is rejoicing.  They are rejoicing together.

1 Corinthians 15:55-57 says:

“O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?”

 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.

But thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!"

Amen to that.  Those verses were part of my brother Joel's favorites that were read at his funeral.  

For those of us left here on earth, we have to cling to the hope that is found in Christ.  There is nothing else.  Believe me.  I have been through enough different things and have tried to do things without Him…and I have failed miserably in those attempts.  He is the only way.  He is our only hope.

I pray that those of you reading this will find hope in Him today.  Christ the Lord has risen.  He is real.  He is how I make it through each day.  

O how He loves us…

Friday, March 7, 2014

Bedtime Snuggle Talks

We had another one of those nights…the kind where my kids had deep thoughts from their souls that needed to be shared.  I love those nights.  They both had asked for me to come and snuggle them before going to sleep, and I finally tore away from my project of deboning a freshly roasted turkey to make broth for long enough to be near them.  I'm so glad that I did.

Me: "Buzz, I will always love you."

Buzz: "I know Mommy.  Will you still love me when you are dead?"

Woah...how do I respond to that one…

Me: "Well Honey, I will be in Heaven.  And I think that I will still think about you and love you while I'm there."

Buzz: "But we don't know where we're going when we die.  We don't know if we'll go to Heaven or Hell."

Me: "No Honey, we can know exactly where we are going, with absolute certainty.  If we love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength and if Jesus is our Savior and Lord then we will be in Heaven.

Do you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and do you trust Him to be your Savior and Lord?

Buzz: "Yes, I do."

Me: "Then we will be there together.  We will be in Heaven together.  And that makes me so happy."

Buzz: "Satan won't be there.  The robbers won't be there.  They'll be in Hell."

(Thank you Le_go for helping my child to be obsessed with robbers and keeping them out of trouble.  Maybe he has a future in law enforcement.)

Me: "Yes, Satan will be in Hell.  You are right.  He will have no place in Heaven."

Buzz: "Besides, Hell is just like hot lava.  There won't be any place to sit."

Hmm…interesting…hadn't thought about the fact of sitting somewhere there…

Me: "Yes Honey, it will be hot.  In the Bible, Hell is described as being a lake of fire.  I definitely don't want to be there.

I'm looking forward to seeing Solveig, our other two little miscarried babies, Uncle Joel and a whole lot of other people in Heaven.  Won't that be great?"

Buzz: "Yes!  Maybe Uncle Joel, Solveig and the other two babies that died in your tummy are all living together in a house."

Smile.  That just makes me smile to think of that possibility.  Just the fact that I believe that they are all there together makes me smile.

With tears in my eyes I responded, "I can't wait to see all of them.  It will be wonderful."

And break for hugs and kisses with my sweet boy.  He is so full of love…which sometimes gets misconstrued as not having a personal bubble at school. :)  He is learning boundaries.  Such a challenge for a hugger.

Me: "Goodnight Buzz.  You need to get some sleep.  I love you."

Buzz: "Goodnight Mommy."

All the while, big sister Bug was waiting in her room for me to come and have snuggles with her as well.  I went in and she was so concerned with how much time I had just spent with her little brother.  Maybe she was jealous and wanting the same amount of snuggle time…which ended up happening.  Here is how our conversation went…

Bug: "Mommy, what do you think Heaven will be like?"

Me: "Well, I don't know for sure, but there are some great descriptions of it in the Bible.  It says that there will be streets of gold.  And it talks about animals and people getting along.  We're supposed to have new bodies.  There will be good food.  There will be no more pain, no more suffering, no more tears…everything will be amazing."

Bug: "It's hard for me to imagine a poisonous snake getting along with a mouse."

Me: "Yeah, I guess that is kind of hard to imagine.  All I know is that I can hardly wait to go there."

Tears were starting to creep in and I was audibly crying a little bit and sniffling at this point as I snuggled with my girl.

Bug: "Mommy, why the tears?  Why the sadness?  It's okay.  Don't worry, Mommy."

She proceeded to pat my head and rub my hair.  I just melted into my sweet girl and thanked God that I could be in her presence.  I told her what a beautiful gift she is…that she has such a tender, sweet spirit… and that I know that the Lord has wonderful plans for her life.  I told her that I can't wait to see what those plans are.

She said, "Me too!"

I love my kids.  I am so grateful for the opportunity to be with them and to do life with them.  I am so thankful that I get to hear what is going on in their minds…and I hope that they will always be willing to talk with me and their daddy.  I hope that they will not one day shut us out.

Oh Lord, help us to be good parents.  Help us to love these children with depth and wisdom and passion.  And help us to teach them to honor you and love you all the days of their lives.  May that be their heart's desire.


Saturday, March 1, 2014

Solveig's Birthday - 2 years

This is long…just so you know.

Numb.  I am numb right now as I begin typing this post.  And yet I feel the need to write, so here I go.

For many days and weeks leading up to Solveig's birthday, I had a lot of great moments.  I was really feeling good about things and only periodically did I have a meltdown.  But yesterday and today I had some really difficult moments.

Yesterday was February 28th.  We have decided that we will choose to celebrate Solveig's birthday on the 28th, since her birthday landed so interestingly on the 29th.  There are a lot of times that it bothers me that we don't get to have her birthday on the actual date.  But it's okay.  Really, that shouldn't matter so much.  I think that maybe one reason why I wish we could have the 29th of February every year is that for me it would just validate Solveig's life all the more, in my mind.  But she was valid.  Indeed.  She did exist.  And I believe that she still exists in Heaven.  Her spirit is there.  So whether or not her birthdate on earth is available to us on paper each year, we can still honor her life.

For Solveig's birthday, we ended up doing pretty much a repeat of last year's festivities.  We allowed our kids to skip school because this is important to us.  And we took them to the local kids museum where they had a wonderful time playing and imagining all sorts of adventures.  Mr. Squeaker finally fell asleep in his stroller and took a brief nap, which allowed him to be somewhat human for the rest of our time at the museum.  I think he didn't want to miss out on all the fun though.  It was nice to have him along with us this year, outside of my womb, alive and well.  Just another healing mark on the journey.

Spending quality fun time with our Bug and Buzz was so important to me and to Erik.  It felt so healthy to be laughing and enjoying them.  We played together, and I felt so free.  At home it's so easy to get into our routines…go, go, go all day long…and I truly feel like we don't take enough time to just stop and play with our kids.  So it felt like such a gift to have that time at the museum with them.

One interesting thing that happened while we were at the museum was that our kids were playing in this mock river dam setup.  There were about 5 plastic water creature toys to about 20 grappling children.  Perhaps some of the regular toys that live in that river had been stashed in a nearby hole or something, but it was kind of interesting to see the kids trying to negotiate who would get what toy or if they'd get one at all.  My sweet boy was playing with a little red lobster toy when all of the sudden, a younger, bossier little blonde girl from a preschool group came rushing up and grabbed the lobster hastily out of Buzzy's hands.  He just stood there in shock and awe and didn't know what to do or how to respond.  I so wanted to grab it back for him, but of course that wouldn't be helpful now, would it?  After watching that child not only take the toy but also claim one of the other five available toys per 20 kid capita, I politely said to her, "would you mind please sharing one of those toys since you have two?"  She just stared at me and made some little annoyed sound and rushed off to something else.  I think she was about four.  Anyway, Buzz was so sad.  I told him that he handled the situation politely by not grabbing it back from her.  But that he could also choose to say something along the lines of, "it isn't polite to steal a toy from someone.  Next time you could ask, 'please may I have that toy?'  Poor kid…guess we need to work on healthy confrontational skills some more…but his peacemaker ways are very sweet too. I did end up writing a comment on the comment cards asking if they could perhaps add a few more toys to the river dam…

Alas…I digress.

After thoroughly enjoying the museum and capping off our visit with some face painting where Buzz decided to paint his face entirely green to look like an alien and Bug decided to paint hers like a tropical bird, we headed off to a nearby restaurant for some delicious eats.  It was then home to nap the little Squeaker and exhausted parents, and then rev up for another part of the day.

Daddy went out and bought some light pink balloons and some light pink roses.  We went to our cemetery after nap time.  And in very cold weather, perhaps 5 degrees Fahrenheit, we climbed over the deep snow to Solveig's grave with Baby wrapped up in his warm bundle and blankets over his head and around his body.  When Daddy had the camera tripod all set for a few pics, we quickly unveiled our Squeaker's blanket shrouded head and took several pictures of us standing by the stone as a family. Then it was time for laying the roses by her stone and also releasing the balloons.  This year, the balloons were able to gracefully fly into the sky.  But just like last year, one balloon somehow got a little bit stuck and did its own thing!  That to me was so symbolic of Solveig, going on her way to Heaven separate from us.  It made us giggle a little bit.

Buzz said, "I hope the balloons make it all the way to Heaven!"

I cried and said, "Me too Buddy!  Me too."

We finished our little ceremonial time and headed back home to make dinner out of leftovers.  Wow, my creative juices were shot I guess.  I had great intentions of making a special dinner, but that wasn't meant to be.  However, I did make up some homemade vanilla cupcakes the night before and had them frozen so they would be easy to frost.  The kids helped me to make some light pink frosting.  And I sat and decorated cupcakes with them.  Buzz wanted just gobs of frosting and no sprinkles on his.  And Bug spent a lot of time adding TONS of sprinkles on hers!  Again, it felt so good to just do something fun with them.  The kids sang several different renditions of Happy Birthday.

Today, March 1st, we had a birthday breakfast of homemade crepes with fruit, whipped cream and maple syrup.  It was my first time making crepes, so lets just say that there were a LOT of flopped pancakes.  But they still tasted delicious.  After kind of a slow day, I ended up going out for some big box store therapy grocery shopping.  It felt good to get out of the house.  And then after supper tonight we had a chance to do some more reminiscing with our kids.

We got out our pale pink scrapbook with Solveig's photos and big purple storage bin that has Solveig's things in it…her white blanket and pink bear that I basically lived with until after Squeaker was born over a year later, the hundreds of sympathy cards that loving people sent to us (I read about half of them again tonight and wept…thank you, friends), the candles that were used at her funeral that I cannot bear to part with or use yet, the outfits that friends and family gave to us in preparation for our daughter that I still cannot get rid of and I think I may always keep, the mini strawberry dress that matched big sister Bug's strawberry dress…purchased just a week before Solveig died inside of me, the box that was given to us at the hospital in loving memory of a little boy named Colton, (the inspiration for me taking on the box project that his parents used to be a part of), her footprints and handprints…so delicate and tiny, her dark brown hair clippings inside the Tress Press…the same dark hair as her sister Bug and brother Squeaker…it was really good but really hard to look at these things.

Part way through going over the memory items, my sweet seven year old Bug said, "Mom, I can tell that you are getting really teary.  Perhaps this has been enough for one day."  Bless her heart.

I said, "Honey, it's okay that I'm crying.  It's okay to be sad about this and to look at Solveig's things.  But thank you so much for being sensitive and for caring so much about your mama."

Then Buzz said as he was looking at the photos of Solveig, "I miss Solveig so much.  I can't wait to see her again."

I said, "I know, Honey.  We all feel the same way."

My sweet husband was soaking in all of the mementos.  He was looking at it all and holding back the tears in his eyes.  What especially caught him tonight were the photos of him holding Solveig and weeping when we were holding her and bathing her.  Those are some of my favorites…they are so tender and show his depth and love for his daughter.  As he said last year when we visited her hospital room, "It just makes me sad to think about the life that could have been."

Yes, it makes me sad too.  Sometimes it really makes me very sad.

And other days I truly don't feel sad about it like I used to.  I think it is perfectly healthy and good and normal that we dug out all of her things and went through it today…that we spent time thinking about her and talking about her as a family…that we will always remember her out loud…because I don't want our family to ever forget her.  She meant something to us and always will.  She was born.  She was still.  But she was born.

Having our sweet Solveig has changed my life forever.  I feel things more deeply now than I think I could before.  I see other people hurting in a different way than before.  I feel more aware of a lot of things that I think matter in this world.  And I wish that I could help everyone who is in pain.  The reality of course it that I can't do that because I'm just one person.  But I do care.  And I can pray.  I can pray for people…that is something that I can do.  I so long to help other people who are going through the loss of their child, and I am thankful to be able to do some of this.

Thank you for caring about me…about our family…for remembering our daughter with us.  We all miss her very much.  It isn't just me.  We all grieve differently, and that is alright.  But we are learning to process our grief alone and together.  It is still a process.  And I believe it will go on for the rest of our lives, and that is alright.  It is okay to grieve.  And it is healthy to grieve.

And in grieving fully, I believe we are able to more better move forward in our lives.  I truly feel like I am able to "do life" better now than I could two years ago, or one year ago, or even six months ago.  Each day brings new strength that only comes from God.  I could not go on without His love for me.

Blessings and peace, friends.

Thanks Heather Hanson for capturing this photo of my Solveig bear from the Missing Grace Foundation with the kids a few months after we lost her...

I cherish these family photos that we had taken that day.  Thank you Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep and Jen Kelly.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

More Thoughts From Siblings...

Today at lunch, Buzz was in another of his reflective moods.  We started talking about Solveig, and here is the conversation that happened.

Mama, "Buzz, do you remember holding Solveig at the hospital?"

Buzz, "No, I don't remember that." (That makes me sad actually, because for the longest time he talked about it.  But he was so young when she died…not quite four, so it doesn't surprise me that his memory of her is fading.)

Mama, "Well, would you like to look at the pictures we have so that you can see how you held her?  You were so good with her, such a good big brother.  You held her gently and kissed her forehead."

Buzz, "Yes, I would like to see those."

"I guess if Bug and I died then we wouldn't be Squeaker's brother and sister anymore."

Mama, "No Honey, you'll always be Squeaker's brother and sister, whether you are here or in Heaven. Do you remember in the book Heaven I_S F_or Re_al when the little boy goes to Heaven?  When he's there he meets his sister that his mom miscarried.  He had no idea that he had a sister, but he met her there.  When we go to Heaven, I believe we will see our loved ones and we will know each other."

Buzz, "Maybe we'll all be babies in Heaven."

Mama, "That would be interesting, wouldn't it?  I'm not sure how old we'll be in Heaven, but the Bible does say that we will be free from pain and sickness.  And everyone will get along. Maybe we can run with the cheetahs. Won't that be great?"

Bug, "I want to run with the cheetahs!  I want to learn how to run like a cheetah."

I know that there were some more really neat details to this conversation, but I can't remember them right now.

I love these big kiddos…they are such a blessing to me and their daddy.

Thanks to Heather for these pictures. :)

Friday, February 21, 2014

200 Times

It is a day that I will never forget…

Two years ago today, on a Friday morning much like this one, I woke up to feel my baby girl inside of me.  Only, her movements were not typical to her.  This time her body flailed 200 times over the course of 5 minutes.  Yes, it did.  I counted.  I watched the clock.  It was a steady, rapid tick type movement.  I later learned from my nurse while I was waiting for her to be born that this must have been a seizure.  Well that makes a lot of sense.  I have seen people seize.  I have been with a friend while she was having seizures.  I know that that looks like.    I know what that feels like.  So I could so easily now pinpoint what happened to my daughter inside of my womb on that morning.  It helped me to have a reason.  And to my non-medically trained brain that has been so curious about medical things and has enjoyed doing a lot of independent research, this seemed like a very good assumption.  I have held to that assumption these last two years.  For someone who loses a child, it always helps to have some type of "reason" for the loss.  Not that it helps it to feel any worse, but it just helps to bring closure knowing as many details as one can find.

And of course, the real underlying cause for what we think was a seizure was that darn umbilical cord.  It was constricted so tightly around Solveig's neck…three times…and around her abdomen, her arm, and it also had a true knot in it.  I get so mad about that cord sometimes.  I wish that I could have just reached in and released it from her body.  But of course that is not possible.  Nor was that meant to be.  I wish that she had been meant to be on this earth.  I will always wish that.  Even though I know that she flew straight to Jesus' arms and she is safe and free from pain, I will always wish that she could be here with our earthly family.

Sometimes I still kick myself for not calling my OB clinic immediately upon feeling that atypical movement series.  But I really had no idea.  And at the time, I was so busy with my two big kids that I didn't think too long about it.  All I thought was, "hmm, that was different."  And I got on with my day.  It was a busy day.  I remember taking my kids to the store with the big red bullseye and attending and participating in a piano and voice performance party with my mom.  And I remember as we got ready for bed that night, I said to Erik, "Something doesn't feel right.  I just am so worried about her and I don't think she is okay.  I really want to go into the hospital."  Because I'm such a worry wart, my sweet husband reassured me and said, "everything is going to be okay.  Just try to get some rest."  But I told him, "But I haven't felt her moving lately.  I think something is wrong."  And as I lay in bed, I prayed to the Lord, "Please God, please help her to move.  Please help her to move.  I just need to feel her to know that she is okay."  And sure enough, in just a little while I did feel her move.  But it was just a few little scratches.  Maybe she was still alive at that time, but I honestly think that it was just her body moving a little bit inside of me…shifting as I had shifted too.  But it allowed me to get some rest.

That next day, Saturday, we went about our family life.  We were getting the nursery ready, of all things.  Erik was putting up the crib.  And I remember sitting on the little futon in the nursery with our big kids, reading to them, and thinking to myself, "why is he putting that crib up?  This baby isn't going to be with us."  I knew.  I just knew.  It was the worst feeling.  We even went fridge and freezer shopping.  That ended up being a blessing in disguise, as we later ordered a new freezer for our basement just days after we delivered Solveig.  That freezer held many a meal from dear friends and family who literally provided months worth of meals.  And I recently learned that when we ordered our fridge over the phone, the people at the store who heard that we had just lost our daughter to stillbirth decided to pray for us.  Wow.  God shows up in the most amazing ways.  Thank you, friends at the store.

At dinner that Saturday, I remember feeling her move a little bit inside of me.  But again, it was more like she was just shifting.  And that is the last I recall her moving.

The next day at church, our friends in our adult Sunday school class prayed for us because I was feeling so anxious and nervous and shared with them that I thought something might be wrong.  And it was.  I couldn't believe that we were there that day.  I felt sick to my stomach and just knew that we needed to be at the hospital.  What on earth were we doing at church?  But now looking back, I think it was God who put us there…to be encouraged by friends before we headed into the eye of the storm.

Later that Sunday night, we called ahead to the hospital to tell them that we were coming in to check things out as I hadn't felt movement.  My mom came to stay with the kids and we went in.  On the way there, I remember we were saying, "hopefully everything is okay and she is just being quiet right now."  But moments after we arrived and were whisked away into one of the birthing areas, the nurses tried in vain to find the heart beat.  It was the most awful feeling in the world and I felt like my heart was pounding out of my chest.  I could hardly breathe.  My Dr. M came in and confirmed via ultrasound that she was gone.  She had tears in her eyes and she was so kind and gentle with me.  I watched in shock and horror as I saw that our baby was gone…she was lying still inside of me.  I turned away from that screen as I couldn't watch any longer and my body froze up.  The tears welled up and I sobbed, turning into my husband's warm embrace.  He held me for the longest time, trying to comfort me.  And he kept saying, "She's with Jesus now…she's with Jesus now…"  All I could say was, "No!  No!  She's gone!!!  Why?"

Oh the pain.  Today it comes back to me almost as if it just happened.  And yet there is some sense of removal, since it has now been two years.  But there are times that just creep up on me and hit me out of the blue.  Anticipating Solveig's birthday will I'm sure be harder than the actual day.  For it is all of these memories and emotions that are swelling and swirling like a tide pool that never calms itself.  The Post Traumatic Stress Disorder like issues I have faced following our loss have definitely calmed a bit, but they are still present at times.  I was never formally diagnosed with PTSD, but I read about it a lot and I definitely had every single symptom.  From what I have heard and read, it is so commonly found in people who have had this type of loss.  And that makes sense…because having one's child come out still is so shocking.  There is a lot to figure out…a lot to wrap the brain around.  And it takes so much time and healing and patience.  And it takes a lot of love from people around, who are willing to encourage and be there through the pain.

We have had a lot of help and encouragement through our loss.  We are thankful for those who have been able to "go there" with us.  There are some who are not able to go there.  And that has been very difficult, in all honesty.  But whenever that is hard, I try to remember all of the people that God has sent our way who have been such pillars of strength, hope and encouragement.

Please remember, if you are on the periphery of a friend or family member going through the loss of a child or another loved one, don't be afraid to say something about the deceased!  There is nothing that a parent of a child who is gone appreciates more than to hear that child's name spoken out loud once in awhile…or even to just say, "I'm thinking about her," or "I want you to know that I haven't forgotten her"…that means so much. If you say nothing, which some choose to do, it makes it feel like you have completely forgotten and that the person never existed.  That is perhaps one of the worst things about this.  And it is hard to not take it personally.

Trying to be grateful in the midst of trial…sometimes that is really a hard task, but it is indeed a necessary one.

So, as we remember our daughter in the coming weeks, and as we remember all of the things surrounding that loss, we have to continue to take hope in God.  He hasn't given up on us.  And He will never leave us…not for one moment.  We will have hard times.  We will have losses. People will come and go, but God will not go.  People will disappoint, but He will not let go of us through the disappointments.  He knows that we miss our daughter and that we will always think about her, for the rest of our lives.  He lets us cry to Him about it anytime.  That means a lot.

I can't wait to see her in Heaven…free from her tangled cord…dancing on the streets of gold…smiling and singing and playing…laughing with her Uncle Joel...what a beautiful thought to hold onto.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Fabric Store Encounter

Last night I set out to the local fabric store in search of some fabric for the little gowns I intend to sew in honor of Solveig.  While I was on my fabric search, I first worked with an older sales person who looked to be a grandmother.  She was so sweet.  She asked me if I needed help finding something and I told her that I was indeed looking for some really soft, delicate fabric that would be suitable for infant burial gowns.  She seemed just a tiny bit taken aback, but not too shocked.  And she was very willing to help me in the process of searching.  She confirmed what I had already discovered.  My choices of pale pink flannel and cream colored knit were some of the softest offerings the store had.  She then directed me to the notions area so that I could gather some sweet details to add to the finished gowns.  I really want them to look pretty for these baby girls and their families.  I figure I'll start with the flannel and see how it goes before I attempt sewing the knit.

After I stared at ruffles, ribbons, lace and other things of that nature for probably thirty minutes or more, I finally decided upon a couple of options that seemed to be good for this purpose.  They have to be simple.  They have to be sweet.  They have to be delicate and not too big.  They have to be so pretty.  I just want these babies to be taken care of well.  I want their parents to be able to hold them a little bit longer…to enjoy spending moments with their babies, for the moments shortly after their little ones are born are all they will ever have.

I headed for the cut counter.  The young woman who was there helping me said with her sweet and cheery disposition, "What project are you making?"

I replied, "well, it's a really special project.  It's kind of a hard one.  I am sewing burial gowns for babies."


Shock and dumfoundedness…

She didn't know what to say.

I don't blame her.

She has never faced something similar, I tell myself.

She's probably 19 and this feels so foreign to her.

She sweetly replied in her shocked state, "oh, wow.  That's not something I hear of very often!  No offense!"

"It's okay," I tell her.  "No problem.  It really is an honor to be making these.  It's hard but it's good."

I then went on to explain the short version of our loss and how I'm working with the hospital box project.  And that this year I decided I needed to sew something in honor of our daughter.  She just soaked it all in and said, "I hope you can have fun sewing these."

Fun isn't necessarily the word I would use to describe it.  But for sure it's an honor.  And the thought of it gets me excited, because I just want someone else to be able to have something for their precious child to wear.  It's such a hard thing to face, losing one's child.  The least I can do is help give them an outfit that can be used to make their child feel and look more "normal."  That's one thing that I think really helped us…being able to dress our daughter.

So, here I sit with my fabric, thread and notions in hand.  I hope to start my project sometime in the next week…before her birthday.  We also have a family box project day nearing and I need to prepare for that as well.

Thank you friends for your thoughts and prayers and love during these days, weeks, months and years. Thank you to the people who have been and continue to take the journey with us.  We are so blessed with your love.  And know that we are willing to pray over you and go with you on your journeys too.

Everyone has a journey.  Everyone has a story to tell.  We know that.  We are not the only ones.  If you haven't faced something too challenging yet, you will at some point or another.  It's just how life rolls.  But you can know that no matter what, God is available to you to help you get through it.  You just have to ask for His help.  He will guide you…if you just ask.  He loves you.  He will always love you. I tell my kids all the time, "Don't ever forget that God loves you more than any other person in this world ever could possibly love you."  I believe that, 100%.

May He be near you this week.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Sewing For Solveig

Last year, for Solveig's birthday we donated a set of matching blankets and preemie sized outfits to our hospital.  This gift was meant to be given to another family in need, during their time of loss.  It meant so much to us to have a special outfit and blanket for our daughter when we lost her, and we wanted to do the same for another family.  One outfit and blanket was for burying the baby, and the other was to be for the parents to keep as a remembrance.

As Solveig's birthday has been creeping up on us, I've been trying to find the perfect outfit to buy in duplicate for this same purpose.  It's hard to find burial outfits for babies in regular stores.  Most of the things that are available aren't the type of thing that can be easily put on such delicate skin.  But there are burial outfits and buntings and patterns available, and the other night I went on a search online to see what I could find.

After finding a free pattern for what I think will be just perfect, I have decided that I would in fact like to attempt sewing some of these sweet little outfits in honor of my Solveig.  My goal right now is that I hope to make two for this year.  But, if I get really inspired and the project ends up being easier than I thought, maybe I will make more.

The great thing about this pattern is that it is kind of like a bath robe for a baby.  It easily slips on and off and has a beautiful ribbon tie.  Here is a picture of an example.  The intent is for the fabric to not disturb the delicate skin of the child.  It should be really easy to put on.  And my vision about this outfit is that I want to make it as pretty as possible, with really simple and soft fabric and perhaps include some special little touches that will make it be even more elegant.  

Because of my involvement with Solveig's Boxes, I don't know that I will have time to make a whole lot of these myself.  But…this is where YOU might be able to help!  If you would be interested in helping to sew some outfits based on this pattern, please let me know.  Or if you would like to donate some fabric towards the cause, let me know.  

Click here for the website.   There are two different sizes available here.  The only thing is, I don't think that the large size is large enough to be a preemie sized outfit.  So, I am thinking about adapting the pattern to be an official preemie size.  And I'd like to do the same for a newborn size.  OR, if you're really good at such things, let me know and maybe you could help with this process of adapting the pattern!  

My dream is that we could donate a lot of these outfits and tiny buntings and diapers to our hospital as they could really use them to bless so many families.  It would be lovely to have some in all different sizes.

Will you join me in the dream? :)

New Year, New Look

My blog has needed some updating for way too long!  So, today I found an awesome FREE blog background from Shabby Blogs and put up one of our latest family photos.  Thank you sweet Heather for taking such great photos of my family.  I appreciate you and your gifts!

There is much more I want to say, and I'm working on some other posts…lots to share.  This is actually a really hard time of year for our family as we prepare to celebrate Solveig's birthday at the end of this month.  We miss her a lot.

There is also much to be thankful for.  This morning I heard a sermon on the radio from Chip Ingram about not being a victim when difficult things happen.  (Here is a link to his website where you can download the message for free.) He talked about the need to grieve and acknowledge and work through what happens, but then to not play the role of victim…the constant "why me," or "why did this happen?"  I think this is so important to remember.  But it's also a tricky balance.  We do need to thoroughly work through grief and not think that we can just brush it off.  That's not healthy nor is it  practical.  If we think we can brush it aside, we will actually only be making our problems worse…as they will grow like bacteria in a petri dish and become more lethal.  Chip's point was that once we've  done some of our grieving, we should stop and say, "now, what can I do with this?  What can I do and how can I allow God to use this situation to help other people?  How can I help someone else who may be going through something similar?"  Great reminder, isn't it?  If we don't try to get outside of ourselves in the midst of our grief, grief can instead become so selfish.  I have definitely experienced this first hand.

I'm thankful to be having opportunities to talk with other people who are going through baby loss, or to share with those who are on the outside wondering how to help those who are going through the loss.  And I'm thankful to be working on Solveig's Boxes for the hospital.  I have more to share about that and some other neat opportunities and will do so soon.  Stay tuned.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Buzz Conversation

My sweet Buzz boy still has the deepest thoughts at his age of five.  Tonight, as I was tucking him into bed we had a sweet visit.  Here is what was said:

"Buzz, do you think about Uncle Joel?"

"Yes, I do.  I miss him a lot."

"I do too, Honey.  I think about him all the time and I miss him so much."

Buzz said, "But he's in Heaven now."  A big smile spread across his face.  And it made me smile too.

Then I said, "What do you think he's doing today?"

Buzz said, "I don't know."

I replied, "I wonder if he's playing his guitar."

Buzz quickly said, "but he didn't die with his guitar."

Hmm…interesting.  "You're right honey, but he did love to play the guitar and sing.  And sometimes I wonder if he has a guitar in Heaven.  Maybe he's eating good food too."

Buzz said, "Yeah, and he's taking care of Solveig!"  Another big smile spread across his face.  Tears were dripping from my eyes at this point.

"Yes Honey, I believe that he is taking care of Solveig.  And that makes your mama so happy to think about that!  Uncle Joel loved babies."

"Will we see Solveig in Heaven?"

"Yes, Honey.  We will see her.  And that is something wonderful to look forward to.  I can't wait!"

Big smile on his face yet again.

I LOVE it when Buzz and I have these conversations about life.  He is such a precious boy and I hope that his depth of thought continues forever.