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. :)
Saturday, February 22, 2014
Today at lunch, Buzz was in another of his reflective moods. We started talking about Solveig, and here is the conversation that happened.
Friday, February 21, 2014
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
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
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.
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.