Friday, January 27, 2012

Happy 10 month birthday, Amazing Grace!

*I started writing this yesterday, so the very begining is not entirely acurate now!*

10 months ago, I spent the better part of the day trying to decide if I was actually in labor or not. Finally around 11pm I listened to my husband when he said "please can we just go to the hospital, I don't want to be the one to deliver this baby" thank goodness I listened because Grace was born seven minutes after midnight. So tomorrow she would have been 10 months old, but to me the 26th and 27th are both special.
Something that makes me sad is, when I see a 10 month old baby I cannot even picture that as her. In my mind I will never be able to see her as any older than 4 mos 13 days. Sucking on her fingers. It makes me sad because I know it's a total sign that the world is moving on without her as I know it obviously has to. Not a second goes by still that I do not think of her or she is not in my heart. She is honestly the best thing that had ever happened to me. Losing her was the worst. But someone said to me after she died, something to the effect of "i pray for the time to come when having an angel will bring you more blessings than pain" and it didn't make alot of sense to me at the time because I just could NOT see a day ever coming when I might be able to say anything other than how incredibly sad and terrible it is to not have that little girl in my arms. But somehow that is happening. In a way I cannot even figure out how to put into words, your grief DOES change. When Grace first died, I'd wake up and it would litterally hurt to be awake. Hurt to have to get of bed and do every day things like laundry, dishes, meal planning etc when every fiber of my being was screaming out, "your daughter has died" and all I'd want to do is cry. Everything moved me to tears. Watching my oldest son play soccer about a month after Grace died, there was a girls team playing in the field next to his and I was sitting in between them. Suddenly all I could hear was the girls coach constantly yelling "way to go Grace, good job Grace etc" (Grace was apparently a good player) and I could not stop myself and I just started crying, silent tears just running down my face because suddenly it hit me "my Grace will never play soccer". A song would come on that would just make me sob and no matter how hard I tried I couldn't stop. I felt like I was seriously walking around in a fog, or sometimes like I was just watching my life play out but wasn't really in it. I wasn't at all who I was and had no idea how I'd ever be.
But without being able to say when, things have changed and you never even feel them coming. I will never in my life stop missing Grace. I will never in my life look at my children and wish with everything I have that she could be lined up with them. But somehow? These days, grief is not slowly eating away at MY life anymore. Someone else's baby does not give me the extreme anxiety it used to. A song on the radio can make me miss her, but does not send me into hysterics, causing me to wonder how I stayed on the road..If next soccer season, soccer Grace is playing by Tyler, I'll be sad I won't have a pink cleated, pigtailed player but I'll be able to hold it together. Grief no longer feels like an Elephant who will not stop sitting on my chest. There are obviously still bad days, there will never cease to be bad days. But they are not nearly every single day. I can have an entire day where even though, yes my heart aches to hold her, the fact that I can't does not control my day. I remember a day not long before Grace was born, Adam had taken the boys into the backyard to play while I was cooking dinner. We'd only lived in our house for a month or so and they'd not really played out there since it was winter. I stood in my kitchen watching from the window and I was just filled with such joy, watching the 4 most important males in my life playing and feeling the kicks of the sweetest girl and just being overwhelmed by how LUCKY I was and feeling so THANKFUL to have this life I was given. After she died I would sometimes think of that day and wonder if I'd ever truly feel that way again. I can say that yes, I can feel that way again.
I say I have no idea when the shift happened and I don't. BUT I know without a doubt HOW it happened. I am surviving the loss of my daughter because of my God. Yes there are alot of people on this earth who are helping me survive as well but each one has been put in my life by God.
Psalm 34:18 says:The Lord is close to the brokenhearted;
he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. And it is so true. He has never left my side, He's never been closer to me than now. Of course I've had days where I did not want to admit that, where I just wanted to be angry and bitter and you know what? That is OK too, God knows I'm not perfect and He can handle any emotion I may throw his way. I cannot understand why He would give me the most perfect little girl to become so incredibly attatched to, to want to keep more than anything and then take her from me. But I do understand that though I don't know it, there is a reason for it. I will continue to believe and know that God is good, all the time even if it makes NO sense. There is a song, Blessings by Laura Story, and this one part stands out to me:
We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
And we cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we'd have faith to believe

He KNOWS my pain. He knows the screams of my soul "please let me keep her, please leave her here, I love her" Every question, "why did you take her?" "why couldn't she stay" He knows. And He knows how it plays out even though I don't and so He reminds me that when I cannot possibly answer the questions to just trust Him, He knows what he is doing. He reminds me who I am. I still have alot to learn, I still have a long way to go and I am still not even close to being "ok" with my daughter's absence but I DO know that I named her Grace for a reason, I do know that my Grace and His grace have never left my side and, never will so I'm surviving and sometimes even thriving and I know that because of Him, I will continue to grow and "heal" (I will never truly heal but I believe someday my wound will not be open, it will have scarred and it will hurt but it will not be the same) because of the biggest lesson in grace He has ever taught me.
Happy 10 month birtday my beautiful girl. I wish I could hold you today but I am the luckiest mom on the planet to have you for a daughter. Thank you for blessing me with your life.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Brave Little Soul

I found this poem elsewhere and just thought it was SO beautiful and so wonderfully describing of my Grace.

The Brave Little Soul
By: John Alessi

Not too long ago in Heaven there was a little soul who took wonder in observing the world. He especially enjoyed the love he saw there and often expressed this joy with God. One day however the little soul was sad, for on this day he saw suffering in the world. He approached God and sadly asked, "Why do bad things happen; why is there suffering in the world?"

God paused for a moment and replied, "Little soul, do not be sad, for the suffering you see, unlocks the love in people's hearts." The little soul was confused. "What do you mean," he asked. God replied, "Have you not noticed the goodness and love that is the offspring of that suffering? Look at how people come together, drop their differences and show their love and compassion for those who suffer. All their other motivations disappear and they become motivated by love alone."

The little soul began to understand and listened attentively as God continued, "The suffering soul unlocks the love in people's hearts much like the sun and the rain unlock the flower within the seed. I created everyone with endless love in their heart, but unfortunately most people keep it locked up and hardly share it with anyone. They are afraid to let their love shine freely, because they are afraid of being hurt. But a suffering soul unlocks that love. I tell you this - it is the greatest miracle of all. Many souls have bravely chosen to go into the world and suffer - to unlock this love - to create this miracle for the good of all humanity."

Just then the little soul got a wonderful idea and could hardly contain himself. With his wings fluttering, bouncing up and down, the little soul excitedly replied. "I am brave; let me go! I would like to go into the world and suffer so that I can unlock the goodness and love in people's hearts! I want to create that miracle!"

God smiled and said, "You are a brave soul I know, and thus I will grant your request. But even though you are very brave you will not be able to do this alone. I have known since the beginning of time that you would ask for this and so I have carefully selected many souls to care for you on your journey. Those souls will help you create your miracle; however they will also share in your suffering. Two of these souls are most special and will care for you, help you and suffer along with you, far beyond the others. They have already chosen a name for you". God and the brave soul shared a smile, and then embraced.

In parting, God said, "Do not forget little soul that I will be with you always. Although you have agreed to bear the pain, you will do so through my strength. And if the time should come when you feel that you have suffered enough, just say the word, think the thought, and you will be healed." Thus at that moment the brave little soul was born into the world, and through his suffering and God's strength, he unlocked the goodness and love in people's hearts. For so many people dropped their differences and came together to show their love.
Priorities became properly aligned.
People gave from their hearts.
Those that were always too busy found time.
Many began new spiritual journeys, some regained lost faith - many came back to God.
Parents hugged their children tighter.
Friends and family grew closer.
Old friends got together and new friendships were made.
Distant family reunited, and every family spent more time together.
Everyone prayed.
Peace and love reigned.
Lives changed forever.
It was good.
The world was a better place.
The miracle had happened.
God was pleased.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A New Year.

Wow 2012. When we rang in 2011 I was very pregnant with Grace, and so full of hope and joy over the new year. We had only just bought our first house, we were slowly settling in and we were getting ready for our baby girl. I thought 2011 was going to be such a GREAT year! I never in a million years could have envisioned how it really was. There truly were moments of greatness. I never thought that such a simple thing as holding your baby would be so highly emotional and amazing. When you sit by a baby's side for hours and hours a day for 7 long weeks and then the day comes you get to hold that baby it's amazing. When the day comes that it doesn't take 3 people to get that baby into your arms, you are allowed to just pick up your child as you please, well that's absolutely amazing. We celebrated things I'd never even knew were worth celebrating, never knew exisisted to celebrate. No more Versed, celebration! No more ECMO? Celebration! I never ever knew that anyone lived the life we did. Obviously I knew babies were in the NICU, obviously I knew babies were born with birth defects. But never once until I had Grace did I take it to heart, to understand at all what any of that meant.
2011 was a year of tremendous change. I will never in my life look at things the way I once did. My eyes are painfully open to the fact that babies are born already in heaven, that babies are born and are never taken to thier families home, babies are born and are never held in their loving parents arms until it is time to say goodbye. For a time, I couldn't wait to get out of 2011. To wash the bad taste out of my mouth and start anew. But you know what?
I wouldn't give a second of it back. If I woke up tomorrow and was somehow back to March 27th 2011 through August 9 2011 I'd do it over and over again. I got to spend an amazing 4.5 months with the absolute most amazing person I've ever been blessed to know. There's no way that throughout the rest of my life I will ever meet someone like Grace. There was so much more pain in those 4 months and 13 days than I have ever known but also so much more joy. Things that never brought joy, like sufficient urine output after days of just drops, or a chest tube output of only 10cc per shift instead of 100cc! An open lung! To some those things may sound silly but until I had Grace I never even thought to appreciate something as simple as a working human body. It's so effortless for us.
Usually when I look back on the year, I have memories and some or more prevalent than others. Some I'll remember longer than others. This year, 2011 has so many things I just will never forget. Not just the events but as I look back, I remember vividly as if I'm still there, certain conversations with certain surgeons, certain nurses, certain procedures and surgeries and I can remember without a doubt the exact way I felt. I can remember exact thoughts that were going through my mind. I will never forget them. 2011 was life changing. I can't say that for each and every year of my life.
Today I am stuck on one night. It was not long before Grace died. I had put her to bed and was getting ready to leave. I was gathering my things when I heard her, the absolute most beautiful sound, a sound each one of my babies has made and each time I just want to pick them up and snuggle them and never let them go. In her sleep, she laughed. Just a quick chuckle with a smile on her face. I will never forget that sound, so beautiful. I will never forget her beautiful cry, how amazing it was to hear it after so many weeks of being intubated. 
2011 was a year of great sadness but also great joy.
I can only hope that 2012 is a year of less sadness but just as much joy.