Tag Archives: grief

When we come home

This post is difficult for me to write because it forces me to articulate some difficult things about adoption. It necessitates vulnerability. If those around us don’t understand some core things about adoption and how the related issues can affect a child and a family, then our plan for homecoming won’t make much sense.

A key thing to remember is that all adoption is possible because a child has first suffered an incomprehensible loss. Yes, adoption is beautiful. Yes, God works powerfully through adoption – as a Christian I know this in my soul firsthand. There is so much – so very much – good that can and is born of adoption. But, as adoptive parents, we must never forget the loss and grief and previous hurts that our child has experienced.

I don’t want to come at this too heavy-handed. It’s true that we do not yet know what Ladybug will struggle with as it specifically relates to her coming adoption, but we as her parents need to be prepared for anything.

Additionally, when a baby is born, there are a lot of things that the baby’s parents do almost instinctively that work toward creating attachment between them and their new baby. Much of the time, birth parents do not go out of their way to foster excellent attachment, it’s just a God-designed by-product of how we parent our babies and young kiddos.

Because we have missed those early days and years with Ladybug, we will be focusing more intentionally on attachment: helping her to learn what “mommy” and “daddy” are, helping her to trust us, helping her to learn what it means to be a part of a family, helping her learn appropriate dependence (to later learn appropriate independence), and more.

All of this to say: we may make decisions or choose to parent in ways that are confusing to others or that others may disagree with. While we welcome respectful guidance and wisdom in our lives, we also want to let you know that we’ll be doing the best we can with the knowledge we have. This may include “babying” Ladybug, seeming to tolerate undesirable behaviors, or making a big deal out of something that doesn’t make a lot of sense to others.

Just remember that while our homecoming is the culmination of the adoption process that you all have lovingly followed us on, it is only the very beginning of a lifetime we have spent the last few years preparing for!

When We Come Home

1. We are super excited for all of our friends and family to meet our new daughter! She’s pretty fantastic, and we can’t wait to share! However, we need to keep her world as small as possible to give her a chance to adjust. Please don’t expect to meet Ladybug right away. If it’s days or weeks, or sadly even months longer to meet her than you had hoped, just know that we, too, wish it could be different.

If you stop by the house and we can’t invite you in or ask that you not stay too long, we’re sorry! We will probably try to avoid a lot of interaction at church or other places initially; I promise we’re not trying to be rude!

2. Please refrain from kissing or hugging Ladybug. Indiscriminate affection can sometimes be an issue for kiddos who have been adopted. We don’t anticipate this being a problem for Ladybug, but please stick to a “hello” and a smile, anyway.

3. This may sound silly, but please don’t feed Ladybug. Feeding and attachment go hand-in-hand: think of the breastfeeding baby and the touch, eye contact, met needs, and satisfaction that the mama and baby experience. So, Chris and I really need to be the only ones to feed Ladybug indefinitely.

4. Please don’t ignore us! I know it feels like I’m asking everyone to allow us to live in a cave, and while we do need some good quality family time, we want and NEED to have the support of our loved ones, too. We would love for you to call, text, or Facebook us; send us some fun mail; bring by a meal; offer to pick something up from the store, help with an errand, or help in some other super tangible way. We NEED your prayers! Celebrate with us!

Many adoptive families implement really structured time frames for a lot of these rules: they may commit to not leave the house for the first 6 weeks except for doctor’s appointments; or they may say no visitors for “x” amount of time; etc. In general, it is recommended to “cocoon”as a family for at least 1 month for every year a child received care outside of your family. For us, that would be at least 3 months. We’re staying away from firm boundaries for a few reasons – the greatest of which really probably has to do with Gumdrop’s impending arrival. For example, we will need my mama’s help with the girls during labor and delivery, so I can’t very well prevent her from meeting Ladybug for six weeks. So instead of imposing firm boundaries of time on ourselves, we’re going to listen to the Lord’s prodding and follow Ladybug’s lead with as much grace and wisdom as possible!

Thank you for caring enough about Ladybug, our family, and learning how best to support this transition by reading this post!

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Letters to Bumblebee

YellowTulips

I think it’s natural to guard one’s heart in pregnancy after loss. Just because it may be natural, though, doesn’t mean it’s something we want to settle into and get comfortable with. I know I certainly didn’t. I wanted to love this baby wholeheartedly. And I didn’t want to look back on my pregnancy and remember all the ways I tried to keep my heart safe. For better or for worse, this baby deserved a mama who was brave enough to love. From day one.

And so, of course, one way I combatted guarding my heart was by writing Bumblebee some letters. I know many mamas write their children letters throughout their lives, but so far it’s not been something I’ve done. Yet, I felt that writing Bumblebee was a necessary part of this unpredictable process that is pregnancy after loss. I wanted to share, again with my heart on my sleeve, in case someone out there can relate.

The first letter was written the day after I found out Bumblebee existed:

3/20/2013

Hello Sweet Baby!

Oh how my heart rejoices to know you! And in fact, you’ve been mommy’s little secret for a few days. 🙂

God surprised me with you, little one. Mommy and Daddy didn’t know when you’d come, and I think now seems like PERFECT timing! You are being knit together, designed by an awesome creator. I pray you’ll know Him one day. I know Him – better now than ever probably, and I praise Him for you!! You are a blessing!

Little one, our “after” is forever changed because of YOU! You exist! We are so happy! And yet, there was a “before,” too. Before was sometimes very hard. We know that after will be hard, too, but regardless of it all, we trust God’s plan. We know that He knows best.

Heaven is close on our minds, you see. You have THREE beautiful and precious siblings there! Jesus is there! Mommy and Daddy will go there, too, one day. It really is our home, you know.

And I just want to tell you that Mommy and Daddy love you so much. We place you in God’s hands because He loves you EVEN MORE than we do. Your life is big and valuable because He is your creator. And we so want to meet you!

But, we trust God – even when it’s hard. If you meet Jesus and your three siblings in Heaven before we do, I know that will be wonderful for you! It will be very sad for us, but a hopeful sad because, really, we won’t be long behind you.

Either way, sweet baby, God loves us. He made us all, and He is working good things out of the hard stuff of our lives. We trust that He is doing the same for you!

We pray that you grow big and strong, sweet baby. We pray that you’ll get to meet Mommy, and Daddy, and Poppy first! We can’t wait to hold you in our arms… To watch you smile for the first time… Coo at us… Grow up entirely too fast… Play games with us and learn about Jesus with us. Serve others with us… We know God has already blessed us with you, and we pray with all that we are that He will bless us by keeping you healthy to come meet us!

We can’t wait!!! I love you, sweetie.

Love, Mommy

Mama still loves you, Sweet Bee. God is good, all the time.

Music Moves Me

Rosebud

Chris and I were blessed to receive concert tickets to help us celebrate our birthdays and anniversary. It was a wonderful evening. The headlining artists were awesome, but the band that has stuck with me most since then is a new one – an opening band called All Things New. We liked their music and decided to buy their first album. It’s good stuff.

One day, I had their CD playing as a background to my day just working about the house, when I was stopped in my tracks by their song, “Keep Me On My Knees.” It immediately brought me to tears, and I realized that if I had heard this song in December, I’d have declared it my anthem in light of losing Parsley.

Here I am in the desert plains
All I have is You
I am desperate and broken down
So I turn to You, I turn to You

Here I am in the desert plains
All I have is You
I am desperate and broken down
So I turn to You

Now I’m asking You, Father please
Just don’t take the weight from me
If this is what I need
To know You, all I need

And I’m begging You, Father please
Just don’t take this pain from me
If this is what I need
Then keep me on my knees

When I’m alone in my darkest night
I know you’re with me
Through the struggle I believe
You still are holy

I’m asking You, Father please
Just don’t take the weight from me
If this is what I need
To know You, all I need

And I’m begging You, Father please
Just don’t take this pain from me
If this is what I need
Then keep me on my knees

If this is what I need
Then keep me on my knees

Whatever for the cost
Whatever for the cost
Break my world apart
Whatever it takes
Whatever it takes
You will ask my heart
You will ask my heart

Now I’m asking You, Father please
Just don’t take the weight from me
If this is what I need
To know You, all I need

I’m begging You, Father please
Just don’t take this pain from me
If this is what I need
Then keep me on my knees

If this is what I need
Then keep me on my knees

I can’t explain it, but this song resonated so deeply with me. Three consecutive miscarriages had stripped away everything I thought I knew about what our family would look like. It challenged the family planning theology that Chris and I have chosen to live by. And yet… I had grown so close to the Lord in the midst of our trials, and I learned even more how to lean into His promises. And that’s a sweet spot to be.

We have to be willing to walk through whatever the Lord asks of us, for His purposes. And we have to trust that He will work it for good. He loves me. I can trust Him in the valley as much as on the mountaintop, and if He needs to keep me on my knees, broken, then that’s what I desire.

Good Samaritans

When I quit my job over a year ago now, one big decision to be made was about how we would cover Poppy and me with health insurance. Chris’s coverage was guaranteed through his school, but they wouldn’t allow us girls to be a part of the plan as it was a student-only kind of thing.

We researched a few things, but I knew I was intrigued by the idea of Christian healthcare sharing ministries. There are a few such ministries out there, but I was especially drawn to Samaritan Ministries.

God really knew what He was doing when He directed me to become a member.

Honestly, Poppy and I are pretty healthy, and – excepting any unexpected accident or illness – did not expect to have many healthcare expenses, except for one thing. We were hopefully planning that I would need maternity coverage this year. Through Samaritan, I’ve received that and so much more.

The basic premise is that when I have a health need, I submit information about it. Samaritan Ministries sends out a monthly newsletter, and every member is directed to pay their share to another individual. So, I write my check directly to someone who has health needs, and I receive checks from other members who are sharing with me. Frankly, I think it’s a beautiful model of how the Christian body should work together, caring for one another in a time of need.

*****

For me, being a member has meant so much more than simply help with paying my medical bills. I’ve had other members praying for me. Other members, when sending me a share that they can see will go to help costs incurred because of a miscarriage, send notes and encouragement.

It is these notes of encouragement that have made all the difference! Certainly, no insurance company cares about its customers in such a way.

I wanted to share some of the words of encouragement that I was given, just in case someone reading could benefit from the kindness shown to us.

*****

“We trust each day brings more healing to each of you.”

“I encourage you to keep your trust in the Lord and His many promises. God’s blessings to you and your family!”

“We are so sorry to hear of the loss of your precious baby. It is hard to understand why these things happen.”

“I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. I’m praying God will comfort you and that you will receive complete physical and emotional healing from Him.”

“So sorry to hear of your loss. I understand what you’re going through. Praying God will be your comfort as He is mine.”

“Praying for peace and healing in your hearts.”

(from a fellow sister who has lost a baby) “If I could give any advice, it would be to let yourself cry and grieve over your little one and tell Jesus how much it hurts. He, Himself cried when His good friend, Lazarus, died, and He understands your pain and sorrow now, even if no one else does. Cry out to Him and tell Him every single thing you feel. Tell Him about your sorrow, anger, confusion, or anything else.”

*****

To receive such faith-filled words and sympathy cards from people who did not know me meant so much. I remember one morning in particular when I was really having a hard time but hadn’t realized what was causing my feelings yet, I received a wonderful piece of mail from a Samaritan Ministries member. It truly felt like a hug from God Himself.

I want to encourage you to care for those around you in the same way that I was cared for by Samaritan members. A simple sympathy card with a note of “I’m praying for you” can make such a big difference.

As difficult as our road has been, I know that our grief and pain has been shared by those around us, caring and praying for us in the best ways they know how.

May God bless each of our good samaritans.

A beautiful sympathy card we received.

A beautiful sympathy card we received.

On the subject of broken hearts

If you’ve been following along our story since I’ve been sharing, you know that pretty much this blog represents my broken heart. Thus far, I’ve shared how our grief over losing our babies has broken our hearts. We will never be the same nor whole this side of heaven. Our hearts have been broken due to grief.

But that’s not really where I was hoping to go with this. Simultaneously to a broken heart due to grief and shattered expectations, my heart has been breaking due to another reason.

The plight of the orphan.

Sweetie pies eating a meal at their orphanage in Thailand.

Sweetie pies eating a meal at their orphanage in Thailand.

This broken heart both overwhelms me and gives me a whole different emotion that I’m not yet sure I can describe. I’ve learned that the most painful breaks are the result of a hardened heart. We want to avoid those, people.

However, I think this different kind of broken heart is actually the result of softening rather than hardening. When we soften our hearts to the things of the Lord, we begin to see through new eyes. We catch glimpses of his utterly immense love for the people he has created, and especially for me lately, the fatherless.

It still hurts. Sometimes the pain of this kind of broken heart catches me off guard. It’s the chipping away of self and the gaining of an eternal perspective… It hurts our sense of self. It might even hurt our pride. Or our dreams for our white-picket life. It certainly hurts our naĂŻvetĂ©.

I had the honor to hold this sleepy little guy at a Thai orphanage the summer of 2006.

I had the honor to hold this sleepy little guy at a Thai orphanage the summer of 2006.

But let me tell you, I am doing my darnedest to embrace this softly broken heart. I want to be sensitized. I want to feel fully. I passionately want to know the heart of my God.

When I soften my heart and allow Him to break it in the ways His heart breaks, I find myself nearer ever-so-slightly to Him. I can catch glimpses of heaven and begin to learn more deeply how to love as He loves.

Breaking me down leaves Him alone.

Losing Parsley

Telling Parsley’s story brings this blog current in this chapter of our story. We lost Parsley December 2012, almost exactly a year after our first loss, Pepper, in December 2011. Know that we are taking necessary steps to protect whatever blessings God may see fit to give us in the future. We are honored to know that many of you are praying for us as we walk this path.

*****

Upon waking early one Sunday morning, it dawned on me that I just might be pregnant. I had none of my usual tell-tale signs that accompany the opposite scenario.

Honestly, I trembled at the thought. To be pregnant again after two previous losses seemed too much to bear. I fell to my knees under the weight of it all and cried out to The Lord. I cried and prayed, promising Him that I would walk whatever he had for me; that if I were indeed pregnant, I praise His name for the blessing and place the little one into His hands.

After some time in prayer, I worked up the courage, and yes, even the hope to test. A few minutes later, I knew little Parsley existed.

So hopeful Thanksgiving morning, just four days after finding out I was pregnant!

So hopeful Thanksgiving morning, just four days after finding out I was pregnant!

You see, just the day before, Chris and I had an emotional and heart wrenching conversation about our family. In a sense it was a sort of memoir to the road we’d walked for the past year and the ways our faith had been strengthened. We affirmed before God to one another the things we believe: we would not take things out of God’s hands; we would accept the blessing of more children however He sees fit to give them; we would accept His choice of perhaps never granting us more children; and we would be eternally grateful an blessed by His sovereignty in giving us Poppy.

It was one of those conversations that leaves you feeling spent and energized all at once; but mostly, I felt peaceful, in harmony with my God and my husband.

Because of that conversation, the following day’s exciting news was received a bit with fear and trembling. I now know that becoming like Christ is painful.

Yes, Lord, I will follow you. Yes, I will trust you no matter where my path leads. Yes, you are enough. Yes, yes, yes…

And yes, I know where you lead may hurt. Yes, I understand that becoming more like you means dying to self. Yes, I understand my faith is worth more than gold. Yes, yes, yes…

Like times before, I shared the wonderful news with Chris. Could it really be possible that in two-and-a-half years of marriage, this was my fourth pregnancy? Four times to experience the elation of a positive pregnancy test! Four times to celebrate with Chris. I don’t want to sound trite, but seriously – what a blessing. I fully recognize that even the experience of a positive test is a blessing denied to many. And so, I rejoice.

We didn’t really make plans on how or when to announce this new little one’s existence to anyone, but I nearly had to spill the beans the very next day due to some intense morning sickness. I was pretty nauseous with Poppy, but mostly after week 6; and I hadn’t had any morning sickness really with my previous two pregnancies. I was estatic! Morning sickness is generally believed to be the result of strong hormones. Since it was my hormones we had been doubting, I saw morning sickness as a true gift. I know, I know… But, repeated pregnancy loss turns everything upside down.

Thankfully, I made it through a big Thanksgiving prep grocery trip with my mom and Poppy, and we told our parents two days later – the night before Thanksgiving. I just couldn’t hold the news in any longer, and in case we had the opportunity to share at Thanksgiving (you know, the whole go-around-the-table-and-share-what-you-are-thankful-for spiel), I wanted to take it!

Thanksgiving passed without the opportunity to share our news, but I was content. Simply peaceful. Our experience with Pepper motivated us to share big and share early with Basil; but with Parsley, I just felt at ease.

Me and my girl - during the "in between."

Me and my girl – during the “in between.”

My “at ease” feeling lasted exactly one week.

At 4w5d gestation, I was overwhelmed with sadness and fear. It was the first day where my past came back to haunt me, and I was emotionally miserable. I spent the whole day believing that spotting was on its way. In retrospect, it was. Still, it was so insignificant that when things seemed okay the following day, I changed my mind about what I thought I had experienced.

This up-and-down emotion and my body’s confusing signs continued for a few more days, and I felt the stress. The few people who were privy to what I was going through kept encouraging me to stay rested, not panic, release the stress. I think that those were good reminders, but I also think that subconsciously I was preparing for what was coming.

The not-knowing and the fear to hope during that week were agonizing. My sweet mama even reminded me to trust the Lord and hold tightly to Him. It was almost impossible for me to explain at that time that I did trust Him, and He was why I was even able to take one step in front of the other. However, and I want you to catch this because it has been life-altering for me, trusting God doesn’t mean we get the happy ending. If I have learned anything in the past year, I have learned that this is the case. But, you know what? Trusting Him is still worth it. I wouldn’t be able to walk this path if it weren’t for His mercy upon me.

Finally, after more than a week of spotting and pseudo spotting, emotional anguish and many shed tears, I began to miscarry. I was exactly 6w0d.

You may be questioning my use of the word, “finally” above. I’m going to be painfully honest here: in real, tangible ways, it was a relief to know the answer to the unspeakable question. Oh man, did it hurt. I grieved this lost baby whose eyes would never meet mine; whose body I would no longer nourish; whose hand I would never hold. I grieved the loss deeply. But, for better or worse, I was now accustomed to the grief. I knew how to be there. I knew how to feel the pain and keep walking. I knew how to cry one moment and laugh the next. I am learning better and better every day how to dive into the arms of my heavenly Father for my comfort and source of peace.

It’s not that the pain lessens or that my ability to withstand the blows strengthens. It is simply that when I am weak, He is strong. And in those moments, I was weaker than I had ever been.

The “finally” means that “finally my sweet baby sees the face of Jesus.” “Finally, I can find peace and not worry.” “Finally, I can stop fearing to hope.” Finally.

Gratefully, Chris was able to be home with me through the next few weeks. That had not been the case when I lost Basil, and I could tell how having my husband with me daily made an overwhelming difference. We decided after a day-and-a-half of bleeding to go to the doctor. They were able to confirm with an HCG blood draw that I was indeed miscarrying. The doctor I saw was very genuine and compassionate – a relief to my previous two experiences. I didn’t even need to return to the doctor; I simply took another HPT a week-and-a-half later to see that opposite. That negative.

God was very gracious to me as this third miscarriage was the easiest physically. And, at the risk of attributing my experience to others’ – I have found that the emotional road to recovery somewhat mirrors the physical. It’s easier to begin healing emotionally when your body is healing easily, too.

And so my fourth pregnancy became my third miscarriage. My third child to know only the richness of heaven – to see the face of Jesus before the face of his or her mama.

I love you sweet Parsley… baby number four.

You’ll just have heaven before we do

I had a blast from the past experience a few days ago. I follow John Piper’s Desiring God page on Facebook, and featured that morning was a video called “Miscarriage and Jesus.” It was a short, five minute clip of Christy Nockels speaking about her back-to-back miscarriages more than 10 years ago.

Watch it here:

Christy Nockels – Jesus Is the Greatest Joy from Desiring God on Vimeo.

In the video, I hope you caught the title of the song she mentioned – “Glory Baby.”

That’s my blast from the past. When the song first came out, I remember listening to it on the Watermark CD I owned. In fact, all these years later, I can still sing right along with the music. I honestly don’t know that I connected that song with miscarriage or with the loss of a newborn when I was younger. I can imagine I thought it was a sad, pretty song but would be surprised if I thought much more deeply than that.

Life changes things.

Now I’ve added it to my repertoire… My playlist, so-to-speak. It might be hard to understand, or maybe it’s not, but sometimes I just want to remember, no matter if remembering brings pain or not.

“Glory Baby” is a wonderful way to remember.

Glory Baby, you slipped away before we could say, “Baby.”

This opening line makes my heart hurt and rejoice a the same time. It hits so close to home for me when remembering Pepper… And yet this lyric reaffirms our babies’ lives. They were real. They existed. They just slipped away too soon.

Baby let sweet Jesus hold you ’til Mom and Dad can hold you. You’ll just have heaven before we do.

I was preparing to write this post when the grief came anew. For the first time, I imagined our three heaven-born babies as children instead of babies. And, for the first time, I imagined them together.

Why I had never thought of our babies in heaven together, I don’t know.

“Hey Babe?” I asked Chris with tears streaming, “do you think our babies know that they’re siblings?”

He reassured me, and for the first time I saw our family divided. There are as many of us there in heaven as there are here on earth. The realization broke me in half the way I felt our family has been broken.

I wonder what sweet Jesus has named them. I can’t wait to meet our Glory Babies and hold them, too.