Friday, October 30, 2015

Life after Miscarriage P. 1

When dealing with miscarriage there are constant ups and downs.

Some things are unexpected, when the emotions catch me off guard. Such as looking through photos from when I was still pregnant, but unaware of my future loss. We were in Palm Springs on vacation the week before my miscarriage. I cried when looking back through those photos, where we posed to capture those happy memories, not knowing that a miscarriage was just days away. I can't look at those photos without feeling mixed emotions. We had a wonderful vacation, with memories that I want to savor forever. But I cannot think back on those days without feeling this deep sense of sadness. It's a weird concept to grasp, the fact that I was pregnant one day, and not the next.

I look back at pictures of my pregnancy with Addison and feel joy, knowing that the precious baby I dreamt about for nine months was home in my arms. How blessed am I, to get to look at this smiling face, those beautiful blue-green eyes? Her laugh makes me laugh, her joy fills my heart, and each moment with her is so precious. Yet it breaks my heart to think that I will never experience this with my angel baby. All of these moments with Addison that I adore, a lifetime of love, were stolen away from me and my angel.

Anger is a normal part of grief, and I have faced my fair share of anger during personal losses, yet this time I feel more disappointment than anger. Through all of my losses, I've always been able to retain my faith in God, to trust that He is in control. Yet I've been angry with him before, and screamed and ranted to him about the unfairness of life. Losing my uncle was unfair, losing my mother-in-law was unfair, losing Wes' cousin was unfair, losing MY BABY was unfair. I hate this. I hate this pain, and this heartache. I am so tired of feeling heartache. I long for the happy, care-free days when suffering was not a part of my daily life. But I can barely remember those days, so long ago. It feels like we are just starting to pull our lives together, to find happiness in our days more often than sadness.

But now this.

Another loss. Another heartache to grieve and try to live through. I'm tired of just trying to survive. I want to live, without grief, to feel happiness without such sadness. But this is a part of life. We were never promised to have perfect lives without tribulations. We were promised eternity in heaven, where life truly is perfect, and free from pain and heartache. How wonderful that will be, to live without this constant ache in my heart.

In my weakness, I whined to Wes about this unfairness. Hadn't we suffered enough over the last couple years? We didn't deserve this. Why did we have to face a miscarriage? Why couldn't my baby be perfect and healthy? And my husband, always so calm, so much like his amazing mom, put our struggles into perspective, by reminding me that so many other people have it worse. Some people don't have a loving relationship, or a sweet child. Some people are sick, fighting terrible life-threatening diseases. We have each other, our daughter, our family and friends, our home, our health. Remembering to thank God each day for my blessings has done wonders for my heart. It helps to ease any bitterness, and allows me the strength and comfort I need to get past this grief.

It doesn't mean that my pain is gone. But putting forward a grateful heart instead of my bitter one helps me to find the happiness in each day. It's like grasping at straws, trying to find any and every little thing that can give me hope, something to look forward to through the darkness.

It reminds me of my pregnancy with Addison. Within two weeks of my mother-in-law's passing, I got pregnant. We were so surprised, yet unbelievably grateful for that blessing. She was our balm for the pain, our hope for a better and brighter future. My pregnancy with Addison gave us something to look forward to through the darkness; she was our ray of sunshine through the many months of grieving. And now, after my miscarriage, she is again our greatest blessing. Our ray of sunshine, our hope and joy, our light that will get us through this darkness.

I've lost one baby, but I am beyond blessed to still have this sweet girl to hug and love.

I came across this quote that I found very interesting:

Wherever you are now is God's provision, not his punishment. Celebrate this moment and try very hard to do it with conscious gratitude.  - Luci Swindoll

"Celebrate this moment". Not to celebrate the moment of miscarriage, but to celebrate the other moments of my life. Like this one; I'm typing on my computer, pouring out my broken heart for the world to see, while my sweet girl is snuggled up next to me, watching her favorite movie. I don't celebrate that I am no longer pregnant, but I can celebrate this moment with my daughter. I can love and appreciate this moment while she is small and snuggly, and enjoy the sound of her voice as she talks about the characters in her movie. And I can do it with "conscious gratitude". To purposefully be grateful for all these other moments and blessings.

"Not his punishment". I've had moments of weakness when I worried that this miscarriage was a punishment. I thought that because I wasn't a good enough mom, I didn't deserve another child, so God took my baby away. But that's not true. Our God is a merciful God. He knows that I am a sinner, that I make poor choices and give in to my human weaknesses. But He is merciful, and when I ask for forgiveness, and am truly repentant, He forgives me.

I am grateful for a merciful God. I am grateful for my husband, and my daughter. I am grateful for God's grace, and that He sent Jesus to our world of sinners, so that I could be saved. I am grateful for His promise to me of an eternity in heaven. This life is hard. It is brutal and full of heartache. This life is also so very fleeting. Just the blink of an eye, really. In this life on earth I will struggle and grieve, but in heaven I will celebrate and love, and spend an eternity in peace and happiness.

I am so grateful.

For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in mercy to all those who call upon you. (Psalm 86:5)

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions - it is by grace you have been saved. (Ephesians 2:4-5)

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights. (James 1:17)

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. (Colossians 4:2)

Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name. (1 Chronicles 29:13)

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. (Psalm 107:1)

Blessings, from my family to yours.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Our Angel Baby

For the last couple weeks I have been hiding, from social media, and in complete honesty, from the world. In the midst of an exciting and promising future, we were blindsided by loss and sadness. Once again, my world turned upside down, my heart was broken, my hopes and dreams shattered. Over the years I have lost many loved ones, but this was the first time I have lost someone I’ve never met, yet loved whole-heartedly.

Last week, I had a miscarriage.

In September, we found out that I was pregnant with baby #2, and we were so excited! Within days I was filled with hopes and dreams for my little family. I couldn’t wait to hold another sweet baby in my arms; I couldn’t wait to see Addison with her little sibling, to watch them love and grow up together. Over the next few weeks my mind went over tons of practical matters, such as how we would rearrange the kid’s bedroom, what new baby things we might need to buy, tips for life with a newborn and toddler. I started planning the fun ways in which to share our news with family and friends. 

All the while, I had the nagging worry that something was wrong.

During my pregnancy with Addison, I worried often that something might happen, working myself up into panic before every doctor appointment. But despite my fear, I had a healthy and smooth pregnancy, and delivered a perfect baby girl. I figured that I was just paranoid, that it was just my tendency to worry that was causing my fear. After all, I had already had one healthy pregnancy. Miscarriage couldn’t happen to me, right? Wrong.

The day of our first doctor appointment arrived, and I was more terrified than excited. Three days before, I had started spotting, and since that had NOT occurred during my pregnancy with Addison, my heart was filled with fear. My nurse congratulated me, and all I could think was that her congratulations were premature. My doctor tried to reassure me that everything was most likely ok, even during the ultrasound, when she could not find a heartbeat.

As we sat there, staring at the tiny, barely perceptible speck that was my precious baby, I could feel the confirmation of all my fears settling around me. Despite all my fears, I had still been hoping for the best. But instead of hearing my sweet baby’s heart beating strong and healthy, we stared at a silent screen, and my heart felt numb.

The baby measured smaller than they expected, at six weeks instead of nine. We hoped that it was just too early to find a heartbeat, and were sent to the San Diego hospital the next day, hopeful that their machines would more easily detect a heartbeat. To my surprise, they were able to detect a fetal pole, but the baby’s heart was beating too slow, at only 52 bpm, half as fast as it should. The doctor was very kind, but tried not to give me too much hope, warning me that I should prepare for a miscarriage.

I prayed for my baby, for a miracle to save them. But I also prayed for the ability to accept God’s will, even if it did not match mine. I prayed for peace, and the reminder that God was in control, and His plan for our lives was great.

For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)

As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him. (2 Samuel 22:23)

Two days later, I had a miscarriage, and now my sweet angel baby lives in heaven. 

It is impossible to describe how I feel. 

I’m grateful that it happened quickly, and didn’t drag on for weeks, forcing us to wait to grieve. I’m grateful that I have my wonderful husband to love and support me, and for our beautiful daughter who makes me smile, and distracts me from the pain in my heart. I’m grateful for the four weeks that I got to love and imagine the life of my sweet baby.

But my heart is still broken. 

Even though I was only aware of my pregnancy for four weeks, my heart is filled with love and longing for a child that I will never get to hold. My baby’s heart was beating. My baby lived, even if only in my womb. My baby lived, and was born into heaven.

In just four weeks, I had already imagined my baby’s face, another version of Addison, maybe with reddish hair and brown eyes. I had already imagined life as a family of four. I could picture us sitting at home, trying to survive those difficult first weeks with a newborn. I could imagine Addison’s excitement, and probable jealousy, picturing her kissing and holding her baby brother or sister. Addison would have been an amazing big sister. 

My heart cries out, for every lost moment. I will never hold my baby in my arms. I will never kiss that chubby face. I will never hear their cries, or the sound of their voice as they learn to talk. All these moments, already imagined within four weeks, all lost. I didn’t just lose a baby, I lost a lifetime. No first smile, first laugh. No first steps, or first words. No first day of school, and no graduation. Not a single hug, or kiss. My baby doesn’t even have a name.

Everyone will know about my loss now, but no one will know what to say. And that’s okay. There’s nothing that can be said that will make this better, or any easier to accept. To just offer love, support and prayers is more than enough, and is all that we need.

My emotions are a roller coaster, so many ups and downs. Some days are worse than others. I have two children, one that I can hold in my arms, and one that lives in heaven. Despite my pain and grief, I feel comfort in knowing that my angel baby lives in heaven. They never had to face any of the pain or fear of this world. Instead, my baby was born into heaven, where they are loved by Jesus, my uncle Bryan and their Grandma Sharon. My angel baby is just one more thing to look forward to in heaven. I can't wait until the day that I will meet and hold my angel baby. 

Until then, I will love them for every day of my life.

I’ve found several quotes that greatly reflect my heart during this loss, and that I have found so comforting. It's so hard to put my feelings into words, to express this tumult of emotions in the right way. I feel like these quotes truly sum up what it feels like to experience pregnancy loss. 

I carried you every second of your life and I will love you for every second of mine.

… and to think, the first thing he saw when his little eyes opened was the face of Jesus.

There is a unique pain that comes from preparing a place in your heart for a child that never comes.

Dear God, I’ve tried my best, but if today I lose my hope please tell me that Your plans are better 
 than my dreams.

I know it’s over and it never really began, but in my heart it was so real.

If love could have been enough to save you, you would have lived forever.

If I could hold you in my arms, I would. But, I can’t. So I will hold you in my dreams.

I loved you like there was no tomorrow . . . and then one day, there wasn’t.

A loss like this always encourages me to seek God, and has renewed my efforts of spending more time in prayer and God’s word. This list is filled with verses that have helped me throughout all my life struggles, whether it’s worry, fear, personal losses, or this miscarriage. Without God, I could not get past this pain. He is my rock, my hope for healing and for a better future. I read a reminder in my daily devotional, that no matter what losses you experience in your life, no one can take away this glorious gift of salvation. What an amazing balm for this pain. To know that even while I suffer here on earth, I have hope for a perfect eternity with God and my loved ones in heaven. What a wonderful reminder that no matter what challenges I face, nothing will ever take away my salvation. That is a glorious reminder indeed.

I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. (Psalm 34:4)

Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. (Psalm 105:4)

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:31)

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (Psalm 23:1-4)

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. (2 Samuel 22:23)

We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you. (Psalm 33:20-22)

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken. (Psalm 55:22)

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27)

God is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18)

The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you. (Psalm 9:9-10)

I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. (Psalm 34:4)

Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from Him. Truly He is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will never be shaken. (Psalm 62:1-2)

Now devote your heart and soul to seeking the Lord your God. (1 Chronicles 22:19)

You light a lamp for me. The Lord, my God, lights up my darkness. (Psalm 18:28)

Your promise revives me; it comforts me in all my troubles. (Psalm 119:15)

When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. (Isaiah 43:2)

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. (1 Peter 5:7)

He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever. (Revelations 21:4)

So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. (John 16:22)

We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps. (Proverbs 16:9)

Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you. (Psalm 37:5)

I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. (Lamentations 3:19-22)

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:26)

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you. (Isaiah 54:10)

For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. (1 John 3:20)

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. (Psalm 143:8)

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. (Psalm 147:3)

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. (Psalm 27:14)

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. (Romans 12:12)

The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised. (Job 1:21)

This last verse can be difficult to embrace, particularly during times of great pain and loss. How can I rejoice and give thanks when I’ve lost my baby and been left brokenhearted? I can rejoice because my baby will never know pain, sickness or fear, or the troubles of this world. I can rejoice because my baby is in heaven with Jesus and other loved ones that were gone too soon. I can rejoice because God blessed me with a second pregnancy, after I’d been worried that I couldn’t conceive again. 

I can give thanks, even during these sad and painful circumstances, because God has given me many other blessings. My sweet angel baby lives in heaven, but I still have my beautiful and perfect firstborn to hold in my arms, my husband to love and cherish, a place to call home, food on the table, good health, and family and friends that I dearly love.

My life will not always go the way that I want or plan, but I know that my God is great, and He is there with me during my suffering, because He loves me. Even though I will suffer in this life, I give thanks to God for all the blessings that He has granted me, and I rejoice in the hope that I have for my future, and the eternity I have been promised in heaven. I will turn to God each and every day, during good or bad times, knowing that my God is always there for me. And in all circumstances, I will pray that God’s will shall be done in my life.

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

Blessings from my family to yours.