It’s time for sleepy time

It’s time for sleepy time

It’s time to rest your head

To snuggle up and get

Cozy in your bed

To dream of happy things

Like how much God loves you

Because you’re his precious child

Sleepytime

Andrew came with this lullaby, it’s one of the many things I acquired when I married him. I can remember hearing his mom sing it to the foster babies back in our dating days. This is a precious memory to me since his mom passed away, it’s one of the ways her legacy lives on in our little family.

We sang this song to baby Simon every night as we tucked him in…until he was old enough to demand different songs!! And Andrew sang it over Kohen…that painful day we said our goodbyes, and Kohen had already entered his forever sleep.

And now, I sing it over baby girl. Some nights I stay present and I sing it to her. Other nights I’m transported back to that hospital chapel listening to Andrew sing and cry over our sweet boy. And other nights I sing it straight to heaven and pour all my love into those words. Hoping my baby boy can hear and feel all the love I have for him.

It’s time for sleepytime

It’s time to rest your head

To snuggle up and get

Cozy in your bed

To dream of happy things

Like how much momma loves you

Because you’re my precious child

Sleepytime

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Baby girl’s birth story.

Baby girl arrived safe!! Praise the Lord.

And oh, what a story!

We had everything planned.

Throughout my pregnancy I made decisions based on trying to create a different experience. My pregnancy with Kohen was completely healthy, normal and we were at no risk…so how was I going to gain any confidence that another pregnancy could have a different outcome??!! So the decisions we made tried to create space for the possibility of a different outcome.

We decided on a ceasarean section, trying to minimize physical and psychological risks to momma and baby.

I had to go back to the hospital where Kohen died throughout this pregnancy for ultrasounds and NSTs, each time it got a little bit easier. In the end, we decided to deliver at the same hospital. This was a tough decision, but I was confident in our obstetrician and our birth plan. If anything went slightly off course and we were pressed for time, this hospital was our only option regardless, so I think it felt better to have that as our plan from the beginning. One less thing to go awry.

As we discussed with our prenatal doctor, it turned out the obstetrician available would be the same one who was called in for Kohen’s delivery. Labour had advanced beyond the point where she was able to perform a c section, and so she shared that experience with us and cared for us after he died. At first we were uncertain, but I started to think I might feel more confident knowing my surgeon had known my son and shared that experience of losing him…that she might, in fact, want this baby for us…almost as much as we did!

I also worked hard on my heart and soul to prepare for this beautiful girl. I have been working with a counsellor and took so many steps to soften my heart and deal with the after effects of trauma, grief, anger and bitterness…all so that I could love this little one and be fully ready for her arrival.

I asked a group of women from our church to meet with me to pray. We prayed for two months together…that this precious girl would arrive safely.

As I went to the hospital twice a week for non stress tests, I met many of the maternity nurses on staff. One beautiful morning, the nurse administering the test shared that she had been present when Kohen was born. She had been scheduled that night and had been able to see him, and shared in some of our grief and pain at the loss of this perfect beautiful baby boy. That conversation spurred a desire in my heart to open up this delivery to others who had also been present when Kohen was born. Whether it be nursing staff or doctors who responded to the code pink. We shared this desire with our prenatal doctor and she communicated it to the rest of the staff.

All of these things set the stage for…April 27!!

I had gone for an NST the day before, and asked the nurse to check my cervix just to make sure I wasn’t close to going in to labour. She agreed to check and told me it was still quite closed, 1-2 cm. Normal for someone at my stage in pregnancy carrying their third child. I left feeling confident I wasn’t even close to going into labour!

BUT…baby girl chose her own birthday!

At 5:30am on April 27 I woke up in bed and felt things were a little more trickly than usual. I hadn’t been feeling well, and as I coughed I felt that characteristic gush…my waters had broken! I hopped out of bed, frantically waking Andrew up and started rushing around the house. This was NOT the plan!!

We called down to the hospital, got childcare for our oldest sorted and headed down. The potential for panic and anxiety was there, but my labour started gently and I actually felt quite calm. The team was assembling as we made our way down and it was time to meet baby!

I needed some reassurance when we got there, we listened to baby’s heart beat on the ward and then headed down to the OR.

I had my phone with a playlist of music we were going to play during the surgery, but it wasn’t working over the wifi. As I was getting prepped for the spinal, the obstetrician asked me what kind of music I wanted…she had some on her phone she could play. I said “well my list was a mix of Christian music my sister put together for me.” She responded with “Christian mix?! I have Christian mix!!” and proceeded to play Christian music from her phone at full volume throughout the rest of the procedure.

After the spinal was administered, I lay on the bed with the obstetrician holding one of my hands and the anesthetist holding another. As I got used to the changes to my breathing, the tears started to flow. I entered into the most beautiful, heart wrenching space with Kohen and baby girl…and I just held them. In my mind, in my heart, in my arms. I was completely unaware of the flurry of activity around me…until they dropped the screen and there she was!

A red screaming ball of pure alive girl. And oh my heart, I fell in love all over again in that instant. Then tears of relief and joy began to flow. She screamed and screamed and screamed…the obstetrician looked down at me and said “she knew you needed this didn’t she!!”

After I was all stitched up and we headed to recovery, we learned that all of the doctors on call that day had also been present for Kohen’s delivery or code. The nurses on staff that day and through the night were the ones that had cared for us during and after labour with Kohen.

Does that give you chills? It should!

I shared this story with a friend and her response resonated so deeply in my heart. “God does all things well. Only he could orchestrate the healing of an entire community with the delivery of one little girl.”

Amen.

The atmosphere on the maternity ward that day was just beautiful, everyone was so happy for us and so happy to meet our precious girl. The nurses were absolutely glowing.

A beautiful girl. A beautiful story.

And it is only the beginning!!

 

This life.

I can’t fully wrap my head around this life.

It is so good, but it has been so awful.

It is so full of love and warmth and snuggles, but it has been despair and pain and sorrow.

I can’t really believe that it worked this time. That I grew a baby, went to the hospital…and got to keep her!

And then I can’t really believe that it went so horribly wrong last time.

My heart hurts. For the momma I was forced to be. For the journey I did not want, but had to walk.

My grief is deep right now…for me! For the momma I once was, for the momma I’ve had to be for the last nineteen months. For the wrongness of the ending, and the rightness of this new beginning.

It is pain and it is joy.

Coexisting.

Yet again.

 

2 weeks in

There’s been a teeny tiny baby girl in our house for two weeks. She’s gorgeous and precious and perfect. We are all in love.

But two weeks seems way too short, it feels like so much longer!! It feels like she’s been present in our home for much much longer than two weeks.

And then it clicks. This is the reality of growing tiny humans. They are present in your heart and house and home long before they make their physical arrival.

To me it justifies everything I strive for when including Kohen in our lives. In talking about him and remembering him and missing him and doing things in honour of him.

Not that I needed justification. But it helps me understand myself and my grief a little bit better.

Kohen and I are connected forever, because he grew inside of me. Even if he never physically arrived in our house and home, he was there. He is forever part of our family, even though everyone else only knew him as a big belly bump. For 39 weeks and 5 days he was present in our lives.

And his memory will continue to be.

And that can look however we want it to.

Forever.

It’s your 18 month birthday

Life has been a lot of things lately, mostly overwhelming. My emotions are everywhere and big and full on.

I miss you.

I turned 33 without you in my arms. We took family photos without you. I would give anything to have you here. Chasing after your big brother, causing trouble…I want to imaging what life with you would be like.

But the truth is, I’ve gotten used to you being missing.

Not that it’s easy, or I don’t notice your absence. But I’m learning to live with this Kohen shaped hole in my heart and in our lives. It’s hard to imagine what isn’t. I can get hints and glimpses…but my sorrow lies in the fact that I will never know life on earth with you. And I will live our my days missing you…and trying to imagine you here.

So today, I’m going to ugly cry and let my tears soak the pillow and just miss you. Simon and I often talk about how it’s good to let the sad feelings out. Today I’m gonna let them loose.

And maybe tomorrow I will pick myself up and say good morning to the Kohen shaped hole and maybe life will look just a little brighter.

A Turning Point

I have been gifted an amzing gift. A woman who pours godly wisdom and insight into my life once a month. She challenges, stretches, supports…I am forever thankful for her guidance through this grief journey.

This week, it was time for me to recognize the journey I have been on…and where I’m at now. It is also a crucial time to choose which path it takes from here.

When I look at the last 15 months, what I have experienced, where I started and where I am now…it IS quite incredible. The traumatic senseless loss of my precious boy has broken me, shattered me and changed me. But here I stand.

I am not still living in the fog of early soul crushing grief. My burden has been lifted somewhat. I am learning how to live with grief, to allow it to shape me into the person I must become…because I cannot return to life as it was before.

My life demonstrates healing and resiliency. I have not completely healed…and I hope I never do…that I am always broken because of the loss of my boy. But I DO hope that brokenness creates space for life and love outside of myself.

So here I am, a momma who carried a precious boy for 9 months, laboured with love and expectation, only to watch the life slowly seep out of that precious little body. Here I am 26 weeks pregnant with a beautiful gift, a little sibling to two precious big brothers.

Here I am, living in a balance between hope and fear.

But I don’t want the fear to have any place here. Today, and everyday for the next twelve weeks and for the rest of my life, I choose hope over fear.

It’s a choice. I must make it every day. And I will.

There isn’t time to wait until tomorrow. If I don’t feel like it today, the fear wins.

Fear and death have no place here, they will not win.

This baby deserves to be celebrated and expected with all the joy any new life brings. I deserve to celebrate this baby as if I don’t know the pain of loss.

“Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.” Zechariah 9:12.

I return. I submit to the discipline of hope, I will allow myself to be taken prisoner by HOPE. And that promise!! “I will restore TWICE as much to you.”

And then I came across these words. Written so long ago. Reminding me to give credit where credit is due.

“I will exalt you Lord, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me.

Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me.

You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead; you spared me from going down to the pit.

Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people; praise his holy name.

For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favour lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.

When I felt secure, I said, “I will never be shaken.”

Lord, when you favoured me, you made my royal mountain stand firm; but when you hid your face, I was dismayed.

To you, Lord, I called; to the Lord I cried for mercy:

What is gained if I am silenced, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it proclaim your faithfulness?

Hear Lord, and be merciful to me; Lord, be my help.

You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,

that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise you forever.”

Psalm 30

The PAL Beast

Pregnancy After Loss. It’s a beast.

If I ever felt like my momma grief was misunderstood, it’s nothing compared to the misunderstandings around pregnancy after loss.

All is not better now. I am not over the moon excited. I still ache for Kohen. There’s still a hole in my family. I’m still broken.

After last week I’d kind of like to crawl in a little hole and emerge with a baby four months from now. That idea of confinement near the end of pregnancy…could I bring that back??

The last five months have been fraught with anxiety, fear, tears, hope, joy, laughter, uncertainty, optimism…confusing right?!? Tell me about it. From one day to the next I have no idea where my brain is going to go or what little thing I’m going to worry about.

I’ve been going to prenatal appointments every two weeks, just so I can listen to baby’s heartbeat and unload on my poor doctor all the emotions of the last two weeks. She has been amazing. Kind, gracious and compassionate…and she knows Kohen’s story inside and out. I am so so thankful that she is part of my team journeying towards bringing this little one into the world.

We talked about labour options. I can’t shake the quiet voice deep deep inside that says “my labour killed Kohen.” And even though I can’t give it credibility, and there is no evidence to support that statement (but none to refute it fully either)…I know deep down I still believe it. And oh, what I wouldn’t give to shut that voice up!! But thinking about labouring again led to many many sleepless nights, intrusive thoughts, nightmares of babies dying. Over and over and over. I just don’t think that’s the way for me to try bring this little one earthside. I don’t want to start life with a new baby deeply traumatized.

Someone said to me “God will give you the strength to get through labour again.” That statement made me so angry. Partly because it joined the chorus of other voices in my head that make me fear and doubt and question myself. Maybe God could give me that strength, but maybe he also gave me a brain to make different decisions this time around. How can anyone know what the best thing is going to be for me and baby? How can I? There are no guarantees. God is not going to give me this baby because my other one died. Everything does not always work out the way we want or hope or dream or pray.

We are not trusting God to give us our hearts desire. We are trusting that he will be there even through the darkest valley of this life. We are trusting that this life is not all there is, that there is a future with no more pain, sorrow, death. It’s just not here.

Every day I wake up and think to myself, I’m still pregnant today! Today baby is moving and kicking! Today is a good day.

I have fleeting thoughts about tomorrow. About diapers. About clothes. About where to put cribs and how to rearrange the house. But it all feels so optimistic. In effort to protect myself I shut those thoughts down and move on. But really. I can’t protect myself. It is far too late for that!!

And to me, this is bravery. Facing the fear and deciding to do it anyways. Facing the fear and continuing on. It might be limping and dragging and fighting, but continuing forward…always forward.

My deepest hope is that as I get closer to bringing this baby home, that I will allow myself to embrace the optimism. That I will get out those newborn clothes and blankets…wash and fold them…again…in anticipation of a baby coming home. That I will set up the bassinet. Again. That I will talk to big brother about the new baby coming home. That I will allow myself to dream and imagine life with two…again.

But so far, I can’t. These thoughts, they drop me to my knees.

My deepest fear is living this nightmare again.

Of leaving the hospital with a broken body and empty arms. Again. Of coming home to a house eagerly expecting a new baby, and putting everything away. Again.

And no, there’s nothing anyone can say, or anyone can do to make this better. This fear is real and valid.

But with the fear, I also have joy. I have been given the beautiful honour of growing another baby…for 23 weeks and 3 days so far!! I am so thankful for this life and the job I’ve been given.

I’d just like to live the dream longer than nine months.

I’d like to skip the nightmare this time.

The Blue Chair

There’s a blue chair in the corner of my bedroom. I bought it before Kohen was born, planning ahead for nursing him and having things set up for his arrival.

I didn’t get a chance to use it.

But I also didn’t do anything else with it. That blue chair sits in the corner of our bedroom, a reminder of the hope I once held, the baby boy who grew inside of me.

I’m pretty anal about the chair. I don’t let clothes pile on it, but I also don’t use it. The only things allowed on it are some beautiful pillows from my sister…one for Simon and one for Kohen…both depicting our little family of four.

Today, the hope is there again. I’m 22 weeks pregnant with our third child, and I find myself considering the possibilities for the blue chair. I think to myself “I hope. I hope this time I get to use it. I hope my dreams are not crushed this time. I hope I get to keep this baby. I hope this baby gets to come home with me.”

And it seems in equal measures of hope, is fear. Fear that in doing the hardest bravest thing I’ve ever done, to be pregnant again after losing my infant son, that I will live the nightmare again.

Fear. A momma that knows pregnancy does not guarantee a child to raise. A pregnancy that has been a secret as long as possible in attempt to protect my heart from further pain. But man, from day 1 I was way too far down the path of hoping again for any attempts at self preservation to be effective!! A momma reluctant to wear maternity clothes and proudly display my growing belly.

The questions are hard! The responses are so difficult. “Congratulations!!” Well, thanks, but don’t you know we’re not there yet? Don’t you know we lost our son? Much much later than this?? “Are you getting excited??” I am excited and thankful to still be pregnant today, but no, I am not excited for what is to come. The end of this pregnancy is what I fear the most. Will the baby live?? “How are you feeling?” Ummm. I really can’t answer that in casual conversation. Physically, this is my easiest pregnancy yet! Emotionally I’m a wreck.

And then the advice, the shared labour stories that thrust me back into the scene of my greatest pain and trauma, the pregnant friends and new babies that don’t know loss.

Gah.

Only four months to go. The longest four months of my life.

Old Year Reflections

I used to love New Years. New starts, new ioutdeas, new beginnings, new goals.

Now, it’s actually quite painful. Each new year is one further from the last time I held my baby boy. One year further from the reality that he was here, and one more year spent in the reality that he is gone. I want to say, one year closer to seeing him again…but in a life of potentially 90+ years…that’s an awfully long time to wait. And that makes my heart hurt more than anything.

I look back on 2017. My first full year without Kohen.

2016 was Kohen’s year. The year he was conceived, the year I grew him and got to know his bumps and wiggles, and the year I had to say the most painful of goodbyes.

So what was 2017? It was learning. Learning how to be a momma with a forever broken heart in this world. It was surviving. Surviving the catastrophic loss of my beautiful boy and finding a way to live again. It was crying. Crying all the tears and walking through all the pain in attempt to find a way forward. It was trusting. Trusting that even though the world as I knew it no longer made sense, that I could find a way to see beauty and hope again.

And so now, at the end of 2017, I can see how far I’ve come. How I’ve emerged from those dark painful days of shock and trauma. How my mind and heart have healed and found a way forward. How my soul has wrestled and continues to wrestle the big questions and the big ideas.

And now I find myself asking, “What now?”

What lies ahead for me, for us? For these broken hearts that are finding a way. Losing Kohen has taught me about control, that I really have none! We can make plans and hold our hopes and dreams, but without any guarantees. It makes me want to turtle away and make none. Out of fear maybe, self-protection definitely, and maybe a greater appreciation for the present…for a one day at a time kind of approach.

But I do know this, as I move forward in this life I’ve been given…I want to learn more about love. The completely incomprehensible all-forgiving gracious love that God shows us. In all our failings and disappointments, he never withholds and always welcomes us back. Could I learn to do that? Could we all learn to do that? To learn how to forgive, so that the hurts and disappointments we experience at the hands of others don’t steal life from us? That we could claim God’s love as life-giving and hold onto that with everything we have.

Somewhere in there might be a resolution of sorts, maybe just a result of a chance to reflect and appreciate the here and now.

Let’s see what 2018 has in store. The beautiful and the painful. The joy and the sorrow.

For we are promised both.

A second Christmas

My sweet Kohen,

Our second Christmas without you in our arms. I still long for you, I miss you with every fiber of my being. My soul aches to be connected to yours.

This Christmas we have let our love for you flow out of our arms and into the world. When I think of how loving you has chaned me, how you have turned my gaze from my own little world our into the larger one…even with all its hurts and pains…I am so thankful. I can only hope the work that I am doing is worthy of you and your heavenly home.

Last year I couldn’t read the Christmas story. A story about a baby boy arriving healthy and whole and safe into the world. Because it wasn’t your story, and all my momma’s heart could cry was “why me?? why MY baby??”

But Mary lost her son too. Not right away. Not before he would teach and love and challenge the world. But much too soon. Our heavenly Father willingly suffered that loss for the rest of us. I understand that cost, that pain, that sorrow.

And it is because of that loss that I will see you again. And for that my heart rejoices and finds rest.

But I can’t wait. This world is no longer enough. Each Christmas that passes is one closer to holding you in my arms forever, but that feels impossibly far away!!

I love you baby boy, I miss you. I wish you were here stealing your big brothers toys and grabbing ornaments off the tree. Toddling around the house chasing after him. Filling our home with all the love and joy and laughter we’ve been missing for the last 15 months.

I will hold you in my heart and dream of you, and let my love out into the world.

I can’t wait to see what that love will accomplish. Because it’s big. And there’s so much I can’t give you.

Love you for always.

Momma