Friday, December 12, 2014

I Believe She Felt My Love for Her

Sometimes I get sad thinking that not only did I never get to look at Lily in her eyes, but she also never got to look into mine. I struggle with wondering if she knew me. And if she knew how much I adore her.

All those months of growing a tiny human are spent in eager anticipation, waiting for the moment where as a mother you will finally gaze into the eyes of the sweet child whose face you've imagined countless times.

When I was told Lily's heart had stopped beating on the day I was to finally see her face, it felt like that dream was shattered. Like this was something that was snatched away from me before I ever got to fully have it, something that I had longed for. How do you find closure in that? I held her, but I never got to meet her outside of the womb.

A friend of mine recently shared this video of a newborn baby who doesn't want to leave her mother. She is literally clinging to her face and is so calm and peaceful when she is right by her mother. As soon as she is pulled away from her, she cries. Oh, how I wish I could have heard Lily's sweet newborn cry, how I wish we could have shared a moment like in this video. This baby knows her mother.

And it got me thinking, Lily really did know me, like this baby knows her mother. She knew my voice, she heard my heart beating and my blood rushing through my veins for almost an entire year. And even though she never saw my eyes, never felt me holding her, never was cared for me as a child is when they grow up on Earth, I truly believe she felt my love for her.

It is a comforting thought to know her entire life on Earth was peaceful. She was fiercely loved by everyone close to her. She was longed for and embraced, even if her life didn't fit into "my plan" of how things should go. She only ever felt warmth and love... never sadness, cold, pain, jealousy, or any of the other things that can make life hurt. She never felt tears running down her cheeks or felt ugly or not enough. She was never bullied and never had her heart broken. She only felt love.

The first beat of her heart and the last were within me. In the sacred place of my womb, the only home she ever knew. And now she knows the perfect love of her Father in Heaven. What a gift for me as her mother to know these things.

She knew me and I her. The bond we shared can never be taken away.

This post left me:

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Owen Turns Five

Lily's cousin, Owen, turns five today. Owen is my first cousin, Daniel's, son. I have written many times about how Owen and Lily are boy and girl cousins born three months apart, just as Daniel and I are boy and girl cousins born four months apart.

As the years have passed, honestly it has gotten a lot easier for me to think about Owen growing up and to see photos of him. He is absolutely adorable! But each year on his birthday, I am reminded afresh of the little girl who should be having a birthday close behind him.

I wish I was feeling sad because of how fast my daughter is growing up, how the years are flying by... but instead, I am sad that the years are flying by, but my daughter will never grow up. She will always be a baby.

Anyways, I don't really feel like I have much in me to share this year. I have already shared a lot of feelings about this. You can read all the posts I've written about Owen through the years by clicking HERE.

There is something about five that seems so BIG. By that age, children are past toddlerhood and in the "kid zone." Five is when Kindergarten starts. All milestones she will miss. All milestones that Owen will experience through his life that will remind me of my own child who'll never experience a single one of them. Sigh.

I thought I'd share some special photos of Owen, Daniel, Lily, and I...

Daniel and I five years ago this month - shortly after Owen was born and Lily was growing away! I actually still have and wear that shirt!

Daniel and I visiting Lily's spot last year around Thanksgiving, shortly after her permanent stone was installed.

This photo was taken during the summer of 2010. I didn't even know I had this picture until I found it on a disc recently. It was the first time I met Owen and would have been the first time three-month-old Lily would have met him too.

Daniel and I when we were little - how I wish Lily and Owen were in pictures like this together too!

But instead, these are the only sort of pictures they'll ever take "together." Each year, Owen makes a birthday sign in honor of Lily and takes a photo. I really treasure those photos. Each year, he grows bigger and she stays the same.

Happy fifth birthday, Mr. O! I love you!

This post left me:

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

She's Literally a Part of Me

One of the pages I follow on Facebook posted an article that has brought me so much comfort. This is what the article says:

You have stem cells from each of your babies in your brain.
The physical and emotional link between a mother and her child is about as close as a relationship can be. New research now shows the physical connection is even deeper than anyone previously thought.
Stem cells from the fetus have now been found in many areas of the mother’s brain, heart and other organs. These stem cells are ‘pluripotent’ that is, they can potentially be induced to form many different cells lines such as brain or cardiac tissue and help in regeneration.
Another study illustrated their potential. The heart of pregnant animals were damaged by blockage of a coronary artery, simulating a severe heart attack, though this was not lethal. Later after the animals delivered, the heart was examined. Stem cells from their fetus had migrated to the damaged mother’s heart and helped it repair itself.
These cells from each and every one of your children are there, in your brain and heart…. for life. And they will all still be there when you die. 

Just WOW. I feel like crying each time I read this. Not only is Lily a part of me forever, carried in my heart and thoughts, but her cells are literally in my body and will be there until I die, until the day we are reunited in Heaven.

Her heart might not be beating on this Earth any longer, but she is alive... her legacy is alive, her cells are alive within me as proof that she was a real little girl, and most importantly, she is eternally alive with Jesus Christ.

God's design is breathtaking and how He bonds mothers and their babies is more beautiful than words could describe. And Lily's cells could even help my body repair itself.

She has brought so much good to my life, all because of my choice of LIFE.

For the mother who has not lost a child, this is a neat fact to learn, but for the mother who has lost a child, this is beyond precious. It is so sweet to think that I will carry Lily's cells, as well as the cells of any future children I may have forever. It is a way they will be bonded together as siblings. All of their hearts will begin beating in the same place, in the sacred place of my womb. In the place where Lily's heart not only started beating, but also stopped beating... the only home she ever knew.

When I must leave the cemetery where my beautiful daughter is laid to rest beneath the Virginia earth, the place where a stone has her named etched in it, I can smile through the tears. Her heart beats with each beat of my heart, her cells are within me. I smile because she is alive through me. And because she is alive in the place where I will know her in a way I never got to here.

This post left me:

Josie Duggar Turns Five

I was scrolling through my Facebook News Feed today, when I came across this.

Ah yes, Josie Duggar turns five today. Seeing this made my heart sink a little. You see, Josie was due on March 18th, 2010, and Lily was due on March 14th, 2010, and was born on March 16th, 2010. I remember when I was pregnant with Lily and finding out that Michelle was pregnant with Josie and thinking it was special they were due just days apart.

And then of course little Josie was born over three months prematurely, spending time in the NICU.

While this tiny girl was fighting for her life, my Lily grew big and strong in the safest place on Earth, in her mother's womb. 

But Josie survived to see her fifth birthday. And Lily did not. I sometimes think if Lily had just been born a few days earlier, she would have been born alive. It's all so hard to wrap my mind around.

Josie Duggar will always remind me of Lily. Seeing her grow up on the 19 Kids and Counting television show just blows my mind to know my girl would be that big too. They are equally as real and equally as important and cherished by their families.

Yes, Duggars, as you wrote in your post, time does fly. I am thankful too that the Lord brought Lily to me, though she is not here to celebrate her fifth birthday in three months. 

Happy 5th birthday, beautiful Josie!

This post left me:

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Lily's Christmas Ornaments and Tree

A few days ago, I got out my box of memorial ornaments that I have collected over the past 5 Christmases - some I got while I was pregnant with Lily, some were given as gifts, some were made by me or others, while others were bought by me. Each year, I like to add to my growing collection. I hope to make one this year.

And here is Lily's mini memorial Christmas tree, adorned with her lovely ornaments. I will also take her a tree to decorate her grave for Christmas/winter.

This post left me:

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Help Me See the Beauty

Sometimes all I see is the pain and the questions.

The pain of losing Lily and the heaviness of living the rest of my life without my first-born. And the questions of why it happened to me, to my baby.

I recently heard someone share her story about going through an unintended pregnancy and how at one point early in the pregnancy, she almost lost her baby. This person said how she talked to her belly and told the tiny baby growing that she had to fight to stay alive... and then she said her daughter is now almost 19 and the reason she fights for the unborn...

As I listened to this story, burning tears came to my eyes and I felt the jab in my heart, why God? Why did you save her baby, but let mine die? Why did my sweet daughter go fullterm and die for no apparent reason?! While other babies who are born micro preemies survive?

In that moment of pain and questioning, it was as if God put this whispered prayer in my heart, please help me see the beauty in this... because right now I am blinded by the pain.

I know God has a plan and purpose. I am just wondering why a part of His plan had to be Lily dying??

My grandmother found two VHS tapes for me at the thrift store where she is one of the founders of in my hometown in Virginia. The series is called "Suffering Is Not For Nothing" by Elisabeth Elliot. There are six 30 minute segments. It has been bringing so much peace and comfort to my heart watching this series. My faith is being renewed. I firmly believe God puts books, movies, sermons, etc. into our path at just the right moment. In one of the sessions, Elisabeth Elliot even talks about a couple who lost their baby daughter. I couldn't believe it, but then I could believe it because I know God brought this series to me for a reason. This is what Elisabeth said:

If we learn to know God in the midst of our pain, we come to know Him as one who is not a High Priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities. He is one who has been over every inch of the road. I love that old hymn from I think the seventeenth century by Richard Baxter: “Christ leads me through no darker rooms than He went through before.” I love those words.
I have some dear friends who are missionaries in North Africa. He was one of the many seminary students who have lived in our house. I had a letter from them about a year or so ago to tell me that they had just lost their baby girl. I think it was either at birth or just within a few hours after birth. Their letter was filled with the anguish that that cost them. And of course, I wanted to answer the letter. But I never lost a baby. I only have one child who was ten months old when her father was killed. So I couldn’t write to Phil and Janet and say, “I know exactly what you’ve been through.”
But I’ve read the wonderful letters of Samuel Rutherford, that Scottish preacher from the seventeenth century who seems to have been through just about every imaginable human mill and he had lost at least one child. I had his letters in my study. So I looked up one of his letters to a woman who had lost a child. This is what he wrote to her, and I quoted these words to Phil and Janet after saying to them, “I don’t know what you’re going through, but I know the One who knows.” I sent them Samuel Rutherford’s words. He had lost two daughters; I have here in my notes. This is what he said:
Grace rooteth not out the affections of a mother but putteth them on His wheel who maketh all things new, that they may be refined. He commandeth you to weep. And that Princely One took up to Heaven with Him a man’s heart to be a compassionate High Priest. The cup ye drink was at the lip of sweet Jesus, and He drank of it.
And Janet wrote to me these words: “The storm of pain is calming down and the Lord is painting a new and different picture of Himself.” I saw in her experience that the very suffering itself was an irreplaceable medium. God was using that thing to speak to Janet and Phil in a way that He could not have spoken if He had not gotten their attention through the death of that little child.
Now, I don’t mean to oversimplify things as though that explains it, that God had to say something to those two people because if I know anything about godliness, I know that Phil and Janet Linton are both godly people.
That raises another painful question, doesn’t it. We often say, “Why did such and such have to happen to her. She is such a wonderful person. Why did he have to go through this? He’s such a wonderful person.” Well, again, the word is, “Trust Me.”

Sometimes I think God is the most glorified in the midst of suffering... in the place of unanswered questions and pain where a heart still points to Heaven and says, I trust Him and know He is good always.

God is speaking clearly to my heart that I am to trust Him. I am reminded of a quote that I love that I can't remember who said it, "When you cannot trace His hand, you can always trust His heart."

There are certain things the Lord can teach us only through suffering. Suffering is not for nothing. And Lily's life and death was not for nothing. Some of the beauty that I am finding is in the suffering.

I know that somewhere deep down, hidden beneath the seemingly endless pain, is the beauty. I see glimpses of this beauty and know that one day, in Heaven, the fullness of the beauty of Lily's life and legacy will be revealed. When the sorrow and suffering is no more. And my beautiful blue-eyed baby girl will finally be in my arms.... forever.

This post left me:

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

I Share for Babies Like Her and Mothers Like Hers

I read an article on that really touched my heart. It is written by someone whose sister was born still many decades ago.

Click HERE to read the beautiful post and then I will share my thoughts on it.

I relate to so much of what this writer said. For one, she wrote, "My mother said she would have given anything, anything at all, to have had her baby live even for one short moment after birth, to have touched her warm face and stroke her tiny hand, to pour a lifetime of love into that fleeting minute. But it wasn't to be. The loss of that time haunted her. It broke her heart."

I get this completely. How many times I have wished that Lily had been born alive, even if just for a moment, so I could have seen her eyes. That is something I feel will haunt me for the rest of my days.

The writer of this post said of her mother, "In those days there were no grief counsellors, no dedicated support to help you through the shock. You were just expected to get over it... Mam didn’t talk much about that, about how Máire’s death had affected her. Even when we occasionally broached the subject, it was as if the grief still choked her, even though one, then two, and then three decades had passed. I realize now that it was simply too hard. The shock of losing her child was so overwhelming and so profound, that it was almost unbearable, and the longer it was left unexpressed the more it became impossible to articulate without spasms of grief. It was a sorrow that mothers of her time carried deep inside, and did not share."

Losing a baby is something you never, ever "get over." This mother was deeply affected by the loss of her precious daughter, from the time she lost her, all through the decades of living without her. Honestly, reading things like this brings me comfort and validation that I am not strange to love and miss Lily so much, even almost five years later. And it would not be healthy for me to suppress my feelings.

Máire’s life mattered. It breaks my heart that in the "old days," people were expected to immediately get over the loss of a baby, move on, not talk about it, and pretend their child never existed. I am so thankful for how things have changed since then. It is partly for babies like Máire and mothers like hers that I write. For all the years they weren't able to write, to share, to grieve... I write, I share and I grieve openly.

I love how the writer of this post addresses the importance of having support while grieving the loss of a baby and how necessary it is to recognize and acknowledge the life of the little one who has passed away. She ends the post by saying how "love is stronger than pain and loss" and that one day, the parents who have lost a baby will see them again and be comforted, but for now, our voices should be heard that every life counts!

This post left me:
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