Saturday, May 2, 2020

Another Invisible Mother's Day ~ His Compassion Fails Not

My heart has already begun preparing for yet another year of being an invisble mother on Mother's Day. I'll never stop missing the lives who only existed inside of my own life. I will never not feel their absence in my days.

I know the fact that I dare to possibly love and miss my babies still, even all these years later, makes people thoroughly uncomfortable. I know some people think I'm "stuck" on something I shouldn't be.

I rehearse the words recently spoken that cut so deeply while also rehearsing and tossing over and over in my mind what I could write to help people understand. Maybe there is a time for that, for speaking on behalf of the invisible+bereaved+longing-to-be mothers. But right now, I'm done with trying to get them to see what is. I'm done trying to explain the unexplainable-unless-you've-been-there. There is freedom in letting go and knowing He who sees all things has compassion on me.

Rachel Joy Welcher wrote in one of her lovely poems:
"Love isn't something we bury with dirt or time."

She also wrote:
"It's ok to look forward to the future
with a broken heart and a limp.
Is there any other way to
travel toward God
this side of heaven?"

I will continue to look forward to the future - my future here on earth where I'm trusting God that I will see and taste His goodness in the land of the living - and my future with Him where He will wipe away every tear I've ever shed.

I'm limping from loss, but I'm dancing because of this mother love that cannot be buried. A love that only my Father could birth in me as a mother. A love that never ceases and has taught me more about His heart for me than anything in this life yet.

And I'm trusting that even in the messy-complicated-sometimes-immature-and-twisted-by-pain that publicly sharing my story has meant over the past decade... that God will even use all that.

Dear one, if you feel like the compassion of others had run dry in your unanswered questions, in your longings, griefs and burdens... find comfort in this:

"There are pains in our stories that no person has an adequate storehouse of compassion for. God's compassion for your recurring, long-standing pains never ever reaches a limit." -K.J. Ramsey

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Lily's 9th Birthday Celebration!

As I shared in Lily's birthday post, this year I needed her day to be simpler. I let go of the pressure to do certain "big" things for her, and just embraced where I am and what I felt I needed. 🎉9️⃣

Unfortunately I wasn't able to see much of my family her birthday weekend, but that's just how things worked out this year. Her birthday fell on a Saturday, so I was already off work. I was busy packing and preparing a lot of the day because I flew to Michigan before dawn the next morning.

We had red-velvet treats, a favorite tradition started with my red-velvet cake at my Valentine's-themed baby shower. Monarch butterfly cupcakes and petit fours. If you're familiar with Lily's story, you know butterflies remind me of her. I got the butterfly toppers on Etsy (one of my favorite places to shop). ❤️💕🎂💕❤️

Lily's spot had to look beautiful, as it does every year on her day. I put together the flower arrangement (with roses and lilies of course) and got the balloon and flag on Etsy. 💐🎈

I also got this fun cupcake balloon for Lily's birthday, which I kept mostly at my house because of the wind at the cemetery. It's hard to see in the picture, but I was wearing a butterfly shirt for Lily's day.

As is tradition, we had hashbrowns for our lil Spud on her due date of March 14th, "Spud Day" as we call it. Her due date day is National Potato Chip Day and if you've been following Lily's story for long, you know I craved hashbrowns my entire pregnancy. We now eat hashbrowns each year on Spud Day. ;)

I was blessed to be surrounded by beautiful and colorful flowers for the days and weeks surrounding Lily's birthday, from thoughtful friends, family, and coworkers. The blooms sure brightened my days. Thank you Shana, Ashley & Dale, Liza, mom, Lauren, and Deb. 💕💐💜 

These gorgeous tulips were from some sweet coworkers. They said in the card they gave along with the tulips that they thought I could plant them in a special place for them to grow each year on Lily's birthday. :)

These gorgeous flowers, along with the Lily chocolate, are from my thoughtful friend, Liza.

My mom had these delivered to me at work on Lily's due date, "Spud Day," since I wasn't working on her actual birthday.

I got these chocolate "9's" on Etsy (specifically with my chocoholic niece in mind). ;)

Lily was remembered her birthday week by Ashley in Kona, Hawaii! 😊💗🌊☀️🐚🐳🐬🐟🐠🐢

As is tradition, at 4:24 p.m. (Lily's birth minute), we sang her the birthday song. I made sure we were at the cemetery for her special minute. The sun felt warm on my skin and it felt so peaceful there. I could have taken a nap in the grass and spent all afternoon at her spot.

My friend Tiffany who lives in California also lost a daughter on March 16, in 2007. I send her a package in honor of Lily's little birthday buddy, Genesis, every year. It's a sweet way I like to honor and recognize both our baby girls. We both associate St. Patrick's Day and clovers with our girls, since they were born the day before. This was the package I sent this year. It's a clover purse. I couldn't resist getting one for myself too because of how adorable it is! :)

A couple days before Lily's birthday, I was looking for a card for someone and this one caught my eye. I couldn't resist getting it for my 9-year-old.

My Aunt Helen, who always remembers Lily (especially around her birthday) sent me this thoughtful package. I love what she wrote in the "9" card! She knows lambs and butterflies remind me of Lily. :)

My sweet friend Elise got me this beautiful butterfly box for Lily's birthday.

This was the March 16th sunset from my little corner of the world in Virginia. The sun sets on another March... Thank you for celebrating her with me and for reaching out in all the many ways you have this month.

Here are the blog posts I've written over the years, both on Lily's birthdays, as well as the posts about how we've celebrated her birthdays:


Saturday, March 16, 2019

Her 9th Birthday

A beautiful baby girl that I carried, birthed, and love should be turning 9 today. It's my birthing-day.

9 years since I held that perfect-but-without-breath 7 pound 9 ounce and 21 inch body and saw my face in hers.

9 years of treasuring her life and mothering her legacy.

9 years of her name being written all over the world in the sand, snow, and everywhere in between.

9 years of writing and speaking about her.

9 years and the missing and love haven't changed.

Honestly, I am at a bit of a loss for words this year. I have been so busy with working full-time and taking Masters classes and just life in general that I've barely had time to process Lily's birthday and my memories and feelings surrounding it. Not only that, but I'm dealing with some difficult things right now, which compounds my grief with it being Lily's time of year.

Around her day each year, I like to go back and read my blog posts where I see how we've celebrated her on each of her past birthdays. This year, I honestly don't have much planned. It made me feel sad to see how many special things I've done in her honor in the past and guilty for not doing more this year.

As I was contemplating these feelings, I realized this is pressure I put on myself for no reason. Her birthday season might look different each year. Some years I might go to the beach or somewhere else different and fun, while other years (like this year), the plans may be more simple. Some years I might get a tattoo or deliver hospital comfort boxes, while other years I may celebrate in a quieter way. There is no need for any pressure because my love for Lily does not wane... despite what is going on or not going on or how many years have passed.

This year, I need things to be gentler and simpler. This year, I will cherish long-held traditions and the memory of her life within mine. This year, I will let go of the pressure or the need to do certain things or write certain words in order for her life to "count," in order for the great loss of her to mean something. She matters and nothing in all of the universe could ever change that. I love her and nothing will diminish my devotion as her mommy.

A sweet acquaintance turned friend named Liza told me last weekend how she read my words after she walked through one, and then two miscarriages, and was in a dark place. She said my sharing about Lily helped her to know it was okay to grieve and feel sad over something she had wanted so badly. She felt validated and it helped her share her journey publicly herself. She said she doesn't know she would have it weren't for Lily and my sharing. She said I could keep this all to myself and it would be understandable, but that she's thankful I share Lily with others and that others are able to get to know my girl and can join in and be a part of her life and story. In turn, Liza sharing her journey has helped me walking my own, as I know it has helped many others too. It's amazing how that works.

She went on to say that the reason Lily died wasn't to help and impact others. That wouldn't be reason enough for those who have lost a child. Jesus never brings or intends death, but in His power and love, He is able to use the seemingly most bleak and utterly wretched circumstances and pain for our good and His glory. I find comfort in knowing that even in death and suffering, God has brought beauty. There is much solace in that truth.

Having my friend share this with me touched my heart deeply. I say this every year, but it seems the Lord reserves special blessings for the month of March. I have gotten precious messages from blog readers, some who have followed along for years and I've never heard from. One had a dream about Lily this month. This month is marked as sacred and these messages and words about Lily carry me and encourage me to continue sharing my journey.

My journey this year is that I thought I didn't have much to share... but maybe it turns out I had more to say than I realized. I love all you who love Lily alongside me.

Here are pictures from March 16, 2010...

Here is Lily's song

Here are the blog posts I've written over the years, both on Lily's birthdays, as well as the posts about how we've celebrated her birthdays:


Monday, March 11, 2019

"Your Blog Posts Helped Me Get Through It"

Another getting close to Lily's birthday March message that moved, humbled, and encouraged my heart right when I needed it:

"I have followed your blog posts for years. I stumbled across your website when I was searching if there were support groups or forums for people who ever had an abortion. I was feeling huge regret and sadness and your blog posts helped me get through it. It's still not something I openly talk about. I have a living child now. And I still struggle some days asking myself how I even deserve this beautiful, smart little one. I felt so much sadness reading about Lily. And I love that you have shared your story and continue to share her story as well. I pray that you too get your rainbow baby someday. ❤️ I wanted to reach out to you to let you know that your story is beautiful and I look forward to all the posts and emails."


If She'd Been Born Today

This is a post I originally wrote and shared in 2015...

These memories on these dates are burned into my mind and heart...

It feels like I'm reliving the waiting and wondering when and how Lily's birth would unfold. There was so much excitement and anticipation. Only now I know what happened and when and how it did. And there is no way to ever change it.

My mom and I were talking this morning about how on this day in 2010 (March 11th) was my last appointment and the last time we'd ever hear Lily's sweet heart beating or see her alive on the ultrasound machine.

Here is an ultrasound image from that day. It's difficult to tell what you're looking at when the baby gets that big, but my friend Amanda who does ultrasounds told me her head/profile is on the left and her chest is on the right.

I was scheduled for an induction date of March 18th if Lily hadn't come before then. I still have the paper with the induction date on it (it's now in Lily's scrapbook).

This popped up on my Facebook Memories today... my post from this date in 2010.

And this is what I posted on yesterday's date in 2010... if only those had been real contractions and she had been born then.

What is so bizarre is that on that day, my mom was concerned that something was wrong with Lily. She was with me during the ultrasound and said it looked like Lily's head was smushed and her entire body slouching over, like she had no energy. The doctor called us in to discuss the induction date, but before we knew what he was going to say, my mom thought he was going to say there was something terribly wrong.

I don't remember if she ever mentioned that to me at the time. Honestly, even if she had mentioned it, I probably wouldn't have been too concerned. I never considered Lily dying as a possibility whatsoever. Before losing her, I don't even remember hearing or knowing the words stillbirth or stillborn. I saw something I wrote about it shortly after I had Lily and I didn't even use the word correctly.

Anyways, my doctor said everything was perfect at Lily's appointment. Her heart was beating steady and strong and it was just a matter of waiting on Lily to make her entrance into this world. Should my doctor have caught something? Did he miss something that might have saved her life?

The next day, March 12th, is the day that I had guessed Lily would be born when we made our birth predictions. Now, it's the day we believe Lily was born into Heaven. The reason we think that is because I started having a lot of sciatica pain and it felt as if Lily was floating in my stomach. I have had people ask how I didn't know she was gone, but it was my first pregnancy. How was I to know what was normal and what wasn't? I assumed she had gotten so big and ran out of room and that's why I didn't feel the kicks and punches like I once had (that's a common myth by the way). And I did feel movement, though looking back now it was such a strange feeling. Floating is the only word I can think of to describe it. It's a sad memory.

My mom said she kept asking me that weekend if I felt Lily moving because she was concerned. I assured her I did. She had not asked me that my entire pregnancy, so it's strange she started asking me then. If I had gone into the hospital because of lack of movement, might Lily have survived? I cannot allow myself to be consumed by these thoughts and questions.

On March 12th, my mom had a very strange feeling that Lily had died. Later, when she told one of her friends she had thought that, her friend said she thought the same thing on the same day. There was nothing to make them think that, but they did. I find this so strange.

This entire week holds many memories.

Today is the day I think about how if Lily were born on this date in 2010, she would be alive. We'd have the birthday girl here to celebrate and I'd be able to share photos from her party on a blog about her life, rather than a blog about her death too. It makes me terribly sad to think this is the last full day she lived on Earth. Why couldn't my body have gone into labor before it did, before she died?

If she'd been born today, if today were her birthday, she'd most likely be alive. That's a hard truth to grapple with. I missed meeting her alive and having her here with me (hopefully for the rest of my life) by just a few short days.

Today my mom and I are going to a friend's birthday. My mom said how we should be having Lily's birthday party instead...


Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Hello in a Dream

Long time, no write. Are you still there? I've missed you and this space. I have much to catch you up on. I mostly share Lily-related things on my Facebook page or Instagram these days. However, this is Lily's month. She'd be turning 9 on March 16th. So, I find myself drawn back to this blog again...

A follower of Lily's story sent me a message today that my sweet birthday girly visited her dream.

She wrote: "I had a dream the other night and I just have to share. It was so weird and so random because I hardly ever have dreams like this. Anyways, I was dreaming that my kids were playing and one of them asked me about S. I was explaining how she lived in Heaven and was being taken care of, when my daughter said, "Oh, like Rose and Her Lily?" I was like what, what made you say that? She said, "I don't know, but I just had to say it." I woke up totally surprised and I told myself I was going to obviously share this with you and as soon as I opened up Facebook, your post was the first to show on my News Feed. It could just be a coincidence, but I would like to believe she is trying to tell you "hello." It is her month too. 💕"

It never ceases to amaze me that special Lily happenings occur every March. She somehow finds a way to let me know she's okay. I believe it's a gift from God, reminding me that Rose and Her Lily are still being held and cared for, no matter how many Marches come and go. There's something oh so sacred about a dream visit.

I have dreamed of Lily and so have others before this. Click here to read the dreams of Lily.


Monday, October 1, 2018

It's Not Just a "Cause"

Most everybody knows that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Two of my aunts are survivors of breast cancer. There is pink everywhere, from people you see wearing t-shirts at the grocery store to NFL players sporting pink shoes on the field. There are several walks to support this cause and billions of dollars pored into research. Millions of people acknowledge it, which I think is a wonderful thing. You basically can't live in the United States and not hear about it constantly during the month of October.

But, not many people know that October is also Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. It is far too often overshadowed. I would never want those other things to be forgotten about, I just want P.A.I.L. (pregnancy and infant loss) to be spoken about as well. I want commercials about it and money being pored into it by giant corporations. It is a worthwhile thing to research, understand, and talk about. 

You can get your own PAIL Awareness images to share with friends, family, on your blog or social media accounts from Luminous Light Studio by clicking here.

My daughter, Lily Katherine was stillborn 2 days past her due date. I had a completely normal, healthy pregnancy and she was a healthy baby. She had a full autopsy done and nobody could give me a reason medically for why it happened. Don't you think it's about time something was done about this? In the United States of America in the 21st century, thousands of babies should not be dying with no explanation. 

I know I talk quite a lot about Pregnancy and Infant Loss. You'll see pink and blue strewn throughout my social media pages, especially throughout the month of October. But you see, to me it is not just another "cause." There are thousands of causes out there, aren't there? Support this, support that. Many of these things are important. This is not a cause, but our children. It's not merely about raising awareness for the sake of people being aware. PAIL Awareness Month is about honoring our babies and speaking out about the dignity and value of their lives, despite how brief. I don't just share the awareness ribbon or take part in the Capture Your Grief Project to make pointless noise. I am as outspoken as I am for a few reasons...

One, I want those who have lost their baby to know they are not alone. I want them to be pointed to resources to help them heal. I want them to know it is healthy and okay if they want to share their stories. 

I also want others to understand how loss affects someone, irrevocably. I want others to get a glimpse into what it's like, so maybe they will learn how to offer support and understanding to those impacted by infant loss.

I want to share my beautiful Lily with the world, my sweet girl who lived a full life in my womb and will always live in my heart. My girl who will always be my baby. This is how I mother her, this is how I share her. It was a gift the Lord gave me when He opened up my heart to love her as much as I do. And because of how much I love her, I miss her with that same great measure. The grief, in turn, is also a gift, for even that points to the sanctity of her life and each life, no matter how brief. I share because I believe in the sanctity of each unique and irreplaceable life, created in the image of God.

Why aren't more people talking about pregnancy and infant loss? I think part of it is because it's an uncomfortable thing to talk about babies dying and people think it will never happen to them. I want others to be aware of the importance of counting their baby's kicks

But, the main reason I think PAIL isn't spoken about or acknowledged is because people have minimized the value of the unborn in our society. It's no wonder people don't think it matters when someone loses a baby, whether at a few weeks gestation or full-term. After all, they were just a blob of tissue, right? They weren't a baby yet, so what's there to be upset about? I ask you, then, when exactly is the baby an actual baby? Was Lily not a baby because she never breathed outside my womb, though she made it to 40 weeks? What about the mother who miscarries her very much loved and wanted baby? Is it a baby only when the mother wants it, but otherwise it's just cells? We need to talk about this! And I believe once this is acknowledged more, people will start valuing and understanding the sanctity of all life.

Women around the world, from all walks of life, are affected by pregnancy and infant loss. 1 in 4 women will face a pregnancy/infant loss in her lifetime. Some more than one.

If you have never lost a baby yourself, please help us stop the silence and raise awareness because chances are this has probably already affected someone you love. Please educate yourself so you know how to support somebody if they lose their baby. Consider changing your profile picture to the blue and pink awareness ribbon. Blue and pink for the precious boys and girls who are no longer here. Let's show compassion. Tell someone who you know has lost a baby that you are thinking of them this month.

This month, I honor and remember all the precious ones who are no longer with us, the sons and daughters of Heaven. Their lives are important and they will forever remained loved and missed by those who know them. Let's get the word out about Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness. Share your story. Speak out!

Click here to read ideas I've shared for how to get involved during PAIL Awareness Month!

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