I go several weeks, months even, feeling really good. I mean, a couple times at Ellerslie, I broke down a little bit thinking about Lily Kat. But, I think that's to be expected when you're in a new, unfamiliar place. And it was hard knowing that I would most likely not even be at Ellerslie if Lily were alive. Then when I came home, I was diagnosed with mono, so all of a sudden I have all this extra time that I didn't have before. And I am missing my best friend, who used to be there for me always, right down the road. I am at home most of the time, resting and healing, and feel like I've been left alone with my thoughts. I started grieving so intensely and I wondered if that was normal to feel this sad nearly two years out? And I find myself wondering what is right and wrong, what is going to be acceptable to others? And I begin to feel awkward about what I'm posting on my blog and wondering if people think, "oh come on, get over it, Hannah. It happened like two years ago." And I feel like maybe I don't have a right to grieve this long. And maybe I don't have a right to grieve at all, I mean it was an unplanned pregnancy. I wasn't married. I wasn't ready to be a mom.
I think part of this grieving is normal and healthy. My grief was put on hold for a while and that wasn't necessarily a bad thing. With Lily's birthday coming up and embarking on a new year, I think these feelings of missing her so much are normal. Spring is in the air. Sure, it's still January, but I'm sitting here on the front porch in a short-sleeved shirt, so it just has a springy-type feel. And spring is just right around the corner, which will always remind me of the waiting for Lily, and then how she came and went. You can read my posts from March and April of 2010 for more of that. But, I think I may be bringing some of this sadness on myself.
It has been really discouraging to be home because I really wanted to go back to Ellerslie for EALT this month. Then, I realized I wasn't going back. I was staying home. I've been struggling so much. Throughout this whole journey of grief, blogging has been the thing that has helped me the most. It's been one of the most instrumental tools in my healing. Nobody could possibly understand this grief unless they've lost a baby. If you have a child, then yes, maybe you can imagine a little bit more than others what it's like. But, not unless it's really happened to you do you really "get it." I know I never did until it happened to me. In fact, I don't know if I ever even thought about it. I guess it makes me more gracious towards others, since I know they couldn't fully understand. It just puts me on guard, like I have to defend my grief in some weird way. So, because other BLMs (babyloss moms) understand, I have found great healing in reading others stories through their blogs and sharing my own. When I realize others have felt the very things I'm feeling, it makes me feel validated. In the beginning, when those feelings were so raw and fresh, reading these blogs was just what I needed. I was learning to live without her, trying to find my "new normal" and it was so helpful to find people that were on that same journey. I have gone a long time without being active in the "blogging community." I would maybe post once a month and some months, I didn't post at all. And I rarely ever read blogs after the first several months, except for a few blogs of ladies I really connected with. But, since being home, I've been reaching out a little more again. I have come to realize this is not what I need at this time. I don't need to be continually reminded of the excruciating pain from the first year after losing Lily. I am in a very different place with my grief. And I think that reading the blogs that used to help me so much is actually more harmful now than it is helpful. It was one of the best things that helped me heal in the first few months after my loss. But, now I feel like it is bringing me down. I don't want to sound mean because I love all the BLMs so much. I am so thankful for each one that I've met. And because of our losses, there will always be that bond and connection that I don't even have with people in "real life." I guess that's why it makes me somewhat sad that I need to move on now and that it isn't really helping to read these blogs. It's like a chapter in my life, in my grief, is ending and it's time to turn the page. But, I liked this page, God, and I'm afraid of what I will find on the next page. He assures me He is with me. I guess it's easier to read the blogs of women that had losses around the same time as me, because they are in a different place than those that have recently had their losses. But, then again, it's hard to read those because many of them are now having their "rainbow babies." Don't get me wrong, I am very happy for them, it's just hard because I am not in a place in my life where that is a possibility for me. Now, I'm not saying I'm done completely in the blogging world, I'm just cooling it a bit. And I hope that you, my friends, stay in contact with me! I will be stopping by occasionally, but I won't be reading as much as I have been, like I did in the beginning.
It's so odd now to think I am like a veteran in the babyloss community, in blogging and in my support group locally. Like I can now give others advice on how to deal with things, what to do for first birthdays, etc. Wasn't I just the newbie who was thrust into this world? Time is a funny thing...
I feel like I am just at a different place in my life and reading the blogs keeps me stuck in a certain place, rather than allowing me to walk forward in my grief. Several months ago, I had to remove several of the BLMs off of my facebook friends list because it was just too difficult to read all the sad posts and then even to read the happy posts of expecting another baby. I am single and young, which sets my story apart from most of the others. Right now, I feel like I am more grieving all that I wish I had done differently, all I wish I could go back and change so that I would have more now. I've been haunted by all the things I wish I could change...like having more maternity pictures done, getting those NILMDTS photos that I long for more than anything so I could remember her precious hands and feet and all the small details of her, bathing and dressing her at the hospital instead of having the nurses do it...but she was so delicate and fragile and I didn't want to hurt her. And the fact that I never got to meet her alive has really been difficult to live with. I have been thinking about it so much and feeling envious of those who had even just a few moments with their sweet babies. And then I read this on a website when I was researching about stillbirth (something I don't need to be doing. I mean, I want to be educated on the subject and bring awareness, but there comes a point when enough is enough. I can't do anything to change what happened) and my chest literally started hurting!
"There are currently studies underway that may prove that the leading cause of stillbirths, in late term babies, may be compression of the umbilical cord while the mother sleeps. This could be a major breakthrough in stillbirth research which, like SIDS "Back to Sleep", will show a positional cause for this devastating loss."
It felt like it was my fault that Lily died...that I slept in a bad position and cut off oxygen to my poor, precious little girl. I cannot dwell on what I don't have but be thankful and cherish what I do have. I have many things other people don't. And what are things in light of eternity anyways? I am thankful for having Lily the entire pregnancy...all the time I possibly could have...40 glorious weeks plus two days! I am thankful for the 3d/4d ultrasound I had when I found out conclusively that Lily was indeed, a GIRL! I am thankful that I now have that ultrasound on dvd, so I can watch her squirming around and see her with life. I do get to see her with life. I am thankful for her handprints and footprints, her lock of hair, her recorded heartbeat that I love listening to, the pictures I do have, the fact that I held her and had her with me in my room for many hours. Instead of being negative and harping over what ifs and if I had done this differently, would she still be here?...was it somehow my fault?...I will trust that my God knew what He was doing then and He still knows what He's doing now. He had a plan for all of this. And even though the story looks sad from a worldly perspective, my God has turned this sad, tragic story of an abortion, an unplanned pregnancy out of wedlock, and the death of my daughter, into something breathtakingly beautiful. Something that makes me stand back in awe, and ask Him how He did it. How He truly did and does work all things together for good...for my good, for Lily's good, for the good of His Kingdom. Oh, my precious Jesus. He is all I could ever want or need. I surrender these thoughts and feelings into His hands. And I truly believe her life is making a greater impact without her ever having lived outside the womb. It's like a sacrifice I have made, surrendering that desire of meeting her alive. Because what a beautiful story of how God changed my whole entire life with a little girl that never took a breath! Talk about making an impact for the Kingdom of God! Her life shows how He has a plan and purpose for each life, no matter how small and that each life is valuable and precious to Him!
Another reason why my grief has been intensified lately is because I started fully grieving the loss of Luke Shiloh around Christmas time, when I got his ultrasound photo and finally named him. The Lord has brought much healing from the pain of my abortion through Lily's life, yet there was deep healing that still was not mine. I was pregnant with Lily and focused on that, and then had her, lost her, and was focused on that grief for so long. So, when I started coming to terms with all of that with Lily, it was like wow, I didn't realize I hadn't dealt with this abortion yet completely. After naming Luke Shiloh, it got so much harder. It was like it finally really became real to me. Like I am finally realizing that this was a precious life and I am a mother to this life. Naming him put that together in my mind and my heart. I couldn't grieve both my babies fully at once, so the grief started coming back in, but it's so different this time. I started looking up all these blogs, but the blogs are more dealing with my loss of Lily, so that brought up the grief with her. It brought me a couple steps backwards in my grief journey with her when I started dealing with this. Losing Luke was such a different loss and experience and I haven't found many blogs that understand that.
I've had a couple friends say something along the lines of not being afraid to move on and heal. And I almost felt offended by this at first, feeling misunderstood and like they couldn't possibly understand. But, I know they only meant the best by it. And I realize that the Lord has spoken to me through them. At times, I can be so scared of forgetting my babies and others forgetting them and how often I feel that if I'm not actively grieving, then there must be something wrong with me. At times, losing Lily feels like a disability. I carry the burden so heavy and it cripples me. But, I refuse to allow it to bring me down or control my life. I will simply let it be a part of who I am...I will allow Him to shape me into the person He desires me to be. And I was never meant to carry the burden alone. My shoulders cannot possibly carry the weight of it all. My Jesus asks me to give it to Him...
I have only ever been honest with my grief on this blog, even the ugly, painful parts of it. But, God has always been big enough to meet me where I am and deal with it. It's just time for me to move on, I think, and not dwell on all the things I wish I could change, not dwell on reading these blogs that keep my mind stuck. Now, I am not saying that I won't have bad days. I know I will and when I do, I will feel free to blog about it. I'm saying I am not going to stay stuck with my mind in 2010. It is 2012 and the Lord is grabbing my hand and asking if I will run with Him. He has far too many plans for my life and my children's legacies than to let me stay in my deep grief. I am not saying I am done with my grief. I realize now I will grieve for the rest of my life. What I'm saying is the grief will change as the years press on. And I'm realizing that's okay. It doesn't mean I'm forgetting. It means the Lord is healing me. It means He is working supernaturally and beautifully in my heart and life. He is showing me that I need to cling to Him and Him alone in my grief and not to what others think. Not to the way others think I should be grieving or how they expect me to. If I feel really sad one day, ten years out, I'm not going to stress over what others will think about how I'm feeling. And if I'm having a great day this week, this month, I'm not going to stress over wondering if others think I've forgotten Lily or maybe wonder myself if I have. He heals hearts with just a single breath, a single word, so I don't have to feel like I can't move on. If I move on, it doesn't mean I'm forgetting. If I don't have time to blog, it doesn't mean I'm forgetting. I could never forget my babies. They are the reason I am going to be doing much of what I feel called to do for the Kingdom of God for the rest of my days! That is anything but forgetting them! All I desire is to honor and serve the Lord first and foremost and then to honor and remember my children. And I think part of how I can do that is by moving on. But never forgetting. I am who I am because of my two precious children and how God changed my life with theirs. Even if I move on, I will carry them with me as a part of me forever...in my heart, in my words, in my testimony. They will live through me and I will never let their names die. And I won't be afraid of others forgetting because those who truly care never will. And even if people do, I never will and my Jesus never will. For so long, I was seeing through the lens of sorrow and now I am seeing through the lens of beauty and how God has brought beauty from ashes.
A fellow blogger commented on a post recently and I think it perfectly describes life for me now:
My babies have shown me a love I thought was impossible. As long as I live, I will never forget them and I will always talk about them and think about them. I will include them in my day-to-day life and thoughts. I will celebrate that they were here and that they will be forever in Heaven. I will rejoice on the special days that remind me of them especially. They will be with me every step of the way. At the end of the day I have empty arms, memories, and photos of my precious baby girl. But I also have something that a lot of people don't. I have things that some people cannot comprehend because of what I've been through with Luke and Lily. Because of their short, precious lives, I have a testimony. I've learned to slow down and cherish each moment. Things aren't completely better now and never will be until I get to Heaven, they are just different. I am moving on into the endless frontier of what God has for me. Not "pitching my tent stakes" (an awesome analogy that the wonderful Eric Ludy likes to use) ;) in my grief or in where I am in my relationship with Christ, but pressing forward. Onward, upward! Don't pitch your tent, my friends!! I am realizing that my children are a huge part of my story, but not my story.
I think I've been honest and open with my grief and I pray it has given whoever you are that's reading this a glimpse into this grieving mother's heart. I pray it's shown you that God is big enough to meet you wherever you are and that it's okay and healthy to grieve! He doesn't expect us to have a smile on our face all the time because He grieves with us...let me rephrase that. He expects us to have a smile on our heart all the time because of the joy that can only come from Him. Selfishly at times, I want Lily here. My baby died. But this blog is so much more than a blog about a baby that died. This blog is so much more than a blog about loss but is a blog about LIFE! It is a place of hope and healing, not simply sadness. This blog is meant to declare, Jesus is Victor, always! No matter what season in your life you are in, no matter what you are facing, He is greater! What do I have to be sad about? I am blessed, I am honored to have been chosen to be Lily Katherine's mother. Who else knows without a doubt that there baby is in Heaven. Who else knows there child will never know sin and pain, only the beauty of Heaven and the perfect love of Christ! What a supreme honor and blessing! Why would I want Lily here with me when she could be there with HIM!
I plan to continue writing here as long as I need to. I actually was wondering that this week. How long do I plan on keeping up with this blog? And then I realized...as long as I need to. I want to remember every emotion, every thought, every little gift someone gave me and the things that have meant so much to me. All the special things about my children, I want to remember. All the ways I honor them, I want to share. So when I look back at all these things years from now, I will see just how faithful God has been to walk with me through this long journey. I will be able to share my sweet babies with my family, nieces, nephews, cousins, and maybe more children one day in a way that I wouldn't be able to if I don't write down all the details when they are still fresh. I need a place to openly talk about things, so as long as I need this blog, it will remain. And who knows what direction it may take in the future, as I step onward into this journey of living without my babies.
"Weeping may remain for a night, but joy comes in the morning." -Psalm 30:5
(Here's a beautiful song that I feel perfectly describes this journey of grief, healing, and everything I've been through. Be sure to pause the music at the bottom of this blog before listening.)
"Nothing is Wasted"
The hurt that broke your heart and left you trembling in the dark feeling lost and alone will tell you hope’s a lie... But what if every tear you cry will seed the ground where joy will grow? Nothing is wasted, Nothing is wasted, in the hands of our Redeemer, nothing is wasted.
It’s from the deepest wounds that beauty finds a place to bloom, and you will see before the end... that every broken piece is gathered in the heart of Jesus, and what’s lost will be found again. And nothing is wasted, nothing is wasted, in the hands of our Redeemer nothing is wasted.
From the ruins, From the ashes, Beauty will rise!
From the wreckage, From the darkness, Glory will shine!
P.S. How do you like my new blog layout? It has a rose, lily of the valley, and a butterfly to symbolize me, Lily Katherine, and Luke Shiloh. I rather like it :) I also added some songs to my playlist
P.P.S. I know this is super long, so if you got this far, good for you! ;)