Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Lily's "Priceless Images" Drawing

This is my beautiful Lily Katherine drawn by "Priceless Images." He generously draws them as a gift for parents who've lost a child. I've been on a wait list since last March. You can find his page on Facebook if you're interested. I'm planning on keeping mine in Lily's scrapbook. πŸ’•

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Lily Remembered at Ocean Beach

Lily was honored by Tamberly at Ocean Beach in San Diego, California. Her sweet daughter Esther, who was stillborn, just had her 10th birthday this past weekend. ❤️ 🌊 ☀️ 🐚 🐬 🐳 🐟 🐠 🐒 

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Rocking Sweet Lily

This is a photo of Lily I can't remember sharing before.

It was several hours after birth and she had already changed so much physically by this point, so she didn't really look like herself. I think that's why I haven't shared it.

But now I am because I have so few photos and she is beautiful still. And this captures the one and only time I'd ever rock and sing to her. A priceless mother-daughter moment. ❤️  

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Summertime Missin' You

Lily girl πŸ’• ~ I wish you could be here.

To have come to see your mommy in her play last week.

To spend afternoons at the pool. To go to the park and museum, and all the other fun summertime things kids are enjoying.

It doesn't have to a special holiday or occasion for me to feel the ache of your absence. Sometimes it's the day-to-day mundane moments when I simply just wish I could grab your hand, hear your laugh, and for you to be a part of the memory making.

I read an article that said studies show when a mother sleeps on her back in her 3rd trimester, it increases the risk of stillbirth. I can barely stand the thought that I'm missing out on a lifetime of summers with you potentially because of one time unknowingly rolling over onto my back during sleep.

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Monday, June 19, 2017

Lily Remembered at Emerald Isle

Lily Kat was thought of by Kaitlin at Emerald Isle, North Carolina (one of my favorite beaches!). She said she couldn't pass up the chance to put Lily's name in the sand. I love that she wrote Lily Kat. ❤️ πŸ˜Š 🌊 ☀️ 🐚 🐳 🐬 🐠 🐟 🐒 

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"Watching Over You"

"Songwriter John Dolan wrote this song "Watching Over You (Brianna's Song)" <--- {click link to listen} in honor of his niece, Brianna. He felt inspired to write this song in 1999 when Brianna was miscarried. Dolan hopes it can bring comfort to families who have suffered a similar loss."

(Brianna's Song)

You never got to dress me up
in ribbons, bows and lace
Never got to hear me laugh
Or see my smiling face
Never got to brush my hair
Or wash between my toes
Why I had to leave so soon
Only Heaven knows

You never got to hear me cry
Or wipe away my tears
You never got to watch me grow
Or silence all my fears
You never got to see me walk
Or fall and scrape my knee
Heaven knows that sometimes
Things aren't meant to be

Heaven knows I love you
Heaven knows you love me too
I know you did everything
There was for you to do
Don't you worry mommy, daddy
We'll be together soon
I'm looking down from Heaven
And I'm watching over you
I'm waiting here in Heaven
And I'm watching over you

Never got to hear me laugh
Never got to hear me cry
Never got to say hello
Never got to say goodbye

Don't you worry mommy, daddy
We'll be together soon
I'm looking down from Heaven
And I'm watching over you
I'm waiting here in Heaven
And I'm watching over you

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Sunday, June 18, 2017

Lily Remembered on the Outer Banks

Lily was remembered by Josiah in Avon, North Carolina on the Outer Banks. πŸ˜Š 🌊 ☀️ 🐚 🐳 🐬 🐠 🐟 🐒 

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Father's Day

Father's Day makes me think about all that Lily's father is missing out on with her. Talk of a local father-daughter dance has been swirling around and how it aches each time I hear of it.

Lily's daddy's love for his daughter, as well as his anguish over losing her, are both clearly written on his face in this picture. πŸ’”

Lily's hands with her daddy's... she had his hands and feet.

They will always be a part of each other.

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Happy Birthday, Aunt Rachel

My Aunt Rachel Ross would have turned 52 on June 14th. She was born on June 14, 1965. June 14th is Flag Day and Rachel was given the middle name Ross partly after Betsy Ross, who sewed the American flag.

Sadly, Rachel only lived for three months outside of the womb. She died on the operating table at UVA on September 10, 1965 as her doctor attempted to save her tiny, deformed heart.

Rachel was the seventh child of my grandparents, James Kirk and Nancy Virginia Bain. My mom is the eldest of the seven and was nine when Rachel passed, so she clearly remembers that time and has shared her memories with me. She even has a diary she wrote in then. This is the only family picture of all nine of them (baby Rachel in my grandmother's arms and my mom is in the back with the glasses). They are standing in front of Holy Comforter Catholic Church in our home area of Charlottesville, Virginia on the day of Rachel's Christening.

My grandmother attended Compassionate Friends meetings and events until the time of her death at 85-years-old. We had the indescribable bond of knowing what it's like to have a daughter in Heaven. We were always close, but Lily and Rachel brought us closer. Even when I was a young teen, before I ever knew I'd lose my own child, I would go to CF meetings with my Bumma. I see now how God was preparing me for a future only He could see.

My mom said one of the few times she saw my grandfather cry was when Rachel died. Bumma was so brave in how she'd always correct anyone when they mentioned her "six children." She had SEVEN, even if one lived in Heaven.

Each year, I remember my Aunt Rachel on her birthday. Her absence has left a hole in my family. We will always miss her and wonder who she would have become and what other cousins I might have had. I'll always love her and hope future generations will speak of and remember Lily the way I do Rachel.

I usually send a gift to my Bumma on Rachel's birthday. I had already started thinking about what I could get this year. It meant a lot to me to honor Rachel with Bumma. Now Bumma has been with her little girl for two months. This is the first birthday she's getting to spend with her baby! I'm so happy for them both. But it sure is weird to not be able to call Bumma on this day.

You can read more about my Aunt Rachel in a blog post I wrote by clicking HEREπŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ ❤️ πŸŽ‚ 🎈

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Lily's Summer Spot

I was recently able to decorate my sweet girl's special spot for Summer. I tidied up her stone and the weeds around it (Bumma used to get exasperated and say it was "grass" not "weeds" as I'd get upset that it grew so fast and much.. too funny!). The white lilies and little angel statue that my friend Kristen left for Lily are still in good shape from her birthday. I got the new monogrammed "L" flag from Kirkland's! It's one of my favorite flags I've found. I love the Laurel on it, and especially the little bow. πŸŒΏ πŸ’•  

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Lily Remembered at Johns Island

My friend Teresa thought of Lily at Beachwalk on Johns Island in South Carolina. This was her very first visit to the beach! πŸ˜„

When she sent this photo, she wrote the sweetest message along with it: "I was so happy to be able to remember your precious girl when I was at the beach and share your story with those who were with me. Lots of love." ❤️ 🌊 ☀️ 🐚 🐳 🐬 🐟 🐠 🐒 

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No Footprint Too Small

My friend Hannah sent me this. πŸ’•

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Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Smallest Coffins

This quote speaks for itself. It's amazing how so few words can speak so much.

I remember seeing Lily's tiny white coffin and thinking how strange it was that they even have to make them that small. Seems so unnatural. Shouldn't coffins be used for people who have lived long and full lives, with children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren?? Not for babies who never took a single breath.

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Lily Love

My friend Hannah sent me this, using Lily Kat's footprints. πŸ˜ πŸ˜„ πŸ’• πŸŽ€ 

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Stillborn, Still Loved

My new friend Hannah made me this. πŸ’•

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Thursday, June 8, 2017

On Newborn Baby Cries

When you've gone to term in pregnancy and didn't hear your baby's cry, it does something to your soul when you hear other babies cry... ❤️

New life emerging
Is there a more beautiful sound
Gasping, drawing that first breath
A tiny babe's voice is found

Knife to my heart
Sound of a newborn's cry
Sweetness contradicted
In the pain of why

By silence and stillness
Soul-piercing, heart-wrenching
Like a perpetual illness

Her perfect heart stopped beating
Catapulting me into this world
A world of forever silence
Dreams for her life unfurled

Her new life emerged
Somehow already having ended
A grieving mother emerged
Previous self apprehended

Silence somehow screams
Resounding through the years
Reminder of life that slipped away
Echoing silent tears

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Monday, June 5, 2017

Lily Remembered at Umhlanga Beach

My friend Bianca's sweet daughter wrote Lily's name in the sand in Durban, South Africa at Umhlanga Beach, which is famous for its incredible beauty, lighthouse, rock pools and the Oyster Box hotel. The connection Bianca and I have with our girls is quite special. Her daughter is also named Lily and was born on March 14th, my Lily's due date and 2 days before her birthday. It's fun to see a photo of L.K.'s name actually being written. πŸ˜Š ❤️ 🌊 ☀️ 🐚 🐳 🐬 🐟 🐠 🐒

This post left me:

It All Started with Those Two Lines in June

Eight years ago this June
Your life within me began
Summer came and with it came you

I was 19 when those two blue lines
Changed my entire life
Telling me you were mine

Afraid of what was to come
Still feeling so young,
At first I wanted to run

Like a delicate bloom,
Slowly opening in Spring
In my heart, for you He made room

As my belly grew
Throughout those months
So, my darling, did my love for you

Eight years
You whispered "hello" and "goodbye"
I am left with missing-you-tears

That positive pregnancy test
Something so small changed it all
With your life, I have truly been blessed

I ache with missing, my dear
But I smile with such joy
I am so thankful God sent you here

That positive sign too soon
Turned to words etched in stone...
It all started with those two lines in June... ❤️

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"Return to Zero" on Netflix

The powerful movie "Return to Zero" about stillbirth is now on Netflix! I'm glad more people will be able to see it. My sweet Lily's name is in the credits! ❤️

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Sunday, June 4, 2017

Even When He Doesn't Do What We'd Define as Good

Mothering my Lily-girl looks like tidying her grave and getting new decorations for each holiday and fresh season. It looks like sharing her story at banquets and churches. It looks like creating things, like scrapbooks and a garden. It looks like purchasing or being gifted things that are reminders of her. It looks like candlelight ceremonies, butterfly releases, and remembrance walks. It looks like her name in the sand all over the world from friends, family, acquaintances, and strangers. It looks like projects and remembering other babies in her honor. It looks like putting together comfort boxes, attending funerals for babies, editing photos for parents who've lost their babies, emailing, texting, and talking on the phone with other mamas missing their babies.

I find purpose and healing and joy in all these things. I find connection with Lily and feel Jesus smiling as I learn to comfort others with the comfort I have received. I find honor in being called to treasure life and speak about the sanctity of life in all these ways. And more than anything, I love Lily and most especially Jesus in all these things. I never want to stop... but honestly my heart feels a little weary some days more than others.

After all these years, I'm usually rather content with my "relationship" with Lily now and the ways I mother her. But some days, like today, my heart longs to mother more than a grave and legacy.

7+ years feels like it should have been enough time for God to teach me whatever it is I need to learn in order to be "ready" for marriage and more babies I get to bring home from the hospital. It's hard to hear of others getting married and having children and rainbow babies who are much younger than me and have not waited as I have. It's difficult to not compare and doubt, to not feel like there's something especially wrong with me that is taking God longer to work on than others. This is such a warped way of thinking. We.... I... must reframe my thoughts and heart and realize that we are given good gifts not because of some merit or worthiness or our own, and these gifts are not withheld because of some lack of our own.

There isn't a "destination" that I am failing to arrive at in order for God to finally give me these things. I am not lacking. I am not failing. These are all gifts, freely given by the good gift-giver.

Don't these lies creep into our hearts and penetrate our thoughts so sneakily? We must be on guard and continue holding our all out to Jesus with open hands and a surrendered heart, full of trust. We cannot see and understand everything He is doing and the "why" behind it. There's no way we can figure Him out. He is good even when He isn't doing what I would define as good. He knows what He's doing even when I think His glory would be best displayed by writing my story a certain way, a different way.

I can continue living a full and purposeful life, even if it is not like anything I would have chosen. Even if i never mother another child here on Earth, my child waits for me in the Kingdom of Heaven, and that is more than I could ever deserve.

I am reminded of something I shared about a year ago... re-reading it is a blessing and encouragement to my heart, so I want to share it again...

At just the right time, the Lord brought me across a video testimony that has encouraged me, built up my faith, and left me in a puddle of hopeful tears. Watch the video below (email subscribers click here). I'll share my thoughts below the video.

Although our stories are different, many of the things they shared in the video are things I can relate to and feelings I'm wrestling with. Their story ministered directly to my heart.

The gist of the story is this couple grows up together, even living across the pasture from each other part of their childhoods. The husband is older than the wife, so as they are growing up, he thought she was a squirt and she always thought to herself that one day she'd want to marry someone like him. Little did she know, one day the Lord would bring them together as husband and wife.

When he was 12 years old, God gave him a vision of a little girl with dark skin and eyes. He showed him that this was going to be his daughter and her name would be Chloe. He kept this tucked away in his heart for years. He had assumed that he'd marry someone with a dark complexion.

One day they are sharing their hopes and dreams with one another and she tells him that she already has a name picked out for a hoped-for daughter... Chloe.

When they were married, they decided they were ready to have children. Only, they couldn't conceive for 4 1/2 years, which was understandably extremely painful for them. She put into words something that I too am feeling right now, but didn't even realize it until I heard her speak the words. She said as they were longing for a baby and not getting pregnant, she struggled with questioning God's goodness because she felt like it was such a mean thing to do, for God to withhold children. She wondered if God is good even when He's not doing things that she would define as good? I am not dealing with infertility, but I am weary from all these years of missing Lily and all these years of praying for a godly husband and the circumstances where I am able to have another baby. I must confess that it feels like God is being mean to me and treating me differently than His other children. He took my daughter away from me and is leaving me isolated and lonely. In my mind, it seems that His goodness would be displayed by writing a story of redemption, in bringing me together with a husband and having children to raise in the ways of the Lord.

They were talking about their hopes and dreams for the future and she said she felt like God made her to be a mother, that was her dream... They prayed that God would take the desire away if they weren't meant to be parents, but instead it seemed to only grow stronger. That is my dream too and I wonder, why won't God take this dream away if I am not meant to mother a child on Earth? The ache and longing almost feels too much to bear at times.

All their friends were having kids and she "had to just wait and put on this cheesy, fake smile and say we're happy for you." Each time they'd hear of someone getting pregnant, they would be devastated and think they were "fools who want kids and it's never going to happen." Oh man, can I relate to this. Literally day in and day out, I am surrounded by so many people getting into relationships, getting engaged, getting married, getting pregnant, having babies, having more babies... and I feel like I have to put on this cheesy smile and say I am happy for them. Now don't get me wrong, I truly am happy for those who have these gifts. But it hurts so badly wondering why God won't give me these good gifts too. Am I a fool who thinks I'll have a family of my own one day? Each time I see another person close to a decade younger than me in a relationship or someone who announces they are pregnant with their "rainbow" (a baby born after a loss) though I am many years further out from losing Lily, I can't describe the ache. I literally have to "unfollow" people because it just is a bitter reminder of what I am missing out on each time I see their photos and updates.

The Lord led them to pursue adoption (though the father was adamantly against it at first) and they got an email that a birth mother had chosen them to adopt her baby. Get this, the little girl was due in March 2010, when Lily was due and born. They went to meet the birth mother and she shared that before she even knew the gender, she had been calling the baby... Chloe. God had given that name to all three of them. It is precious to see the actual video footage documenting that time in their lives. Hearing this reminds me of how the Lord spoke so clearly to my heart very early in my pregnancy that my baby was a girl and her name was Lily. He so evidently knows our babies by name and has a plan and purpose for their lives.

She shared during their years of infertility and longing for a baby that God shifted her perspective and she realized she could live a full and happy life and be satisfied in the deepest way a human can be satisfied, even without having a child. I am praying that the Lord will give me the peace and contentment in knowing that I too can be fully satisfied and live a beautiful life, even if I never get married or have another baby. It's a painful possibility to even consider, but I know that it's true that my fulfillment comes in Christ alone.

These are some things spoken in the video that deeply touched my heart... After the Lord led them to adopt Chloe: "This surreal presence of God was all around us and I felt Him saying to me, 'see how much I love you? Do you see this, do you see what I've done? I've been writing this story. You had no idea. I've been writing this story for years, since Walt was a kid, I've been writing it.' I realized how foolish I was, how my perspective was so skewed in my own pain that what I saw as Him not loving me was in fact Him being the most loving He could have been.... It was like He was whispering to me in that moment, 'I've been here this whole time. You didn't know, but I've been here this whole time. I've been walking this thing with you and I was just saying, 'trust Me, trust Me, trust Me.' I've got something good up ahead."

"It's a constant struggle to just sit in His sovereignty and when everything is falling apart in your mind, just to wait.... He doesn't leave anything to chance. It's not random."

"I think God is just incredible. I think it's incredible the way He flung the stars into space and that same God, the same God who keeps the world from falling apart, He loves me, with or without us ever having a child. That's what He's taught me through this. He loves me and I can be so secure in that love. To be able to trust that and rest in that is the greatest gift."

Their words and story are a reminder to trust my Father's plan for my life. He walks with me. He is writing my story, even when I don't see Him doing so. My perspective is skewed by my pain, but I know He is still there. He is asking me to trust Him. I am to wait. Every small detail is in His hands. As the saying goes, "hindsight is 20/20." I believe one day I will look back and clearly see God's fingerprint on each season of my life, in everything.

This Scripture has been resounding in my heart and mind lately, like the Lord just keeps planting it there, showing me that I can trust Him...

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." -Isaiah 55:8-9

It is comforting to meditate upon this truth, that my God knows what He is doing. I can only see my immediate circumstances and concerns, but He sees the entire picture, my entire life. Even though I don't always understand what He's doing or why, I know I can trust Him. He is in absolute control over everything that touches my life.

Please pray for me at this time, that I will keep turning to the Lord and not give into listening to the doubts and discouragement that the enemy keeps whispering in my ear.

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Thursday, June 1, 2017

Marks of Motherhood

I inwardly (and sometimes outwardly) grumble and complain about how my body changed after carrying Lily. I was once a fit and toned athlete. Then came Lily. Much of the time, I don't like how my body changed. I have the body of a mother whose carried a 7 pound 9 ounce 21 inch child to term, but no child here to show as the fruit of those months of nurturing and protection.

I'm trying to look at the changes to my body through different lenses. This body carried her all of her life. This body was my beautiful girl's only home before her Eternal Home. And it was her budding life that caused my widened hips and stretch marks. It was wonderful Lily, so how could I be upset about the changes? They silently speak that she was here. She was real. Each mark is a remembrance of my obedience to the Lord, in choosing life for my unborn child and not allowing shallow or fleeting concerns to govern choices that not only would impact me forever, but also the life of an innocent child.

Even how my body has changed from pregnancy is a reminder not to be overly concerned about things that are actually quite insignificant. I changed and grew so much (no pun intended) through the entire experience of my unplanned pregnancy and losing Lily. Embracing her life was a sacrifice of love.

I want the culture to recognize that a postpartum body is beautiful because WOW, women carry babies made in the image of God! The marks that come from such an awe-inspiring gift from above are nothing to be ashamed of. I want other young women faced with an unplanned pregnancy to realize that yes, their body might change, but it is not something to run and hide from, but rather a mark of life, honor, beauty, and sacrifice. The mark of motherhood. And our babies are worth every mark, every pound and inch gained, every change to our bodies and lives... no matter what happens. ❤️

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