Friday, March 16, 2018

Her 8th Birthday

It was 8 years ago today that I gave birth to my beautiful baby girl. 7 pounds 9 ounces and 21 inches.

I didn't give birth to life, but I did give birth to love. A lifetime of love overwhelmed my heart and oozed out in those few hours that I held the precious form that had held her life.

All the months of pregnancy are spent dreaming and planning, culminating in this magical moment of birth. This past Christmas, I read something I shared in my pregnancy journal on Christmas Day 2009. I wrote about the dreams I had for Lily's life... things like how I wanted her to learn to play an instrument from a young age and to love music. I talked about looking forward to being there to help her open her presents the following Christmas. I was thinking about how when you lose a baby, you lose all the hopes and dreams for their life too... even things like the dream of her playing an instrument or the thought of what these simple moments might be like.

But since I read what I wrote again all these years later, I have been thinking about what a GIFT it was to have been able to dream for my baby. The dreams I held for her life have at times felt like they'd crush me because they will never be fulfilled. But I am so thankful for a change of perspective in the years since. Having had the gift of Lily for the months I had her, having dreamed of and for her, loving her with uninhibited devotion, dreaming for her with unhindered delight and with the belief that she'd be coming home with me.... all of that was a GIFT.

And on this day of her birth, I celebrate all those dreams. I celebrate the months I had her. I celebrate the beauty of her and the joy of what her life brought mine.

Those who have not lost a baby might wonder why we would celebrate the day of birth for a baby who didn't live to see one birthday... not even her actual birth day. On Lily's day of birth each year, I am amazed as I recall the full and purposeful life she did indeed live.

A few years ago my aunt gave me a copy of a National Geographic documentary on development and life in the womb. This week I watched it again and it felt almost as if I was watching a home video of Lily's life unfolding. If you want to be astounded by the glory of God and how He intricately knits together baby's in their mother's wombs and if you want a fresh appreciation for the miracle and sanctity of life, then I recommend watching this documentary.

According to what I learned in the documentary, in the 250+ days of pregnancy, Lily could taste, hear, smell, touch, and learn. She was made up of trillions of cells. She could smile, recognize my voice, and even dream! At the moment of conception, her individual unique set of DNA was created, a human signature that never existed before and will never be repeated. Did you know it takes 20-25,000 genes to make a human?! The genes she inherited already predetermined her looks and much of her character, whether she'd be stubborn, intelligent, a thrill seeker, or good at music. She got hiccups and grew dainty eyelashes and tiny fingernails. She heard the competing sounds of our heartbeats, her constant companions. She heard conversations, loud noises, and music. Her brain began creating memories, with her absorbing my voice and recognizing and responding to it. Newborn baby cries apparently already contain some of the rhythms and patterns of their mother's speech! The music she heard over and over (like the Jewel "Lullaby" CD) could even be remembered by her. Her mouth was full of tastebuds and she could already taste and smell the foods I ate through tasting the amniotic fluid surrounding her.

Is there any way to describe the preciousness? The intricacy. The purpose. The beautiful existence of Lily's life in the womb and the lives of all children.

This is a poem I wrote about Lily's full life:

Her secret world
In mama's womb
Safe and sheltered

Sacred, beautiful, awe
Formed by the Almighty
Hidden from all eyes

Though unseen -
Sounds heard...
Music that brings dance...
Voices familiar...
Mama's heart thumping...
Food tasted...
Love felt...

Not a breath
Yet an intricate, extravagant
Purposeful life

Days don't equal worth
Nor accomplishment
But the fingerprint of God

The documentary shares how mothers made the eggs that would one day become their babies when they themselves were nestled in the womb! They are kept in storage through childhood, adolescence and into adulthood, ready to one day burst into life. I have heard this before and it leaves me astounded and amazed each time I do, but this time I was overwhelmed with the beauty of the thought that I have literally carried Lily with me in some way or another for my entire life. As I was growing in my mother's womb, my eggs developed, the eggs that would one day become Lily. And then when she was growing in my womb. After that, some of her cells have literally remained in my body and will forever! Now her heart still beats with each beat of my own and her legacy resides somewhere inside of my own, with our stories and purposes so closely woven together. So as you can see, Lily has always been with me and she always will be.

When you lose a baby, you don't just lose an idea of a person or a potential possibility of a future. You lose a very real would-have-been life and future, full of all the many small and large things that comprise a life. You lose knowing what their hobbies and interests would be, the things that would make them laugh, what college they would have attended, who they would have married, who their children would have been... these things just scratch the surface. The person who is lost before birth is the same person at the core of their being who would've been in 5, 10, 20, 50+ years. All that was needed was time, development, nurturing, and love. Of course we as humans are shaped by our experiences too, yet a massive part of who we are is determined and crafted by our Creator before we are even born. The way we will look as we age is already determined, our personalities, the things we will enjoy and prefer... all of these things are wrapped up in the tiny precious package that is a newborn baby. When this precious life is lost, it's not just an idea that is lost, but the package that was ready to be opened, that suddenly never will be. The contents that were already there are somehow lost, leaving the family with an empty feeling of being somehow gipped and deprived. This package was in your lap ready to be finally opened after shaking it and longing to discover it for 9 months in eager anticipation, then suddenly death steals it back. That's a little bit of what losing a baby feels like.

8 years have now passed since Lily was born and with each year grows the fear of her being forgotten. I have been feeling it especially this birthday. I was reminded of an article I read a few months ago on the Revive Our Hearts blog:

"God has cared for us meticulously from before birth. Psalm 139:13 says, "For You formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother's womb." While our mothers slept, God knit together the intricate patterns of our eyes, ears, noses, mouths, and skin..."

While I was reading an article that had nothing to do with baby loss, these words caused tears to well up in my eyes thinking deeply of my sweet baby girl. Pondering how God created her every perfectly formed detail. Remembering that it is He who crafted her life and legacy. While I slept, He knit her together. Those precious little eyelashes and nails growing out were made by His fingerprint. My body was but a vessel used to house His masterpiece. While I was sleeping... unaware and uninvolved. He showed me that I am to rest in knowing her legacy is the same as her very form... crafted by Him, even while I am unaware and uninvolved. It's not up to me to knit together her legacy any more than it was up to me to knit her together within me. I am merely the vessel. My body was what He used to bring forth her body and now my heart and words are the vessel to bring forth her legacy... even while I sleep... even while she sleeps.

In 8 years of missing and loving Lily I have learned that here's a certain kind of exquisite beauty in enduring love. Love that can't see or touch, yet not only remains, but deepens. Deepens despite the separation of time and even death. When others judge and see someone "not moving on," I see a mother's lasting, enduring, abiding, persisting, continuing, permanent devotion and eternal LOVE. She didn't disappear. She isn't erased. She's just there and I'm here. But I love her just the same and anticipate the time I'll see her again. What kind of mother forgets? What kind of mother has a love that grows cold? Remember that next time judgement crosses your heart towards a bereaved mother and ask yourself not to speak the message that life isn't valuable anymore after death. Allow mothers to treasure life even in death, in many ways even more because of death. God speaks so much about dignity through love after death. Absence is felt because value is first recognized.

A friend of mine said something so beautiful to me recently and I wish I could remember exactly how he phrased it, but it stood out to me and brought me much comfort. He said when I get to Heaven, my tears will dry up and Lily and I will no longer be separated. Not only that, but I will no longer even remember the separation! The pain that the remembrance of these years without her would bring will even be forgotten and washed away.

Revelation 21:4 strengthens the Christian's heart in saying, "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away."

This month I have been a part of a special grief project an art student is doing. One of the questions she asked me is if me/my family holds and perceptions, ideas or imaginations of Lily's personality and what she would've been like.

Lily Katherine is a beautiful mystery. There is so much about her that I wonder... Who would she be? What/who would she look like? What interests would she have? What would her voice sound like? And her laugh? What color would her eyes be? Blue I think. That question haunts me. At times, these things can hurt to think about. If she were here, if I'd delivered her shortly before she was born, before her little heart stopped for no apparent reason, there wouldn't be this giant question-mark on everything her life could have held.

Lily was my little mini-me, strikingly resembling her mommy at birth. At each age she'd be, I am comforted by picturing her looking and acting like I did at that very age. I picture her as the perfect blend of girly-girl and tomboy, seeking adventure and heartily playing outdoors, while also loving to twirl around the living room like a ballet dancer and endlessly playing with her American Girl dolls. I picture her as sweet and gentle as the flower she's named after, while at the same time feisty and courageous. I picture her as hilarious and full of exuberant laughter. I picture her as a lover of babies and cats, and with a soft heart for Jesus, who I'd pray would be her first love always.

My family pictures her this way: "Wild, tough, with a loud voice, a girl who loves to run around barefoot outside and beat up boys, curly hair, hobbit feet (she had big hands and feet like her daddy lol), a button nose, sweet, very compassionate, opinionated, sassy, ambitious, a leader, a southern girl, motherly to her younger siblings and cousins, nurturing."

In many ways, I think we picture Lily in many ways like I was as a girl/still am. After all, she looked so much like me and was the same length and only one ounce less than me at birth! However, she would have also been very different from me... and it's those questions that haunt and hurt. She also would have had many faults, as all humans do, and since she's not here, it's easy to picture her as this perfect and idealized child. In reality, she would have driven us nuts sometimes, but even that is a gift because it indicates life. Even the whiny and bratty sides of kiddos are a treasure when viewed through the right lenses.

Our hearts know each other, reaching across realms, unaltered by the separation of the grave. We are tied together in Christ and nothing separates those found in His love. We may have never locked eyes, never had a conversation back and forth, but our mother-daughter connection is so much more than that. How could it not be? Her bones and flesh grew inside the form that is my bones and flesh. I felt her life. With each gentle or not-so-gentle movement inside of me, with each sound of her heartbeat of dance on the ultrasound machine, it was as if she was telling me all the words she'd never get to say.

I cherish you, my sweet daughter of Heaven... I cherish all you were to me while your heart beat here and all you are to me still.

Here is Lily's song

Thank you to everyone who still cares to read and hear about my baby...

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:

Thursday, March 15, 2018

He Holds All My March 16's

This is something I wrote last year on Lily's Birthday Eve. It remains true today. I updated it to reflect the 8-year-mark.


As I lay here trying to get my thoughts to shut off enough to get some sleep, my mind goes back to this night 8 years ago.

I clearly remember being in that space between awake and slumber and feeling an overwhelming sense of peace. I knew it was from God. I had been feeling nervous about giving birth and wondering how I could handle the physical pain. Never could I have imagined that in the coming hours, physical pain would be the least of my concerns.

As I drifted off to sleep that night, unsure of what was to come, the Lord already knew how it would all unfold. He knew that in just a couple hours, I'd awaken to contractions. He knew that in just a few hours, I'd learn what He already knew from the foundation of the world... that my little girl would slip away. That she wasn't meant to grow up on Earth.

I look back and am encouraged as I remember the peace and comfort that washed over me that night. And on this same night 8 years later, I am strengthened because that same peace and comfort is meeting me right where I am. The God who saw me that night could see me on this night. He holds my heart and my little girl. He holds all my March 16s in His hands.


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Spud Day

Lily Katherine was due on March 14th, 2010 (National Potato Chip Day), so one of her nicknames is "Spud." πŸ˜Œ ❤️ 

Ironically, the food I ate nonstop during my pregnancy were hash browns (I like to think God has a funny sense of humor). I craved them daily and enjoyed them homemade, as well as at all different restaurants. It's only appropriate that we've made eating them a tradition each year on this day, in honor of our little Spud. My favorite way to eat them is with some soft and some crispy. And with ketchup. Delicious!

My friend Naomi wrote Lily's name and nickname in a potato field on Prince Edward Island in the Summer of 2014 because she remembered what it means to me. Wasn't that so cute and thoughtful?

Though Lily was not born on March 14th, it was the day she was due, the date I associated with her my entire pregnancy. I shared that date when people asked how far along I was. So naturally, I still think of her on this date. I thought it sounded like such a pretty day to be due. I always liked even numbers better than odd.

I love having special days/memories/cute stories like this to share with others...because the fact is, I hardly got to make any memories at all with my first-born babe. And things like this remind me that she was real! She was truly here. March helps remind me and others around me that I didn't just lose an idea of a person, but a real, living, important, special precious daughter.

I know due dates mean different things for people who have lost babies. For me, the due date is a special, happy memory because I was still carrying Lily and was oblivious to the fact that she was already gone.

My family now calls this day "Spud Day." :) And my friend Christine called Lily a tater tot, which is adorable!

Look at this sweet 0-3 month baby shirt that my "little" cousin Anna made me for Lily when I was pregnant. It's now in Lily's memory chest. Her initials are on the front. :)

If you like hash browns, today is a great day to eat them in honor of little Lily. I'd love to know if you do. ♥ 


Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Blissfully Unaware

This photo was taken 8 years ago today, the day before my due date. The last picture of me carrying Lily Kat. I can hardly believe I was so big! πŸ’–

It was taken at my friend's baby shower. I met this friend where we were both taking classes at a local pregnancy center. She was due a couple months after I was and now has her healthy daughter here, as well as another daughter. 

I remember being so proud to show off my Lily-belly. It was exciting to say that I was due the very next day! Of course my belly brought lots of attention. I remember how I was glad that I had been able to attend my friend's shower and that Lily hadn't been born yet. 

I remember the sciatica pain and the feeling of floating. It is a sad thing to look back and realize my little girl was already gone when this picture was taken and I had no idea. I was blissfully unaware as to what the next few days would hold and how they would be unlike anything I ever could have imagined.

I remember how that night my sister, her friend, and I ate dinner at Pizza Hut. I loved having the cheese personal pan pizzas during my pregnancy. I remember sitting there, just so full of peace and excitement, thinking of my daughter and knowing I would get to meet her soon. 


Dignity Through Love after Death

There's a certain kind of exquisite beauty in enduring love.

Love that can't see or touch, yet not only remains, but deepens.

Deepens despite the separation of time and even death.

When others judge and see someone "not moving on," I see a mother's lasting, enduring, abiding, persisting, continuing, permanent devotion and eternal LOVE.

She didn't disappear. She isn't erased. She's just there and I'm here. But I love her just the same and anticipate the time I'll see her again.

What kind of mother forgets? What kind of mother has a love that grows cold?

Remember that next time judgement crosses your heart towards a bereaved mother and ask yourself not to speak the message that life isn't valuable anymore after death.

Allow mothers to treasure life even in death, in many ways even more because of death. God speaks so much about dignity through love after death. Absence is felt because value is first recognized. πŸ’•


A Week Before Her Due Date

March 7th

This photo was taken 8 years ago today at my sister's horse show in Hillsborough, NC. March 7th, 2010 was just one week before Lily's due date and 9 days before her birth. ❤️🐴 

This popped up on my Facebook Memories today. I posted this the same day that the photo above was taken. I was eager for Lily to be born... what I didn't realize was those were the last days I'd have her here. I was in Hillsborough, NC and had no idea that in a matter of weeks, my baby girl would be buried in Hillsboro Cemetery in Crozet, VA. Ruby commented on this post and asked to be reminded what her guess was for when Lily would arrive... I reminded her it was March 16th. 


How We Imagine She'd Be

I'm always amazed at how God opens up sweet opportunities to bless my mother heart around Lily's birthday.

An artist currently doing a memorialization project in virtual reality has been reading my blog and asked to include Lily in her project.

One of the questions she has asked me is if me/my family holds and perceptions, ideas or imaginations of Lily's personality and what she would've been like.

When I asked my family this question, it made me smile to hear their responses :) ....

"Wild, tough, with a loud voice, a girl who loves to run around barefoot outside and beat up boys, curly hair, hobbit feet (she had big hands and feet like her daddy lol), a button nose, sweet, very compassionate, opinionated, sassy, ambitious, a leader, a southern girl, motherly to her younger siblings and cousins, nurturing." πŸ’•πŸŒΈπŸ’œ 


Born Still

This beautiful poem captures what I felt in March 8 years ago and in all the days, weeks, months, and years since... oh, my sweet Lily Katherine. To those who've also lost babies to stillbirth, wouldn't you agree? πŸ’•πŸŒΈ


Jammin' in My Belly

March 3rd

8 years ago tonight, Lily was jammin' out in my belly at the Copeland concert in Chapel Hill. I was only 11 days from my due date and 13 days away from Lily's birthday. πŸ˜‹

definitely the only full-term preggo girl there ;)

my mom, sister, and I ready for the concert

Here are some photos of me meeting the band:

My friend Laura had her daughter "A" less than 2 months before Lily was born. We both really like Copeland and both went to see their concert in early March 2010. I found this correspondence between us that makes me smile. I want to document it here on my blog. :)

Me: Guess what! I'm going to the Copeland concert here in NC tomorrow night!! yaay! Thanks for telling me about it!
Laura: lol, you're very welcome. That's so exciting! Let me know how it was. =]
Me: Copeland was AWESOME! I got their autographs and some pictures with them after the show...the other bands were really good too, especially Dias Vail! They're really nice too! I was definitely the only preggo girl there haha. And I told them I just had to see them before Lily came! The drummer said I can tell Lily she's in the picture with them. lol. I said, yeah, I'm definitely raising her on you guys! If you meet them tonight, tell them your pregnant friend that saw them in Chapel Hill last night says hello! haha. My mom and sister enjoyed the show too...Wish we coulda gone with you and Nina, fellow Copeland lovers! You'll have to let me know how the show goes up there. It sold out here. They played a good long time and played most of my favorite songs! They are awesome live. Anyways, you guys have an awesome time tonight! Wish I could go again (but glad I got the chance to see them before they split up!)
Laura: ah! I'm so happy! I'm so glad you guys got to go and that it went so well =]. yay!! omg, please tell me that you did not stand up for that entire show...oh my goodness, I could barely make it last night, more or less when I was nine months pregnant. lol. I couldn't stand up for more than like three minutes when I was late in my pregnancy, lol. Also, we missed that other band you said was really good, sadly. But we did get pictures and autographs and we told him what you said! lol. Nina talked to him about it when we were getting our pictures and he definitely remembered, of course. haha. He said that it was really cool. Okay, well. Anyways, I can't remember what else I wanted to say and/or respond to so I might add more later.
Me: No, I didn't stand for the entire show. We found some pathetic little bench that left my back in agony! lol. You should look up Dias Vail. They are so good and kinda have the same sound as Copeland. I'm glad you had a good time!...I'm so glad you brought me up to the band! haha that's funny. So, yeah...I'm due Sunday. I had an appointment today. Lily's 6 pounds, 14 ounces, according to the ultrasound (not sure how accurate that is). I am going to be induced on March 18th, if she doesn't come before then. But, I have a feeling she will. I'm pretty miserable physically and am having all these changes, so I'm just waiting. But, I hope she holds off 'til Sunday so I can go to my friend's baby shower Saturday! ha

Reading this now hurts my heart a little bit, knowing everything I know now... Knowing that if she had been born earlier than I had hoped for, she might be here. Knowing that I was correct in thinking she would arrive before the 18th. Thinking of how perfect and healthy she was until suddenly she wasn't.


Monday, March 12, 2018

"Moments" the Day She Slipped Away

I originally shared this on this date in 2012... πŸ’•

Today, March 12th, is the date I had guessed Lily would be born, when really it's the day I now believe she was born into Heaven. My doctor said she had been gone some days when I delivered her. March 12, 2010 was the last day I remember feeling her kick and squirm. The next day was when the sciatica pain started and it felt as if she was floating around in my stomach. It was such a strange feeling and I still remember it so did I not know it wasn't normal? How did I not know she was gone?

In my mind, I keep replaying her last moments. When was the moment she left my womb and opened her eyes to Heaven, to beauty? That's all she's ever known. My love and the perfect love of Father God and the tender care of His perfect Son. Did she know she was beholding her Creator when she first opened her eyes?

One moment she was here and the next she was gone. At what exact moment did she slip away and I not even know it? My babe, still in my womb, yet with the Lord. I awaited her arrival, not realizing she was already waiting for me in the Kingdom. Did it happen when I was sleeping? Was I talking and laughing, oblivious to the fact that in that moment my little girl was cradled in the arms of sweet Jesus?

Did she feel any pain? Did she go in her sleep? Did she go in my sleep? I told my brother recently that I wonder if she died during the night when I was lying a certain way. Maybe she was on her cord and cut off her life-supply. What if one movement of my own ended her life and changed the rest of mine? That's a difficult question. But I cling to knowing and trusting that God is sovereign and greater than medical explanations. I believe my little girl was meant to be my daughter of Heaven.

In the moment before she slipped away, did she know she was about to go? Did I somehow know too and now I just can't recall it? Was there a sadness somewhere deep within her, knowing she was never to see my face? Maybe she somehow knew the purposes God sent her for and that they'd already been fulfilled. Maybe she knew she'd never get to live and play and twirl and swirl here on Earth, so she was ready to go...

At times, if I think too much about all this, it makes me heart incredibly heavy and saddened. Maybe it sounds strange though that more than saddened, it makes my heart sing with thankfulness and joy! He chose me to carry her, a set-apart princess, betrothed to the King before her birth. We're both in the center of His perfect will. There is no other place I'd rather be. What peace and joy comes in knowing my daughter gets to spend her life basking in God's glory! She will never know sin and sorrow, she will never be tainted by this world. She is pure and innocent always, my sweet Lily Katherine.

Today, the day that marks 7 years since she lived on Earth, I can almost hear her whisper to my heart... Mommy, I am more alive here than I ever was there! I will see your face one day and you will gaze into my eyes. I am your daughter of Heaven and I am twirling and swirling and doing all that little girls do, here on streets of gold, here where there is such beauty your Earthly mind could not ever imagine or comprehend. I can't wait for you to see Jesus face-to-face too. He tells me all about you! I'm cheering you on, mommy!! I'm so proud of you for being my voice, Luke's voice, and the voice of other mommies and babies. Keep clinging to Him, for the time is coming soon when we'll be together for all Eternity...

(Email subscribers click HERE to listen).

A few years ago on this exact date, I stumbled upon a song that I know Jesus led me to, as a gift of hope on the anniversary of the day Lily Katherine went HOME to be with Him forever, in the place where she waits for me. It reminds me of the words He put on my heart that you just read above.

Here are the lyrics:

I was awakened last night.
To the sound of dancing feet above me.
I thought they were on my roof.
'Til it struck me – they were on golden streets.

Opened my eyes and saw
What I thought was an angel dancing.
She was a perfect child.
She looked at me and smiled – and sang this song.

“Mama can you hear me?
Daddy can you feel me?
I’m made whole.
I’m at home.
I’m dancing on streets of gold.
Don’t stop holding on.”

Her hair was golden
like it was woven from the streets she danced upon.
She was laughing and spinning.
She couldn’t stop singing this song.

“Mama can you hear me?
Daddy can you feel me?
I’m made whole.
I’m at home.
I’m dancing on streets of gold.
Don’t stop holding on.”

This is Amy’s Song
This is Amy’s Song.
From her streets of gold
She is singing you a song.
Singing you a song.
Don’t stop holding on.

Can you see her at His throne
With her hair of gold?
She is holding – holding on
To the threads of His robe.
She is singing you a song
She is singing you a song
She is singing you a song of hope.

“Hope is being born in you
Hope is being woven.
Hope is being born in you
Hope is coming.
Don’t stop holding on.”

(Email subscribers click HERE to listen).


Sunday, March 11, 2018

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...


Thursday, March 8, 2018

International Women's Day

Today is International Women's Day. I celebrate all the good gifts of being made a female. We are equal to men. We are also different. Equal doesn't mean the same. We are uniquely designed by God to compliment each other.

One of the things that makes being a female such an incredible honor and privilege is our ability to carry and nurture LIFE!

A man will never know what it is like to feel a baby's sweet movement in the womb. I have experienced that and it is one of the most incredible things in the world!

We as women can be strong enough to choose life and to reject the notion that we are too weak to be mothers alongside fulfilling other dreams. Why anyways does being a mother have to be seen as less than?

It is a sacred honor to have our lives and bodies transformed because of the life of another.

Today I was reminded of something I wrote a few years back:

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. ❤️


Thursday, March 1, 2018

What March Means to Me

This is a post I originally wrote and shared in 2012...

March never meant much of anything to me. I always thought of it as one of the boring, winter months that you must endure to arrive at beautiful spring and summer. All that changed for me in 2010, when my precious March girl was in my arms and just as quickly, she was gone...

March is marked by a sacredness. It holds the memory of a little flower that danced into my heart and left me changed forever. When it comes, all the March memories of 2010 come flooding back. The rest of the year, I catch myself wondering if I somehow dreamed all this up. For everything around me is the same as it was before Lily was here. That's how it is with infant loss. You don't have the reminders that this person was indeed real, as you have when others pass away. People seem to easily move on and forget you, your baby, and your grief. All that I have are the memories of her alive inside me, along with the keepsakes I cling to and cherish above all else. The footprints, handprints, lock of hair, photos. When it gets hard to believe she was really even here, I open that memory chest that's just for her and I hold those tangible realities that say, yes, Lily Katherine was a real, important, special someone.

As March makes it's entrance once again on the calendar, it becomes much easier to believe she was real. The bittersweet feelings envelope me. The veil of sadness returns. My body even feels it. The memories of the first half of March 2010, full of happiness and anticipation. The memories of the second half of March 2010, full of shock, heartbreak, and tears.

March will never be just another month for me. It will remind me of my firstborn babe, the babe I never fully got to know. The babe I will always wonder what might she be like this March, as we approach her birthday. Whether she be almost 5, 10, or 25. Would she have her own flower, her own babe in her arms this year, 20 years from now, to celebrate with us? Each year, as March rolls around, it will mark another year that she wasn't here. Another year she wasn't growing and laughing and loving and a part of the family. Another year I've had to live without her.

March, the saddest, yet most beautiful month I know. It will always make me sorrowful, wondering who she would have become, yet it will always bring me joy, knowing that she was and will forever be in my heart. Though she's not a part of the family in the way I wanted, she is still a part of each and every day, for she is etched into the very fabric of our lives.

In her book "Shades of Blue," Karen Kingsbury describes a character, who was grieving a baby she lost a decade earlier, in such a way that it felt like she was writing about me:

"Her life had moved on, and she tried her best to live in the moment. But their baby remained in the shadows, a constant presence, there in Emma's mind the way the date or day of the week was there. She didn't go through the hours reminding herself constantly that this was Friday. It simply was Friday. And that fact stayed subtly with her, coloring the background of everything else about the day. It was like that with their baby." 

Losing Lily and loving Lily colors every moment of my every day. Though I don't think of her nonstop, she is always there, in the back of my mind, in the midst of everything. March makes it even easier to remember and miss her. My mom said just as her four living children are always in her thoughts, it is only natural for me as a mother to have my child in my thoughts. Just because she isn't here doesn't change that mother's love.

I'm not going to pretend I don't desperately wish she was here to celebrate her almost 8th birthday. I wish we were planning a special party, full of only smiles and happy tears. Instead, I will celebrate her birthday with family and friends. We will smile and we will cry, both tears of joy and sadness. For her special day, she will be in the forefront of my heart and mind. For her special month, she won't be far off from my thoughts. No other child could ever replace her. My little flower will remain in the shadows of my heart until the day we reunite in Eternity...

"A moment in our arms, a lifetime in our hearts." πŸ’•


Lily Remembered in British Columbia

Sweet Lily's name in the snow from April in Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada! ❄️❤️❄️ 


A Headstone for Her Baby

A sweet mama whose waited 26 years to decide upon a headstone for her stillborn daughter told me I helped her make up her mind with my blog posts sharing Lily's stone and ideas and suggestions for others who are having to make these difficult decisions. With tears she thanked me.

And with tears I am thankful to hear this. Thankful to hear in another way that my beautiful girl's legacy continues to expand in ways I could never dream.

My beautiful March flower who came and went in March 8 years ago.

It's difficult to believe that in a couple days, it'll be March again.

I don't want to wake up on April 1st and feel like March passed by and Lily was forgotten. I dread the thought of her being forgotten.

Even if it's just my family who remembers, I know we always will. We will ALWAYS celebrate Lily and the unique place she holds in our hearts and family tree. My family is already planning on coming to visit me for Lily's birthday weekend and just knowing they love her alongside me is a reminder that I don't miss her alone.

We will eat red-velvet and hashbrowns. We will visit Lily's special spot and take her fresh flowers. We will look at her scrapbook and admire her prints and lock of hair. We will go out to eat. All the traditions we've grown to expect and appreciate in all the Marches since 2010. And we'll make some new memories this year too.

This comment from this mother came at just the right time and was a sweet reminder that Lily is still impacting hearts and lives, even when I cannot see it.

The breadth of her legacy cannot be measured by comments or gifts given. It cannot be measured at all because only God knows how far and wide it expands. But it sure is a gift for my heart to get these reminders. #LilyKats8thBirthday

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