Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Feeling Sad

I thought I was doing pretty well. In fact, the 19th almost passed without me noticing that it was 5 months since Chloe was delivered. I think I was so focused on my due date that the 19th almost seemed like any other day.

Then at church on Sunday, the tears just started flowing. And flowing. And flowing. It was good to have the release. I've been so busy, when I finally slowed down long enough the sadness and loss came flowing out.

There was a little baby in a stroller sitting behind us. It reminded me that if things had happened the way that we had planned, that I wouldn't even be sitting in that seat. I would be in the cry room with my baby in my arms. I would be tired from lack of sleep. I would be captivated by the little bundle of life that I have always wanted. I would be dreaming of prom night, wedding days, and grandchildren - even though my daughter wouldn't even be one month old yet. I would have endless hopes and dreams for the future and all that it holds for my baby girl.

Things didn't work out quite like I had planned. And that makes me really sad. That sentence seems insufficient in truly explaining how sad I feel. And yet, they are the only words that come to mind.

I feel the loss in a different way not that my due date has passed. Now it feels real. Now I can tell how different life is without Chloe.

Being pregnant wasn't what I wanted most. I wanted to be a mommy. I wanted to love and raise a precious little child into a wonderful adult. I know that opportunity will be here again. I'm just sad that it isn't happening now, with Chloe.

Last week I was shopping in Target and for the first time, when I noticed the cute baby clothes, I didn't avert my eyes and try to change the subject in my mind. Instead, I looked at the clothes with confidence, faith and belief that I will have a healthy baby and be the mommy that I've always dreamed of being. Although I'm not shopping for those baby clothes right now, I will be some day - hopefully next year. It may not seem like a big deal, but it was a big deal for me. To deeply feel that the promise of a healthy child would be in our near future.

I have been encouraged by so many women who have spoken words of hope, faith, love and comfort to me. After we received the diagnosis, those words sustained me when I felt too weak to keep it together. I feel like today I'm hanging on those promises again. With grief their are good days and bad days - it is all part of the process. Today is one of the bad days.

I'm so thankful that so many of you take the time to read this blog and encourage me on the bad days. God bless you for that!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Due Date - September 4

Thank you to everyone who has prayed, emailed, posted, called and sent us words of loving comfort and support regarding our due date. Your prayers were answered and we were able to remember and honor Chloe's life in special ways. Thank you for blessing us.

Thank you also for your prayers for Kenzie and Faith Clare. They were discharged after a week of challenges, but both are doing well. They are both fighters - Hurricane Ike is their next challenge. Your continued prayers for protection - physical, mental, spiritual and good health are appreciated.

It has taken me over a week to sit down to write the post about my due date. I remember the first days and weeks after we received the fatal diagnosis and after Chloe passed. I wanted to post, to connect, to reach out, to unload my thoughts and feelings, but I was simply overwhelmed with emotion to the point that I felt numb and didn't know what to say.

It has been different this week. I have had tons of thoughts, experiences and feelings to share, but for some reason sitting down to write them (look at them) is difficult. It is hard. It is painful at times. It is raw. It is real. I also recognize, thank you God, that it is getting easier and the dark moments are far less dark and far less frequent. The road of grief has many ups and downs, but when we actually walk it, instead of staying stuck, our life does become richer, our hearts are more tender and we are more aware of what really matters in life.

This post would be ridiculously long if I told you all about our last week, so let me try to give you the highlights. I knew I didn't want to be at work on Sep. 4. It would be too much pressure, I would be uncertain and nervous about what emotions might come spilling out in the workplace, and I had a feeling I wouldn't be motivated or productive. It was best to avoid putting that much pressure on myself, so Jose' and I both took the day off. We took the whole week off - as I write this, we are in San Diego on our California Road Trip.

Thursday morning, Sep. 4 I knew exactly what would comfort my heart. A bike ride and walk on the beach - Chloe's beach where we went the day we found out her heartbeat was gone. Breakfasts at Cappy's - the restaurant we went to that morning. A quiet, no pressure, no deadline, no To Do List kind of a day. It was a beautiful day. Blue skies, bright sun, crisp but not cold, absolutely gorgeous.

As we rode our bikes out of our neighborhood I thought, "Thank you for this day, Lord."


Did that thought really just come out of my head?


Don't I remember what today is?

Today is the day that I was supposed to be delivering my baby girl, it was going to be a "Labor Day, Labor Day." But instead it wasn't and nothing was going to change that reality. She had already been delivered. On April 19 - 5 months too early.

The question caught me off guard completely. I think I actually looked around, as if to see if someone else said it. But it wasn't someone else. That was my thought.

The answer was, "yes." I am thankful for September 4. My life has changed more because of what happened on April 19, than it would have it things went as planned on September 4. Things are certainly different. And not anything like I had planned. But I am thankful for many things throughout this journey.

I'm thankful we had Chloe. That we were pregnant with her. That we chose to deliver her. That we named her - and what her name means. That we were able to hold her. For the people we met along the way who have become heart friends. For the people who were acquaintances, but are now heart friends. For the way we have been changed forever because of a little girl that weighed only ounces. Her impact has been much bigger and heavier and more meaningful than we could have ever known. I am so proud of her. I am so proud of the legacy she has left. I am thankful that I was chosen to be her mommy. Even if just for a short time.

I'm thankful she is safe, whole and healthy in Heaven. I'm thankful that I'll see her again. I'm thankful that she is spending countless hours filled with love and laughter with Jesus, my mom and so many other precious people in Heaven.

I'm thankful that I have hope that she will have a brother or sister (or both) on Earth some day (next year, fingers crossed).

I'm thankful that September 4 reminded me of all the things that I'm thankful for. Because the list is long. Even though the list of loss and pain is also long. I choose to focus on the list of the blessings in my life. It doesn't make the loss list any less painful, but it sure makes it more bearable when I focus on what I do have instead of what I have lost.

That were several things that I did to make the day special. It may seem really strange, but they were comforting to my heart. The bike ride and breakfast were part of it.

For those of you who know me, you know that I practically wear flip flops 365 days a year. At our wedding, I had a basket of bright pink flip flops for the ladies to wear while they danced. There was one extra pair left at the end of the night - just my size. I took them home and have had them in the closet, brand new, for 3 years. I wore them on September 4 for our bike ride to the beach. It made my heart warm. I suppose it was a symbolic way for me to connect us to Chloe - to bring her into the highlights of our life, even though we were married 3 years ago.

There were several little things like that made my heart feel better on a painful day. Things that were physically comforting since I couldn't hold my precious baby girl. Those little things become really big things when they are all that we have.

At breakfast, a gentleman came in and the waitresses all hugged him and sang happy birthday to him. He was 78. Really? A birthday celebration - sitting right behind us? I was a little shocked at first. Are you kidding? What are the chances? I knew it wasn't by accident. He was a precious man. On our way out the door I wished him a happy birthday with a smile and it sparked up a conversation. I didn't tell him he shares the birthday of someone very special to us. I didn't tell him why we had come to breakfast or the significance of the day for us. Instead, we wished him a happy birthday and made him smile and laugh. He gave us a smile and laugh too. I felt more comfort in our positive interaction than if I had sat down and cried to him about what September 4 means to me. It was a good way to start the day - I felt better, he felt better, and I felt like it was because of Chloe that I was able to focus on someone else that morning instead of myself. That is a legacy. That is a gift.

After our morning at the beach, we packed up for a casual road trip up Pacific Coast Highway along the beaches. Our end destination was San Francisco, with an idea about what we wanted to see along the way, but no set schedule. On Thursday we stopped in Los Angeles at the Getty Villa. It was our first time since the restoration and it was gorgeous. It reminded me of my travels in Greece and Italy - I have so much to be thankful for. It was beautiful, calming, peaceful and soothing to be there.

We stayed in Ventura Thursday night, then went to several of the California Missions on Friday. We were tourists - Mission San Buena Ventura, Mission Santa Barbara, the Santa Barbara courthouse, even UCSB. Whatever spots sounded interesting and looked attractive - we enjoyed.

We did the same thing all the way up the coast - San Luis Obispo, Big Sur, Monterey, Carmel, San Francisco, San Simeon to see Heart Castle, Solvang, Santa Cruz. It was relaxing, just what we needed, and to see how large the ocean was reminded us, how small we are in the big picture of everything.

Our God is a big God - He made that ocean. He made Chloe. He chose us to be her parents. And He has sustained us and changed us as we have walked this journey.

I was talking with someone this week and she shared something she saw on TV. A man had lost his child and he said the child died to teach him important things he might not have learned otherwise. I disagreed with my friend. We have definitely learned amazing things because of Chloe - but she didn't need to die so that we could learn them. That would be horrible. An innocent child dying so that their parents could learn a lesson?

I don't think God works that way. Instead, I think that we live in a fallen world, things aren't perfect on Earth. There is sickness, evil, pain, loss and sadness. That is why Chloe died. The blessing in the midst of the pain is that along with the loss there are gifts. Everyone receives them, but not everyone recognizes them.

Some choose to focus on the loss and stay in a dark place all their lives. They focus on what they don't have instead of what they do have. They become bitter, resentful, angry and cold. They are changed - but not for the better.

Others see the gifts that come along with the loss. The new friends. The growth. A much more sensitive heart toward others. A different perspective on what is really important in life. A change in priorities. A new outlook on life and death.

I choose to see the gifts that have come along with our loss. I am blown away and in awe of the gifts and blessings that we have received. I'm humbled by them and so thankful. So incredibly thankful. We will never be the same because of Chloe. I pray that we will never forget the gifts that her life and her loss gave us. Because the gifts we received make a difference in the lives of everyone we come in contact with.

One of the things that has amazed me about our trip is how much we have laughed. We have enjoyed ourselves. Being in a stress free environment helps immensely. I often thought, "If the people around us only knew the reason we are taking this trip."

We didn't cry as much as I thought we would. In fact, the only time I cried was on Friday morning as I was journaling. It was freeing to write, and then to be able to move on with our day and enjoy it.

I will always remember the reason we took this trip. The reason we visited so many Missions. The items that we purchased - a special hat for Jose', tour books, a garden decoration that says, "Bloom with Joy." There were so many things that will remind us of our trip and the reason we took it - because of Chloe. If it wasn't for her, we wouldn't have taken this trip.

And it tickles my heart to know that every time I wear those pink flip flops (only on special occasions), see Jose' wear his hat, or I'm reminded to Bloom with Joy, that is is all because of a precious little girl named Chloe Faith.

I don't want to imply that it is always sunshine and roses on the journey of grief. Remember, it took me a week to even sit down and write this post. It isn't easy. At the Monterey Aquarium I had to get out of the children's section because it was just too difficult. There are times at Target (the universal gathering spot for pregnant women and babies) when I have to avoid looking at the baby section or leave.

But I also find that my hope grows as my heart heals. I have hope that we will be pregnant again. That I will get to shop for all those precious little baby clothes, blankets, and room decorations. The nursery wasn't full this September 4, but I have hope that it will be full in 2009.

Thank you for your prayers, words of comfort and encouragement, and for taking time to read the blog. Your support has helped us get through this week. We love you!

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord,
"plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future. "
Jeremiah 29:11

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Please pray for Kenzie and Faith

Kenzie is an amazing encouragement to so many women who have experienced the loss of a child. She has been there - her son Maddox only lived for one minute. She has been a huge blessing and support to me through our journey with Chloe. She is pregnant with her third child and there are complications. Please lift up Kenzie, baby Faith, husband Dusty, big brother Deacon and the doctors and nurses caring for her.