Sunday, April 19, 2015

A Misscarriage and A Confession

I have a confession to make.  It shouldn't come as a big surprise to you, but it kinda was to me.  Before I tell you what it is, let me make one thing clear.  Wherever this journey has taken me, it is ok.  It is part of my journey and no one else's journey.  And to be even more clear, it was no surprise to God.  So here it is…

I have been depressed.  Depressed where I literally spent some days in bed.  Days where I talked with no one, and days where I felt sick and my body hurt.  The depth of this sorrow and the realization that missing my Jaxon is not going to end just hit me like a brick wall.  Physically, mentally, and spiritually.  Out in the world, I couldn't tell my story without crying.  I would avoid sharing in bible study in fear of losing it and looking like I didn't have it together like I "should." I spent many days at work and barely would say anything.  Not because I didn't like who I was with, not because I didn't enjoy my job, but because it just took way too much energy to be "normal." Does that make sense?

Perhaps my miscarriage had something to do with it.  Hormones always play a huge role in depression and the way we physically feel.  I don't think I shared what it felt like to miscarry…

We found out we were pregnant for the second time on September 24, 2014.  Oh the joy we experienced that evening.  We had been trying ever since February to get pregnant, however, our definition of "trying" was simply not preventing.  I found myself in front of my sweet counselor, Kate, hearing her say rather sternly, "girl, if you are going to try, then TRY!"  Ha.  She gave me a list of things I could be doing from checking my temperature to peeing on ovulation test strips on a daily basis.  So… This month we TRIED.  And we were successful!  My husband looked at the test first.  I remember so vividly his face turn this bright red color with the widest smile spread across his face.  I jumped and squealed and then cried with elation.  Thank you God!

I immediately scheduled an appointment with my sweet Dr. Ward and they were so excited for us that we were scheduled to come in that Friday, 2 days later.  We had a sonogram that confirmed we were pregnant, but we were still too early to really see anything other than a tiny little bubble of an amniotic sac.  I was scheduled to come back in 2 1/2 weeks when we would be roughly 7 weeks, far enough along to see a baby and potentially a heartbeat.  Oh that day couldn't get here fast enough!

October 15, 2014.  The day we would see our second child.  Also the day we would release a balloon along with many other hope moms to remember our babies in heaven.  Oh, this day.  This day is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.  This day started with so much anticipation, anxiety, and joy (quite the spectrum).  We got to our OB's office aaaaaaaand waited.  I look back on this day and am soooooo thankful I had my husband by my side.  I am so thankful that God chose this day to reveal to us that our sweet second was no longer with us.

The sonogram begins.  Immediately, without hesitation, and with a sweet calmness and tenderness, Dr. Ward informs us that she suspects a blighted ovum.  A blighted ovum?  What in the world is that?  She says, "I can't see a baby developing.  At this point we should see something.  I suspect this is a blighted ovum.  This happens when the pregnancy begins, but shortly after, like in a week or two after conception, there is something wrong with either the sperm or the egg, and a baby never begins to develop.  Your body is still reacting like it is pregnant, but there is no baby growing."  With each word, I felt the weight of a house crushing deeper and deeper into my chest.  I couldn't breathe, I couldn't speak, I couldn't think.  Really God?  You're taking from us again?

We went home and I immediately googled "blighted ovum."  I know, not the smartest thing, but it was the only thing I could think of to figure out exactly what we were facing.  I felt a tingle of hope for this little baby.  I read story after story of women claiming to have been diagnosed with a blighted ovum, only to find out in their next appointment that the baby miraculously appeared, growing healthy and strong.  I thought, ok God, this is your chance to show us a miracle, to show us you are faithful, to show us that you are sovereign and in control, to give me what I want.  

Unfortunately, we were chosen to endure loss one more time.  It was not in God's plan for us or for our second child, whom we named Jensen, to be together on this earth.  We had another sonogram a week later that confirmed our baby Jensen was indeed with God.

November 2, 2014.  Two weeks and four days of anxiety and fear later, my body began to release the microscopic body of our sweet Jensen.  Just ten days before the first anniversary of our sweet Jaxon meeting the One who gives and takes away.

Enter defensiveness.  Enter shame.  Enter anger.  Enter jealousy.  Enter broken, tired, and defeated.

This was ugly.  Enter depression.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Through it all, it is well...

So much heartache in this world.  So much disappointment.  So much abuse.  So much evil.  Oh how broken this world is.  So broken.

I got news a couple of days ago that a friend of a friend's baby girl died.  5 weeks old.  Then the next day we found out she was murdered.  By her own father.  Broken arms, broken legs.  Broken ribs.  Scratches, burns, and bruises all over her body- fresh and old.  On a 5 week old baby.  Pure evil.  My heart broke into a million pieces for that defenseless little baby.

It angers me that so many children suffer like this.  Basically thrown out like trash.

Don't we know that children are miracles?!

God I just don't understand how something like this could happen.  Our world needs you so badly.  When can we pull back that veil between heaven and earth and understand?  When will you come, because I am getting so impatient.

This morning, I just sat in my bedroom and cried.

For so many things.

For this sweet defenseless baby murdered by the ones who were supposed to protect her, for the victims of terrorism, victims of sex slavery, for all the parents who have had to bury their children, for Jaxon, for this sweet unformed body in my belly.  At times it is all overwhelming.

My God, thank you for your peace and comfort that surpasses all understanding.  You won't let my head go under.  All I have to do is look up, look to eternity.

You are going to come and right every wrong.  You will wipe all of our tears away.  We will live with you in righteousness, there will be no more evil, no more heartache and misunderstanding, there will be pure joy and celebration.  

One sweet day, we will be HOME.  You will mend all my broken pieces, all of our broken pieces and make us whole.

One of my favorite songs right now says it pretty good, "through it all it is well."

You have overcome death.

And because of that, no matter what this world hands me, it is well with my soul.


Saturday, September 20, 2014

A Big Neon, Flashing Sign

I recently started a second job.  My first job as a nanny has become drastically part-time since the new school year has begun, and to be honest, I was really looking forward to being lazy and only working that very short period of time each day.  I imagined doing P90X every morning to finally get rid of this last 15 pounds that has stuck around for the past 7 months, having a clean house every day, working on Hope Mommies outreach, getting all of the grocery shopping done for the week and cooking a healthy meal each night.  I was going to use this time for what I wanted to do.  But, since I typically like to have a Plan B, I filled out a couple of job applications here and there, and even went to an interview once.

As the summer progressed, I let these opportunities slip away.

You see, I felt like God was telling me to hold off.  We had just wrapped up the summer bible study on discerning God's voice, and I was really, really into being quiet in my morning time with Him and instead of praying about all of my troubles, I was simply just sitting quietly, listening for Him.  I felt Him say He had something big for me to do and I didn't need to fill up my days with a second job.  I didn't hear His voice, I felt His voice.

Now some might say (myself included), "oh, it was just wishful thinking because you really, really wanted to be lazy and not get a second job."  Well, maybe that was part of it, the human side of me.  Maybe it was, but I really don't think so.  Not this time.  I know that the devil loves to sabotage wherever he can, and he often uses shame and guilt to achieve his destruction.  And because of this, I would regain control of my thoughts and tell myself, No, I felt His voice.  Then I would say, God if you really want me to have a second job, bless it or block it.  Literally have it fall into my lap with a big neon, flashing sign.

And it did…

After a phone call that pretty much broke my heart in a couple of different ways, I realized that the plan I thought God was setting before me did not look like the way I had pictured it.  And this is not anything new.  The plan I had for Jaxon was not the plan God had for him.  I literally hung up the phone, realizing crap I'll need another job.  Not even 5 minutes had passed before I saw it- the big neon, flashing sign.

Immediately, I checked my email to calm down a bit, and a new message caught my eye.  The email read something like "Hey Michelle, we were wondering if you were still interested in working here with us?!?  If you are, email or call me back and we will get started on some paperwork!"

What I had pictured for my "free time" was not God's picture.
And He sure revealed that to me.
Once again.  

Sunday, September 7, 2014

30 Boxes and the Sacred Dance

On the evening of July 22, 2014, our summer bible study came to a breathtakingly beautiful and emotional close.  I ended up in tears as I witnessed a room full of 200-something women gather together in prayer to love on and encourage future hope moms enduring the loss of their beloved baby.

If you read earlier, on June 3rd, our bible study women committed to raising money over the summer in order to provide hope boxes for bereaved mothers in our community.  Several weeks ago, our total came in and we raised over $1,500!!!  That's enough to provide 30 boxes!! 

So that last night of summer bible study, each woman was able to write an encouraging note, pray over a hope box, or write out some scripture that would eventually wrap a future bereaved mother in Hope.  

Thankfully, I was able to capture this picture...

I found it beautiful the way the light glares off of this hope box in the foreground as these two women have their hands on the box, their heads bowed in prayer.  It's as if we can see that God himself was right there.  In the background you can see more women praying over the other boxes, and some women sitting in their chairs quietly praying in their seats and writing out scripture cards and encouragement cards.  I am so honored and happy and thankful and inspired and humbled and blessed to be a part of this bible study!

Later that evening, a woman came up to me and told me that her step-daughter lost her full term baby girl unexpectedly almost a year prior.  She told me how she talks about her daughter all the time and she would really like to get her a hope box.  As I began to tell her absolutely, she said, "well she's here tonight!"  

We were able to give her step-daughter a hope box that night, and I was able to chat with her a little bit about her baby girl.  By the way… she just happened to be visiting that week from Mexico.  Let that sink in for a moment… 

I was in tears by the end of the night.  Wow, God.  Just wow.  

Her step-mother later messaged me that night and told me how thrilled her step-daughter was to have gotten a box that night.  She burst into her bedroom that night gushing about how much she loved the bible that was in her box and how it was her favorite part.  

I loved hearing that!!  Selfishly, I love to hear of how my son, my Jaxon, is impacting others.  

This all started because my Jaxon died.  

My desire to be an instrumental part of this ministry is because my Jaxon died.  

These women are being reached with the hope of Christ.  Because we have the common ground of our resurrected babies in heaven.

Now let that sink in for a minute…

Suffering is not fun.  I hasn't gotten easier.  

This. is. not. easy. because. I. am. a. Christian.

There are times when out of nowhere, the reality of my dead baby sinks in all over again.    

I find myself always walking this thin wire.  Sometimes I fall to the one side and the depth of the sorrow and grief that comes along with this whole suffering thing consumes me.  I can't help but play that night in my head all over again.  I gave birth to a lifeless body.  I never really got to meet my sweet Jaxon.  I simply held his lifeless body in my arms.  He never saw my face.  I was robbed on a completely different level.

This is a life I would never have chosen, of course.  It hurts.  No one wants to suffer.  And yet we all do.  Things are just not the way they are supposed to be.  This world has gone wrong.  

And then the reality of heaven sinks in all over again.  My anchor, my hope, my real home is yet to come.  One day, things will be the way they were supposed to be.  Until then, I will continue to walk this thin wire.  Angie Smith describes it well when she calls it "the sacred dance of grief and joy." 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

My Eternal Sunshine

This is me today.

Another day.  One day closer to meeting my savior face to face.  One day closer to spending eternity with my handsome little man.  My sunshine.  And one day closer to meeting the One who created him.

Sometimes I feel guilty for getting more excited to see Jaxon on that day than I am to see God Himself.  I mean, don't get me wrong… to meet the creator of all of this beauty.  Wow, that is beyond my wildest dreams.  So wild, it is hard to imagine.  Impossible to imagine.  Imagine accurately anyway.

You know that song "You Are My Sunshine?"  Yea, I sang that to Jaxon just about every day while he was growing in my belly.  And I used to wear this shirt all the time.  And obviously I still do.  It says "eternal sunshine."

 Here we are on August 20, 2013.  Please forgive the cheesy bathroom "selfie" and dorky face, ha!  I'm pretty sure I was thinking, "Huh!!  Kinda looks like a basketball down there!  Maybe Jaxon will be a basketball star instead of a baseball star?!?"  ;)

I long for that innocent joy.  Ignorant joy, rather.  I ache to have Jaxon in my belly again.

God I simply do not understand.  

But your ways are higher than mine.  

Thank you for giving me a son.  Thank you for giving me 38 1/2 weeks of ignorant joy with him.  And thank you for the gifts.  Gifts that Jaxon's life on earth is still pouring out on me, and my prayer is they keep pouring out over me and and John-Michael and our future children for the rest of our lives.  

The gift of awareness of grief.  
The gift of compassion.  
The gift of becoming a better parent, a better wife, a better person.  
The gift of becoming closer to You.

In all things, I give You thanks.  I give You all the glory.  You have and will continue to make good from this.

You are enough for me.    

Who knew that this shirt would come to symbolize so much of my sweet Jaxon… My eternal sunshine! 

Friday, August 1, 2014

small victories

I recently told Jaxon's story to someone I didn't know very well, but had the feeling that I would be seeing her a few more times.  She lives in the same neighborhood that I work in, and her daughter was hitting it off with the little girl I nanny for, so I figured we would see them for play dates throughout the summer. 

We had been talking about her recent move here, and about the things to do around here that are kid friendly.  We were chatting a little about her daughters and what they like to do, and then came the question, "Do you have any children?"

Luckily (I guess luckily?) I have not had many people ask me this question.  The families in this neighborhood have seen me around quite a bit for the past 7 years and I think most of them know what happened by "hearing it through the grapevine." 

There was one couple that was so sweet (our kids swam a lot together last summer- while I was pregnant).  When the mom saw me for the first time after I came back to work, she pretty much ran up to me and gave me this huge hug with tears in her eyes and told me how sorry she was.  Then when I saw the dad a couple days later at church, he told me how sorry he was.  I think for most people it is so scary to do this because there is this pressure to say the right thing, to make sense of it.  Y'all there is no right thing to say, take that pressure off of yourself.  Nothing you say will make a bereaved parent feel better.  Nothing you say will make it ok.  Simply show them love, give them a hug, say how sorry you are and leave it at that.  Trust me, it means the world to someone that is hurting so bad. 

I've been asked a couple of times if I have children since Jaxon died, and each time I've had a hard time with it.  This is normal, and I'm hoping it will get easier as the time passes.  I want to talk about Jaxon.  I don't want to make people feel uncomfortable for asking though.  This is the hard part for me, because I cry and then I feel awkward and I know it just gets uncomfortable for people. 

But, getting back to the lady I was talking with at the beginning of this post, it was a small victory for me talking to her about Jaxon, because even though, yes, I got choked up, I was able to really talk about him.  Not just about the loss, but about Jaxon.  What he looked like, how he was so long and thin like JM.  And I showed her a picture of him.  She told me that she had experienced a miscarriage, and she said how sorry she was.  This is why I want to share about Jaxon.  We aren't alone.

1 in 4 women will experience miscarriage.  1 in 160 pregnancies end in stillbirth.  That is A LOT.  I know there are so many women out there who feel alone and they don't have to feel that way. 

Let's talk about it, let's share our struggles and share our victories!  When we share with women what we have overcome, it provides encouragement through the hard stuff.  We show each other that we aren't alone in the grief that makes us feel like an outsider and it gives us permission to feel the things we are feeling.  There are these tiny victories I feel that I've experienced, like all of the "firsts" after Jaxon.  Going to the grocery store for the first time, going to that first counseling session, getting out of bed sometimes, telling someone about your child that is in heaven now and risking the awkwardness and showing vulnerability, and even saying no to doing something you know will cause you pain- no matter how silly you think it will seem to someone who just doesn't get it.  I call these victories because they are so hard to do, and it feels good after doing them.  It is grieving well. 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Jesus Calling

I feel like it's important to say that my days have not been all doom and gloom during this wave.  I am not crushed to the point of being balled up on the floor waiting for God to take me home to heaven so I can hold Jaxon.  Although, I might hope for that in a prayer or two.  But no worries, I am not taking that business upon myself.  :)

Now that bible study is over for the summer, I've been paying closer attention to my Jesus Calling devotional by Sarah Young.  If you haven't heard of this book, man I tell ya, you've gotta get it.  :)

Yesterday, July 30th, I was outside with some coffee, having some quiet time before the kids woke up and I read this...

"Worship me in the beauty of holiness.  I created beauty to declare the existence of My holy Being.  A magnificent rose, a hauntingly glorious sunset, oceanic splendor- all these things were meant to proclaim My Presence in the world.  Most people rush past these proclamations without giving them a second thought.  Some people use beauty, especially feminine loveliness, to sell their products.  How precious are My children who are awed by nature's beauty; this opens them up to My holy Presence.  Even before you knew Me personally, you responded to My creation with wonder.  This is a gift, and it carries responsibility with it.  Declare My glorious Being to the world.  The whole earth is full of My radiant beauty- My Glory!"

And so it began.  It started raining.  There is a pool in the backyard of the family that I work for, and the sound of the rain dripping into the pool was beautiful.  The rose bushes had so many tiny roses on them, I took a couple of them for myself and put them in some water so we could look at them all day.  God really does make beautiful things.  How beautiful is nature.  I think a vacation in the country is calling my name. 

God has lifted me out of every single valley I've ever come to.  Have you ever noticed this little detail in the 23rd Psalm.  It says, "though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death..." 

The valley of the shadow of death. 

If we believe in Jesus, that he died for our sins, and we follow him with all of our hearts, death is not the end.  Death is a shadow of something scary, but the scary thing is the unknown thing, the shadow.  "though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil."  As believers, we know what happens after our bodies die.  Our souls remain.  Death is really the beginning.  Goodbye cruel world, hello paradise!!

I don't know if I will make any sense to anyone who reads this.  But what my main point here is, God lifts me up even in the midst of grief, even in the midst of my self-pity (which I know gets out of hand sometimes).  I will always have this twinge of pain in my heart, this longing to hold my baby Jaxon.  Even Jesus cried when Lazarus died, he knows the sorrow that we feel when someone has passed.  It is human, we are human.  There is a time for mourning, and there is also a time for joy.  We have something to look forward to.  Knowing Jesus gives us hope.  Without Him, what is there to look forward to?  Where is the joy?  Where is the peace? 

My favorite verse, the verse God has shown me time after time after time (and happens to be the verse that inspired the devotion of November 13th in Jesus Calling- hello!!!) is this...

"I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him.  Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit."  Romans 15:13

God thank you for your encouragement and being patient with me while I feel sorry for myself.  Forgive me for my bitterness, my jealous feelings, and my impatience with others.  Thank you for giving your one and only son so that I may see Jaxon again.  Thank you for conquering death and giving us eternal life with you.  Thank you for beautiful things, for peace, for flowers.  Thank you for beauty in the rain.