Thursday, July 10, 2014

Baylor boxes

I had been working on some boxes for quite some time.  I posted about them a while ago in this post and I finally completed them shortly after Mother's Day.  Actually I used Mother's Day as an opportunity to ask my Facebook friends to help me complete them… the response was immediate and the boxes were complete in a few days!! :)

So it was after these boxes were complete that sweet whisper to call Baylor became the loud and constant knocking of the Holy Spirit.  :)

That very next day, on the 28th of May, after bawling like a baby over the phone to the chaplain's secretary, I got a phone call from Chaplain Albert from Baylor.  She started asking about these "cope boxes."  Haha, I didn't really break stride as I began explaining to her about my HOPE box, and we started laughing together when she realized that they aren't cope boxes, they are hope boxes. :)  Anyway…

Chaplain Albert starts to tell me about a dinner that Baylor was going to have for their bereaved parents of 2014.  She explained that this was the first year they were having it, and since I lost Jaxon in 2013, I wasn't told about it.  So she invited John-Michael and me to the 1st Annual Support and Encouragement Dinner hosted by the Baylor Chaplains.  I got the invitation in the mail a few days later, and an email that I wasn't expecting.

This dinner is why the Holy Spirit would not stop bugging me…

If you can read there under special guests, it says Michelle Garza right next to Hope Mommies.  In the unexpected email, I was asked by Chaplain Albert to share about Jaxon and what Hope Mommies has done to minister to me, and bring some hope boxes for the families that would be attending the dinner.  I mean, gosh I had planned on bringing some boxes, but I hadn't planned on being a formal speaker.  Here we go again with my nerves for public speaking.

But I have good news again! :)  I didn't die at that dinner on June 14th, I survived.  I cried, yes, but I also survived.  And you know what, crying is nothing to be scared of.  Crying doesn't mean you're not being strong.  I've heard that so many times… "I need to be strong for my family," (meaning can't show any emotion).  Well I call BS!

Crying is the courage to show emotion.  

Crying is knowing better than to hold everything inside.

That, my friends is strength.  

It's not only strength, it is smart.  Not showing emotion and holding it all inside is when it gets dangerous.  We can't physically, mentally, or emotionally contain all of that deep, deep grief inside and be healthy.  It will break you.  So CRY!!!  And be proud of it, let it out, and continue on with the day, or the hour, or the minute.  Some people choose to let it all out in the privacy of their own home.  Me, on the other hand, I choose to let it out everywhere, ha!  Actually, I don't think it's my choice, it's just how God made me.  Don't get me wrong, I save the hard, productive cries for my home.  But God made me an emotional person, and I'm definitely sure that it's not a bad thing anymore.  Anyway, I'm getting away from my post…

God doesn't give us a spirit of timidity, remember?  He gives us a spirit of power, and of love, and of self-discipline.  

So I shared with about 10 families about my smooth pregnancy with Jaxon, about that heartbreaking day we found out he had gone to be with Jesus, about Hope Mommies and all the wonderful things they do for grieving families, and I invited for them to take a hope box in hopes of it ministering to them as it did for me.

It was such a humbling and soul shaking experience to be able to do this for other families in memory of my sweet boy.  To be obedient, first of all, and as a result to be the vessel of God's plan to bring His message to these broken hearts.  It turned my broken heart into a happy broken heart.

These boxes were welcomed with open arms by ALL of the families there!  (Welcomed so much that some families took it upon themselves to go home with 2…  Meh, I learned to clarify 1 box per family and then I let it go.  God will use each and every box for His glory and He will use them in ways that were not in my plan!)  ;)

Well, the boxes were taken by all of the families there except for one couple who happened to have already gotten 2 hope boxes from other hope moms… Ha!  Really?  That's kinda cool!  JM and I really hit it off with this couple, who happened to be the only other couple sitting at our table.  We shared our babies with each other, and cried over our pictures.  I have a feeling we will be good friends with this couple.

And that was all part of God's plan too.  :)

2 Timothy 1:7

I know I have been posting a lot these last few months about the fear I have of public speaking.  I'm going to take a break from talking about what speaking I've been doing and post about what speaking God has been doing lately. 

This summer, our women's bible study is about recognizing God's voice when he speaks.  It's titled Discerning the Voice of God by Priscilla Shirer.  Let me tell you, can the timing of this study have been any more perfect?!?  :)  

Two tuesdays ago, it was rainy and stormy here in Dallas.  Nothing major, no tornadoes or anything like that, but it was enough to have me on the edge of staying home to curl up and do nothing by watch tv.  This little voice in the back of my head kept saying, "it's ok, you can miss one week!  No big deal, it's good to spend some snuggle time with the hubby!!"  Of course I don't think this was God's voice.  

So I forced myself out the door before I got too comfortable and headed towards the church.  On my way there, I started talking to God and thanking Him.  You see, I think that those times when I struggle to get out the door for bible study, it's usually because something wonderful is going to happen.  I find that it's in these times that God turns on the light bulb in my head, and the message hits so close to home that it strikes my soul like lightning, and I come home in tears because I've experienced yet again how breathtaking my God is.  Major growth takes place on these evenings!!!  So I started thanking Him already for what He was about to reveal to me that evening.  

So, first of all there's this…
"It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything on our own.  Our qualification comes from God."
2 Corinthians 3:5

In her video message for the evening, Priscilla explained that strongholds prevent us from hearing the voice of God.  Then she said, "Let me say that again… strongholds prevent us from hearing the voice of God."  Ok, Priscilla, I'm listening.  

Sometimes I am so caught up in the fearful situations of what could be, of what mistakes I could make, of how horribly wrong something could go, and it really prevents me from hearing from God.  "Strongholds start in your soul and they manifest themselves in your body," she says.  

Strongholds will consume you.

So then she says this… "Combat strongholds by destroying them with divine weapons."  She went on to tell a story about a woman who struggled with severe depression.  This woman said that some days would be so bad that she couldn't leave her room, she would just curl up in a ball and lay on her bedroom floor.  But then she heard Priscilla speak and she listened.  She started to seek God and pray for Him to take the suffering away from her.  She used God's word as a weapon.  She wrote down scripture after scripture and memorized what the Bible says about her- what God says about her.

Combat strongholds by destroying them with divine weapons.

So that is what I am doing.  :)

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline."
2 Timothy 1:7

"My child, don't lose sight of common sense and discernment.  Hang on to them, for they will refresh your soul.  They are like jewels on a necklace.  They keep you safe on your way, and your feet will not stumble.  You can go to bed without fear; you will lie down and sleep soundly."
Proverbs 3:21-24

"But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in you.  I praise God for what he has promised.  I trust in God, so why should I be afraid?  What can mere mortals do to me?"
Psalm 56:3-4

"But forget all that- it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.  For I am about to do something new.  See, I have already begun!  Do you not see it?"
Isaiah 43:18-19a

"When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.  When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown.  When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you."
Isaiah 43:2

And then I will listen to this precious song that I love so much and continue on my day with a huge smile.  Because I know that my qualification comes from God, and He gave me a spirit of power and love, and I can do anything that He calls me to do.  

Monday, July 7, 2014

calling Baylor

Backtracking a couple weeks, it was May 27th that I worked up enough courage to call Baylor.  I had been wanting to contact Baylor for some time about offering hope boxes to their parents that would unfortunately be able to bring their baby(ies) home from the hospital.  I was told while we were still in the hospital while I was in labor with Jaxon that there were two other families in the hospital at the same time as we were that were saying goodbye to their babies.

Wow.  Just wow.  This happens way too much, and we were exposed to just how much it happens very early on.  I had no idea that so many families have gone through this.  It really sucks to know about it.  But knowing about it means you can do something about it, and that's what I was craving so early on.

I never really understood this until after Jaxon.  God lays things on our hearts.  I have heard a lot of people say things like, "God was telling me that I needed to do this," or, "God showed me the direction I needed to take when this happened."  But, I always had kinda thought that those people were just really, really good.  God speaks to those that are really, really in tune with Him, and I just had this false assumption that it takes a ton of time out of the day to do that, and I didn't want to spend half the day sitting in a chair reading my bible.  I thought it sounded really, really boring.

But God works in the lives of people like me even.  People that don't take much time to read His word, He finds ways to speak to us.  People that don't take much time to pray, He finds ways to stir our hearts.  That sweet, yet bold Holy Spirit living in me has been working hard on something since Novemver 13, 2013, and I didn't even realize it.  I had stopped going to church for a while even.  But I had this feeling in the pit of my stomach.  My mind wouldn't stop thinking about what we were going to do to honor our son and make his short life with us matter.  Why was he here, God??? 

And this nagging in the back of my mind to call Baylor would not go away.  

I had so many mixed emotions about this project.  I wanted really badly for Baylor to have these boxes.  Mine had helped me so much, and it opened the door to a community that has helped me work through some major questions and grief.  I wanted everyone to have the same opportunity.

But it came with the possibility of having to go back to the hospital.
The possibility of having to go to the same L&D department where I last saw my baby boy.
It came with the possibility that I would share Jaxon's story and cry like a baby with complete strangers.
I wanted to see our nurse, Sherry, however I wasn't ready to be back in that hospital so soon.

But I couldn't stop thinking about it and so I called.  I remember going on Baylor's website and seeing a section for pastoral care.  Perfect, I thought.  I dialed, without thinking another second.  The secretary for the chaplain's office had picked up the phone, and I didn't quite know what to say.  The number I called was for patients to call and schedule an appointment for a visit with the chaplain.  And that's not why I was calling, so I said, "Hi, my name is Michelle Garza, I was a patient last november and I'm not really calling to schedule an appointment, I'm calling to share a resource."  And then the waterworks began.  As I began to cry and breathe and talk through my tears, I said, "You see, my son Jaxon was stillborn last year, and I delivered him in November.  I got a Hope Box in the mail a few weeks later…"  I told her about how great the hospital staff was to us, but that nothing really ministered to me like my Hope Box did.  I said that the organization Hope Mommies puts these boxes together for hospitals to carry, and I'd like to share the boxes with Baylor, if they'd be willing to offer them.  The secretary sounded very sweet and comforting over the phone.  She assured me that I would be getting a phone call from the chaplain of the Women and Children's services dept.

And that was it!  Wow.  It all happened so fast, one minute I couldn't stop thinking about calling Baylor and the next minute, I was hanging up the phone.   The build up of anxiety inside me was gone, and I could breathe again.  Did that really just happen?  This is so not me.  

God I know this is you.  And I thank you for making good out of the bad.  

Monday, June 30, 2014

June 3rd part 2

So June 3rd comes around and I'm so nervous!  I practiced what I was going to say about 100 times throughout the day.  The way I was carrying on about it in my head, you would think I was going to give this hour long speech in front of a million people!  But no, it was a 5 minute interview…

Jodie was gracious enough to pick up on my nerves and suggest that we talk about Hope Mommies in sort of like an interview type fashion.  She would introduce a little of how I brought Hope Mommies to her attention and I would explain who they are and what they do.  Then she would introduce Jaxon's story a little bit and I would tie it in with how I received a Hope Box and how it ministered to me.  And then we would tell about the project- raising money to build Hope Boxes and I explained a little about what goes in each box and how we would get them out to future Hope Moms on behalf of our women at IBC.  So simple.  And yet I made it so hard!!!

So at 6:30 I get to bible study.  I meet up with some of the girls I've known for a little while and chat for a little bit (as I'm shaking in my flip flops.)  Time comes for us to pick our tables.  Here we go.

The first thing we do after we settle down at our tables is an ice breaker exercise to get to know the women at your table and introduce yourselves and chat a little bit.  We had to draw a piece of paper out of this basket and answer the random question that was on the paper you picked.  I was pretty much the last to go, so I got to hear most of the questions and plan my answers.  There were questions like "what is your favorite hobby," "what is the most random job you've had," and "tell us about something you have as a keepsake."  Oh crap, I thought, I hope I don't get that question.  Let me explain that I even get nervous introducing myself to a table of women, and the last thing I want to do right now is cry to these new ladies that my son passed away and I have A TON of keepsakes of him.  I did know some of the girls at my table, but most of the were unfamiliar faces.

But of course I drew that question.  And of course I ran from it like a chicken.  I believe I said something like, "the necklace I am wearing around my neck right now is a keepsake of my son.  And that's all I'll say about that!"  I quickly passed the basket of questions before I teared up and freaked these new ladies out.  :)

Ok, I survived that… now it's time for announcements.  I knew I was to go up at some point during this, but not sure exactly when.

The next 20 mins or so seemed to draaaaaaaag oooooooooon and I seriously considered bolting out of the side door.  But too late… It was my turn.

And I have good news :)  It went great.  :)

Yet again, God pushed me to do something way out of my comfort zone.  I did it (although I about threw up while I was walking up on stage!).  Later that evening, a friend of mine called and said that while I was speaking about Hope Mommies, she could hear coins clinking left and right as they were dropped in the money jars.  How cool is that! :)

I am so proud to be a part of such an amazing church and to know this women's ministry is made up of women that help.  It was my bible study girls that lifted us up with food and prayer.  They were donating to Hope Mommies months before IBC began raising money.  It was Jodie that came to visit me in the hospital the day after Jaxon passed.  This is my family!!  I am so thankful that God placed me here with them.  He knew what was coming.  He loves us so much, I am sitting here with this huge smile on my tear soaked face, filled with so much broken joy...

Monday, June 23, 2014

June 3rd part 1

Oh boy, a lot has happened this month!  God has taken me on a journey, and if you told me in February that God and I were about to do the things I have done this month, I would have laughed in your face and said you are talking about the wrong girl.

Let me give you a little more backstory before I get into what happened on June 3rd...

About 4 months ago, I felt like God was starting to lay a few things on my heart.  I just felt this tug in the back of my mind…
Help them.  What can you do to help?  How are you going to honor Jaxon and his 38 1/2 weeks of life?  God has a purpose for Jaxon, for your pain.  Follow my lead.  You can do this.  What if my church did a hope box gathering?  

This was late February, and shortly after having these thoughts, I had sent an email to our women's pastor, Jodie, suggesting the idea of putting Hope Boxes on the list of things to do for a "service project."  Each year, each table in our women's bible study (there are typically about 30 tables, 8-10 women at each table) complete a service project.  Women can volunteer at a homeless shelter, do a 5k and raise money for that race's cause, or fill any other need the community has.  If the table is undecided on what to do, there is a list of options given to help with ideas.  I suggested that we give them the option of putting together a Hope Box or two for a newly bereaved mom.

Turns out it was a little too late to add this project to the list this year, but next year it would totally be an option.  Score!!  But Jodie also suggested something I wasn't expecting.  She said, why don't you share your story with the ladies and how this study has been working in your life?  (Our study was about the women in Luke and one of the first lessons was "giving up control in exchange for peace.")  I had so much to say, but I was terrified!!  You can read some about this here. When that day came around (March 25th) I was sooo nervous, but I did it.  And I rambled like a silly person, but I overcame a BIG fear of mine (for that day) and I spoke Jaxon's story and how God was using my suffering to speak to me and get me through the daily struggles of being without my boy.  In front of 300 women.  With a microphone.

I was on this high after doing the unthinkable, and I emailed Jodie again, asking her thoughts on doing a hope box gathering during the summer bible study.  And she said yes.

She said yes!  Yay!!

And she would like for me to come tell a little about it on the first night of the summer study.  In front of 300 women.  With a microphone.  On stage.

On June 3rd.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Return to Zero

I recently watched this movie.  It was on network tv- the lifetime channel.  I had seen A LOT of posts about this movie on facebook, in the Hope Mommies community, because it was about stillbirth.  Movies like this just don't get picked up.  I mean, people don't want to talk about our loss.  It makes people uncomfortable. (oh my gosh, I could go on and on about this topic alone, but I'll save it). Who would go see a movie like that?!?

Minnie Driver plays the mom, who goes in for a check-up, full-term, and finds out that her baby's heart had stopped beating.  The movie plays out all of the things we go through- everything "baby" that seems to be magnified and everywhere like babyshowers and pregnant women and newborns.  It had the well-meaning but stupid comments, the depression, and just the constant reminders of what is missing.  

There was a part in this movie that really hit the nail on the head.  The part they got right was the part where she was about to give birth and you see her face.  It was a face of deep, deep sorrow, but at the same time you could see a glimmer of excitement because she was about to hold him.  

Then came the pictures.  Oh, we had such similar pictures.  Let me tell you, the faces, they haunt me.  And we have pictures just like them.  So skeletal-like (is that even a word?), the sorrow just takes the flesh right off of the face.  Deep, deep grief. 

The whole movie had this tone.  Sorrow.  Depression.  Emptiness.  Life never got better for her.  She even had a look of emptiness when she held her second child.  Her wiggly, screaming, earthly child.  I don't get it.  And I don't want to.  I don't want to be like that.  Something huge was missing from her life.  Christ. 

I want to talk about my son.  I want to look at those people in the eyes who make stupid comments and educate them, not tell them to f**k off.  Although sometimes, yea, it takes a lot not to slap some people- haha totally kidding.  Maybe.  

I will be the parent that picks up her child every single time he cries, not because I don't know any better, but because I do know better.  I know too much.  The life of a baby is precious beyond words.  The sound of my baby's cry will be the best sound in the world.    

So no, Minnie Driver, it does get better.  These babies are in heaven.  We will spend eternity there with our Creator and our babies.  That is something to have joy about.  My heart is not empty because Jaxon is with Jesus.  Don't get me wrong, I miss him so much.  But my life is here with my husband right now.  I will go to be with Jaxon one day, but until then, my sorrow can't bring him back.  I will have children here on earth to love and care for and they deserve nothing less than a fully alive mother. 

The length of my range in emotions has quadrupled since he passed.  Yes, my heart knows deep, deep grief.  But if there's only one thing I can acknowledge, it's that my heart is more full than it has been my entire life.  I have more appreciation, more compassion, more hope, and more life.  Thank you Jesus.  

I am thankful that they made a movie to raise awareness of stillbirth.  People do need to be aware of how often it does happen and learn how to be more sensitive to those who are experiencing it.  But the movie disappointingly ended with emptiness.  There needs to be a sequel about Jesus replenishing her empty soul with joy.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014


A few days after my appointment with Dr. Ward, I got a phone call from her with some news.  But, let me back up a bit.

We had elected to have an autopsy done on Jaxon.  I remember the decision being an easy one, something that we didn't even hesitate over.  His passing was so unexpected.  We wanted to know if there was something wrong, if there was something we had missed.  We wanted to give our next baby the best possible chance to live.

When I last spoke to Dr, Ward, it had been 6 months and we still hadn't gotten a final autopsy report.  As far as we knew from the preliminary results, everything was fine.  Jaxon was healthy, all of his organs, fingers, and toes were in tact.  For the last 6 months, Jaxon's death was a big questions without an answer.  But Dr. Ward contacted the guy that did Jaxon's autopsy and talked with him about what he found.

I feel like I have to mention here, that some people think if you find out what caused something like this, then you get "closure."  It really takes away how significant this type of loss is.  Getting closure on something suggests that it is time to move on now, because you have an explanation.  There is no explanation that will bring this journey to an end.  I will find joy again, yes.  I won't let the passing of my son define my every moment here on earth.  But I will always miss him, I will always wish he were here with me instead, I will always think about what he would have looked like or how his voice would have sounded.  One day I will know, and only on that day, will I get "closure."  But closure won't be the right word for it then.  That day will be the beginning of eternity- something that I really just can't imagine at this moment.  

So here it is…
The final report...

My umbilical cord had an extensive amount of hypo-coiling.  That means that more than half of my umbilical cord had no coils in it.  The coils in the umbilical cord are what makes it so durable.  Not only that, but there were areas in my cord that were very narrow, making it harder for blood to reach Jaxon.  Usually when this happens, you  have a baby that is pretty small because the nourishment wasn't able to reach the baby like it should.  Jaxon was 6 lbs 12 oz and 22 inches long.  He wasn't a small baby, he was a decent size!  But that made his cord even more vulnerable to an accident.  Dr. Ward said, more than likely, his cord was kinked and he passed away.  He literally fell asleep and passed.

So many thoughts went through my mind when I found out.  The feeling that my body betrayed me came back full force.  I struggled with it for a day, and reminded myself that this was supposed to happen.  It wasn't a mistake.  God had the power to stop it and He didn't.  This was supposed to happen and my body made the cord that was supposed to be Jaxon's.  I choose to believe this.  My feelings are much different, but my choice is to believe what God says in the bible.  He knit my son together.  He numbered my son's days.  There was nothing I could have done differently.