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. 

The Waves

Everyone grieves differently, we all have had different experiences leading up to the point of our tragedies, and our personalities are involved as well.  For me at this point, grief comes and goes, mostly stays for a day or two and leaves.  But right now, at this point, it has stayed for a week, now going on two. 

I have been stuck on the "what could have been" again.  A couple of weekends ago, John-Michael and I went to our nephew's jiu jitsu tournament.  We missed Jaxon.  I could picture holding him as we cheered on his cousin.  I know JM looked forward to one day teaching his son how to compete in things like this. 

I took facebook off of my phone a couple of days ago because babies are everywhere.  Milestones are everywhere.  Jaxon would be crawling, laughing, waving, and possibly pulling up on things getting ready to start walking.  Pregnancies are everywhere!!  And pregnancies that are right in sync with Jaxon's pregnancy- so many people I know are due in November.  Reminders of what I almost had are everywhere.

July 4th?  We were pleasantly distracted by my cousins from Iowa that came to Dallas for a wedding.  We got to steal them away for a day and enjoy The Stockyards with them during the 4th.  We watched the famous Stockyard cattle drive, and I called it our Texas 4th of July parade.  I wanted so bad to be holding Jaxon, showing him all of the Longhorns.  We ate some BBQ and talked for a long time about the grief and continuing life after leaving behind something so precious.  They lost a baby too and I know they feel the same aching for "what could have been." 

It was the end of June when we found out we were having a boy- all of the 4th of July things were on the shelves at that time.  The very first thing I bought Jaxon, knowing he was a boy, was an American flag swimsuit.  All I can think about this summer is how Jaxon would look wearing that swimsuit. 

Last week, we ate dinner at Cheddar's and we were sat right next to this family with a baby boy about Jaxon's age.  This sweet daddy was feeding his boy water through a straw, just occupying him really, because they knew he was about to get hungry and demand his mother's attention.  The daddy was distracting the baby so the mom could eat her dinner first- totally NOT complaining by the way.  His dinner sat on the side, untouched, getting cold.  (Something parents love to complain about.)  I didn't think JM was paying attention to this, but all of a sudden he said, "I have never wanted a child more than I do now.  It's crazy how much this changes.  How the desire to have children is intensified now."  Yes, intensified, excruciatingly magnified. 

I don't like to hear parents complain about being a parent.  Imagine that child dying.  Which would you rather have?  I have no sympathy, complain to someone else please.

Moving to another apartment without Jaxon feels wrong.  Last night we emptied our apartment of all the last minute cleaning supplies, boxes, and trash.  We took one last look in Jaxon's room.  My first reaction was to take a picture.  But we decided that we wouldn't.  We really don't want to remember this.  I don't think God wants us to relive the painful moments over and over again, and that's all a picture would have served us with.  We are called to live each moment once, and look forward to what's next.  That's why I keep the painful things in "the vault."  That day, that sequence of events when Jaxon died, was meant for November 12th and November 13th of 2013.  Not today, not tomorrow, and not every Tuesday and Wednesday.  Sometimes it is really hard to remember that Jaxon was not created for this world.  God never intended for him to be in this world, to grow up here, to know us the way we long to know him.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


I had the most amazing dream.

A few day ago, I woke up from sleep, pretty much in tears of joy.  I have done a lot of thinking about Jaxon in heaven with my grandmother.  I wonder what their relationship looks like, if she was there to greet him when he came home.  She loves children.  I remember gathering around her with my cousins and listening to her tell stories of her as a little girl, walking home from school, being chased by a bobcat all the way home.  :)  She told that story with such animation- opening her eyes big and wide like the bobcat's eyes, switching to the fear on her face as she realized she was being stalked by that bobcat.  Needless to say, she got home safely because she grew up to have 10 kids and many grandchildren, I don't even know that number...

In my dream, I was back at her house.  She lived out in the country on top of a big rocky hill that overlooked the Red River.  Beautiful spot.  As you climb up her long, rocky driveway to the top of the hill, you see her house on the left and to the right was her garden.  She grew all types of veggies, but what I remember the most was her garlic and her purple hull peas. 

In my dream, I pull up her driveway, alone, I get out of my car and I see my grandmother in her garden.  She is sitting in her garden on a chair with a bowl of purple hull peas, splitting them and separating the peas from their pods.  I look at her, she looks at me, she drops her bowl of peas and runs over to me.  Picture that, an old lady, running to greet her granddaughter.  I must say, that she never ran to me like this while she was alive, she did love me no doubt and told me this often, but she was not fast by any means, and she didn't show her affection with hugging in this way.

I noticed something very new in my dream.  Her farm was long and it went down the other side of the hill she lived on.  On the other side of this hill was a beautiful river, flowing pretty fast, yet peaceful. 

Then when my grandmother got to me, she hugged me, and she whispered in my ear, sing Amazing Grace with me.  We held our embrace, and she began singing, I began to cry.  Then by the end of the song, I was singing along with her... the emotion running through my veins is pretty much indescribable.  The best way I can put it- pure joy to the point of tears. 

I wish I would have seen my Jaxon, but I know he is there too.  What I saw was my grandmother in heaven, happier than I have ever seen her before, praising our God who makes beautiful, amazing things.  And He gives us beyond what our imaginations can fathom- He gives us things on the inside.  Joy, appreciation.  On unimaginably new and higher levels.   

I know this was just a dream, and the real heaven is nothing I can really imagine or understand with my human pea brain, lol.  But it was neat to be able to dream about it and have this wave of excitement come over me as I think and wonder.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Jaxon days

The summer seems to have flown by.  Actually, this year has flown by, it's almost August and yet it feels like forever has passed between now and last November.  Jaxon days (our monthly anniversaries) seem to come and go so quickly. 

June 13th marked our 7th Jaxon day.  My mom was still in town visiting from Iowa, and my hubby was working that morning.  We got a candle at Mardel's and lit up the mantle one more time.  The next day was the dinner with the grieving families of Baylor and the day after that was Father's day.  I remember John-Michael went to play golf that morning and we later watched the Spurs play the Heat in the NBA finals and our Spurs won.  JM found some joy that day. :)  The day after that was another Hope Mommies dinner and I was exhausted.  I am so thankful for these girls, I truly just needed to be with "my kind" after such an emotionally draining weekend.  I even got a belated Mother's day gift- a glass candleholder with Jaxon's name (spelled right!!) and date of birth on it... took me right to tears, it was very sweet and thoughtful. 

I feel like Jaxon days come and go so fast, yet too slow.  Does that make any sense?  I get stuck in the memories and the time drags on so painfully slow, but when the day is over, I want to hang onto it.  I want the world to stop on these days.  I feel so alone on these days, like the world around me is moving on without a care in the world while I look in from the outside, desperately wanting that life back.  I want to hear Jaxon's name come out of the mouths of the ones I love.  I don't want the world to forget him.  I know it is selfish of me, but I want each 13th day to be all about Jaxon.

Our 8th Jaxon day came and went just as fast.  It fell on a Sunday, I found myself at church, then at home with JM.  We went to get another candle and walk around in the mall.  We had a good day, just the two of us.  And then it was over.  Oh, how I wish we were celebrating milestones instead of Jaxon days.

13 is a horrible number... I really do pray that there will be a time when the number 13 doesn't remind me of November 13, 2013.   

I love to hear Jaxon's name.  I love it when the people I love say Jaxon's name, I wish I could hear it more often.  When I hear Jaxon's name, it doesn't remind me of what I lost.  I think about Jaxon every single day, whether someone says his name or not.  When I hear his name come out of a friend's mouth, it lets me know that they think of him too, that they love and miss him too.  It's what a mother longs to hear!  My child was here, and he is worth talking about and remembering.

I love the way he would let me know my torso was too short for his long legs.  Those rib kicks :)  His sweet baby toes that looked like mine.  And that hair!!  Wild and crazy hair just like mom.  :)  He jumped at the sound of daddy's kisses.  They will have a wonderful time in heaven scaring each other and making each other jump one day.  :)

On our 9th Jaxon day, I'm going to come up with something creative and fun to do.  This wave too shall pass... 

beginning the next chapter...

The last five days have really thrown me around.  We decided a few months back that we would not renew our apartment lease, but we would look for a new place to "start a new chapter."  (I hate the phrase "moving on."  I will never move on.  Jaxon is permanently a part of our lives.)  We have two days left in our lease of a two bedroom two bath apartment.  This is the apartment we got to know Jaxon in.  This was the place we were going to bring him home to, where his nursery was, where we imagined our lives beginning with him. 

Throughout my pregnancy, we kept the door to his nursery closed because we didn't want our cats on any of his things.  It turns out we kept Jaxon's door closed even after he passed, I guess at first out of habit, but I think as the time passed it became necessary to protect our days.  Not that we don't think of him every single day, every single hour.  We just don't want to remember that day every single day

That day contains the evening I spent in labor with him- in that room.  John-Michael and I have pretty much pinpointed when we think he passed and it was in that room.  I have this strange attachment to that room I think, that I didn't really know existed until we started our move.  I cried all day off and on Thursday and at the time I couldn't tell you what triggered it.  But I realize it was the move.  I was going to have to say goodbye to that room. 

I do think that beginning a new chapter in a fresh place with new scenery is a good thing.  But leaving this room behind is almost like leaving a little bit of Jaxon behind.  I am so deep in a wave of grief right now, I don't really even understand it myself.  I will always have these memories, those won't leave me.  Please God don't let these memories leave me, they are all I have left of my sweet boy.  This room is what needs to leave me.  It's like ripping a Band-Aid off, it will hurt initially, but it is what the wound needs to heal.  It needs to breathe. 

I have gone back and forth between wanting to sell some of his things and wanting to keep all of it.  It is such a difficult thing to navigate.  I don't want to see the rocking chair I spent so much time laboring in, I don't want to see his crib that I imagined putting him down in, nor the changing table I pictured changing his diaper on during so many sleepless nights.  These were Jaxon's things.  I can't imagine another baby on these things right now.  Don't get me wrong- I desperately want another baby because my arms ache.  I want a family to take care of, I want to spend sleepless nights feeding and changing our babies, I long for that.  But these are still Jaxon's things.  The memories of what we lost are attached to some of these things.  I sold his rocking chair.  I almost sold his crib, and I still might.  These are painful things to look at for me. 

I do have all of his clothes and diapers and shoes and toys and bottles and crib sheets and swaddling blankets and baseball stuff.  We packed everything up this past Sunday.  We were quiet.  We were emotionally and mentally drained and quiet.  I had tears streaming down my face and he had this look of emptiness on his face.  We did what we needed to do and didn't drag it out any longer than it needed to be.  It sucked.  This sucks.    

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.  :)