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. 

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.  :)

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.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

back to the dr

A couple weeks ago, on the 8th (sorry, I know- my posts are terribly out of order), I went to go see Dr. Ward.  I needed to talk to her about so many things that had been on my mind.  My cycles were doing some funky things, we still hadn't heard from her about Jaxon's final autopsy report, and I really, really want to get pregnant- you can't do that when your cycles won't behave!

Anyway, first thing's first… I needed to locate her!!  Apparently she left the office where I had last seen her at and started her own practice!  In Rockwall!  That's about 45 mins to an hour away from where I live, so I thought to myself... crap.  This won't work will it…

I made an appointment to see her anyway.  After-all, she has a connection to me that I wouldn't get with any other doctor.  I did a little research on her- she was voted as one of DFWChild Magazine's "mom recommended ob/gyns," she specializes in high-risk pregnancies (not that I am high risk, but it's good to know), and right there on the page was a review done by a mom who had also lost a baby.  It felt right.

It RAINED!!!  I mean monsoon rain all the way there… it took me over an hour to get there!  I guess pulling off the highway because you think you have a flat tire doesn't help either!  (Haha, yea I think the devil was plotting hard against me this day.)  Sopping wet, I open the door to her new office and see the sweetest girl at the front desk.  She talked to me about the rain and said, "no worries!  We knew you were driving all the way from Irving, so we thought you might be a little late."

Wow.  They knew where I was coming from?  That is awesome.  They know me.  The girl at the front desk even knew who I was.  Remember ya'll, the first time I ever met this doctor was on November 13th when she delivered Jaxon.

I finished up the paperwork… it was like I was a new patient, but I wasn't.  They just didn't have any of this type of paperwork on file for me yet.  I had to fill in the pregnancy history part.  You know, the part where it asks you how many pregnancies and how many living children you have?  ugh.

The nurse that took me back remembered me right away, and after talking with her for a few minutes, her face started to look familiar.  You see, that day that I first met this nurse (at my 2-week post-partum check-up), I was trying so hard not to cry the whole time I was there- I couldn't tell you who was there other than Dr. Ward.  She tells me with a sincere smile on her face, "Dr. Ward told me yesterday that you were coming today."  That was nice to hear.

To make a long story short, Dr. Ward talked to me for an hour and a half.  We got down to business and discussed my cycles (all is just fine by the way), had an exam, did some bloodwork, and talked about our plan for the next pregnancy.  I was reassured that she would watch the baby like a hawk and do many, many sonograms.  Piece of mind is high on the priority list not only for me, but for her as well.  She asked me how I was doing.  The real how are you doing.  I told her about Hope Mommies and how it has helped me.  She shared with me that there was someone she knew that could use Hope Mommies and so I gave her the information to pass along.  She said she was always looking for resources she can share with moms who lose their babies, and this sounded like a good one to her.

And she still delivers at Baylor.  I indeed could still have the same team for my second baby.  :)  Not that I needed her to say that at this point (my decision to stay with her was already made), but this detail put the icing on the cake.  I'm not sure why the devil was trying so hard to sabotage the day, but I'm glad I rolled with the punches.  I feel like some wonderful things will happen with Dr. Ward.

Mother's day and 6 months

This one is going to be rough.  At 6 months out, I'd like to tell you that Mother's day was awesome and the 6 month anniversary of giving Jaxon back is a little easier because of the amount of practice we've had.  But it wasn't.  It was far from that.

Sunday, May 11th, was Mother's Day.  I had been gearing up for it, I guess you could say.  I had read an article that gave some survival pointers to moms who have lost children and it made me feel like I could handle the day pretty well- whatever that means.  Something in that article leapt off the page at me.  It said "Take comfort in the origins of Mother's Day."  Apparently, Mother's Day was begun by a woman, Anna Jarvis, who didn't have any children of her own.  She wanted to honor her mother- who happened to be a bereaved mother.  Her mother lost 8 of her 12 children.  Mother's day was started in honor of a bereaved mother.  That is awesome.  Because I can't think of anyone better to honor than a mother like that.  There is so. much. pain. in the heart of a mother who can't hold her child in her arms.

So Mother's day came.  I had gotten a pedicure the day before, courtesy of my lovely boss, for mother's day.  I picked a bright pink/purple- perfect for spring I thought.  I was ready for a day spent just with my hubby.  I wanted to skip church because Mother's day is such a big deal there.  I was guarding my heart from the unnecessary pain of receiving a flower, but not having a baby to hold.  I didn't want to be reminded of all of the women around me that got to bring their children home from the hospital, while I had to leave mine.

I have to say, I was completely disappointed with Mother's day.  I don't know if I was putting unfair expectations on my husband, but I wanted to feel special, in spite of how cruddy I was feeling about the day.  After I voiced how cruddy the day was going, my hubby went out and got flowers, and I hate to sound like an ungrateful brat, but it just put salt in the wound.  To be honest, I don't think anything would have made that day any better.  It was literally just a day I wish never existed.

Then fast forward a couple days to the 13th.  6 months.  It was just a disaster.  I was a mess.  Nothing was going right.  John-Michael couldn't do anything right.  I think I had put an even greater expectation on this day because it was after a sucky Mother's Day and I just feel like 6 months is a milestone.  Half a year has already passed by.  Half a year!!  It was a big deal.  John-Michael and I got into a huge fight.  I was upset that he didn't put much thought into Mother's Day, and it was looking like our 6 month milestone was going to turn out the same.

Looking back on it, I think I definitely put some expectations on him to somehow make up for a crappy Mother's Day.  This figuring out my feelings and communicating them is hard stuff.  How do you tell your spouse what you want when you don't even know what you want?  Part of me wanted to celebrate Mother's day and 6 months while the other part of me wanted to treat them like any other day.  We did end up getting another candle.  We burn candles a lot in the evening, like it's our "Jaxon light" that symbolizes the little boy that we wish could be in the room with us.  


Letter to Hope Mommies

Last week, I was given the opportunity to write a letter telling about my experiences after Jaxon's death and how Hope Mommies has helped me grow and heal.  This letter will ultimately be used by Hope Mommies to seek funding, but shortly after sending it to her, Erin (founder of Hope Mommies) immediately wrote me back telling me how reading my story had her crying on her couch with a renewed heart.  I want to share this with ya'll so you get a taste of how powerful this journey has actually been for me because God used it to open up my eyes to Him.  Only God can make something so good out of the worst day of my life…

My letter-

My name is Michelle Garza, I'm 31, and live in Dallas, TX with my husband, John-Michael, and our retired seeing-eye dog and 2 cats.  We have one child, Jaxon Nicolas, who lives in heaven with Jesus.  I'd like to give you a peek into my journey of becoming a Hope Mom and the impact Hope Mommies has had on my life. 

We found out we were expecting our first baby on Easter Sunday, March 31, 2013.  We had been trying to get pregnant for 8 months, so needless to say I was a little in shock and of course super excited when this pregnancy test said we were "pregnant!"  It was a wonderful pregnancy, and Jaxon was growing strong and healthy.  The baby showers were over, his nursery was almost ready, and we had almost finished packing our bags for the birthing center.  We were as ready as we were going to be!  When we approached 38 weeks, my midwife noticed my blood pressure was on the rise and my amniotic fluid level was falling.  So, at 38 1/2 weeks, she decided to induce my labor; this was noon on November 12, 2013.  I went home to get some rest and start the beginning stages of labor.  My labor pains began around 4:30 that day and I found myself at the birthing center at around midnight that night.  This is where my life changed forever.

Immediately, I got on the bed and we listened for Jaxon's heartbeat.  She had never had trouble finding it before, but she struggled for what seemed like an eternity.  The next thing I know, we are rushing down the road to Baylor.  As soon as I get there, they got me on the sonogram table to confirm our worst fear.  Our boy was gone. 

We had just felt him move at 9:45 that night, a little more than two hours before we arrived at the birthing center.  I delivered him November 13 at 4:27pm.  Jaxon looks just like his daddy and weighed 6lbs 12 oz and measured 22 in long.   

That day still holds our highest highs and our lowest lows.  We finally saw and held our firstborn; it was a beautiful moment.  But in the same day we had to give him back.  My faith in God and His promises had been shaken to its core.  How can a God that is good let my baby die?  He knew Jaxon was in trouble and He had the power to fix it, but he didn't.  The house I had built with God had fallen and I was desperate to rebuild, but just didn't know how. 

Thankfully, God led me to Hope Mommies before the anger of losing my firstborn became permanent.  The first time I heard about Hope Mommies was when a friend that I had met through my Lay Me Down To Sleep photographer sent me a Hope Box.  She had also lost her full term daughter just two months prior and had become involved with Hope Mommies and outreach after someone sent her a hope box. 

Shortly after receiving my box, I checked out hopemommies.org.  Then, I was added to the private Facebook group page, where moms like me can interact and support one another.  I remember that one of the hope moms had said that God can handle whatever anger, questions, or struggles we have.  We won't hurt His feelings and he doesn't disown us for doubting him.  She said the God He is now is the same God He was before our babies died.  This stuck with me and I began to search the bible for some perspective.  I started to seek the true character of God, I started to see and understand Who He is, even in the midst of tragedy and grief.  

I started reading the One Year Book of Hope that was in my hope box and discovered what it means to be a sufferer.  I discovered that tragedy and pain is no stranger to a believer and follower of Christ.  I discovered what it means to grieve with God and grieve well.  I found comfort.  I'm learning how to work through and carry this pain and use it for God's glory.

I decided to go to the Dallas Hope Group that began this March and met 7 other local moms face-to-face while attending.  We all shared our stories and met each other with compassion and understanding.  It felt so good to share with other moms who just "get it."  I learned that a lot of what I was feeling was normal.  I was given bible verses to cling to and to learn from.  I dug deep into God's word and answered some hard questions.  I learned more about grieving well and using my experience to help others.  The best part of it for me was I was doing this alongside other grieving moms.  I found a community of women who know exactly how this feels and we are all growing together and helping others together.   

For our last meeting, we released a balloon for each of our babies and the babies of moms we knew and couldn't be there.  We made hope boxes for new moms.  We had cake and a final bible study focusing on outreach and helping other moms on their grief journey.  Without these women, I wouldn't have grown as much as I have.  The curriculum in the group is something that I can continuously look back on and remind myself of things that I need reminding of.  I look forward to the next hope group in the Fall, because grieving is definitely an ongoing process, and fellowship with these women helps me to grieve well.  I also look forward to meeting more moms at the next Hope Mommies Retreat, because I've heard it is an amazing experience. 

I can truly say that I finally know my God, I'm not just talking about what I've heard about him.  I aimed all of my grief at Him, I asked the hard questions, and I sought after Who He is.  And He told me who he is, no doubt.  He is the God that sacrificed His Son, to die for me- a sinner.  God knows what it is like to lose a child, he knows the pain and the grief I am in, and He cries with us.  Can I say that I would give my son to an angry mob to be beaten and hung on a cross to die?  Would I ever choose for my son to die in the place of someone that doesn't deserve it?  No.  But I am not God, and thank goodness because I would be horrible at it!  His ways are higher than mine.  I may not understand because of my human nature, but I do have hope in His promise.  Because of His love which is beyond my understanding, I will see my son again.  Jaxon is not "lost."  I know where he is. 

The Hope Mommies community and organization was exactly the vessel God needed and used to bring healing and hope into my life.  The community, bible study, and outreach of Hope Mommies is amazing and I thank God for them every day! 

And here was her response-

Oh Michelle.

I am sitting on my couch, weeping while I read your story. It it just so unbelievable to me the way that God moves. He gifted you with precious Jaxon, but in such a way that … my human heart cannot understand. He designed our babies for eternity, and what a relief that is to us moms! We KNOW that they are safe. We KNOW that they are loved, forever. We never have to fear for Jaxon and Gwendolyn. That is such a balm to my heart. 


But it’s so wrong that babies die, and that we miss them. And being broken in this way is excruciating. I remember physically aching from grief. 

And yet, because of God’s great love for us — for me, for you — He gave us what we really needed, which was more of Himself. A greater understanding and faith. And the hope that life on this Earth really won’t be too long, and we’ll be with them. 

I’m preaching/typing at myself, because even 3.5 years later, I miss her and my humanity longs for that old “normal”. And reading your story of God’s redemption in your sorrow is tragically beautiful. 

I might not even be making any sense! So I’m sorry if I’m being ridiculous. But I did want you to know how much your story has renewed in my heart afresh that God is a good God who loves us so thoroughly that He does whatever it takes to make us wholly His. And that He did, ultimately, give us the best for Gwen and Jaxon, because we know they’re safe and we’ll see them soon. Thank you for sharing this with me, and allowing me to share it with others for funding.