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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Two Years

Here we are again; another April, another birthday, a second year gone by. I love that she was born in April. She wasn't due in April - but April is an excellent month to remember her by. I love that I can go outside and see flowers blooming and smell dirt thawing out and hear birds chirping and be reminded of Phoebe. Her body was still so delicate when we met her, just like the fragile, new little petals on a half opened flower. She always reminded me especially of a Morning Glory - if you've ever looked at one really close up it makes sense that they don't last long into the day. You barely touch them and they begin to wilt....but they come and go, leaving behind nothing but proof that God is real.

I am at a loss for what to say. It's been said here many times, but the overwhelming feeling that has stayed with me from April 11th of two years ago is just this stunned astonishment that an experience that every mother dreads the very possibility of can be as incredible as it was, and is still. Our hearts were stretched and filled, every corner of them. Getting over the hump of the first month postpartum....shew, now that was a feat I never would have known I could be strong enough for. Am I glad that my baby daughter died? Of course not. But it's what happened, despite desperate prayers that it wouldn't and the best doctors on careful watch. So now, the only way to see it is as it is - she died and we are better for it. We glimpsed a clearer image of Christ's presence in the world - in all of you who tirelessly supported us; in birth; in a tiny, pure baby; in death; in the holiness that filled the room when God knew it needed to be there for us.

Yea, we may as well admit it already - God knows what He's doing and knew it all along. Cheers to Phoebe on her birthday, which is tomorrow April 11th, and through bittersweet tears we remember also the day she died, April 12th. Two years have gone by fast.


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Congenital Heart Defect Week

This week is Congenital Heart Defect Week - from February 7th to February 14th. It's a time to remember our losses and keep rooting for our survivors, focusing on bringing awareness to the super high number of babies born with CHDs. Ironically, it is also the two year anniversary of my family being made accutely and painfully aware of the reality of heart defects.
   I have to say, I don't know why but in the course of my own grieving I have never been drawn much into the CHD Awareness movement. I don't care to push laws that require every baby to be tested after birth, for example. After losing my own little girl without having the option to operate, I still don't know for certain that I would have chosen to do so... It really seems that what happened with Phoebe and what happened with our family was simply and exactly the way it was supposed to have happened. Of course, I would never dream of judging another family's decisions surrounding such an unfortunate turn of affairs. My family's experience with our loss was perfect, beautiful, flawless. She came into the world and left it quickly and sweetly, surrounded by people who loved her.  Two years after being jolted into awareness by a cold, hard, fact of nature, I spend this week proudly going over many difficult, precious memories. I feel peaceful.

     I think I've told this story here before, but I'm telling it again yall! This blog is actually a designated place for me to heal; a place to remember and get things out. I have found that in these two years I have to tell and retell and retell my story....even still, it takes my breath away and makes me feel stunned.

    February 14th, 2011: We were told to go to a specialist when I got an ultrasound at the ER that suggested there may be something wrong with the baby's heart. The doctor at the ER said, "Your baby may end up with Down's syndrome..." I am still not sure why she said that or where she got that, but that was it, and when I went to the specialist Paul didn't come - so confident were we that there couldn't be anything terribly wrong, and if the baby was diagnosed with Down's Syndrom we would have been ready to accept that lovingly.
    But the worst case scenario happened, I couldn't stop it. An ultrasound tech looking hard, looking and looking at the pulsing heart...then another tech came in to see it too....then the Top Dog, the ultrasound guru, was summoned into that dark room. So many new faces, all of them worried and sad, but nobody wanting to be the one to say why. Then slowly one of the techs handed me a box of tissues. Dr. T said in a very straight-foward way, "The baby has a very serious heart defect. The most serious we know of. Babies with this defect may be operated on shortly after birth, but most do not survive."


It was a two hour drive home and I spent that time reflecting on the situation....I saw that we'd been given a special task, a very special little person, and that it would not be an easy road ahead. But even then there was that undeniable presence, Holy and comforting, right beside me. Never in my life have I felt God so near as during that pregnancy and that day Phoebe was born. I still truly believe that what happened, in normal English, is that God said, "I know this is going to suck, but I want this baby - your baby - and there is no other family who can bring your baby here except for you guys, so just trudge on ahead and I will help as help is needed."

The memory is still heavy on my heart and still gets caught in my throat and burns my still sometimes drives me practically crazy that a daughter was dangled in front of my face only to be taken before we even got to find out if she would have been a trouble maker like me. The main difference between now and two years ago when it all began to happen is that now I feel very proud of the whole experience, and when it hurts really bad it's a good kind of hurt because of how proud I feel to have been given that difficult job and to have done it well.

Rest peacefully Phoebe.

Monday, May 7, 2012


The ticker at the top of this page says that it has been One Year, Three Weeks, and Four Days since my baby died. I am constantly left in awe of the fact that the world just...keeps going...people just, well, they keep living. The birds that chirped when we left the hospital before dawn left for the winter, but now they are back and they are chirping again. Seriously, WTF. It's exactly as though nothing has happened.

Have you ever seen one of those special  airplanes go zipping through the sky, faster than the speed of sound, and been struck by the silence of the world around it? Thats how I feel, one year, three weeks and four days after that sweet little girl left. How is it possible that things can continue on after Phoebe just the way they did before Phoebe? I find myself anticipating a blast, the noise, a sonic boom. Maybe it will be me yelling as loud as I can HELLO YOU PEOPLE!!! MY BABY IS DEAD! DEAD!!!!
                Doesn't it matter...?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

One Year

  Jonah has been looking ahead to his birthday since last summer. When at long last I turned the calender to the month of April there was cause for celebration. I made a big deal of marking his birthday in huge, bold letters with a permanant marker on the 19th of April. What kind of mother would I be if I didn't also, then, mark Phoebe's birthday in big bright letters on the 11th? I stood back and looked at my handy work and let me tell ya...things looked different then I'd seen them for the past year. (Year? Seriously?) Suddenly the tiny baby I've ached for was a little girl who should be smearing cupcake all over her face and hair tomorrow. It breaks my heart to think of the friends she may have had that are now beginning to walk and toddle around - they will never miss her because they never met her. This week rehashes painful memories, and happy memories that never came to be. I comfort a new baby in my arms now and while the joy of having him is increased by the pain of having lost Phoebe, the thought of having missed this sweet time with her is much worse now that I'm reminded just how precious these first weeks are. I look at my perfect little baby boy and wonder how the heck we survived watching our litte girl die... There is nothing worse that I can imagin.

   2011 sucked. Worst year of my life. How can the events of one year change a person the way they've changed me?  While I'd never wish it on my worst enemy, I'd never trade it for anything. In this year since Phoebe I feel like I've become the most blah person to be around, like the life has been drained out of me. I guess that is what happens when you spend a year going back to the fact that life is short as a primary source of comfort; death is temporary separation. There is a gap between me and my friends now because in this one year our growth has been in entirely different directions. Who can relate to me now? Actually, I've made good friends into enemies in this year. When insomnia strikes, which has been much more frequent in this year, I spend my time awake in bed just wishing God would spare me the image of my newborn daughter in her grave....

Then again, here I am, and I am able to look at my newborn son and be truely, deeply, so sincerely grateful. Four weeks after his birth and I still couldn't care less if he wants to keep me up all night or spit up all over my favorite blouse! 
   *SIGH*  Well this is beginning to meander. Happy Birthday Phoebe, I hope you smear cake in your hair in Heaven. It's probably a tastier cake then I could make ya anyhow...

Monday, September 26, 2011


Hello! It's been awhile since I've had a chance to update on here. Lets cut right to the chase, since I have 30 minutes left on this computer.  It's about the bump thats developing in the navel is not the potatoes alone that I have craved, nope, and it's not even just the pasta that even the meanest of midwives could not stop me from eating. It's the rainbow baby. The 4 months gestated rainbow baby, actually. I realize that many of you who may be reading this may be caught offguard and are likely wondering why I have not told you in person, but as the mother of a baby who was laid in her grave not six months ago I reserve the right to be wierd and nonsensical.
   Truth is, I am not up to facing the many opinions that will undoubtably wind their ways through the small town where I was born. I'm not up for the assumptions of how I must be feeling now about this baby. Of the scattered, random assortment of people I have let in on the secret I have already noticed a variety of assumptions  - "Oh no! Be careful! You never know, maybe this one will be ok if you try hard!" or "Wonderful, now everything is happy for you again!" or "You must be worried sick." It's only natural to imagin how you would feel in this situation. Thus, I've chosen to keep it as much to myself as possible and feel about it no other way than the way that I feel about it. I feel fine, and I'm not worried, but no; everything is not happy for me because I am now expecting a baby that is presumably going to be perfectly healthy.
   There is also an undeniable humility that accompanies the 7th pregnancy of someone who, as a student of midwifery, spends a great deal of time preaching on the normalcy of pregnancy and birth. I feel a bit lame and pathetic because I have only managed to pull off what I openly believe once of the seven attempts. Shopping in the maternity section feels like I'm trying to hang with the big girls, like I have no place there at all. You know that one fat kid who knows everything about basketball and tries out for the team every year while the whole school shakes their heads sadly since they know he will never make the cut? Yeah.

   Not to sound depressing! No, I'm just trying to explain away why it took me nearly half my pregnancy to tell people. And my apologies do go out to those who I should have called weeks ago. Or at least before posting this. But I've started to have a bump and I still don't really feel like talking about it, so this is the way it's going to be. There is a strange and glorious feeling in the calmness of this pregnancy. Nothing awful is happening, nothing. By this time with Phoebe I'd already spent Christmas week on bedrest and would be learning of the heart defect in three more weeks. It's almost eery how calm the seas have been. Normal... 

So yes, thats where I'm at. I've made this special effort to get to the library to write this blog because well, a grief counselor told me too. I enjoy writting in here, getting ya'lls feedback and support. I want to be in ship shape by the time this baby comes, and hopefully not have too much emotional baggage around my neck. For whatever reason blogging seems to help.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

An Extra Dimension

Eeep! It's been awhile. It's August already. Phoebe would have been pretty big by now! I was caught off guard recently when a mom and her baby came for their final postpartum appointment - 6 weeks since the birth. The baby had been due within days of Phoebe's due date. Weird. The baby has added another dimension to the happy family, as all babies do, even dead ones.
   My family has settled into a comfortable place of acceptance. We have another dimension that most families don't. It is actually pretty cool having a family member on the "other side". She's officially not silent, go on and think I'm a crazy mother of a dead baby wishing for some significance to this sad story, but things are the way they are, and we get little messages pretty regularly. Usually by way of her big brother. I can pshaw that feeling of spiritual presence til the end of the world, but the things Jonah comes up with are not pshaw-able.

   Recently he woke from a long nap with a peel of his own laughter. I poked him and said, "Well why are YOU so happy?!" Giggling, he replied, "It's Phoebe!"

    The kid is two years old....there isn't much we say to him about this. The question loomed before us of how to explain death to him once we found out she would die; we settled on a simple "She's at Jesus' House" without elaborating. The last blog entry I put in told about how he explained to me that she's at a playground and laughing and all. More recently, when he chattered on about his baby "brudder" (brother....haha) the conversation went something like this,
   "She's laughing, but she misses Jonesy. And she misses mommy and daddy. And, hey! She's...." *leaps from coffee table to couch pretending to be super hero* "She's waitin' for mom. And she's my baby brudder."

    I was so jealous when I read, shortly after the birth and death, about a mom who had lost a baby and found the image of a cross on the baby's chest. It was a bruise on the baby, but it was a perfect little cross and it gave her comfort because it seemed to be a sign that the baby belonged somewhere else and with Someone else. I have always been so impatient....
   So yea. That's all I have to share today. Life with a little spirit hanging around is exciting! Every morning I find myself hoping Jojo will have more to tell. I'm guessing the messages can't last forever...he'll reach the age of reason and sending them might not be as easy since it takes the doubtless faith of a child to not think it's "just a dream" or one's "imagination" or whateva' I hope he talks bit more before then so we don't have to wait til we see her on the other side.

Friday, July 15, 2011

More Than Just Intuition?

 I was recently reading a book, and I came to a part where a woman remembered miscarrying her baby. Those things always make me remember MY losses. Jonah was happily watching an old Gumby cartoon, but he then turned to me and said sorrowfully, "You miss Toebe, mommy?" I wiped the tear off my face that had slipped out. "Yea, I miss Phoebe." Jonah replied, "Don't worry mommy, she's alright." A chubby hand grabbed my chin and turned my face so that I was looking him squarely in the face. "She went to Jesus' house. And she's like...laughing.  Like she's at a playground." He just turned 2 years old in April, so this is one of the better sentences he has put together.
   Ten minutes later, once we had returned to our respective activities (me to me book, he to his cartoon), he turned to me and said, "Toebe's sad wif mommy." "Sad?" I asked, " But you said she was laughing!" Chubby face serious, he said, "Mmhmm. Sad wif you, mommy." A dimpled hand was then placed directly over my battered heart, "She sad wif you right der."