Monday, April 13, 2015

Five months

I pretty much summed up where I am at in my last post, so I won't delve into that too much. Life without Lily is hard, harder than I ever imagined. Lent was hard. It seems pointless and stupid to me...making a "sacrifice" of giving up chocolate or Facebook or something else that is so insignificant now? Dumb.

My parents did come to visit in March and it was wonderful to have them here. Ted and I have seen my family every month since October and it's been such a needed blessing. I have really needed to have that time with them. I think they need it too. I think they need to see that even though we are hurting, we are ok. We went to a few baseball games and took Ted to the zoo and really, just spent time together. Lily has brought my whole family closer and that is something I am truly grateful for.

Easter finally arrived after a really tough Holy Week. I cried. Every. Single. Day. I cried because I missed her. I cried because I feel so guilty that I can't pray. I cried because there are no more pictures. I cried because Ted says, "baby" and it's not his sister. I cried because she never opened her eyes or made a sound. I cried because Ted looks at her picture in our room and says, "bye bye baby". I cried because she was strong and dancing in my belly until she wasn't. I cried because I see toddlers with their baby siblings. I cried because Ted wanted to wear his "Brother of the Year" shirt two days in a row. I cried simply because I miss her. Every. Single. Day.

But friends, there is hope. Hope in the Resurrection. Hope in knowing that my beautiful daughter is dancing in the Resurrection. On Easter, I woke up a little bit refreshed, a little lighter...because He lives.

"Because He lives

I can face tomorrow
Because He lives 
Every fear is gone
I know He holds my life 
my future in His hands"

Because He daughter is dancing in Heaven. Amen.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

This road to Calvary

Friends, Palm Sunday rocked me

Ted's been sick the past week, so I found myself sitting in a pew by myself, sitting between strangers. I hate going to Mass alone...especially now. I welcome the distraction of my almost two-year old and find so much comfort and protection with my husband by my side. 

But instead of the comfort and distraction, I found myself facing the start of Holy Week all by distraction, nothing to comfort or protect me. Nothing to shield me from the full range of emotions I have not wanted to feel. And then the Psalm, that Psalm that I used to love because the reality of it had never sunk in...until now. "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?" The wave of emotions washed over me like a tidal wave.

Despair. Anger. Guilt.

I never thought I would be angry. I guess there really are stages of grief. I am angry at everything. I am angry that Ted doesn't have his sister. I'm angry that my prayer wasn't answered. Angry that there won't be anymore pictures. I'm angry that I don't feel any peace right now. Angry that "joy in suffering" makes me laugh right now. I am angry that we had to pick out a grave marker. I am angry that Ted's two-year old pictures will be with a stupid bear instead of his sister. Angry that I still haven't lost my baby weight. I am angry that I don't get to boycott the stupid frilly and fluffy Easter dresses and put Lily in something simple and sweet. I'm angry that the world moves forward and I still miss my daughter.

And then the guilt comes. And friends, the guilt is so much worse than the anger. Guilt is what reduces you to sobbing, ugly tears when you are sitting amongst strangers in a pew (I can only imagine what they were thinking). It leaves you walking up the aisle towards the Eucharist with tears streaming down your face, barely able to mumble "Amen". It finds you kneeling in the pew, blinded by the tears, sobbing and telling your daughter, once again, "I'm so so sorry." Over and over, "I'm so sorry Lily."

Your brain knows that there was nothing you could do, but that doesn't help your mama heart. 

My heart is heavy and weary, friends. I miss her so much I can barely breathe. So while the me I used to be loves this season, this Holy Week, the me I am now dreads it. I've been walking this road to Calvary for 10 months and I don't see it ending on Sunday.

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Thursday, March 12, 2015

Four months (How it should be)

Ted and I made a trip to Iowa this past month so I could go on girls' weekend with my dear friends. It was exactly what I needed.

I love these ladies so much. I've known each one of them since high school. It's amazing to have friends like this. In high school we were so silly and naive. We dealt with teenage angst and broken hearts. We all went on to different things after high school...some of us had a four year plan, some of us didn't, but we all danced to the beat of our own drum.

At one point we all lived in different states and didn't see each other very often. Almost 8 years ago we started our annual camping weekend. This one weekend a year has bonded us more than I ever could have imagined. 

I adore these ladies.

I love to laugh with these ladies and I know I can cry with them too. I needed this weekend so much. For a brief fleeting moment, I almost felt like the me I used to be. Almost.

But the truth is, even on this wonderful weekend laughing with my favorite Iowa girls and Ted getting another chance to know his cousins...all I can think about is how it should be.

As great as it was to have my parents watch Ted for the weekend, all I could think about was that I should be making this trip with Lily...a girls' weekend with my baby girl and Ted should be having a boys' weekend with his dad. 

And the truth is, this isn't a thought that just pops up on the 12th of every happens every single moment of every single day. 

I think about how it should be all the time. It hasn't gotten any easier, in fact, it's harder than I ever imagined it would be. I miss her more today than I did four months ago. 

I think about all the milestones that she's missed. When Ted was four months old, he was rolling over, sleeping through the night, and full of smiles and coos. And then I realize once again, I don't get any of these moments with Lily. I don't get to see her chest rise and fall as she peacefully slumbers in my arms. I don't get to cheer her on for those sweet moments of accomplishment and new discovery. Worst of all, I miss those smiles and coos I will never get to see. 

I think about what Ted would be like with her. He's talking and babbling and such a toddler now. He squeezes and kisses his "Lily Bear". When I think about how it should Ted should be giving kisses and squeezes to his sister and not a bear. How he should be fighting for my attention, not getting me all to himself. How I should have a million pictures of them together instead of a scattered few from the hospital and her funeral.

How she should be in my arms instead of being able to write this blog. She should be rolling over, laughing at her brother. She should be resting in her dad's arms right now. 

How it should be...every minute of every day I think of how it should she should be nestled in her mother's arms, instead of my arms aching without her.

How it should be...I shouldn't have to miss her at all. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Three years and three months

"I cross my heart and promise to, give all I've got to give to make all your dreams come true..."

Three years of wedded bliss. I love this man so much more today than I did three years ago. We aren't the same people we were three years ago, we aren't even the same people we were three months ago. But still, there is no one else I would ever want to do this with. He knows me, he loves me, he hurts just like me. 

We spent the weekend in Sedona thanks to some wonderful friends gifting us with a weekend away and some wonderful friends who offered to watch Ted. We ate yummy food, went hiking, played pickle ball (yes, yes...third anniversary, not 50th), drank wine, talked about Ted, cried about Lily, and just wasted time together. I loved it. I love doing nothing with him.

"And if along the way, we find a day, it starts to storm, you've got the promise of my love to keep you warm."

I remember days after hearing Lily's diagnosis, sitting down with our priest and he said, "I bet you didn't expect 'in sickness and in health' quite this soon." No, I didn't expect it quite so soon and I never imagined facing this with my daughter. If someone would have told me three years ago we would be mourning three months without our daughter on our third anniversary, I wouldn't have believed it even possible.
But, would it have changed anything? Not a chance. I am grateful for every single moment of the past three years. I am especially grateful for the past nine months. 

I miss Lily so much because I loved her so much. Not everyone gets the chance to love like this and I did. I am eternally grateful for her. There are moments of each day where this love makes you so angry because it's not fair you don't get to keep her. There are moments where this love makes you want to scream because no one understands your grief. There are moments that this love makes you want to lay in bed all day because you just realized there won't be anymore "new pictures". There are moments where all you can do is sob giant tears because this love makes you realize there was never going to be "enough time" with her.

"In all the world, you'll never find, a love as true as mine."

Monday, January 26, 2015

Heaven Meets Earth: Lily's Birth Story

I've tried several times to sit down and write this and I have a hard time of where to begin. So here it goes more. try.

When I think back to this day, I am of course flooded with emotions. 

After the initial shock of Lily's diagnosis and the anguish of it all set in, I remember two new fears emerging. The first was wondering how I would ever endure the next five months. The second was wondering how I would ever survive labor knowing I wouldn't get to keep my reward.

I now know the's all grace. A tremendous, overwhelming flood of grace that poured over me especially the last few days and weeks leading up to her birth. People often comment on how strong I am, but honestly, strength had nothing to do with it. It was all grace.

There is nothing to truly prepare you to say your hellos and goodbyes in the same day. We had time to process it all in the months leading up to her birth, but honestly, I don't think it matters. It's hard, it's painful, it makes you ache in ways you never knew possible. But more than all of that, you learn is worth the difficulty,  worth all the pain, and all the sorrow. She is worth it.

What I want people to know more than anything is this...I've never felt the love and presence of God more than the day Lily was born.

The medical side of the story is this: I went in to be induced on November 11th, two weeks (and a day) passed our due date. They dilated me and gave me pitocin. The dilating worked, the pitocin didn't. They turned it off and gave me a break. A few hours later, my water broke on its  own and labor started on its own (yay!). I got an epidural because I needed it and it was still going to be awhile.

Around 6:00am on November 12th, we decided to start pushing. My sister and parents came in to see us and then went to the waiting room.

Jason and I asked for some time by ourselves. My dear friend Chris had given us a rosary his late wife had held and prayed often as she was dying of cancer. I know her immense love for children and I knew she was in Heaven praying for Lily. Jason and I prayed a rosary together. We asked God to let us see Jesus in Lily. We asked God to give us the grace to do this, to give us peace for whatever happened and that we would experience tremendous joy when we met Lily.

And we cried together. 

Our midwife and nurse came back in and we started pushing...for six hours.

I have often wondered how women get through hours and hours (and hours and hours) of pushing. And now I honestly felt like minutes, not hours. If it was what Lily needed, I would have pushed for six more. I would have done anything for her. 

Lily had been head down and face down my entire pregnancy. As she was coming out they told me she was presenting face first and she was stuck. In my heart I knew she had already passed away. 

My midwife called another doctor for assistance. She was my advocate. She knew how much I did not want a csection and she knew how much I wanted to see Lily.

We tried pushing again and the doctor asked about using forceps. It pains me so much when I think back to this moment. I was terrified. I told Jason I didn't think she was alive anymore. We agreed to the forceps. As they were trying to get her out, I looked up and there was the Crucifix. He was right there with me with every push and every tear. I begged Jesus to let me see Lily. 

It still wasn't working. The doctor said we may need to do a csection. It was then that I completely lost it.

And again, I wept.

I laid back and just sobbed. Again, I told Jason I didn't think I could feel her anymore. 

And in that moment, I yelled. I yelled at God. I'm not ashamed to say that. When you have a relationship with your Creator you can yell at Him in those moments of your greatest despair. And this was that moment. I yelled at God and said I didn't want a csection. I begged him to spare me of more pain. I didn't want to go through all this, just to be cut open, especially when I knew in my heart she wasn't alive anymore.

Once again, my midwife was amazing. She fought for me. She went to find another doctor that she knew would be able to help. He had experience with this kind of birth. She never left my side.

Her shoulder was stuck on my pelvic bone, but he knew what to do. They upped my epidural and he pulled her out within a few minutes.

They put her hat on her and placed her on my chest.

I thought I had cried my hardest earlier, but I was wrong. This was the moment that I truly wept.

I sobbed and sobbed and tried to take her all in. I told her over and over again I was sorry. I  was sorry I couldn't save her, sorry I had put her through all that. I told her again and again how much I love her and I begged her forgiveness.

And then just like that, Heaven touched Earth. Jason and I were flooded with an abundance of grace. We just stared at her and examined what a beautiful daughter we made. 

She was perfect.

I didn't see anencephaly. I saw her squishy cheeks that melt my heart every time I close my eyes. I saw her hand wrapped perfectly around my finger. I saw her sweet chubby thighs that had two extra weeks to fatten up. I saw her long beautiful lashes. I saw her perfect feet. I saw my daughter, my own flesh and blood that I created, but couldn't save. 

I know that some of you reading this have an idea what that feels like. I can only imagine it's what Mary felt like when she saw her Son on the Cross. Helpless, full of more sorrow than you ever thought anyone could bear and here I was, experiencing it all for myself. But at the exact same moment you are flooded with so much joy because your daughter is finally in your arms.

I have never experienced the mystery of the Cross like this before. It was the single most amazing experience of my entire life. 
Perfectly made
 Those still my heart.
My very favorite picture...I stare at this every day.
There is so much more to share from this day, but that's all I have...for now. To be continued...

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Almost Perfect

It's the most wonderful time of the year! I love the Advent/Christmas season...usually. I love the way the Church looks with lights and decorations. I usually love picking out the perfect gifts for everyone I love. I usually love annual gatherings, galas and parties.

This year was obviously hard. I knew it would be. Christmas Eve was exactly six weeks since Lily was born sleeping. I knew it would be difficult, but I just didn't realize how difficult it would be.

I tried to care about Christmas presents, but honestly, I couldn't do it. I went to my obligatory parties, but wanted to leave within minutes. I decorated the house, but it didn't fill me with my usual Christmas cheer. 
We had a quiet Christmas Eve and I loved that. We went to Mass at our Church and I felt so much peace despite how much my heart was hurting. In the quiet moments of the Mass I can't help but think what it would be like to be wrestling Ted AND have a newborn. I hate that I don't know the answer to that. And I miss her.

The theme of Advent at our parish was "10,000 Reasons for Gratitude". Every family was supposed write three things they were grateful for everyday during Advent. By Christmas, there would be over 10,000 reasons throughout the parish.
We didn't do the best at keeping up with our list, but just seeing it on the fridge reminded me everyday how grateful I am. I am sad, angry and missing my daughter every single moment of every single day, but I am grateful that I get the chance to miss her

They played Matt Maher's version of "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" and there's one part that made my heart sing thinking of Lily:
"And the angels they sing,
And the Heavens they ring,
Won't you raise up your voice
To the Son of the King"
I've never heard this Christmas song quite like this before...I know with all my heart Lily was rejoicing in the Heavens. I know she is praying for me. How do I know? Because there is no other way to survive this type of loss. It's impossible to breathe in and out without the faith of knowing she is helping me through this.

We left for Iowa on Christmas Day. (FYI - it's a great day to travel with a toddler.) My family does Christmas big we have to rent a hall to hold everyone. I love it. I love that it grows every year with new fiances and new babies. I love how loud and joyful my family is. I normally hate to miss it, but this year we did. I didn't want to be overwhelmed all at once and mostly, I just didn't want to be there if Lily wasn't with me. I guess I wanted both of us to miss her first Christmas.

I was so happy to be home though and so thankful for that big and loud and wonderful family. We had lots of gatherings...I would say small gatherings, but that's never possible with my family. ;)

The most special part of our trip was getting to celebrate Lily with everyone. I know every single one of them wishes they could have been with us when Lily was born and after. But it just wasn't possible. One of my cousins asked me if it would be okay to have a Mass said for Lily at the Church where I grew up. It was so special! There were nearly 50 family and friends who showed up for Lily's Mass. It meant so much to celebrate Lily with all of our family and friends in Iowa. 

We spent the rest of the week soaking up time with family and squeezed in a few visits with friends. Ted got to play with all of his little cousins and they were so excited to see "Ted from Arizona".

All in all, it was almost close as perfect gets when you are missing your daughter. I don't think we will ever have a perfect Christmas again, but I'll take a few more "almost perfect" ones...