Friday, December 12, 2014

One month

One month...I can't believe it's been a month. Some days it feels like it just happened.

One month...other days it seems like a lifetime ago.

The days that feel like a lifetime hurt the worst. I would think they would hurt less. But on days like this all I can think about is how long it's been since I've held my daughter.

One month...I miss Ted when he takes a nap. The thought of not holding my daughter for a month is absurd to me. 

I miss herI miss her with every single ounce of my being.

This may sound strange to some, but I loved her funeral Mass. It was a celebration. I cried, but I also smiled and I may have even laughed. I sang and I rejoiced. It was the first time in my entire life I know with 100% certainty I did something right. I knew from the moment I received her diagnosis my life would never be the same. I knew it would be the hardest journey I would ever face. I knew I would experience pain and heartache that no one should ever have to endure. But more than all of that, I knew it was going to be worth it. I gave her life, and although it was short, we lived it together, and we lived it to the fullest. At her funeral Mass, I could rejoice because I did something right. I can live the rest of my life knowing with 100% of my being that my daughter is in Heaven. Her entire life on Earth was perfect.

A very good friend was gracious enough to take some pictures at Lily's funeral. She just sent them to me...perfect timing. I really needed some new pictures. Bittersweet as always, but I am so thankful for these pictures.

One month...I don't want to think about the day when there won't be anymore new pictures. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Polar Express

I have the best family in the world.

Truly, they are amazing and I am so tremendously blessed.

My family has given us so much love, prayers and support since we first learned of Lily's diagnosis. Every single one of them sent us a card, a text, or an email. They have spoiled us with donations and gifts. They would send a message or text randomly just to let me know they were thinking about us.

When we went to Iowa this summer, they were there for love on us and to ask about Lily. The very greatest gift they've given us is remembering Lily with us, and loving her just like everyone else in our family.

I really didn't think any of them could top it...

But then they did!!

They all got together and surprised us with an amazing care package!! They sent us gift cards, house cleaning certificate and the best of all...

A trip to the North Pole!!

We traveled to Williams, Arizona to take a ride on the Polar Express.

It was magical.

My sister bought Ted some adorable Christmas jammies. Seriously...I can't even handle his cuteness.

He loved every second of it.

He got to meet Mrs. Claus and write a letter to Santa.

He loved waving to everyone when we were on the train.

He loved dancing to the Christmas carols and eating his cookie.

He was mesmerized by the lights and loved seeing Santa.

He loved to ring his Christmas bell.

It was a moment I will never forget.

But with these sweet, tender memories we make, comes the sorrow and grief of missing Lily...always. As we reached the North Pole, seeing all the lights, the "Believe" song and seeing Ted's face light up, it just hit me like a ton of bricks - through smiles and laughter come so many tears... 

I want my daughter here too.

I feel like this is just the beginning of these bittersweet moments...moments that fill you with so much joy you could burst, and then so much grief you can barely breathe. I spend much of my days smiling, laughing, and then just like that...once again, something happens - or nothing happens, and I am reminded my daughter is not here

I miss her so much.

I know I use this word a lot, but it truly is bittersweet. So sweet that my family would provide such a bitter to think of why.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Perfectly made

I hate the word stillborn. I hate that it means my daughter does not have a birth certificate or even a death certificate. It makes me feel like to some her 42.2 weeks of life were invalid or insignificant.

But what others don't know is this...she wasn't just alive, she was thriving inside of me. 

She was strong. I felt her kicks more than I ever felt Ted. 

She had a strong, steady heartbeat that sounded like music to me. 

Our midwife was in awe of Lily's strength as she liked to show off at our OB visits. She would ask if I've been feeling Lily move at all and Lily would answer for me with a big flip or kick. 

She would often say, "Now that's a strong heartbeat" or "Nothing wrong with that heartbeat at all".

I've mentioned before how bittersweet it was to hear that. Sometimes it felt like a slap in the face. Her heart was perfect and strong, but it wasn't enough...

But she was still perfectly made. Her organs were all perfectly formed. She could swallow and hiccup. She had ten perfect fingers and ten perfect toes. She had perfectly kissable, squishy cheeks. Her nose was a perfect button nose.

I miss her. Not because it's the holidays. I miss her because it's been almost a month since I've held her. I miss her because it's Wednesday or Saturday or Tuesday. I miss her because she should be in my arms right now.

I can still remember how she felt in my arms. I can still feel her cheeks on my lips. I can close my eyes and still see her perfect button nose. And I can look at my finger and still see how perfectly her fingers wrapped around mine. 

I pray with all my heart I never lose that. As much as it hurts, it brings me so much joy when I think about how much love and grace filled that room when I held her. All I saw and felt was my daughter, fearfully and wonderfully made...


Monday, November 24, 2014

Loving Lily

On Thursday we buried our daughter. No one should ever have to say that, but we have to. People keep saying how strong I was through it all, but nothing about what I feel right now is strength. In the days following her birth (I'll write about it someday, but for now, it's still too raw), whenever I thought about the day of her funeral and never seeing her again, I honestly couldn't breathe and would immediately start to cry.

I've had many fears leading up to her birth and all the moments after. I was terrified to see her, until I actually saw her. She was and is breathtaking. I didn't think it was possible to love her more than I did before I saw her, but I did and I still do.

I was terrified that she might not be born alive, but just as fearful that she would be born alive and I would have to watch her stop breathing. I feel like God knew my fears better than me and she was born sleeping.

Mostly, I was terrified for that moment...that moment when I knew I was never going to see her again. That moment when they would close her casket and I would have to rely on my memory of her sweet kissable cheeks, her perfect fingers and toes. 

That moment is the one that reduces me to sobbing tears again and again.

I miss her. 

I miss her kicks. I miss holding her. I miss her cheeks, I miss those perfect fingers and toes. I miss seeing Jason kiss and hold his daughter. 

I honestly didn't think it was possible to love her the way we do. Maybe I was trying to protect myself...knowing that loving her the way I do would lead to the greatest heartache of my life. A heartache that will never go away.

But more important than anything is this...she is worth every second of heartache that I will face for the rest of my life. I would have given anything to heal her, but I also would not trade her for anything in the world.

Loving her makes me a better person. Loving her makes me a better mom, wife, friend, sister and daughter. Loving her is the greatest honor God has ever bestowed on me. If given the choice, I would do it all over again. 

My love for her surpasses all understanding.

This was read at her funeral, the first adapted from something a dear friend shared with me this summer. The second written by me about what it really means to love Lily. My words are still inadequate, there are no real words to describe this love for my sweet Lily. She has stolen my heart forever and I will spend the rest of my life missing her, loving her and hoping to meet her in my dreams.

To Love a Person - Adapted from Kathleen Dean Moore

What does it mean to love a person? 

To love - a person - means at least this:
One. To want to be near her, physically.

Number two. To want to know everything about her -
her story, her moods, what she looks like by moonlight.

Number three. To rejoice in the fact of her.

Number four. To fear her loss, and grieve for her inquiries.

Five. To protect her - fiercely, mindlessly, futilely, and maybe tragically,
but to be helpless to do otherwise.

Six. To be transformed in her presence -
lifted, lighter on your feet, transparent,
open to everything beautiful and new.

Number seven. To want to be joined with her,
taken in by her, lost in her.

Number eight. To want the best for her.

Number nine. Desperately.

Loving isn’t just a state of being, it’s a way of acting in the world.
Love isn’t a sort of bliss, it’s a kind of work, sometimes hard, spirit-testing work.
To love a person is to accept the responsibility to act lovingly toward her,
to make her needs my own needs.
Responsibility grows from love. It’s the natural shape of caring.

Number ten.
To love a person is to accept moral responsibility for her well-being.

What does it mean to love Lily?

It means everything on this list and so much more.

It means knowing that labor will hurt and you go through with it anyway 
even though you don't get to keep your reward.

It means knowing that your heart will be broken for the rest of your life, 
but holding her for even five minutes makes up for it.

It means watching her lift her big brother off your belly 
with her amazingly strong kicks.

It means you will be filled with awe, wonder and sorrow 
as you watch your belly dance before you go to sleep every night.

It means you might not get any sleep at night 
because Lily wants to dance all night long and that's totally okay with you.

It means you never knew you could love 
someone so much before you even meet them.

It means your heart will be so full when you see her 
with her brother's chipmunk cheeks.

It means if you had would do it all over again 
because those brief minutes held more love 
than a whole lifetime does for some.

It means you didn't know it was possible 
for your heart to grow in so much love for your husband 
through honoring your daughter.

It means memorizing every single sweet and perfect detail 
so you can meet her in your dreams.

It means you will fight and defend her right to life 
until your very last breath.

It means that you mourn for your son 
who doesn't have his best friend to grow up with, 
but also rejoice in knowing the special connection 
he will have with her in Heaven.

And most importantly, 
it means you will never be the same person again, 
for we are the mother and father of a saint, 
and we walk with one foot on earth and one foot in Heaven, 
until we meet our beautiful girl again.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Saint Lily Frances

Heaven gained a very precious saint yesterday.

Our sweet and perfect Lily Frances was born sleeping yesterday. She weighed 8 lbs 2 oz and inherited her brother's squishy cheeks.

Love and joy...that's all I felt when I saw her. Tremendous love and joy. We didn't see anencephaly, we saw our beautiful daughter and she stole our hearts forever. 

I will share more as I can, but for right now I just want the world to know, she is perfection.

I will never be the same, she has changed me forever and for that I am beyond grateful. 

My sweet and perfect Lily Frances, please pray for your mommy, daddy and big brother Ted. 

We love you and miss you so much.

Monday, November 10, 2014

42 weeks and a day

Not that I'm counting or anything... ;)

I worried and worried this whole pregnancy that Lily would be born early. 

I worried about who would be here and now we've had family and friends come and go.

I've woken up every day for the past two weeks hopeful that it would be the day we would get to meet her and go to bed depressed that it wasn't that day.

We scheduled an induction two weeks ago because we thought we were ready, but truthfully neither one of us was ready yet. 

We needed more time. She needed more time. 

She reminds us all day of her much even our midwife comments on her strong jabs and kicks.

Her favorite time of day is early morning snuggles with Ted. She loves kicking him in the morning and Ted loves drumming his fingers on my belly. ;-)

She loves her dad and isn't shy when he rubs my belly.

I will miss every one of these moments and have cherished every second with my precious girl.

But I know it's time...time for us to meet her. It's time for us to see how God's full plan for her life will unfold. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Due Date Update

So our due date has come and gone. It's looking like our "October Baby" will be a November baby.

Just like with any pregnancy, as that date approaches you get excited, nervous, and then as it comes and goes...

Jason and I will never be "ready" for this, but we are ready to meet our sweet girl. I never thought I would be so excited to meet her. At this point (four days overdue) it completely overshadows my fear and most likely, our sorrow.

We had discussed inducing on Wednesday. We have people here and everyone is just waiting for Lily. Anxiousness doesn't even come close to describe it. And as many know, babies don't seem to come on their own when you are anxious and stressed.

On Tuesday I had been having contractions all day, so we were hopeful we either wouldn't need to be induced or I would have progressed enough for it to be successful. I woke up Wednesday morning with no contractions. :( Jason and I went for a walk and I just broke down. The stress and anxiety of everyone "watching" was just too much. And to top it all off, I just want to hold Lily. I want to give her a million kisses and soak up all the snuggles.

Jason and I stopped, sat down and I wept. Once again, I didn't think I had it in me to cry like that anymore. 

But my husband...I can't even tell you how much my love for him grew in this moment. He was not peaceful about inducing. He reminded me of what mattered most. It's not all the people watching and waiting. It's Lily. It's our family. 

We want to meet her more than anything, but we also want her to come to us in God's perfect time. We want to know that everything happens as it is meant to and when we put our full trust in God, we know we will have no regrets.

We went to Mass after we decided not to induce. We prayed a rosary before a statue of St. Therese and we surrendered our family into our Father's hands.

We have complete faith and trust that we will meet Lily in God's perfect time and it will be perfect.

Thank you so much for your continued love and prayers. We know with absolute certainty we could not do this without the love, prayers, and support of our family, friends, and even those we have never met.

And we have been soaking up so much love from our sweet Ted. He's been extra snuggly with Jason and me this week. His snuggles make everything better. :)