Monday, October 15, 2012

Not Forgotten

Matthew 5:4  "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."

I am overwhelmed.... that is the best word I can think of right now.  Last week I was overwhelmed with panic and heartache and so much sadness I didn't think it was possible to stand under all of it.  The Lord truly heard our cries and through family, through friends, through our church family, through this little blog and through those who have found us through a site my friend put our story on ( When Lightning Strikes Twice ) I have felt the prayers and hugs from SO MANY.  And now I am overwhelmed with daily reminders of the Lord's care for us.  I am so thankful for those of you who have messaged me, left comments for me,  and emailed me so faithfully.  I will write you back!  Thank you for those of you who made meals for us and have given us gift cards and sent cards of encouragement.  What else can we be right now but thankful?

Thank you so much to each of you who has prayed for us, prayed for Josiah, remembered Owen, cried alongside us and shared in our grief.  Thank you so much for sharing our story with your friends and your families and pleading for prayer on our behalf.  And thank you for reminding me that we are not alone.  There are other families who have experienced similar heartache and I am thankful for your willingness to share that with me.

I wanted to share some of what I've been experiencing over the past couple of weeks as well.  I have gone from fear, to panic, to despair and have been in such depths of sadness  that I feared I might never pull out of it.  I have felt in ways I never have before that Christ was far from me, or more likely that I was far from Christ.  I  needed reassurance that my life was not spinning out of control and that hopelessness was not the appropriate response, but despair seemed to be my constant companion.  I found myself even unable to find solace in God's Word.  Each verse I had committed to memory in the days after Owen passed away were  of no comfort.  I felt myself repeating God's promises and immediately breaking down in tears saying, "but I did that!  Where are you now? What are you doing to us? I did pray, I did trust and what did it gain us?"

I think one of the hardest things for me to wrap my mind and heart around in those first horrible blur of days has been the fact that one of the ways I found myself reconciling the loss of Owen was in thinking that God's plan was to give us Josiah.  If we hadn't lost Owen, we wouldn't have Josiah.  I was sure of it.  I just knew that that was God's plan.  Even with all the fear in the beginning of this pregnancy I felt He was just reminding me that I needed to trust in Him, but everything would be fine.  After all, who loses two babies?  Especially 2 late term losses?

And that brings me to Josiah.  In the midst of all my heartache I was forgetting about him.  At first I wanted to forget.  I didn't want to think of myself in terms of being pregnant.  I got rid of any of the pregnancy books I had in my house because it was too painful to read about "normal" pregnancies and the happy endings that awaited them.  I would take my prenatal vitamins each night and think "what's the point."  Gone was the stroller and infant carrier .....which, by the way, will now make 2 strollers and infant carriers that I have bought and gotten rid of because they were for babies I will never bring home and I can't stand to have the reminders here.
 It's ironic, about this last stroller too... as a side note....  I was determined in the beginning of this pregnancy to not replace the stroller I had purchased (at a garage sale of course!) for Owen and sold this past summer until we were literally in the hospital having this baby.  I had friends with infant carriers and wasn't worried about getting something to get us home from the hospital.  I told myself I didn't want to have to sell another stroller for the worst of reasons so I wasn't going to mess with it.  At some point over this past summer I found myself looking on craigslist and came across a super nice stroller for a great price and I took the dive and bought it.  I told myself how ridiculous and fatalistic I was being by not getting at least some things taken care of.  I had no intentions of setting up the pack n play or the crib, since I had a bassinet that could easily be brought over when we left the hospital, but surely a stroller and carrier were practical things to have ready to go...right? I can't even tell you how much it hurt to pull into the garage after our ultrasounds and the devastating news we received at them to see that stroller and carrier sitting in there.  I hadn't even taken it in the house yet.  I don't know what the future holds, but I just needed it gone.

But, the thing was, and the thing IS.... Josiah isn't gone. I have slowly, achingly and lovingly been reminded of that over the past couple of weeks as well.  The Lord has been patient with my lack of faith and He has been hearing my cries and pleadings and  my rantings and ravings and He has not left me without hope.  Slowly, ever so slowly, He has guided me back under His wings where I have found rest and solace so many times in the past year.  One of my favorite verses during my worst times missing Owen has been:

Psalm 57:1.  Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast.  

I find myself once again finding comfort and rest in this verse.  Additionally, the Lord has been showing me that He is the source of my hope reminding me in Psalm 119:114 that He is my hiding place and my shield and that my hope is found in His Word." 

 I will confess, that has been hard for me lately.  To find HOPE.  To do as Romans 12 says and even REJOICE in HOPE.  But, back in June I DID rejoice in HOPE.  I was so happy to find out we were expecting again.  We waited so long...we waited and waited for Owen.  We waited and we lost.  We grieved.  We dared to hope again.  We waited and waited and then we had hope.  And we rejoiced!  

And that is the thing that the Lord has been teaching me most this past week.  That we do have reason to hope.  Josiah is here.  All is not lost. We have him right now in this moment.  Every night between 8 and 10 oclock-ish I am reminded that he is here and he will be heard!  He is alive...very much alive.  He is growing.  His kicks are getting stronger and he wakes up and wants to dance and wants to remind me that I am not to give him up so easily.  In the midst of all the shock and heartache I wasn't thinking of him.  I wasn't thinking of what a gift he truly is.  

The verse that the Lord has most used to remind me of His love for me has suprised me.  It's not one I would have normally turned to for comfort in such times as these.  As usual, my 2 amazing friends, Melissa and Darby (seriously...what would I do without you girls?  The Lord knows I need you....) have been so constant in their care for me and at some point very soon after our ultrasound they made a book of verses for me.  At first I had a hard time spending time in God's word because I felt such despair and even flipping through the verses they had written out for me was hard.  I saw so many of the verses I had leaned on through Owen and in the beginning of this pregnancy and felt lost and hollow reading them;  believing in His Sovereignty and yet having such a hard time accepting what He is doing with Josiah.  For some reason one in particular in that book,  Psalm 139:13-15,  struck a chord with me. 

 "For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb.  I will praise thee: for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knows right well.  My frame was not hidden from you when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth."  

Josiah's life has from the beginning been in His Hands.  We are in His Hands.  He cares for us, he knows our hurts and our heart's desires and He wants us to trust in Him.  I'm not saying it's easy or that I am doing it perfectly but I am not despairing like I felt I was in those first few days.  What a blessing that be reminded that  Josiah is His workmanship.  He formed him exactly how he is for a purpose.  I don't know what that is right now and confess that I have a hard time understanding why, but I can rest in the truth of His Word.  And there is comfort in that even in the midst of heartache.  

I know this is a super long post, but in closing I want to thank you all again for your continued prayers. We surely are feeling the love of God through them!  On Friday we have another appointment with the fetal cardiologist at Akron Children's so please be in prayer for Josiah and for us as we have another echocardiogram done of his heart.  

Thank you all for your messages and comments and emails and the like.  We have been greatly encouraged through each of you!


Friday, October 5, 2012

The worst kind of heartache

 When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. - Isaiah 43:2

It is with a heavy and tired heart that I find myself once again posting to this blog.   Over the past year it has been my dose of therapy and a way to update family and friends as to how we are doing after the sudden and unexpected stillbirth of our son, Owen at 41 weeks.  I felt, over and over again in those first horrible days how very much I was "in the flood".  Sometimes it threatened to overwhelm me, other times I grasped onto the support I knew God had so clearly provided us to wade through it.

Over the past year I have had my ups and downs....wanting to see God's hand in the loss of Owen, wanting to see some good come of it, knowing that He may not yet reveal what He has in mind and telling myself to be content in Him.  Then, in June, much to our delight, we discovered that we were once again expecting.  It was a pregnancy that I had prayed for even though I knew that it was going to be tough.  Not tough physically, I love being pregnant and feeling those baby kicks and even all the crazy changes that come with it, but tough emotionally.  I will never again go thru a pregnancy thinking that I get to bring a baby home in the end.  Never again will I assume that after that first trimester "all is well".  I knew this was going to be a tough one.  I had no idea how tough this will end up being.

We were cautiously optimistic.  And then....the day of my first prenatal visit, at 7 weeks I started spotting blood and cramping.  This is my fourth baby and I have NEVER had this happen before.  I was terrified.  Didn't God know how much we wanted this baby?  Doesn't He know that the latter part of this pregnancy is going to be horribly emotional for me given what happened to Owen....does the beginning have to be hard too?

To make a long story short, I ended up having 4 ultrasounds during the first trimester of this pregnancy and continued to spot on and off.  The doctors noted a "pool of blood" inbetween the uterine wall and the baby and believed that was the source of the trouble.  Overall they did not seem very concerned about it and felt that it would either continue to bleed out or get reabsorbed into my body at some point.
At each appointment I was a nervous wreck.  This baby's heartbeat has been very elusive, one time even requiring an ultrasound to confirm it.  Since it was at an ultrasound that I was told that Owen's heart was no longer beating,  it was a panic inducing experience to say the least.  So all in all, it has not really been smooth sailing.  My nerves have been frayed on more than one occasion and I know that I am failing miserably at trusting in the One who is the giver of all life.

At some point during the second trimester the spotting seemed to stop and I felt like I might actually be starting to relax and maybe even enjoy this pregnancy a little bit.  I hadn't really said to much about it to anyone, although obviously it you saw me you would know.  I did finally take a deep breath and posted a couple of great pics announcing the pregnancy with the kids onto facebook, which of course, makes it official :)

Then came our 20 week ultrasound on Sept. 24th.  This was an appointment I have been dreading.  I don't know why, I just couldn't wait to see that everything was OK and move on.  Quite frankly, what I really wanted to do was to fast forward to February or March and just see that everything was fine and be done with all the stress.  But, that has not been the Lord's plan for us.  And so.... at our 20 week ultrasound we find ourselves once again in the flood.

The ultrasound showed several abnormalities with our baby.  We got some preliminary findings from our doctor's office and were immediately referred up to Akron Children's Maternal Fetal Medicine Dept. to see a specialist that same day and have a level 2 ultrasound done.  The prognosis is not good and as you could only imagine we are devastated.  My doctor was wonderful, she knew how much we had been struggling and I could tell it broke her heart to have to tell us what she saw and refer us to Children's.

At Akron Children's we saw a wonderful doctor and the team up there was really nice.  We had a very short wait and then met with a genetics counselor to kind of go over what they might be thinking.  The ultrasound showed that the baby (a boy)  has a heart defect, where the lower chambers of the heart are not separated and there is a hole in between them.  Additionally, the main "in and out" arteries of the heart are both on the right side of the heart with a hole between them which causes the oxygen rich and oxygen depleted blood to mix together.  They also noted that one of his kidneys appears to be non-functional and is full of cysts.  They also noted cysts on his brain.  There were a couple of other things that they saw as well, but the overall consensus was that something was terribly wrong with our baby.  The doctor's initial thought was a chromosome defect, most likely  Trisomy 13, 18, or 21.  They would have to do an amniocentesis to test for any of those chromosome defects. They also scheduled us to have a fetal echocardiogram to get a better idea of the issues with his little heart.

In the days that followed I have felt like I have been set loose from my anchor.  I had Derek take me to hospital because I was convinced I had appendicitis after having severe pain in my side for 7 hours in the middle of the night.  Later that day, I thought for sure I had an ulcer, the pain in my stomach was so bad and I hadn't eaten in 2 days.  At 1:30 in the morning that next day I woke up my husband, who was already exhausted from our hospital visit the previous day and just from the heartache of what we were learning, and wanted him to take me back to the hospital because this time I was sure, at 36 years old that I was having a heart attack.  Looking back on it now, I know I sound like a crazy person, but   I absolutely was having a horrible tightness in my chest and the pain was shooting down my arm.  I told Derek I was afraid to go to sleep because I was sure I was dying.  I called over to the hospital and talked to the on call doctor who was really great.  She basically said that I could come to the hospital if I wanted, but she was fairly certain I was having panic attacks.  I'm sure she was right....  I thought I was handling things a lot better than I actually am.  It's been horrible and hard and every kind of sadness.

This past Tuesday we met with the team at Akron Children's and got the "official" word.  Our baby...our son... Josiah is what we decided to name him, has Trisomy 18.  The odds are very high that he will not make it.  The doctors have said that if he makes it to term, he will likely be stillborn or live a very very short time.   Josiah is due February 11, 2013.

We truly covet your prayers as we navigate this new flood in our lives.  Please pray for Josiah, I don't know how long we might have with him.  I don't know if he will make it to his due date.  I don't know if he will be born still or if the Lord would be pleased to give us even a little bit of time with him before calling him home.  Please pray for Braden and Addison...they were SO excited about this baby and it broke our hearts to tell them that we will more than likely not be bringing a baby brother home with us once again.  Pray for us....for Derek and myself, that we would cling to Christ in the midst of this heartache.  That He would give us the words to say to Braden and Addison and that we would find comfort in loving Josiah the best we can while we have him even now. We still trust in the God who holds are things in His Hands.  I don't have the slightest clue what He is doing right now so all I can do is rest in the truth of His promises.  He is with us.  He is sovereign over ALL things.

For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them.
Psalm 139:13-16

For more information on Trisomy 18, we have found this website helpful: