Easter as a Family of 5!

Happy Resurrection Sunday! What a glorious day. Jesus is alive and death has been conquered!

Holidays the last 14 months have been difficult and Easter is no exception.

I remember the emptiness and grief that was overwhelming last year, when I should have had a nice round belly. I remember crying over Esther’s grave wondering if it would always feel this way. I remember feeling numb by what our family had experienced.

This year still hurts, we are still grieving, and we still feel the emptiness. As I picked out Kyla’s Easter dress, I checked (like normal) to see if there was one that would be Esther’s size. Then I paused for a moment and imagined them in matching pink and white dresses…taking pictures, looking for eggs, playing side by side, enjoying life as sisters. This brings tears to my eyes afresh. This should be Esther’s first Easter. Instead it is her second in heaven.

Yet as I feel frustrated and empty with only one Easter dress again this year, I realize that this is THE holiday that brings true hope beyond death. This is why Esther lives today! This is why we will join her with Jesus one day…because of our Father God’s sacrifice, and because of His victorious plan.

Our Savior came to defeat pain, sickness, suffering and death brought about by sin. And we know that He finished the work.

Even though we hurt, we rejoice today. We celebrate. We smile and laugh knowing that this life is temporary, but eternity is forever!

After church, we plan to visit Esther’s grave to put some lily’s there, and to leave “Lamby” to visit for the day. Lamby is a special stuffed baby sheep that Kyla and I picked out yesterday. It reminds us of how much we love Esther, and it symbolizes the Lamb who was slain and who rose again to defeat death and purchase our eternal life. We will pick Lamby back up at the end of the day and Kyla will take care of it for Esther. She is really excited about it and I hope this can be a special tradition in our family.

No matter what you are going through this Easter, I pray that you too choose to celebrate the cross and the resurrection. Our God is worthy. Because Jesus lives we can live! And because He lives we can face whatever comes, because we know the end of the story!

In closing, wanted to share my very favorite Easter song: Because He Lives

Happy Easter Kyla!

Happy Easter baby in my belly!

And happy Easter my little Esther who is already experiencing His full glory today!

We are so blessed this year as a family of five…

Lessons From a 2-Year-Old on Life & Death

photo(35)This morning as I did my devotions, Kyla colored in her special notebook. Every couple minutes, she would announce what she was currently drawing. Daddy….Mommy….Grampy.

Each time, I nodded my encouragement. Then one caught me off – guard.

“I’m gonna draw Esther’s bave (grave)”

Ouch

Perhaps one of the more painful things to navigate after losing a child is helping siblings understand and process. Since Kyla was only 18 months old when Esther died, she did not understand what was going on. She only perceived that something was wrong in our family, and responded emotionally as a toddler.

From the beginning, we have not concealed our grief and struggle from Kyla. Obviously, we have protected her from the depth of the emotions. She could not possible understand, nor would it be healthy for her to try. Yet we have felt it important to not hide reality from her. Esther is our daughter, and she is Kyla’s sister. We all hurt that she is not here. We remember her, miss her, and honor her life each day in our family. We feel it is important for Kyla to grow up knowing she has a little sister in heaven. Really, there is only so much explaining you have to do with a child. Children absorb so much from what they hear, and they pick up on surprising things. Kyla has started connecting the dots, and has a lot of questions.

Here is where the problem lies…how do you explain something to a child that is almost impossible to understand as an adult? Sometimes I find myself in tears, trying to find the answers to little Kyla’s questions. Sometimes I feel my heart whispering the same longing questions to my heavenly Father. Some of the things she says are adorably cute, yet deeply painful to hear.

photo(13)As Kyla is growing, she is starting to make more and more connections. Christmas day was one such time. I saw a new understanding and curiosity as we pulled into the cemetery. “Baby Esther,” she exclaimed as soon as she saw the entrance. Within moments, I found myself trying to answer Kyla’s questions. I attempted to explain that Esther’s body died, but her spirit was alive with Jesus. Suddenly, that day, just saying “Esther was with Jesus” wasn’t satisfying anymore. She wondered why did we come often to see Esther, when she was clearly not here.

So many times I have felt inadequate to rightly teach my daughter about these concepts. Yet we have continued to pray and ask God to direct our words and actions in these situations.

When we told Kyla that we were going to have another baby, we found ourselves at a whole new level of curiosity. Her immediate reaction was, “Oh, baby Esther is in momma’s mummy!” (We found her!) She seemed delighted to finally have this issue resolved. We tried to explain, but every time we talked about this baby in momma’s tummy, she would say, “yeah, baby Esther.” Adam brought in some of our baby gear for a few days, and every day, Kyla would squeal with delight, “For baby Esther!” And every day, my heart would sink as I continued to say that Esther was still in heaven and she wouldn’t get to ride in the stroller. But our new baby would.

The questions continued and we kept giving the same answers, hoping that once again, something would start to sink in. I remember the day I heard Kyla list out our family members in her bedtime prayers – “Mommy, Daddy, Me, Esther, Baby in momma’s mummy.” I smiled as I realized that she was getting it, yet cried inside that she had to.

Still, we have some interesting moments.

Like when I asked Kyla what this baby’s name should be, and she calmly replied “Esther!”

Or the day when we were rocking in the chair and she suddenly said, “Be careful, baby momma’s mummy! And Esther died. We can’t see her…Esther went to heaven…be careful. Why Esther in heaven?”

Or when we watch clips of babies growing in the womb (which Kyla loves!) and she happily says, “See? Baby your mummy! And baby Esther!”

Just the other day we went to visit the grave as a family. As soon as we drove up, the wheels started turning as usual. Kyla said she wanted to go see Esther, then started whining, “can’t see her, can’t see her mom!” We went through the whole explanation again. We have 3 kids in our family – Kyla here, Esther in heaven, and new baby in momma’s tummy. We come to the cemetery to remember Esther and put flowers there because we love her and we are looking forward to seeing her in heaven…Kyla nodded as if understanding, then looked over at Esther’s grave again and said, “Uhhhhh…..” Adam and I chuckled at the giveaway reaction that she clearly didn’t get it. We enjoyed some time of solace as a family walking around the cemetery and letting Kyla ride her tricycle. When we were ready to leave, we asked her if she wanted to ride some more at home. She replied, “I want to ride my bike at Esther’s bave.”

photo(34)You know what? It’s okay that Kyla doesn’t quite get it. The beautiful thing is that she always finds a place of contentment just trusting mommy and daddy.

The truth is, I don’t get it either. I wish my girls were playing together on this Saturday morning, instead of big sister drawing little sister’s grave. Yet I am learning that there is also a place of contentment for me…And just like Kyla, it comes through trusting my Daddy.

What an amazing concept. Sometimes my girls seem to be the ones teaching me…

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A BIG Milestone – 16 Weeks and Baby is Alive!

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Yesterday was our 16 week checkup. Most of you know it was in our 16th week that we lost little Esther. I will not attempt to convey all I have battled through the last couple days. Let’s just say that when you’ve been through a traumatic experience, your mind can play nasty tricks on you. [...]

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The First Doppler Check – 12 Week Appointment for Baby #3

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As I prepared to go to our 12 week checkup for this pregnancy, I found myself wishing I could just live in oblivion. Not go to the doctor, not listen for a heartbeat, and just live in the hope that everything was okay. Obviously this is not a reasonable tactic. So today we loaded up [...]

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15 Weeks 2 Days – Time for Maternity Clothes!

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This week, I officially started needing maternity clothes! Today I am 15 weeks, 2 days along. I’ve never had a noticeable baby bump this early before, but I guess by the third time, it pops out much sooner! This milestone is bittersweet to me. During my pregnancy with Kyla, I wasn’t too thrilled with the [...]

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Our First Ultrasound – Baby #3

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Our first ultrasound with baby number #3 was on January 28 at nine weeks. I wrote this post later that same day. Here is a look back from 4 weeks ago… Today was our first ultrasound with baby number three. I have been feeling anxious about today since the moment I found out I was [...]

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Special Announcement: Our Family is Growing!

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Adam and I have a special announcement to make… Yes, we are expecting another baby! Esther is a big sister in heaven and Kyla is a big, big sister! Adam and I are so looking forward to holding another baby in our arms, and we feel truly blessed to be parents of this little one. [...]

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A Birthday Celebration for Our Little Girl in Heaven

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In honor of Esther’s first birthday in heaven, Adam and I held a small party last Monday. It was such a sweet time of celebrating Esther’s life. We met a few family members at the cemetery to visit her grave and have a time of remembering. Everyone brought flowers and her little spot has never [...]

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Happy Birthday Esther Kate

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One year ago today little Esther was born. February 15. The day I experienced the pain of a silent birth. The day I held and kissed my little daughter. The day I died a million deaths. The day I lost a part of myself forever. The day we said goodbye until heaven. The day we [...]

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The Hardest Day of My Life…Finding and Giving Hope

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My legs felt heavy as I woke up this morning, remembering what it felt like to get out of bed one year ago. The hardest tasks of my life were just ahead of me. I had tried to prepare mentally as much as possible, but there was really no way to be ready for what [...]

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