Happy 4th Birthday Esther

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Happy birthday Esther Kate! 4 years ago I saw you for the first time. I held your tiny body in my arms while my heart felt like it would burst with love for you. Knowing we would soon have to say goodbye, we tried to squeeze as much love into a few hours as possible. You were so beautiful. You are so beautiful.

IMG_0103Even though we are not together to celebrate, we had a party for you! It is amazing to realize you already see what we cannot imagine. You are experiencing the truest love, and the purest life with our Savior, Jesus. We hurt that you are not here, but we rejoice that you are not really missing out. We are so thankful for your brief life, and its incredible eternal significance. I love you more every day that goes by, and cannot wait to know you one day.

I am so thankful You were given to me.

Love,
Mommy

1,461 days

IMG_00301,461 days ago today I checked into the hospital for the most daunting and heart wrenching event of my life – to deliver my stillborn child. It was beyond any painful surreal experience I could imagine.

Just 2 days prior, our world was changed forever when the words “no heartbeat” became our reality.

Much has changed in 4 years. I have changed. I can personally testify that time, in and of itself, does not heal. It only offers distance from pain. But with time, God can heal. As I’ve spent the last few days reflecting on our journey, I’m thankful once again for those who encouraged us to grieve deeply that we might heal deeply. I’m reminded of the raw pain that became my constant companion for months and months. All of the cliche verses in the Bible about comfort felt hollow, and even offensive.

He will turn my mourning into joy.

God causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him.

He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds.

The Lord is near to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

How could these be real? Now 48 months later, I can once again see the truth in each one of these verses. I can feel the depth of love with which they were written from God himself. I have experienced what these passages are referring to. I can now comfort others with the comfort I myself have received from the Lord.

The reality of losing a child still hurts. Deeply. It always will. Not a single day goes by that I don’t think of Esther, and wonder who she would be. At every family event, she is missed. Each time I see the special bond demonstrated between Kyla and Elijah, my heart aches to be watching a threesome. Giggling together. Holding hands as they walk down the road. Snuggling under the blankets on a cold winter day. I wish she was here. With every breath, I long to know my little Esther.

And yet, having to walk through this pain, grief, and heartbreaking reality has brought me closer to my Savior. It has caused me to realize I can walk through any loss on this earth because I’m not alone. I can carry my cross and the daily pains of this life because all of my suffering is temporary. I can trust my questions to the One who knows all.

As I both grieve and celebrate Esther’s 4th birthday in heaven, I’m thankful.

Thankful that Jesus didn’t give up on me when I was tempted to give up on Him.

Thankful that He suffered, so that one day I will suffer no more.

Thankful that He died, so that one day death will no longer be the end.

I’m thankful for The Lord’s great mercy to me. HE is still good. I pray that I may trust Him more every single day.

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Happy Birthday Esther! We are thankful for your LIFE…

IMG_4406Dear Esther,

Happy 3rd Birthday!

Although you have celebrated all of your birthdays in heaven, your legacy continues here. Both in our family, and in other families through Esther’s Hope.

Tomorrow, we will have a birthday party for you.

We have flowers and balloons, and cake with pink sprinkles. Your big sister insisted that we get the princess plates and napkins. She was sure that would be your favorite. I agreed because you are our little princess. And you are the daughter of the true King! You are enjoying His magnificence even now!

Tomorrow we will also have presents for you. A few days ago, Kyla began gathering up several of her most prized possessions and said they were for you for your birthday. So we wrapped them up. Kyla is planning on opening them for you, but she said today she really wished you were here to open them yourself. She misses you very much. But she was so happy when I told her about heaven – where you are on your birthday. She was especially happy to hear that you never get any owies! She really loves you.

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Today, on your birthday, we wanted recognize some of the greatest gifts you have brought into our family…

You have given us a wonderful opportunities to talk about heaven and focus our lives and our family on eternity.

You have given us the chance to reach out to other families who are hurting over the death of their baby.

You have given us the chance to trust Jesus even when we have so many earthly questions.

You have given us the chance to truly love someone we don’t even fully know.

You have given us the chance to talk about and show the humanity of the unborn.

You have taught us to value one another and treasure every day we get together.

 

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Thank you for being part of our family. Thank you for the wonderful things you have brought us. No one else can replace you. We wish you were here today to open your presents and celebrate. But even though we are apart for now, we want you to know how very much we love you. Happy Birthday!

With So Much Love,

Mommy, Daddy, Kyla, and Elijah

Valentine’s Day 3 Years Ago

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3 years ago today,  my husband, mom and I slowly made our way to the local hospital. The heaviness in our hearts was overwhelming. Just 2 days earlier the words “no heartbeat” had shattered our world, forever changing our lives and future as a family. As we checked in for our induction, the hustle and bustle of Valentine’s day cheer felt so out of place. Balloons, flowers, and chocolates were being sold at a special display in the hallway. All while uncertainty, brokenness, and sorrow filled my heart.

It’s amazing how time changes some things, yet leaves others just the same.

Now 3 years out from this tragedy in our family, much healing has come to our hearts. We don’t live in a perpetual state of grief. We are able to see into the future without a cloud of sorrow overshadowing our lives. We have discovered how to treasure the memories of Esther, and keep moving forward with her in our hearts.

And yet, the sights of Valentine’s day can take me right back to that day again. I can feel, even just for a little while, the depth of shock, disbelief and pain that permeated our lives. Reliving those memories still takes my breath away. And as strange as it may seem, remembering those heart-wrenching days has become very important to me. Not only because I want to hold onto the only memories I have with my daughter, but also because we still need to grieve. I still need to grieve. In this journey, I have found that allowing the grief to come also allows the healing to come. Out of the depths of grief can also come great depths of healing. With each layer of grief, comes an opportunity for even greater healing.

So as I relive the memories of those broken and yet precious days in February of 2013, I’m recognizing how far God has brought us in this journey. And I’m also allowing myself to grieve, knowing the pain is still very real. But even more, I’m focusing on the one thing that will never change…My love for her. That tiny girl who was in our earthly lives for such a short time, yet will be a part of us forever.

We Love You Esther Kate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Birthday to My Miracle Boy!

imageHappy 1st Birthday to my precious son, Elijah Amos!

I cannot believe a year has already passed since his supernatural arrival in our family! I have enjoyed every single one of our 365 days together. Because of the pain we experienced prior to his birth, I am keenly aware of the joy this baby boy has brought to me and our family. He is our miracle! We feel so very blessed that God gave him to us. He is a daily reminder of God’s faithfulness in our lives.

Psalm 13:5-6 But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the Lord Because He has dealt bountifully  with me.

We love you Elijah!

Here are a just a few of my favorite pictures from the last year…

 

 

 

 

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A Birthday, An Empty Place, and a Miracle

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The third week in July is always a tough reminder of what our family should look like.

With Kyla turning 4, we should have another little girl turning 2. The hole left by our loss in more tangible this week. As I approach the 2 year anniversary of Esther’s July 28 due date, I can feel it. I have some more grief work to do.

Grieving a baby is a unique kind of grief. Instead of grieving your past, you are grieving your future.

Until I came face to face with a deep heart wrenching loss, I didn’t understand that grief involves work.

What do I mean by this?

I mean letting myself feel.

I mean un-stuffing all the emotions I have started tucking away because they are still hard to think about.

I mean talking about her.

I mean reliving her brief life, and even thinking through the most painful days of her death.

I mean allowing myself once again to choose thankfulness – to purposefully be more thankful for her life than I am devastated by her death.

And I mean to once again trust my fragile heart to the all-knowing, all-loving, all-powerful Creator of the world, and letting Him bring me the next layer of healing that I need.

I am learning just how vital this grief work is for my own health and the health of my family. When I don’t take time to process and feel I find that I get angry easier, and sometimes even just pick up a looming sadness.

I have found that taking the time periodically to work through some more grief helps in many ways. First if all, it increases my own peace level. It also helps me connect better with my husband and children. It allows me to give the attention that I need to toward remembering my missing child, without letting the stress and pain of our loss damage my other family relationships. I also believe taking this time strengthens my connection to my little girl in heaven. And perhaps two of the most beautiful things I have found from these times are: another chance to reflect on my life and evaluate how I’m spending my time and energy, and new opportunities for fruitful things to come from Esther’s brief life.

SO in between planning a birthday party, and chasing around my 11 month old little MIRACLE, I am taking some moments to remember…to feel…and to prepare a special basket to give another family experiencing loss. I’m also dreaming about some new avenues that would allow Esther’s life to touch more people with the HOPE of Jesus Christ.

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Mother’s Day…And The Predicament I Find Myself In as a Mom of Loss

photo(11)It happens every year…

The Saturday before Mother’s Day as evening approaches, I feel a weight on my chest, and I have to catch my breath. The reality that one of my children is not here feels like it slaps me in the face. The empty space in my heart is unveiled.

It happened again today. My week has been busy and enjoyable. Yet as I cooked dinner for my family, I felt the emotional waves. Soon hot tears were threatening to spill over my eyelids. All while the overwhelming thought in my head is…”I can wait for tomorrow to be over.” Then I felt bad because I love my mom and want to celebrate her, and I love my children and want to enjoy the day as their mom.

It’s hard to believe this is my third Mother’s Day as a bereaved mom.

2 years ago my heart was breaking as I was less than three months into my journey of grieving my daughter’s death.

1 year ago I was aching for my daughter, yet brimming with joy for the new life growing in my womb.

Today, I am overjoyed to have my firstborn, along with my sweet 8 month old Elijah. This has been one miraculous year in our family, and I am thankful everyday. My son has restored a joy to my life that I never thought I would experience again.

Yet here I sit. Having the now familiar pre-Mother’s Day meltdown.

Why?

Because I’m a mom of loss. Nothing involving babies, children, or mommyhood is simple anymore. It is all complicated by an odd mix of horrific grief, and unspeakable joy. I’m learning that it is all part of the journey. I hurt because she is not here. Yet I rejoice because I have a miracle baby in my arms. There is pain, yet there is beauty. And there is even beauty that came out of the pain. Confusing, I know. But this is real life for loss moms.

As tomorrow approaches, I will ride out the emotional waves. I know there will be laughter, snuggles, and smiles, as well as some tears and sorrow. But through it all, I am just overwhelmingly thankful…Thankful for the privilege of being a mom, and thankful for my 3 beautiful children: Kyla Grace, Esther Kate, and Elijah Amos. I am so very blessed!

To all the other Moms I know…Happy Mother’s Day! What a gift we have been given!

And to my friends who are also bereaved moms…My heart goes out to you. I pray you can enjoy this special day – roller coaster of emotions and all. :-)

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

Happy Birthday Esther Kate

Esther's birthdayHappy birthday Esther Kate!

I hurt for you and miss you today. But I also celebrate your life. I treasure the few hours I got to spend with you in my arms two years ago today. You were so beautiful and perfect. You will always be my girl.

Today I wonder again what heaven is like. I can only imagine now, but one day I will see it with you. You can show me around! One thing is for sure: you have everything you need. You are not hurting today, and for that, I am so thankful.

 

I love you forever.

Love,
Mommy

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Dear Esther, It’s Been Two Years Since That Day…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADear Esther,

It’s been two years since Daddy and I walked into that fateful doctor’s appointment. It’s been two years since we chatted innocently in the waiting room, trying to decide what we would name you. Two years since we had dreams of the life we would have with you. Two years since our hopes and plans for you were stolen in one dreadful moment.

But I still remember it like yesterday. I remember the silence. I remember the shock. I remember the sobs that shook the deepest part of my being. I remember how helpless I felt. I was your momma. How could you, my precious baby slip away without me knowing? I didn’t even get to say goodbye.

There were so many words I wanted to say to you, so many hugs and kisses I wanted to give you, so many moments I wanted to share with you.

When I found out your life was over, it felt like mine was too.

Today, I feel all these things once again. It is lonely without you here. There are still so many things I want to say.

But sweet girl, I want you to know that I would do it all again for you. I would walk through the pain of losing you again for you to have a brief life here and an eternal life in heaven. You were worth it. You are worth it. The joy you brought me in your short life will always be treasured. I am so thankful that I was chosen to carry you for those brief months on this earth. And through your life and death, I have learned to look for eternity with an earnest heart. Heaven is not far away. Forever is what matters. And one day, I will tell you everything!

I love you so much.

Until we can be together forever,

Mommy

Esther’s Week – 2 Years, 1 Year, Today

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is an important, painful, and special week of memories in our home. I wanted to share some of our joy and struggle as we navigate the two year anniversary of Esther’s passing from this life into her eternal home…

Two years ago this week, I was about to be blind-sided by the tragedy of my unborn daughter’s death. The cold reality that was about to greet our family would leave me grappling with pain I had never imagined. The loneliness would be unbearable, the sense of emptiness overwhelming.

One year ago this week, I was 11 1/2 weeks pregnant with our third child, struggling to have hope while searching for ways to honor Esther’s life. I wanted to believe the outcome of this pregnancy would be different, yet the pain of what had happened before left certain fears constantly weighing on my heart.

photo(8)This week, I am holding my miracle “rainbow” baby, and preparing to remember Esther’s 2nd birthday in heaven. I am enjoying the fact that in 2015, this week is fairly mundane. Sometimes non-eventful is good. In the last two years, I have certainly learned to appreciate “normal” days. No crises, catastrophes, surprises, or tragedies…just life. There is something very beautiful about simple life.

I still miss my girl. I always will. I think about her many times every day. I dream about what life would be like with her here.

I still struggle with (sometimes irrational) fears that someone else I love will be snatched from me. This did happen two years ago, and it left a big scar on my heart. I check my kids breathing multiple times each night and I still often wake from nightmares that one of them is in trouble and I can’t save them.

But this week, I also have a peace because life is still a beautiful gift. I have experienced deep loss, but I have also been given much. Both are part of my story. Even while I type this, I have a three year old who’s imagination is blooming as she dresses her stuffed dogs in photo(10)doll dresses. I have a 5 month old son snoozing contentedly, who will soon bring a smile to my face with his toothless smiles and warm personality. And I have a little princess who I cannot hold now, but who is being held by her real Daddy, the King of Kings.

This year brought a lot of healing to my heart. As I enter into this memorable week on the calender, I can see how much God has grown me the last two years. I can see how faithful He has been to see me through. I can see how eternal His love for me really is.

Some days are hard and I can’t see these things through the pain. But today I can…and I am thankful.

I wrote this two days ago.

Today, this is what I found myself writing…

This is such a hard week. The reality that I couldn’t save my own child weighs heavy on my heart today. She was my child, I was her mommy. I couldn’t bring her safely into the world. I know all the logical replies like, “it wasn’t your fault” and “there is nothing anyone could have done.” But this week is not logical. I miss my girl, my middle child. She should be here.

So many emotions are trying to rule my heart…Anger, sadness, frustration, and loneliness. Today feels so much like that day two years ago. As I was running this morning, I just felt weak. Out of gas. Drained. Already today, I’ve lost my patience with my husband and kids for no good reason several times. My mind feels like it’s in a fog. I know this is what grief feels like. I know I’ll be okay because I’ve been here. I’ve lived in this place before and survived. Right now, I’m just visiting. I will ride out the waves, let my heart feel the pain, and cry the tears that need shed. Then I will smile again because I have been given so much. I will smile again because she lived. I will smile again because the story isn’t over.

photo 2(9)Two days ago, I shopped for Esther’s hope basket supplies, and felt somewhat on top of my emotions. Today, I’ve been a crying mess. Having this boy to squeeze sure helps, and I am SOOOOO thankful for his beautiful life, his beating heart, his little chest rising and falling as he sleeps. But of course he doesn’t replace Esther – he is his own unique blessing. This year is very different for me. It is remarkable how having another baby truly brings so much healing, yet there can also be some confusing feelings of grief.

As I contemplated my own crazy up and down so far this week, I realized I’m going to be facing a lot of February’s in the future. With this in mind, I have decided to call this week Esther’s week. February 10 – 17 is now officially Esther’s week in our family. This week calls for some extra understanding, extra snuggles, and space for emotions. Although Adam and I both tend to be go-getters, this week we won’t try to solve the world’s problems. We will just show some love to each other and spend time remembering our little girl in heaven…

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