Monday, March 23, 2015

Dear Theodore {9 months}

3/23/2014 - Nine months in heaven

Dear Theodore,

You were born on a Monday, the 23rd of June. This month and last, your month birthdays have been on a Monday. It's been strange. I always look back to Sunday the 22nd of June with such heartache - it was the last day before our world crumbled and would never be the same. And it was SUCH a good day. We went to church... I still have the bulletin that Thomas and I played the connect-the-dot game on while taking sermon notes (how old are we?!). We came home, had lunch, and skyped with Nana and Grandad. Then off we went to Touch-A-Truck where Judah had the time of his life climbing through dump trucks and firetrucks and tow trucks and school buses. From there we went straight to our church's summer picnic, complete with inflatable water slides, pools, and sprinklers for the kids... it was so fun and we got to talk with many of our church family. I was hugely pregnant with you and everyone was excited that you would be here any day. The whole day, I just had this feeling that it was our last "hurrah" before our sweet baby boy arrived and we started our new life with him. And I guess I was mostly right - except for the devastating fact that we would be starting our new life without you. We had no way to know that before the end of the week, we would be having your memorial service.

Nine months ago right now, on another Monday, I was in labor with you. The physical agony was nothing compared the pain of the knowledge that I would be giving birth only to say goodbye. Your birth has given me the courage to face every day since then. I think to myself "If I got through that, I can get through anything... I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Women often say that giving birth is the most painful thing you might face on this earth... I can guarantee you that it's not. Giving your baby up to heaven is... it is true physical, mental, emotional agony.

Bereaved motherhood is a hard journey. Nine months in, most days are manageable... I can take care of Judah, get housework done, prepare meals, run errands. But there is always a hole, always something missing. On hard days and anniversaries like today, the hole seems bigger and more achy. It's like being desperately hungry, only nothing will satisfy you. It's a deep ache that longs for you to be home with me, my Theodore, and yet recognizes that this earth will never be home.

There is a song by David Crowder that plays through my mind often:

"Come As You Are"

Come out of sadness
From wherever you’ve been
Come broken hearted
Let rescue begin
Come find your mercy
Oh sinner come kneel
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can’t heal
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can’t heal


So lay down your burdens
Lay down your shame
All who are broken
Lift up your face
Oh wanderer come home
You’re not too far
So lay down your hurt
Lay down your heart
Come as you are



There’s hope for the hopeless
And all those who’ve strayed
Come sit at the table
Come taste the grace
There’s rest for the weary
Rest that endures
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can’t cure



So lay down your burdens
Lay down your shame
All who are broken
Lift up your face
Oh wanderer come home
You’re not too far
So lay down your hurt
Lay down your heart
Come as you are
Come as you are
Fall in his arms
Come as you are
There’s joy for the morning
Oh sinner be still
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can’t heal
Earth has no sorrow
That heaven can’t heal



So lay down your burdens
Lay down your shame
All who are broken
Lift up your face
Oh wanderer come home
You’re not too far
So lay down your hurt
Lay down your heart
Come as you are
Come as you are
Come as you are


When I feel the weight of sadness and grief, I often say to myself... "Rest for the weary, rest that endures... earth has no sorrow that heaven can't heal". On your month birthdays, I give myself the whole day without plans, because I never know what I will feel. Today I woke up with Judah, and the morning went fairly normally. I read something that made me choke up a little, but then I was ok again. As the hours went by, though, I've had this headache that's been building... like a storm brewing. I put Judah down for his nap, and he had some hard questions about life and death, and why Jesus had to die on the cross. I felt so inadequate to answer them in a way that he would understand. As I rocked him and sang "Jesus Loves Me" before he climbed into bed, I felt the floodgates begin to open... I managed to hold it back until he was tucked in and on his way to dreamland. I sat down to write this letter and let the tears out as the headache slowly faded. I call them "grief headaches" now, and they often surprise me, but I'm learning to recognize them. One of the things that's hard for me right now is that each month, it gets more difficult to picture you at an older age. We are only three months from your first birthday in heaven. It fills me with sorrow when I realize this is the month that Judah started walking and looked so grown up to me... and I will never know what you look like at nine months old. Earth has no sorrow that heaven can't heal...

This afternoon when he wakes up, Judah and I will go pick up nine blue balloons to let go when Papa gets home, and some bright flowers to bring some light and beauty into the house. We'll all go visit your little grave... Judah will ring the windchimes and spin your pinwheel and we'll pray. It's not how we pictured celebrating your birthday every month, but it brings us some peace. One of my projects this month is planting a little flower garden memorial in the corner of our yard next to your hydrangea... plenty of bright colors and beauty.

We love you, Theodore Robert. I have no idea how heaven works, but this month I will imagine you taking your first wobbly steps surrounded by angels and light and love in the presence of Jesus.

Love, Momma, Papa, Judah, and baby sister


A few pictures during labor with you, nine months ago right now:



Close up of my necklace, that I wore during labor with you and with Judah


Precious snuggles



Friday, March 6, 2015

Dear Theodore {8 months}

2/23/2015 - Eight months in heaven

Dear Theodore,

I'm writing this late again, next week you would be nine months old here on earth. These letters to you are emotionally draining for me, but so important and healing. It is hard to find time to sit and write when Judah is keeping me busy. He doesn't like to see me upset so I try not to write letters to you when he is watching. It's just one of many things that make me wish you were here with us, so that all of our lives could be intertwined more effortlessly.

Month eight was a busy one, a cold one, and a sick one. Judah had a week-long stomach bug, and then we all got bad colds that took weeks to go away. I started on a bit of a health quest because I was sick of being sick with all the winter germs and revamped our eating, making our own sourdough bread, milk kefir, cultured vegetables and cooking healthy food each day. This takes up a lot of time and energy but it has really helped. Knowing that I am feeding myself and my family good nourishing food has been uplifting for me. Judah also turned three, and we had his birthday party last month. It was lots of fun, but as always I couldn't help but wonder what it would have been like to have you there. I remember last year on Judah's second birthday thinking "Next year Judah will have a 7.5 month old little brother crawling around on his birthday!".

My dreams of you are all I have - I will never get to see you at 8 months old, a year old, 8 years old, 18 years old... And every month I have to let go of that a little more. I can sort of imagine what you would be doing, having watched Judah grow up. At 8 months old he was a speedy crawler, he could stand alone, and he was walking everywhere with his little push walker. Nothing was safe! Sometimes I look around and imagine how different life would be if you were here - we'd have the fence up around the TV. We'd have gates on all the doorways. The alphabet fridge magnets would be pushed up higher out of your reach. I'd be wrestling with safety locks on the kitchen cupboards. The pile of clean laundry would be your playground. There are a hundred little things that I think of every day, and then have to let go.

It snowed several times and it was cold cold cold. The cold makes me sad anyways, and being stuck indoors doesn't help. Ever since we buried your ashes on your one month birthday, it's hard for me when it rains or snows. My momma heart irrationally wants to run to your grave with umbrellas and blankets. I don't... because I know with absolute certainty that you are not really there. But your grave is one of few tangible links I have with you... it's your precious little earthly body... and I am your mother and there are so few things I can do to mother you on this earth. So it's hard for me. This probably seems strange and morbid to people who have not buried a child or a loved one... it's one of those things that I hope no one ever has to understand.

We found out baby #3 is a little girl in the middle of month 8. I knew from the very beginning with you and with Judah that you were boys. This time I just couldn't tell, though I kept thinking "well maybe this one is a girl" and then instantly saying to myself "no that's impossible, we're a boy family!" - I guess that should have been my clue that it was a little sister! It is such a joy to think about having a little girl. But my heart hurts a little, too. Judah won't have his little brother buddy like I had imagined the two of you. We won't get to use all the sweet little boy clothes (this time). Our lives will be filled with new little girl things, which is so happy... but I miss you, my little boy. No one will ever replace you.

Sweet Theodore... we just miss you. This letter seems a little disjointed... I just wanted to write down what I felt during month eight. It's not pretty or flowing but it's real. We miss you. It always hurts. We wish you were here.

Love, Momma, Papa, Judah, and baby sister






Thursday, March 5, 2015

Dear Sweet Rainbow Girl

My sweet baby girl,

I had kind of hoped to have a name for you by now, but we are not quite there yet! I hardly know where to start my first letter to you. We found out we were pregnant with you in mid-October just days before your big brother Theodore's four-months-in-heaven birthday. We were not expecting to be pregnant again quite that quickly, but God had his plans! The month leading up to finding out about you was a strangely bright and hopeful month, after three dark months of hard grief. On Theodore's three-months-in-heaven birthday, we visited his little grave like we always do and there was a beautiful rainbow over the cemetery. We saw a similar one the evening before Theodore was born. It brought me such joy and hope. Throughout that whole month, I saw rainbows literally everywhere... dancing through the chandelier in our kitchen, shimmering through cracks in the garage door, out of the corner of my eye as the light caught my glasses.

There was joy that month, mixed with the grief, and bright hope for the future... promises of good things to come. And then we found out about you! A "rainbow baby" is a term for a baby who comes after the storm of loss. I do not consider Theodore to be a "storm" or a "loss"... he is our precious baby boy... but the grief of not having him with us on earth is most definitely like a storm. Rainbows don't take away the ravages of the storm, but they bring light and hope. You are our sweet rainbow girl - you have brought us so much joy already.

As the pregnancy hormones kicked in, I began to have a more difficult time again. Pregnancy and grief make for a rough combination. I always look back on that month and the first couple of weeks of pregnancy with wonder - before we even knew about you, God sent little signs of the joy to come. It really was such a bright and hopeful few weeks.

November, December, and January were hard. Birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, a new year... so many firsts without Theodore, while being pregnant and exhausted and hormonal. Your due date is only a week apart from his, so I hit milestones at all the same times I was hitting them with Theodore last year. It was/is bittersweet. Thankfully the past few weeks have seemed a little brighter again.

I had no idea how terrifying being pregnant again after a loss could be. Before I could feel you moving, I had to rely on my pregnancy symptoms. If they seemed less severe one day, if I felt less queasy or something, it was hard not to worry that I was loosing you. I felt you move later than I felt Judah (14 weeks) and Theodore (13 weeks)... it was not until about 16 weeks that I felt you really move. Even now at 22 weeks, you movements are softer and less pronounced than the boys'. When I was pregnant with Judah and Theodore it was so fun to feel them moving, and I never gave it a second thought. I never did my "kick counts" like you're supposed to after 28 weeks. Every time I feel you move, I breathe a sigh of relief and release some tension that I don't even realize I'm carrying. When I wake in the middle of the night, I cannot sleep again until I feel a little kick or roll. And you can bet I will be doing my "kick counts" multiple times a day as soon as I hit 28 weeks. Maybe even 24 weeks. I feel like I can't trust my body to keep you safe like it's supposed to... like it failed to keep Theodore safe. I know that God has a plan, that Theodore is exactly where he is supposed to be... and that you have your own days ordained for you... but it is very hard to feel like something in your body went wrong and caused your baby to die and you don't exactly know what or how to stop it from happening again.

Each appointment that I have, whether just a check-up or an ultrasound, is nerve-wracking. My appointments at the birth center are often in the same room that the midwife could not find Theodore's heartbeat. I always walk right past the ultrasound room where they confirmed his heart was not beating. And sweet baby girl... you are ornery when it comes to finding your heartbeat! You like to hide. At my 12 week appointment it took the midwife at least five anxious minutes to find it... same again at 16 weeks. Because I felt movement later and your heartbeat was always hard to find, the midwives guessed I might have an anterior placenta (in the front of the uterus). However, the ultrasound at 20 weeks showed it was more fundal and posterior - so baby girl, you just like to hide and give me and Papa mini-heart attacks! I guess you are just more chilled out than your brothers because you don't move as much as they did.

Your 20-week ultrasound with the maternal-fetal specialist was anxiety-inducing as well. I'm just more aware now of all the things that can go wrong with development etc, so it was hard not to be anxious. The ultrasound was early on a Monday morning and the whole week before I literally kept forgetting about it. Thomas would mention it and I would be surprised again - oh right, that's on Monday... I think it was my mind protecting itself with some sort of denial, ha! The ultrasound tech was very sweet, and the very first thing we saw was that you were a girl. Everything looked good, although the tech was momentarily concerned about one of your kidneys being a little big. When she went back and measured again, it had gone back down, meaning fluid was moving through properly. You do like to give us a good scare. You measured two days bigger than your due date (July 4th), and apparently you have long legs and arms and big feet! Which is surprising, considering the rest of your family has relatively tiny feet :)

One of the reasons I really wanted to have a name for you by now was that I felt it would help me to connect with you during the pregnancy. While I still want to find a name sooner rather than later, I'm not worried about bonding with you anymore. I think about you all the time... I wonder what you will look like, and I imagine holding you in my arms. I feel connected with you, much more so than I ever felt during my pregnancies with Judah and Theodore. I only got to hold Theodore in my arms for six hours, after carrying him inside me for nine long months. It's intensified the longing to hold you... to see you breathe, to hear you cry, to feed you, to watch you grow, to watch you with Papa and Judah.

Your biggest brother Judah is so excited to meet you. He wants to rub my belly and kiss you multiple times a day (an hour!). Every morning when he snuggles up next to me he asks "Mama, is there a tiny baby in your tummy?"... "yes, buddy, there is!"... "Is it baby sister?"... "yes, buddy"... "Is she going to come out now?"... "Not for a few months, she's still too little right now" .... and so on. He just has to check every morning that you're still there... my sweet 3-year-old boy. He worries for you, which breaks my heart... and makes me beg on my knees that you get to come home and play with him and grow up with him. After rubbing my belly he often says to me "I just checked on baby sister and she is good! She is sooo cute and I love her." He pretends to check for your heartbeat like he sees the midwives doing, and he gives me "shots" in my arm (I get blood drawn at every appointment to keep an eye on antibody levels). He is so very sweet with you, just like he always was with Theodore. Now that he is older and understands more, he wants to know things like exactly how you get your food (the umbilical cord thing is fascinating to him), and if you need to wear a diaper inside me! According to Judah, you love blueberries and chocolate just like he does.

We are less than four months away from meeting you, and it cannot go fast enough. I just want you in my arms! I feel like I will not breathe deeply or easily until I hear your newborn cry. I know you will not fill the hole that Theodore has left in our earthly family... there will always be someone missing. You and Theodore will be my little Irish twins - I only wish you could both be here on earth. You definitely bring joy and healing to our lives... and it will be such an adventure to have a little girl!

We love you so very much,

Momma, Papa, Judah, and Theodore

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...