October 09, 2016

6 years ago...

October 8th, 2010 I was boarding a plane to go to Declan's funeral.  I had a c-section 11 days prior.  Walking was a challenge without significant pain.  I pushed 2 year old Emmy's stroller with a few bags on it.  My mom had asked if it was too heavy, but there were car seats and other bags...no one else to grab them; Christian and my mom were already full and 5 year old Bryce couldn't take all that much.  So I lied and  I pushed it.  I felt a pang, but I ignored it.  

We were late and we needed to get to the plane.  There was a hold up, since the airport security decided that my mom's curlers were a threat to everyone's security.  We spent much precious time waiting for them to release my mom's bag.  When the bag was given we hurried...I couldn't hurry...but I did anyway.

Boarding was taking place, but the line was long.  The chaotic nature of traveling with children made my nerves raw.  Christian had the brilliant idea of going to the bathroom with our son.  I started to panic when it was the last call to board.  My mom unknowingly made my panic a category 5 when she decided to take Emmy on the plane without the rest of us.

I was in tears when Christian finally found me.  I yelled, not caring at the people that probably thought I had lost my mind.  We boarded and there weren't any seats by my mom and precious daughter.  I nearly lost it again.

As we headed back I realized there weren't three seats for Christian, Bryce and I.  I nearly broke into tears again.  The people aboard had no idea the mess they were flying with that day.

A kind stranger moved when asked and we were able to secure seats many rows away from my daughter.  The separation nearly killed me.

I popped a pain pill since, by then, the incision was aching and I was certain I had pushed much too hard.

I hate flying, this day was no different.  We got into the air and I held Christian's hand much too tightly.

The only thing I was even grateful for was to see Declan again.  I had time with him a little longer before he was to be buried.

We arrived at my mom's home.  My sister was busy in the kitchen.  I had not taken her calls.  I hadn't take any calls.  I barely text anyone.  She greeted me without looking at me.  I knew it was hard to know what to say.

I spent time putting together Declan's picture frames.  I had a friend drop off the frames and I was assembling the pictures since I had them printed up where my family lived.

As I determined which picture went where, my dad came in and told me my grandpa was sad he couldn't come.  I knew this would be the case...he had surgery not long before.

It was planing, going to see Declan, having time to sit and watch the slideshow I had made for Declan.  When the day of the funeral came I was so depleted.

The next day, October 9, 2010, my friend finished my hair straightening, because the task seemed too unbearable.  We got ready and we went to the mortuary.

I sat in a chair at the viewing.  We had our children there and only siblings and grandparents.  I didn't move until right before they closed the casket.  I kissed him once more and told him goodbye.  It was then my strong Christian, who had cried very little, wept openly in front of our families.  He said goodbye aloud and he bore the task of helping to seal our baby into his tiny casket.

We loaded up and went to the cemetery that was in walking distance, but I was in no condition to walk it.

Christian and I walked our living children up to where many family and friends were awaiting us.  I hugged them all.  I was grateful for each of them.  I didn't even know how to express what their presence meant.  Each hug felt like power to keep me from falling to pieces.

Christian took that tiny casket and carried it lovingly to the place designated for his graveside service.  It was a good service.  Emmy was restless and was given Lifesavers to keep her from wiggling off my lap.

When it was over and I had hugged, taken pictures, and everyone had left Christian and I stood there alone.  The men that would place Declan's casket into the ground came up to us.  They were young, probably in their early twenties.  They offered to let us place him into the ground.  Christian answered before I even thought about it.  Of course we would.

I lifted the casket, it wasn't heavy, but I couldn't lift it alone.  One of the guys mainly held it and I was pretty much just touching it.  Christian got into the grave in his suit and placed his casket down.  The guys helping had to pull Christian out.  I dropped a red rose onto the casket and then turned away.

I didn't watch or look back when they covered it, which they respectfully waited until we were gone.  When I came back it was just a mess of dirt and yellow pedals Emmy had spread from a plant a friend from high school had brought.

I placed another rose on the grave.  I had done it.  I had done what I felt I couldn't do.  He was buried.  I had made it through.  I was still alive.  How, I didn't know.

I sat down that night and wrote to Declan in the journal I thought I would give to him one day.  (Each of my children get journals that I begin before they are born.)  I had not written in his since he died.  I bore my heart to the journal.  I missed him.  There was nothing left to look forward to.  The funeral was over.  I didn't have anymore interaction.  Now the longing and waiting began.

Six years have passed.  I sat in this same chair in my mother-in-law's home and wrote my first journal entry to him after he had died.  Six years I have missed a son I never got to watch grow.  Six years I have decorated a grave instead of singing, "Happy Birthday!"  Six years of love I haven't been able to give.

This birthday hit hard.  It was the first time I was without Christian on his birthday.  It was the first time I was alone with my kids just clueless how to make it a fun day as it has usually been the last few years.

I didn't expect it.  6?  Why 6?  Was it because he would have started school this year?  Was it because my youngest would finally be alone with me this year...but instead he has never known anything else?  Why 6?

I talked to a friend who lost her baby son 30+ years ago.  She still cries on his birthday.  She still misses him like it happened yesterday.  In so many ways I feel I am an 80 old woman.  These 6 years have felt like 60.  Most days I feel almost bad that life has moved on and I don't cry like I used to, but then it hits and I am almost knocked over by the concussion.  It comes in unexpected ways.  I'm not sure what is worse...not knowing when it will hit or always feeling the pain.  I am starting to realize that 6, 10, 15, 20...it isn't going to get easier.

As we went to Declan's grave today, Ollie touched Declan's stone and said, "Miss you!"  I'd like to think he meant it.  I wonder if he was just mimicking me.  But either way it was amazing!  Ollie is the same age Emmy was when Declan died.  I find it strange how a 2 year old could possibly understand the grieving of their mother...but I have found my biggest solace has been from 2 year olds.

I am very grateful for this time to reflect on Declan's life.  I am not always able to be around others or function to my most capable level, but I like the time I get to take to mourn, celebrate, and just think about Declan and what he has meant to me.

I'm not sure how I will react next year.  I am sure it will take me by surprise as it always seems to at unexpected times.  Maybe someday I will anticipate better, but I doubt it.

September 19, 2016

September...

I have been without a computer for some time now.  As much fun as it is to try to blog on my phone...I didn't bother.

I am now in the month that has become something special.  I find myself reliving those weeks before Declan arrived in my life.  I see that pregnant woman so done with the scalding, summer heat.

I was not my best self.

I reprimanded myself for months afterward.

Why didn't I enjoy him more?!

Why didn't I love being pregnant?!

On and on I went.

I realized there was no way to know.  How was I to know that my life was going to obliterated?  Even now I find myself with the words, "You know better."

And I do.

I know first hand what life looks like when you are standing in a place you have never stood and look back, at what was once you beautiful life, to see it splintered all over the floor.  However, I have to remind myself, often, I am only human.  I do have this different understanding of life and how quickly it can turn.  I try to remember each day I want no regrets.

But that is hard!  

And let's be honest...exhausting!

I have moments I can fully embrace it.  I can feel myself leave the ridiculousness of this life and focus on what is real and lasting.

But it doesn't last as long as I would prefer.  I have gotten impatient with myself.

This year I have been through more challenges and I had to reevaluated my life.  I suddenly saw myself differently.  What I have to remember is I'm still me.  Through all the nonsense...I'm still here.  I have been broken, beaten down, drug through the recesses of depressed hell, and stretched until I screamed out in pain.  I reemerged different...no one can escape without changing one way or another...but I am still me.  I still love writing.  I still love reading.  I love photography.  I love my kids.  I still have my green eyes...even though the weight I have gained and the stress left deep lines have changed my appearance...I'm still me.  I still allow myself to feel, love, and forgive.  I haven't shut down.  I traversed the hellish places so I could put them behind me.  I took the long, exhausting journey because it was necessary.  I only know how to brace for impact and then let those water engulf me.  I scramble with everything I have and when I feel I have nothing left sometimes it felt a ten foot wave would crash over me.  I would scream out only to feel it was swallowed in the suffocating water.  It was then I knew I could no longer do it alone.  I wasn't even meant to.  I was given something that would require help.  I could do it...but not alone.

The crushing fear would suddenly dissipate and the warm Son's rays would hold me safe.  I was still in the water.  The reality of what I was dealing with was not gone, but it was a task I could undergo.  What was minutes before going to pound me into dust, was replaced with a lovely wave licking at my face.  I could do this.  I could live life knowing what I know.  I can make it through this...and keep my sanity.  I was overcome with how far I had come.

If I could express the last year in one would it would be:  Faith.  My faith specifically.  I honestly know it was there.  There were points in my life it was more than necessary.  But this last year I feel has been the year that Faith was put to the test.  I didn't want the test...to be honest.  I childishly felt I had had enough with losing Declan.  I wanted to bit a break.  I don't why I thought I had earned some leave from life and all it's struggles.

But I did.

Then Christian lost his job.  I had slipped into dark places.  I let fear take hold of me.  When I finally clawed out of the abyss, I was suddenly looking at another.

"Are you kidding me?!"  I honestly screamed aloud.

I sunk onto my floor and cried like a little child.

"What more do you want from me?!  Do you think I can do anything?!"  I cried out in utter confusion.

When I left the hospital without Declan, I honestly thought that would be the hardest thing I would go through; and up until now, and many ways, it was.

But I wasn't done learning because I went through something so hard.


I went running today.  I haven't been running consistently since right after Declan died.  It felt good to pound the pavement.  I remembered the absolute need for running almost as much as oxygen.  I needed to run.  I went running on the day I was cleared for exercise after my c-section.  I was in so much pain.  I wrapped my binding brace tight and it still hurt.  But I had to move.  I would jump out of skin if I didn't.

Today as I did wind sprints I pushed my body hard.  I'm by no means in fabulous shape.  But I thought of my broken self and sprinting wasn't even an option.  I shuffled in a glorified speed walk for only 7 minutes.  When I feel I can't do something physically I remember that day.  The broken, grieving mom who put on her sneakers and went running; even though she had an emergency c-section only 6 weeks before.  She had a fight that I didn't even know existed.  With tears streaming down her cheeks, she painfully placed one foot in front of the other, envisioning her angel son standing beside her as she did the most miraculous thing she had ever attempted.  She had hated running her whole life.  She had, once upon a time, a runner's body, but the mental stamina of a gnat.  Here she was, no longer the skinny, teenager she once was, running what felt like her 7 minute marathon.  She went on to run 5ks and 10ks.  She didn't get her half marathon achieved, but what she did was far above what she felt she could do.

The person I became after Declan died, saved the girl who slipped into an almost unconquerable depression later.  I will always be grateful for Declan for being in my life and showing me a different life than I would have normally had.

I am learning to relish the small victories...even if they seem small to others.

I am determined to stop being so hard on myself.  I slip up a lot.  But this year I have tried to fully appreciate the person I am...and the person I will be.  It isn't easy for me...in fact it goes against my self-deprecating ways that are so ingrained.

But as I told my son this week.  "We just need to keep trying.  Even if you mess up every day...never give up.  We will conquer the hard things."

I know I can stop punishing myself for not being perfect.

I can keep going.

I found a bracelet I love and wear it to remind myself:  "Never, never, never Give up!"

I am determined to make that be my life's goal.  When I can look back on my life I can see:  I went through the challenges and never gave up...even though I wanted to many, many times.

July 12, 2016

My blogging...

I have been blogging for several years now.  I started because we were moving away and I wanted to document our life for friends and family.

I loved the fun blogging created for me.  I could post about my newborn and three year old.  Life was pretty great and I had to share.

I started this blog because my family blog was private.  It was my way to share with the world in a way I wouldn't otherwise.  I shared my faith.  I shared my love for Christian.

Then my life turned upside-down.  I was no longer talking about my life in theories any longer.  It was real.  And it was HARD.

My little baby boy was gone.  I was left with a shattered heart and scattered thoughts.

This blog became my solace.  I placed my grief and pain into it.  I sent it out to...well I wasn't sure.  Did anyone read it?

I tried to sift through my broken heart and start to mend it.  I realized quickly I was not capable of such a task.  Only divine help could.

I cried and poured my soul into this blog...hoping that I could make sense of what I had just been through.

Nearly 6 years have passed since that day.  I can only imagine what life could have been if he had lived.  In the early days of my grief I played the very dangerous game of, "what if."  Those "what ifs" haunted me...and nearly destroyed me.

Now I see that if Heavenly Father had wanted to, he would have saved Declan.  He would be here right now and I wouldn't be typing this blog.  This blog probably would have been long forgotten, much as many of my friends.  I would have found little to blog about quickly and then it would have been lost in the shuffle of my busy life.

I have had times I have not blogged nearly as much as I once had, but I always return.  The grief never goes.  It will be with me until my last breath.  But the hope of something incredible is always there.  I know my beautiful boy is on the other side cheering me on and hoping that I will always get up when I fall.

This blog in many ways saved me.  I healed through writing my feelings here.  I am ironically a very private person, but this gave me a chance to share.  It has been a blessing in my life.

I forget sometimes that Declan's story, subsequently mine as well, is startling for people.  I used to tell people about it easily and frequently.  I don't anymore.  It does surprise me when I am present when someone else shares my story to someone for the first time.  Their horrified face is always heartbreaking.  I know they are running through their own children wondering how it would be to lose each one.  The nightmare every parent hopes never to experience is wrapped up in the person standing before them.  It is humbling to feel the empathy that radiates from them, knowing they are completely speechless how to convey what is tearing at their hearts.

I recently had the chance to talk to my very young aunt who lost her baby 8 months after Declan.  We had not really spoken of our experiences.  But there we were at the family reunion speaking of our angel children.  It was amazing to see how far we had come since that really hard time in life.  The longing is still there, but the healing has transformed us into something much more than we were before.

I still marvel at the progress I thought I would never make.  I look at that lost, broken, and anxious mother I was.  It was a very difficult time in my life that was followed by another difficult time.  Nothing prepared me for either event and to have them so close to one another I feared I would not survive.

I see Christy is still there and feel more like her every day...but with one exception...I am a better version of myself.  I have learned to rejoice at the progress made...even when it is small and unrecognizable to others.

I am still here and trying.  I am able to be home with my children, which is exactly where I desperately desire to be.  I continue to work to overcome the pitfalls and obstacles in my way.  It isn't always pretty or quick, but I get there eventually and hope I endure to the end.

June 09, 2016

Punishment...

We as people are really good at punishing ourselves.  I know I am a master at it.  I'm not smart enough.  Not pretty enough.  Not engaging enough.  Not clever enough.  Not a fabulously mom and wife.  Not ______.  There are few words I haven't used to fill that blank.

I have beat myself up over and over.

I remember the guilt after Declan almost destroyed me.  I had been the one to carry him.  My body failed us both.  How do I let that go?!


I replayed the day over and over.  I played the "what if" game until I almost lost my mind.

I eventually made peace with where he was and my role in our relationship that would span mortality.

I have lived through my "worst case scenario."  I have lived in fear most of my life.  I have anxiety and it plays terrible thoughts and fears in my mind constantly.  It is hard to live a good life with all that swimming in my head all the time.

I have had quiet times where the anxiety isn't raging.  But since Declan died it reared it's ugly head.  I would watch my kids sleep and feared what I would do if something happened to them.  If Christian was ever late or didn't call when I expected I would go to the worst thing I could think.

This year I have been trying to think of ways to reprogram my mind.  I don't want fear to rule my life.  I realized that I already lived through what I considered my "worst case scenario."  I lost someone dear to me.

Now I have this stupid gene that could create a whole new "worst case scenario" to taunt me for the rest of my life.

I could live in fear my whole life.  But I am determined to live a full life.  It is not an easy process.  I have days I fall backwards and the fear starts to grip me and I worry how I will get back up and move forward.

I told Christian yesterday that I can't get over Declan...at least I can't ever stop missing him.  I can move forward, but I will never feel whole again until we are reunited.  But I can get over this gene.  It doesn't have to derail me.

It is really easy for me to look at myself and just see a mess.  I'm not handling things the way I wish.  I'm not the weight I should be.  I let myself sink into such depression and let food be my crutch.  I knew what I was doing, but I couldn't pull myself out of it.  I let my self-worth sink so far down I don't know how much lower it could go.

I have punished myself over and over for what I am now.  I am the heaviest I have ever been in my life.  For a girl who once wore a size 4, it is astounding to me.  I have been ashamed.  I even think a little disgusted with myself.

I finally feel that I am at a crossroads.  I can hate myself for the rest of my life and keep this awful cycle going.  Or...I can start to allow myself to love me.  I was watching a show about weight loss* and on the show a girl had talked about all the bad thoughts in her head kept her from feeling worth anything.  The host told her that there was a demon in her and he was filling her with all these negative thoughts and HE IS A LIAR.  I just started bawling knowing it was true.  He is a liar!  I won't listen anymore.  No one should listen anymore!

We all have hard things we have triumphed.  I know I am not the only one that beats herself up.  Taking a look back on all we are and why we are.  It should matter us.  Life is not easy and trials come to us all.  Pain accompanies us all at times.  It isn't always, but acknowledging those triumphs is okay...

The same over-weight body, that I cringe at, had four beautiful children.  These not so toned arms have held three living children and held one angel.  These fingers that almost look foreign to me from all the weight-gain picked up the casket of my beloved baby and helped place it in the earth.  This body had been through gestational diabetes, c-sections, and so much anxiety it was crippled by it.

I may never be a size 4 again.  I may never be wealthy.  I may not be well known.  But I am worth fighting for.  I deserve a place in this world.  I'm beautiful.  I'm always trying to better myself.  I have a thirst for knowledge that is unquenchable.  I am creative.  I am capable of great love.  I am loyal...once you are mine, you are forever.

It is really hard for me to allow myself to see the things that are good about me, but I am determined to get out of my own way.  I don't want my self-worth to get in the way of things I want to do.  It is distracting.  I want more out life than telling myself all the many ways I am not enough.

I want to forgive myself for struggling with all these hard trials.  I want to forgive those who didn't understand.  I want to be okay with where I have been and move forward with more empathy for having traversed such hellish places.

It isn't going to be fixed today.  I know it will take time to continue to push out that demon in my head that says I can't change and I will always feel this awful.  But I know better.  I always have.  I just let that demon drown me out.  I can't let that be my legacy.  I want my kids to know the real me, that is at peace and not raging inside with a terrible storm that is killing me from the inside out.

I pray for courage.  I pray for my fear to be pushed aside.  I pray that I can be the person I feel I can be and want, with every fiber of my being.

 "For with God nothing shall be impossible."  (Luke 1:37)

If He could help Moses part a sea, I think He can teach me how to love myself again.

*The Biggest Loser

April 20, 2016

Guidance...

The last few months have been...weird.  I have felt peace that I didn't even know I could feel.  I also have felt panic, anxiety, and fear.  Last of all...betrayed.

I know that seems overly dramatic, but let me explain.

I know there is a 50-80% chance I could get cancer within my lifetime.  Now this number is incredibly ranging.  It could be that I only have a 50% chance.  It could be that I have a 77.7% chance.  I could not even get cancer at all.  There is no way to know.  What I do know...I have this stupid gene.

Now there are many different ways of handling this knowledge.  I have taken the less invasive road.  Screening.  Now I can see that for some this would not be enough.  They need to erratic any chance.  I get that.  For me I have a different perspective.  What if I am supposed to get cancer?  That thought makes me ponder this often.  If Heavenly Father has a trial ahead of me that is titled:  cancer...will taking any measure possible change that for me?  I have a feeling...no.  I know that we are on this earth for a purpose.  We aren't here just for fun or some primordial accident.  We are here to learn.

Now these lessons are hard!  I will not pretend that they aren't.  I have buried a child...trust me I get it.  But I also know that when I have faith miracles happen.  Do they happen the way I want...not always.

Now back to the lovely word...cancer.  I have a sneaking suspicion that even if I have surgery and try to remove any chance that I will have cancer that does not guarantee that I won't get cancer.  Having said this I will take measures that I feel are necessary.  If I am inspired to take action...I won't just sit here and shrug my shoulders.  But as of yet I haven't felt the need.

The hard thing I am finding is this...I feel my choices aren't respected.  I understand we don't have to agree.  I also understand that you may worry.  But I also know that I am doing what I am being guided to do.  I am trusting that Heavenly Father knows a little more about what I need to do...than maybe you do.  When you get in my head with all the doubt and fear it unleashes Pandora's box in my head.  All the self-doubt and concern that I am not as in tune as I hope to be comes rearing it's very ugly head.  I am reeling with all the stupid thoughts that take me so long to put back into the box.  I know what I need to do.  I know my choice is correct for me.  But I need you to trust me that I know my Heavenly Father is trying to show me something that maybe you don't understand...and that's okay.

I have felt this disrespect has lead to feelings of betrayal.  I don't like them and wish I could squish them.  I know people are faulty and we disappoint and hurt each other constantly.  But sometimes it becomes much too much and I feel that my getting crushed.  I am just a girl trying to the best she can.  I don't have all the answers...but I do have some.  All I want is for it to be okay and that you can have my back no matter what.  That's I am emotionally safe with you.

I can pass this gene on and I know one or a few of my kids could have it.  I have peace that it will be okay for them.  I will hold their hand through the choices they can make.  I hope with all my heart I will never let them feel attacked or doubt their ability to make good choices.

This life is so hard.  I love it.  I really do.  There are times I feel it knocks the wind out of me and I have to catch my breath.  Those are the times that I know I need to press forward and not let it keep me doubled over.

I have come a long way from the girl who started blogging about her angel baby.  I have sunk into hell and come out.  I know better than some the depths of hopelessness.  I am here to say that nothing...I mean NOTHING...is impossible with Christ.

We will all fail somehow.  We will fail each other.  We will disappoint.  We will hurt each other.  But He will never do any of that.  If we were to put all our trust into just one...I know He is the One to choose.

I know He has healed my very broken heart.  He has held me as I cried and felt that I would never be happy again.  He has walked the lonely days of not feeling understood.  He has been the only One to fully understand my path.  It at times was very, very lonely...but it was only because I wouldn't let Him in.  Every time I make an effort and just crack the door I shut on Him...He is there ready to help.  I know that I am undeserving of such love, but I am so very grateful for it!

I don't know what will come.  Maybe I will get cancer.  Maybe I won't.  Maybe I will be guided into surgery, maybe I won't.  What I do know is...I am not alone.  I am being guided by One who is much wiser than me.