Thursday, July 10, 2014

Nearing a year.....

REFLECTIONS...... July came quickly this year. I can't believe it has been a year since Jack was born. The end of last summer was a total blur for me. Every day was not a good day and I wasn't sure if I would ever feel truly happy again. I remember the moment that I was driving and I had a little feeling of lightness with a happy emotion behind it. It caught my grief off guard and it went as quickly as it came. That little moment slowly morphed into me learning to live again as the new me. Slowly a seemingly good day snuck in and over the months another and then another. Eventually, after many months, Id say that I experience more good days than bad. That I have more smiles than tears. It's been hard and confusing, but I have been trying. I was never going to "get over" not having my son. I was never going to see that "it was for a reason". I was never going to fully understand or accept. But God tugged me along He keeps me moving and growing. Sometimes I feel wise and strong and able to reach out and help others while other times I feel selfish, confused, angry, and completely unable to care about much of anything. July approaching has made my emotions more difficult. Each day is a memory of where I was last year at this time and what my thoughts and fears and HOPES were then. I had no idea what was to come or how I would deal. On another hand I look and think "it's been a whole year and you don't have this figured out yet?!" I just fear that I still don't know how to BE. I feel unstable with my grief. I am so scared that it is going to suck me in and any progress my loved ones thought I've made is going to disappear. I'm trying to find meaning. Im trying to allow God to lead me to my next journey. To use this hurt, this love, to glorify Him and help others. I'm trying. I think. I mostly need to find a balance between growing and making my life and Jack's life what it's meant to be and then with dealing with my hurt and anguish. My human nature is wanting to find someone to blame and my God is wanting to help me beyond those emotions. I'm trying to learn to trust Him and work for His glory even though I don't understand WHY. I could ramble on about my emotions for daaaays, but Ill spare you (for now;)) and move on... THE KIDS....... We speak of Jack every day. Layla now also has more good times than bad when mentioning him, but I can see the hurt there for sure. I was pleased that focusing on Simon and his adoption wouldn't take away from Jack or their love for him. Them, just like us and our parents have two totally different parts of our heart for these boys as individuals. Im certain that whatever path God leads our family down will have a piece of Jack reflected in it as our reason for being strong and willing. CELEBRATING....... I'm not looking forward to the 17th or the 20th, that's for sure, BUT Im trying to plan ahead to think of what we should do to honor and remember our boy. Im trying to remember the 17th was the best day if my life and that is reason to celebrate and the 20th was the best moment of Jack's when he was greeted with his Lord. I want to have happy feelings about this anniversary time. However, my current remembrance preference includes a dark room and a giant bedspread over my head for four days, but I know I would regret that so Im trying to plan small activities... We plan to release a stringless balloon again, watch Jack's videos, look at all of his things and scrapbooks, light candles, plant a tree, spend time with our parents, and we will visit Children's Mercy on the 17th where we will deliver the nurses and doctors flowers with Jack Packs and coffee ;) Loved ones have asked what we might want then to do to remember Jack's sweet little life - perhaps light a candle in his memory or release a single blue balloon and pray for all the hurt and hope while you watch it float into the clouds. And most definitely, like always, we invite you to share that time with us. While it may be awkward or unsure, please know that telling us you're remembering Jack is always welcome and appreciated.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

March Adoption Update

**I realized my blog is a bit outdated and apologize to my readers who are not my FB friends. An update: ********* We continue to miss and think of Jack every day. This week marks eight months since we held him. I have sent many Jack Packs around the country to pregnant mothers who are struggling to find a balance between grief and hope. ********* Shortly after starting the adoption process, progress in Ethiopia went down hill and we were quickly narrowed and moved to the special needs program in China. We spent about two months waiting and learning there. After a turn of events with our agency we happen to be glancing at a waiting child list for Korea when we found Simon. We requested his file and after reviewing it with our pediatrician and prayers we requested a hold on him. We received initial approval from South Korea. Now we wait for our home study to be approved and submitted and then will get additional approval before a wait that will most likely be over a year before they call is for travel. In the mean time we get monthly health and development updates and photos and are able to send him small packages if we find a traveling adoptive family. After being inspired by another Korean adoptive mommy I decided to journal to Simon while I wait to hold him. *************************************** My Simon- I look at your pictures and think about you every day. I wonder what you're doing. I wonder what your likes and dislikes are. I feel an ache in my heart looking and waiting for you. Please know we're trying. Please we're doing all we can to get you here. I pray your comfortable, happy, and well taken care of like you seem to be. Last night we had our social worker over for a few hours. We talked a lot about you. We talked a lot about Jack. And how our love for Jack has led us to you. We are stronger now. We are ready for you. I've been doing all I can to learn about Korea and adoptions and listening to other adoptees and adoptive parents. We're trying to busy ourselves preparing while we wait. My heart is trying not to be sad, but rather joyous. We hope you like your toys and your photos and your big brother's clothes that we sent. We can't wait to get your next update. We are so excited and proud of how strong and sweet you are. -Mom

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Life with MORE babes??

Patrick and I have always had a heart for children in need - for the orphan. We've spent time with children in both Mexico and Nicaragua who were in need of a loving home. When we first married we discussed adoption a great deal. We joined a group at church and learned whatever we could from others. As most of you know, adoption isn't easy. It can be stressful, risky, expensive, and timely. Back then we prayed about it, appreciated the idea of it, but were perhaps a bit scared away from the difficulties that could come with adoption and not even sure where to start. Before we knew it life started moving faster. We quickly got pregnant three times in three and a half years. Boom. Boom. Boom. It was quick, easy, fun, and free! But then our life came to a screeching halt. When Jack was diagnosed, when he was born, and when he died our world stopped moving. We have spent the last 5-10 months worrying, grieving, celebrating, mourning, and picking ourselves up. God has shown He is there. Not always in the way we'd hoped for, but we know He knows better. God gave us Jack. Jack caused us to pause. Jack showed us that we are capable of finding strength and immense love in a difficult situation. Jack showed us we are strong enough. And so when we looked at where our family would go next we were unsure. Scared. Worried. Jack's Trisomy13 is not something that was caused by our genetics, and so we do not have extreme fear of it happening again. People have asked, and yes, we are able to have more healthy children, BUT we feel like God is reminding us of our other capabilities. Our strength. We feel in our hearts that it is time to revisit adoption. We are drawn to our world wide family and responsibilities. John 11 says, "And not only for that nation, but to bring together and unite all the children of God scattered around the world." And in Matthew 18 God says, "And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me." So it is our prayer that God will lead us to our next child. Our arms are open. We have started our Adoption Home Study and after much research are currently finding ourselves leaning towards international adoption from Ethiopia. You have shown that we can count on your prayers and support. Thank you so much for reading. You can expect my typical unedited rambles and updates here. ;)

Saturday, November 16, 2013

My birthday. Again.

November 17th... 2012 - It was a Saturday morning. My 29th birthday. Layla had just turned three and Keith was eleven months old. Patrick let me sleep in since it was my birthday and he entertained the kids and worked at secretly printing off a spa day gift certificate for me. I had secrets of my own as I had been feeling a bit odd and snuck to take a pregnancy test. Quickly the lineS appeared and my first thought was " holy crap". An unplanned baby for a very planned momma. I smiled and stuck the test in my pocket and walked to the kitchen. When my husband kissed me and handed me the gift, I in turn gave him the positive pregnancy test. As the day went on my mind was consumed with this new unexpected life living within. We planned to buy new furniture at Nebraska Furniture Mart that day for our new home we would take over in two weeks. What a blessing that we would have a new home for our newly enlarged family. I still remember that it was me (and not the kids as we feared and warned) that absent mindidly knocked over a huge display of hundred dollar vases while shopping. My husband smirked and I knew what he was thinking, "pregnant brain" And so it began... Happy 29th birthday. 2013- what a year... Never would I have imagined it would end this way. My birthday carries so much heartache. Ive tried so hard to embrace it with open arms. I fear I've hit a bit of a snag. I should be at home with a new baby, just getting into the swing of having three kids four and under. But Im not. I'm galavanting out west spending time - a wonderful time - with my husband 'celebrating'. I can't help but know that if we had Jack with us we wouldn't be here. It is hard to enjoy with that realization. Jack being born on 7-17 would be four months old on my 30th birthday. As I imagine ahead to 31... In 2014... I can't help but struggle to breathe in absolute trepidation for what might wait ahead this next year. I no longer walk blindly thru a trivial life. Yes, I know it will be blessedly beautiful as the last has been. Though I feel scared and weak. BUT... I will wake tomorrow. I will greet the day. And I will rejoice for The Lord is good. I've had thirty strong years. Not everyone has that. This I know. Here's to God for these 30 years, may I work harder for His Glory. And here's to my boy - I promise I will never forget these dates and moments we shared - and while this the passing of time feels like it is shoving me further away from you, know that deep in my being I do realize that it is in fact drawing me closer to the day we shall meet again.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Ten Weeks Out

ME AT TEN WEEKS: Jack's influence on my life is beyond words. Every day I see new ways where he has changed and molded and bettered my time here on earth. Many old friendships have become new and stronger than ever. I have so so many new friends that ARE my heart. My relationships with my parents are better than they have ever been. And my husband and children are so precious to me that just thinking about how much they mean to me shortens my breath. I sometimes struggle though lately with my relationship with my Lord. I don't have doubts. I don't really even ask why or have anger. But it is almost as if I have awkwardness towards Him. I still read my Bible every day. I still pray every day and thank Him for all He has provided. But I just have an uneasy feeling. Perhaps I am angry, but have such a mix of fear and gratefulness that I feel guilty allowing that through and so it is like there is an elephant in the middle of my faith walk that I don't seem to be able to hash out with God. Sure, the experience of having and losing my son has strengthened all those relationships listed above, but don't tell me that couldn't have happened while allowing me to still have him. My other two children have taught me countless lessons and I still get to have them. And they will continue to teach me as they grow and change. It has been ten weeks since we last held our son and so much has changed. Im a new woman for sure. So new I don't even know myself. I don't feel comfortable in my own skin and I surely don't have much of a memory for who I used to be. I feel like Im stuck floating inside of myself. Im able to see out and witness all of the beauty and heartache swirling around me, but don't feel a lot of permanence from my moments. However, I am better. I am able to have conversations and remember appointments better. I even felt like spending some energy on myself recently and found myself purchasing clothes and painting my nails. A fellow angel mom (who Ive never met) sent me a letter and she said it best when she encouraged me that while my love for Jack will endure my pain will ease. And I figure that if I am already seeing evidence of this at ten weeks than there may just very well be hope for me after all. THE REST OF THE FAM AT TEN WEEKS: I don't speak publicly about my husband's grief journey because he is a pretty private man, but my very young, sweet children continue to go through stages of their own journey. My three year old daughter blows kisses up to heaven each night. She has also had a few queries about death and heaven lately. She saw some cow bones at the ranch one day and asked how the rib fell out of the cow. I explained to her that the cow died and his bones are left. She was silent for a long time before wanting to see them again and then began asking questions about how the cow died and how Jack died and I could see her wheels turning. She does that sort of thing often. I think she is a bit confused about the physical body and spiritual soul. (Aren't we all! ;) ) My one year old son is so sweet with his journey. He often points to pictures of Jack and says "Baby Jack Baby Jack!" I figured he was just copying what others said, but then once he said it towards my belly and then last week we were cuddling in the three am silence and he asked me, "Baby Jack go? Baby Jack doing?" It amazed me that he would possibly have memory or understanding of any of it. We shall never know for sure I suppose. Their behavior has not been the best lately. I don't know if it is all part of the terrible toddler stages, their grief journey, or more than likely caused by their reaction to mom's short fuse. Either way, they keep us on our toes. :) THANK YOU: Thank you for still checking on us at ten weeks. Thank you for understanding that we still hurt and remain shocked and disoriented. Thank you for the cards and letters and messages. Thank you especially for sending me photos of you wearing your jack bracelet so I know all the adventures that he is getting to experience in your heart. (I got more bracelets in - please just let me know if you want one) Thank you for being patient in awaiting your personal thank you card for the meal or gift you sent, for I have yet to wrap my head around writing them out. Thank you for reading and as always thank you for your grace in knowing that I may not always be able to express myself properly in this format, but loving me anyways. Here's to week eleven...

Friday, September 6, 2013

Jack Packs & More

JACK PACKS: I have assembled a large packet of information and ideas for pregnant mothers who will deliver a baby that has a life limiting diagnosis. The purpose of the Jack Pack is to pass on these ideas so that mommas can make the most of their special moments and have memories forever. Often the shock and grief and hope of the situation fogs the experience and I think the worst thing would be to look back and wish you would've known to do this or that. I figured that I already did the footwork so perhaps I should share the information. Jack Packs will be placed in areas where pregnant woman are most often as well as places where pregnant woman may go for support. Please tell me if you know of someone who could use a packet. Here is what they include: 1. Memory making ideas for pregnancy 2. Memory making ideas for the hospital delivery and birth 3. Hospital Bag Idea List 4. Recommended Connections 5. Funeral/Memorial Planning 6. Memory making ideas for later 7. Our Story (briefly) 8. Example Birth Plan 9. Grief book list for adults and children 10. “On the Night You Were Born” (a special book from us to you) LABEL MAKER: I've been having lots of 'nesting' lately. Perhaps it is because I finally have some energy back or maybe just that I have spent a lot of time at home this month. I have major urges to clear everything out, have a sale, and stick labels all around. We are coming up on the one year mark being in what I hope is our forever home and I am wanting to finish up the areas like the library, storage room, craft room, and garage that have yet to be set up. These tasks are difficult with my limited energy, but even more difficult with my special toddler helpers. Speaking of... MY BABES: Little Miss seems to be adjusting to preschool well and while Bubby misses her I can tell he enjoys his mommy time. Ever since Jack was born my one year old has seemed a bit more mommy attached and wanting to cuddle more. I cuddle and rock him more than I used to for sure. Often I cry while rocking him wishing I could rock Jack too, but am quickly brought back to smiles when Bubs sits up, smacks me, and demands "sing mommy!" Oh these kids... They keep me going that's for sure. My daughter has been naming her baby doll 'Jack' lately. She says that her doll died but then that he got to come back from the sky. She has different ways on different days of coping with her grief. Whatever she needs we are here to help her. It doesn't bother me for her to talk like that. She also enjoys looking at Jack's things and reading child grief or heaven books together. Her teachers at school said they wouldn't know she's had any home issues and say she is adjusting well. So that's a huge blessing. ME? How am I? Oh I don't know... Depends in the day. The moment. On a good day I feel blessed for the moments and experiences I was granted with my son and get excited about helping others in Jack's memory. Im able to move about my day's tasks and go in public and speak openly. On a bad day I feel alone and empty and extremely anxious to talk to anyone or go in public. My arms and belly feel like they're trying to grasp into something and there's nothing there to hold. My heart physically hurts inside my chest and I have trouble breathing. On those days public is not an option and I avoid it at all costs so that the store doesn't close in on me. I find I can easily encourage other angel mommies for the most part, but then will have moments where my vulnerability sneaks through. I have started a grief group for parents. I get to go with a dear friend whose son also passed from trisomy 13 and I like being with her because she makes me feel safe. Also in the group is a woman who is probably in her mid eighties. Watching her cry when she speaks of the child she lost like fifty years ago scares me. She has had to Iive with a lot of regret though so Im sure that has drastically slowed her grief process. So Im hoping my 'no regrets' approach will allow my next fifty years to be a bit kinder on me. JACK: Jack has been gone from our world for seven weeks. I miss his sweet smell and his hair and his soft hand. I used to rub his fingers back and forth across my lips while I spoke to him. I have a plaster mold of his hand now and sometimes need to feel his fingers again. He had so many fussy times, but would often quiet right down when he would lay right on my chest. I want my seven week old baby back. I bought a bassinet for him. I had a cradle with my first two kids and then quickly moved them into their room after the first few weeks. But since my one year old is still in the crib I planned to have Jack stay extendedly in our room. I had also bought a carrying basket for him so I could take him out in the yard while the kids played and he would be up Off the grass. We had friends over tonight. I wish I could've taken him outside with us in his basket. Instead it is in the basement with his bassinet and all the tubs of little boy clothes of his older brothers that Id hoped he could wear. Oh gosh, I just miss him. I have a secret... You may think Im crazy, but Ive yet to worry about that so here goes... Many people think butterflies represent the loved ones we've lost - i think I agree - in some way - spirit or thought or something - well when we walk out in the yard with our kids a butterfly always joins us on our walk down to the lake. Always. It makes me smile. It makes me feel like baby jack is out playing with us. Our sweet family of five.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Blessings Through Sorrow

-Blessing Through Sorrow: A List of all that Went Right -As part if my grief I have been thinking about all the amazing blessings surrounding my sorrow. A fellow angel mom recommended for me to do this when Im feeling down. I have decided there are so many blessings through my sorrow that I could separate them into three categories: pregnancy, lifetime, death. -Blessings During Pregnancy: 1. Jack made it full term. 2. The nurses and doctors at our new hospital were amazing 3. I had the support and prayers from my regular OB to move on to the high risk group at 30w. 4. We found a hospital who helped educated us, support us, and allow us to make the decisions. 5. We got pregnant while even using birth control ;) which means Jack was really REALLY meant to be. 6. My pregnancy was just like the other two 7. We knew of Jack's diagnosis at twenty weeks which allowed us to prepare our hearts and minds, but not having had prepared our home (if I had gotten a nursery all ready that would've been more painful after) 8. We got to see Jack on the ultrasound often 9. We got to do a 3D 4D ultrasound for free 10. I had support from other angel and trisomy moms 11. Family and friends supported and helped in so many ways 12. We were able to spend our pregnancy learning so much about Jack and meeting with so many different departments at the hospital for addition preparation 13. Everyone bonded with Jack in the womb 14. He was a BOY :) that's what we were secretly wanting 15. We found out about my pregnancy on my birthday 16. We got a beautiful new home during our pregnancy 17. Jack's siblings were excited for him to come 18. I didn't gain quite as much weight with Jack as I had with Keith 19. Being pregnant in the summer was not horribly hot this year - I got to go swimming lots too 20. Gparents were able to watch the kids for two days after the shock of our diagnosis so we could grieve alone. 21. People sent cards, meals, emails, messages... 22. My blog allowed me to connect and vent and even inspire. 23. My friend took beautiful maternity pictures for us. 24. We felt prepared and educated as much as was possible before meeting Jack -Blessings of a Lifetime: 1. We read a special children's book to Jack 2. All of Jack's grandparents and aunts and uncles got to meet and hold him. 3. Jack's siblings got to spend time with him 4. We got tons of amazing pictures during delivery and our stay 5. Jack came out crying! 6. Jack didn't need lots of medical intervention when born 7. We were able to confirm Jack's brain and heart issues right away which allowed our care decisions to be clear and unwavering. 8. The nurses and doctors were amazing. 9. We got to take Jack to the chapel 10. We got to take Jack out into God's sunshine 11. We were the only mommy/baby pair in the Fetal Health Center so we got tons of love and attention 12. The CSection went well and didn't have to be an emergency. 13. Mommy and daddy got to see Jack open his light blue eyes 14. Daddy and Briana (photographer) got to be right there with Jack in the OR the whole time I was being sewed up. 15. Uncle Evan watched the kids so the grandparents could all be there when Jack was born (and my dad got there that evening and Jack was still doing awesome) 16. Jack's two oldest cousins got to meet him 17. Jack had beautiful black hair and soft soft skin 18. We got to feed him all of his meals and the NG tube wasn't difficult to use 19. JACK GOT TO STAY IN OUR ROOM WITH US HIS ENTIRE LIFE - BEING HELD AND SMOOCHED THE WHOLE TIME 20. Jack weighed more than five pounds 21. He liked his passie and looked so cute with it 22. Jack loved laying on my chest 23. We got to sing to Jack lots 24. Chaplains from our church came to pray over him 25. Some friends were able to come meet Jack 26. Jack's daddy baptized him 27. We got a sweet video of big sissy singing to him 28. Jacks big brother liked him and kept saying "baby baby" 29. Our hospital had no visiting specifics so family could be there all night. 30. Little pieces is Jack reminded us of his big sister and brother each 31. Gparents were able to care for our older kids for four days in their own home. 32. Jack loved laying on my chest and hearing my voice. 33. God helped me safely they my surgery. -Blessings Even in Death: 1. We were able to spend the most time possible with Jack while in the hospital before we left to go home. If Jack had passed early in our stay we would've been left without him and still there. Jack stayed with us for so long that we even had Papa go get his car seat all washed and ready for the next morning's trip home. This was a struggle for us. We knew Jack was dying and we preferred for it to happen in our arms and not in the car or in front of our children. So the fact that we were able to be with him for our whole stay, but not have to attempt to load him up and have him pass in the elevator or garage was a blessing to us. 2. Jack passed away during one of the only times that all six grandparents were at the hospital. 3. Our older children happened to be at the hospital, but thankfully were not in our room. 4. Jack passed a little after seven pm so all of his and my day and night nurses were there at shift change to give tears and hugs and say goodbye. 5. We were not terrified like I always imagined me to be 6. After Jack passed to Jesus we got to continue to hold him for five more hours and do prints and molds while we waited for the funeral home. 7. I didn't have to hand my son over to the morgue or security, but rather my dad. 8. Jack didn't have to go to the morgue - the funeral home picked him up at midnight on a Saturday 9. Jack didn't fuss or suffer when he passed. 10. Our beautiful friend Courtney figured out that Jack had an amazing connection with the perfect biblical number seven. We found out we were pregnant on 11-17, found out about Jack's troubles on 3-7, he was born on 7-17, lived for 77 hours and 7 minutes, and passed on 7-20 at 7:02. 11. Jack's memorial went well with so much love 12. Jack's clothes still smell like him 13. We have a beautiful big box full of his things 14. The urn is beautiful and has space for us 15. After we handed his body away our nurse brought two hospital beds in and we both slept (drugged) the whole night before getting up and going straight home 16. Our three year old handled us telling her fairly well 17. Grandmas were able to stay with us for a few weeks after 18. Daddy got a week off 19. Friends brought us dinner for over a month 20. We got hundreds of cards in the mail and each one made us feel special 21. We have each other and Layla and Jack to keep us going 22. Our pastor met with us three different times 23. Our funeral home offered us big savings 24. Some of my fellow Trisomy moms visited me or sent me memorial gifts 25. The hand and foot molds turned out amazing 26. Our entire family has pieces of Jack that they carry with them each day now and forever 27. Jacks story will help others in some way, I just know it 28. There is more to come for Jack's impact 29. Looking at Jack's pictures brings me happiness and not sorrow 30. Jack is now in the arms of the only one who loves him more than we do. I feel like I could continue on in all three areas some more. So perhaps I shall add more later, but for now, I realize I am blessed.