Wednesday, June 30, 2010


About a year ago we made the long drive to Oklahoma City to visit my brother, his wife and their new baby.  It was a long trip for a 2 year old and for me, being as I was between 4 and 5 months pregnant with Shyla.  While we visited them, we went to the Oklahoma City bombing memorial site.  It was surreal. 

I remember that day so clearly in my mind.  I was only in the 5th grade on that April day, but it was the first time I really remember following current events and what happened that day is forever burned into my mind.  The vision of that gaping hole in the building is something I will never forget.

It was a peaceful day in June when we walked up to the fence that surrounds one end of the memorial.  Things that people have left in memory and in honor of those killed, those injured and those forever changed by the bombing are tucked into the fence.

It wasn't until later the things we saw and did really gained a new symbolism to me and my family.

As you walk up to the main entrance, the massive gate read 9:01 in big bold numbers.  The day before the bombing.  Peace, innocence, and security.  Through that gate you can see the reflecting pool representing 9:02.  The time of the bombing.  On the other gate a large 9:03.  The moment that healing started and all that existed at 9:01 was gone.

Months later, I looked as these photos and thought how this trip has so much more significance to me and my family now.  In the photo directly above, Ben and Ethan are looking over 9:02, the reflecting pool, to the 9:03 gate.  You can see the survivor tree in the upper left corner of the photo.

You see, these numbers don't just remind me of that fateful April day anymore...they mean a whole other set of dates.  9/02 was the date Shyla was stillborn.  9/01 the day before and 9/03 the day after.  Looking back through these pictures gives me chills.  We had no idea what those numbers were going to mean to us just a few months later.  But here we are.  We will be reflecting on 9/02 for the rest of our lives, just like that large pool in the middle of those two unmistakable gates. 

But that's not where it stops.

This is one of the only photos taken of my whole family together.  I am almost 5 months pregnant with Shyla here and we are standing under the SURVIVOR Tree.  The tree that withstood the blast of the bomb now stands regally in the corner of the memorial.  I love this tree.  This is my favorite tree.  It means so much more than I can put into words.  One of God's creations stands tall as a reminder to survivors of the blast and survivors everywhere that we can survive and that God will protect us.

My family has withstood the blast of the death of a child.  We are surviving.  God has been with us every step of the way and the photo of all four of us under this tree is such a blessing to me.  I thank God for this photo and what a reminder it is.

Another photo I was unaware of the symbolism until later, was taken at what was the children's playground.

A lone pink daisy weaved through the fence that surrounds the grassy area where the children once played.  It was getting dark and I just really wanted a photo of the one thing left there for the children.  And now, a year later, it is the same flower that reminds me of my baby girl.  That's Shyla's flower.

While we walked the grounds and looked at all the chairs representing those killed in the blast, the little chairs broke my heart.  I just couldn't imagine the pain of loosing a child.  The thought of just having this little chair to visit instead of one of my children made me kiss Ethan and hold my belly tight.  I never thought I would be able to say that I could identify...even a little a parent whose child is represented here.  But now I can.

The other side of the 9:03 gate reads, " We come here to remember those who were killed, those who survived and those changed forever..."  That's how I feel about this blogging community.  We come here to remember our babies, to support those of us surviving and to reach out to those forever changed.

As we were leaving for the night, we stopped at the church across the street and sat on some benches and saw how the cross was lit in front of the gate.

It all goes back to the cross.  No matter our pain.  No matter what we are surviving, the cross is there.  Keep looking to the cross friends.
He is there and He always will be.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Bad Blogger

I have been terrible about blogging lately.  I also apologize for not commenting on your blogs.  When I comment my laptop goes crazy and opens the same window 15 or 20 times then freaks out and shuts down, so I can only comment if I happen to be on a different computer.  I have many, many things to blog, but not so much time to blog them in.  So far our summer has been full of trips to the library, the lake, birthdays, fishing, the garden and so many blessed dragonfly sightings.  I promise to give updates soon...but now I just need prayers for friends.

Pray for the family of some one I went to school with who overdosed today.  His family is heartbroken and hurting.

Pray for a 22 year old father of two who was just diagnosed with lymphoma.

Pray for another mama who just found out this morning she is getting her rainbow.

Thank you all for your prayers and friendship.  They both mean the world to me.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

100th Post...All for the Boy

(This post is mainly about my living son. For those of you loss mamas out there who follow this blog, I completely understand if you do not want to read this post, but for me, having him here is an important part of my grief journey and not to ever mention him is to ignore that part of my life. I started this blog as a way to sort through my grief after the loss of my second child, my only daughter, but it has grown from that so much. I cherish each of you, your stories and your babies and I understand if you just want to skip this post. No hard feelings. Love you all!)

I have been putting off this post for a while.  The big 100th post!  I can't believe I have posted 100 times.  I really didn't know I had that much to say.  Boy, was I wrong.  As I contemplated what monumental thing I wanted to say in this post, I realized that I really don't talk a lot about my son.  I do mention him here and there, but as I have learned, sometimes it is hard for mothers who have experienced loss to see babies and children who may be the same age as their child who is in Heaven or even to see happy families.  Not that any of us would wish anything hurtful on these happy families, but it is a reminder of the hole in our own.  Sometimes it feels like there will never be another completely happy moment in our life.  Sure, there will be lots of really happy moments, but in those moments the sadness of a missing person is felt very strongly. 

Anyway, I'm rambling.  Last weekend was my little boy's 3rd birthday.  We did some of the things we had done for the past 2 years on his day.  We looked at photos of his birth day and of him as a baby, we had a special breakfast where he got to practice blowing out a candle and had a little party at the lake.  Each of these things was harder than it was last year at this time.  Last year, I was 4 1/2 months pregnant and the happiness in my life was so overwhelming.  My little man, growing up, healthy, happy, a daddy's boy and my little baby inside, growing, soon to be joining our family and making us feel the joy of a birth again.  Then, just a few months later, my perspective of birth changed as I held my daughter's body days after her soul had went to the Lord.

As I thought about this post, I want those who are still reading to know that eventhough I don't mention him a lot on this blog, my son, Ethan, is such a huge part of my life and my grief and I just wanted to tell his story.  Share about his birth and life and his role as a big brother to Shyla.

Nine months after getting married, my husband and I decided we wanted to expand our family and in late September got a positive pregnancy test!  The day after I took the test, I was due to leave for a three day training out of town for the job I just started, so we decided to wait to share the news until I got back home.  Ben decided to come spend some time with me while I was out of town and we stopped to see some friends on our way back home.  While at our friends house and just after sharing the good news with them (we are apparently very impatient people) I got a call from my mom saying my half-sister was just unexpectedly passed away.  I was heartbroken.  I didn't know how I was going to stay calm through this tragedy and I was afraid the little life inside was going to be affected.  But I made it through the funeral and through the whole pregnancy rather uneventfully.  I had to take the three hour glucose screening and we knew he was going to be big and breech, but besides that it was a picture perfect pregnancy. 

I was due June 8, but because of his breech position, we scheduled a c-section for May 30, my Dad's birthday as well.  This is me right before we headed to the hospital for delivery...

If I look uncomfortable, it is because apparently I was in labor!  When we got to L&D, they hooked me up to the monitors to prepare for surgery and called the doctor in.  My contractions were two minutes apart and he told me that one way or another this baby was coming today!  I only gained 23 pounds during this pregnancy and as you can see...the majority of that was in my belly! 

Everything went quickly and by 8:01 that morning, I was hearing his first cries.  The first time I saw his little face, I knew I would never be the same.  I knew he was a miracle.  I didn't know until after his sister was born just how much of a miracle this moment was. 

He weighed in at a whopping 8 pounds and 14 1/2 ounces and 23 inches long!  Miracle!  How did he survive the threats of the MTHFR and the Factor V? 

The only answer I have is by God's grace and love.  Maybe He knew I was not strong enough yet.  I don't know, but I am so thankful I have this boy.

Just four weeks after he was born, my Grandfather had a massive stroke.  It was 4th of July weekend and my brother and sis-in-law were coming in for the family reunion.  Instead, we spent three days driving back and forth 2 hours to the University hospital spending time with my Grandfather before he passed away on
7-7-07, just 7 days from his 77th birthday.

Ethan was what kept me (and my immediate family) sane during these days.  Having this new life that was so dependent on me was a welcome and needed distraction to the strongest grief I had felt yet in my life.  At four weeks old, he was exposed to death, tears and grief.  Actually, if you count from conception, this was the second time in his life that he was exposed to all of this.  But, the joy he brought to me and my whole family during this time was something that I will never forget.  The fragility of life was on display in the images of a newborn at a funeral and tears being shed with smiles.

Over the next three years, God has used this little boy to teach me so much.

So much about life and love and laughter.

How to celebrate, how to mourn, how to be silly

How to not hold back.

How to finish what I start.

How to smile when I am down.

SO many things...

He made the announcement when we found out we were pregnant with Shyla.  He would just rub my belly and try so hard to feel her move.  When he finally did feel her move, he was amazed!  He would try every night.  The evening after she was born, he sat up on the hospital bed with me and tried one time to rub my belly.  That's all.  I told him Shyla was in Heaven with Jesus and tried not to bawl my eyes out infront of this little boy.  He just looked at me and said, ok.  He never did that again.

He released 28 pink balloons at her service.  And said loudly as they floated away, "Bye Bye Shyla!  See you later!!!"

Yes we will honey.  Thanks for helping Mommy keep everything in perspective.

He helped carry Shyla's donations to the Pregnancy Help Center and put a smile on my face when I didn't want to leave.

He constantly asks if we can go to "Shyla's" and wants to take her flowers all the time.  It is so sweet to me that he wants to check on her special place.

He has been my rock.  He is so much like his daddy and he is SO extrememly loved.  I sometimes just want to hold him tightly and never let go. 

So if someday you are older, Ethan, and you have stumbled upon this blog...just know you were my first child, my son, the first one to teach me so many things.  I am so grateful to be your mom and so blessed to have you in my life.  You are one amazing kid. 

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Nine Months

Today has been nine months since I held my Shyla Joy.  It was a peaceful day.  With the school year winding down, some of my co-workers and I decided to have lunch at the lake and when I got to my mom's house at the end of the day, I let Ethan play outside while I just laid on a beach towel and stared up at the sky.  It was such a beautiful day today.

As I lay there in the grass and watched the leaves blow in the trees, I noticed something I did not expect to see in the trees a good distance from any water.  A big dragonfly was dancing around above my head.  It was a good distance away, but I could see it in the clearing of the trees going back and forth and in circles.  It was so amazing.  It is not the first one I have seen lately either.  I had caught a glimpse of one at lunch at the marina, but not like this.  This dragonfly dances there, where just I could see it for at least 20 minutes.  Then another dragonfly came from the trees and they did a dance together and then both were gone.  The first one came back and dances some more for me, but I had to eventually go inside.

Somewhere around the time the second dragonfly appeared, a mom I know was giving birth to her son who would be stillborn fullterm.  I got a text while I lay there that said he had been born.  She found out the yesterday at a routine check-up that he had passed and was induced to deliver today.  Nine months after Shyla.  Please pray for this mom and for her family, they are all in such shock and pain that so many of us know all too well.