Pictures from Florida

When we went to Florida, we had family photos taken by Kelle Hampton.  We also did a balloon release to honor Mara during the photo shoot.  It was a lovely and very sacred hour of my life, and I’ve treasured the memories of it since then.  Now, I have the photos, too!

I’ll do a separate post with the balloon release photos.  This will be just family photos.


The little pictures, they creep up and surprise me here and there.

For the last several years, I’ve pictured myself dropping Gabe off at kindergarten and returning home to my childless abode.  When I got pregnant and my due date was in November, I adjusted the picture.  I’d be dropping Gabe off at kindergarten heavy and pregnant, returning home to my not-for-long childless abode to prepare for the arrival of the new baby.  When we lost Mara, I had to face this picture right away.  Our school deposit was due that same week as my surgery but I was in no shape to deal with it and had to call them and ask for an extension, which they graciously granted.  I edited that picture, returning it back to the original image which involved me dropping off Gabe and returning home to my childless abode.

I dreamed of being hugely pregnant at Gabe’s 6th birthday party, a party which we would have had to have early in November so as to avoid conflicting with any potential baby arrivals.  I pictured our photographs and a last celebration with only the three of us.  It will be just the three of us, but there will be no baby who will be imminently arriving.

I dreamed pictures of bringing a newborn babe to Thanksgiving dinner, just as I did six years ago.  And I dreamed of having a tiny, still-squishy newborn on Christmas morning, the best present I could ever have asked for.   When I miscarried, one of my first thoughts was of the holidays, and how different they were going to be from what I had envisioned.  They’ll be wonderful, but a piece will be missing.

I thought I had rooted up all the pictures and replaced them with different ones.  But I’m finding my hopes and desires die slowly because they pervaded the crevices of my mind, infusing it with the promise of dreams come true.

I had forgotten one particular picture, as I’m sure I’ve forgotten many others.  This one, about Pennsylvania, caught me unguarded.  I was rehearsing our options for things to do during the day while Tahd works and we roam the countryside.  One thing I remembered was a delightful set of outlet stores nearby.  I’ve visited these stores before and have come home with scads of bargains to spruce up my home.  I immediately got excited and started thinking of which day during the next two weeks we’d schedule our visit, remembering how I’d been looking forward to this Pennsylvania trip for months because it would afford me the opportunity to go to the Pottery Barn Kids outlet and look for cute, inexpensive nursery decor.  And then I remembered.  No nursery supplies needed.  The baby is gone.

I need a new picture.

As I navigated my way through the maze, I felt a small but insistent voice.  Over and over again, it said one thing. “Heidi!  Decorate the nursery.”

Decorate the nursery, I thought?  But I don’t want to be the crazy infertile woman, the one who subscribes to pregnancy magazines and collects life-sized baby dolls and has a nursery in her home and rocks her “babies” in the chair.  I don’t think I live in Fantasyland as far as our infertility is concerned, and I don’t want to take up residence there!  But I couldn’t avoid the sense.  “Decorate the nursery.”

It was about 1:00 AM so I bedded the thought by telling myself that if I sense it again, I’ll know it’s something I’m supposed to do and will do it, no matter how crazy it makes me look.  For now, though, it’s just something I’ve observed – a sense that I should decorate my nursery.  Maybe the thought came from my own heart, a heart desperate to prepare a nursery for a baby I still hope to have.  Maybe I’m going crazy (although I don’t think so).  Maybe I need a nursery to fulfill the next stage of my grieving process – maybe I need to feel like I’m giving Mara a home.  Maybe there is a divine act of obedience in which I am supposed to engage.  Maybe there will be a baby to fill the empty crib at exactly the right time.  I just don’t know, so I’m waiting to figure it out.

But I keep wondering.  Which picture is going to surprise me next?

Songs After A Miscarriage or Loss of a Baby

The poetry of music takes me places simple words can’t.  When I first miscarried Mara, I found incredible comfort in sound.  Sound kept me connected to the outside world, preventing me from getting lost inside my head.  It was a bonus when the sound was melodic or meaningful.  I combed the internet for lists of songs about miscarriage or the loss of a child, and I found many gems among the lists.  As time has gone on, particular songs have become very meaningful to me, mostly because of how they make me feel when I hear them.  Some of the songs I found in my initial search and some of the songs I stumbled onto on my own.  But these are my favorites, the ones that make me smile and feel comforted when they play.

  1. Glory Baby (Watermark) – this is one of the few songs actually about miscarriage.  It’s a lovely image.
  2. Home (Nicol Sponberg) – this song compels me like no other.  The imagery in it – the idea of my baby waking up in the morning cradled by the Creator of the Universe – is incredibly moving and powerful.  It’s sung by a woman who lost her own 8-week-old baby several years ago.  I don’t know how she sang the song as beautifully as she did.  It leaves me in puddles.
  3. From This One Place (Sara Groves) – I actually found this song before we got pregnant, but it has become more meaningful to me throughout this experience.  It talks about how God sees the whole picture of my life, not just the situations I can see at any one moment in time.
  4. I Will Carry You (Selah) – I’ve been listening to this song for a year or two now, but the first time I listened to it after I lost Mara it took my breath away.  It talks about how your child will always live in your heart, even after they’ve left this world.
  5. This Woman’s Work (several different artists, but I like the Greg Laswell version) – I’m told this song is about child birth, but I found it particularly appropriate and haunting.  It’s a very pretty song.
  6. By Heart (Jim Brickman and Anne Cochran) – This is another song I’ve know about for a long time.  We thought about having it at our wedding, but something seemed a bit sad about it.  Hearing it after Mara made it all make sense, at least to me.  It is pure loveliness.
  7. In The Wee Small Hours of the Morning (various artists) – It’s a classic, but it’s surprisingly appropriate when facing a significant loss.
  8. There You’ll Be (Faith Hill) – I find it a little corny and melodramatic, but it makes me happy anyway.  The lyrics are lovely.
  9. Keep Breathing (Ingrid Michaelson) – not entirely appropriate, but it did find comfort in the repetitive lyrics of “all we can do is keep breathing.”
  10. Somewhere Over the Rainbow (IZ) – I love this song.  For many more reasons that this, but it makes me think happy thoughts.
  11. Your Hands (JJ Heller) – I love this singer’s voice; it sounds so honest to me.  I also really enjoy the sentiment that even when my world is falling apart there’s something bigger and more stable underneath it all.
  12. Held (Natalie Grant) – I’ve mentioned this song before and actually found it too overwhelming to listen to for quite a while, but I’ve added it to my playlist again and have been enjoying it.  I wish I understood more about the apparent injustices in the world and why God chooses to let things unfold as they do.
  13. Before the Morning (Josh Wilson) – Good song.  It kind of deals with the same idea as the song Held, but it’s different and direct and I like it.
  14. Fix You (Coldplay) – These were the lyrics that got me: “Tears stream down your face/when you lose something you cannot replace.”  The entire song is good, but those were the lyrics that stood out to me.
  15. I Will Love You (Fisher) – “‘Til my body is dust/’til my soul is no more/I will love you.”  Could it be anymore perfect than that?
  16. Find My Way Back Home (Priscilla Ahn) – This is what I would have imagined singing to my baby had I know what was going to happen.
  17. Beauty From Pain (Superchick) – This is what I imagine Mara would want me to be saying to myself right now: “After all this has passed, I still will remain/after i’ve cried my last, there’ll be beauty from pain/though it won’t be today, someday i’ll hope again/and there’ll be beauty from pain.”
  18. Slipped Away (Avril Lavigne) – This is one of the most appropriate songs I found.  I don’t think it’s supposed to be about miscarriage, but since we knew the exact day when Mara left us the lyrics fit really well.

I’m always taking recommendations for new songs!  Feel free to share if you have other suggestions.

Am and Am Not

People ask me how I am.

“I’m okay,” I reply.

But I’m not.  I’m not okay.  What I mean is that I’m better – better than I was when it hurt so bad I wanted to die, when I thought I’d never awaken from my fog again.  I don’t want to die now, and I’m waking up, getting reacquainted with this life.  It is better, this place where I am now.  But I’m not okay.

I don’t know how to be “not okay.”  I’m not in crisis and I don’t need anyone to fix it.  I just am. not. okay. And that’s okay with me, sort of.  But I still don’t know how to be.

Life costs so much.  I was speaking with a friend last night who lost a baby around 20 weeks.  She has since had two more children, and I was asking her if her other children know about her first child.  She said they didn’t, and she wonders how she’s going to tell them.  I suggested a book by the author of a different book we bought for Gabe.  We bought him We Were Going To Have a Baby But We Had An Angel Instead.  I couldn’t remember the name of the book, and since Gabe was right there I asked him.  He confirmed the name and said, “But there’s another book.  When Mara was still coming I like to read that one.  It’s called Baby On The Way.”  My heart broke a little bit more.  The cost has been huge for me, but it’s even bigger when I bear the weight of his loss.

I want to grieve with hope.  And usually I do.  But it is hard to be when I don’t know who I am, and it is hard to relate to others when I can’t help them understand me.

I guess I am okay.  And I am not okay.  And that’s just the truth.

12.5 Weeks

Oof… this hurts!  I’m trying to write some things down – bring some summary and cohesion to our experiences as of late.  It is like pulling teeth.  Probably doesn’t help that I’m in a hotel room feeling entirely cramped and uninspired while my 5-year-old tortures us with lack of sleep.  Lucky for me I remembered my Xanax this week – not for him, although I did find myself wondering if they have a children’s version because he could totally use it!

I feel like reality is closing in.  He starts school in a month!  I’m really nervous about this fall – getting through his start of school, getting through Mara’s due date, getting through a Thanksgiving and Christmas to which I thought I’d be bringing a new baby.  If she were still with us I’d be 24 weeks pregnant today.  We’d probably know we were having a girl.  I’d be “pinking up” the nursery.  She’d be viable now.  When I was first pregnant, I got a special day-by-day pregnancy journal and went through it recording the dates until I landed on the 24-week date.  I wanted to be sure I knew the exact day when doctors would consider her viable.  This weekend will mark 12.5 weeks since I lost her – the same amount of time she was with us to begin with.  It feels so long ago, and yet her life feels so short to me.  How can the same amount of time seem both short and long?  I don’t know, but it does.

I want to curl up and throw up and give up all at once.  But I won’t.  I’m determined to create something better out of all this.  I guess “create” is the wrong word.  I’m determined to start experiencing something better.  Because I think the good is out there – it’s just hard to see.  It’s a fine line, I know.  I don’t want to stunt the grief process, but I do need to harness some sort of positive momentum.

A request for those who pray… I very much long to be pregnant again before her due date.  This would be an absolute miracle, but when it’s quiet and I’m all alone, this is what I wish for and dream about.  It won’t change reality and nothing will replace the baby we lost, but it would be nice to greet that day with the special hope that a growing babe can bring.  If this resonates with you, I would covet your prayers in this regard on our behalf.

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