Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Happy Birthday Skylar Lou!!

Nine years ago today my sweet baby girl was born and made my dream of being a mom finally come true. We waited for that little girl to make us parents for quite some time and were so excited when she was born. I can't believe it's actually been 9 years...only 9 more and she'll be an adult! Crazy!!We didn't have much planned for Skylar's birthday this year since it was an odd year and she wasn't having a friend party-thank heavens since I'm still not up for that kind of thing. After Ben got home we celebrated Skylar's birthday by going out to eat at California Pizza Kitchen and then going home to open presents. Skylar got a few simple things from the kiddos and was totally content and ready to eat some cake. We went to the freezer in the garage to get the ice cream cake that I made for her and she obliviously stood talking to Ben and I with this right in her path:She didn't even see it! But when she did, she was pretty darn excited. Skylar has been begging to get a bike all summer since she's totally grown out of the Princess bike she got when she was 4, both physically and socially (ha ha). She is so excited to have a big kid's bike now!Right after she took a try on her bike, the Tongs pulled up and we had an impromptu party to celebrate Skylar's and Amy's (yesterday) birthdays. We had some yummy ice cream cake and just had fun playing around. We were having so much fun, that they didn't even leave until after 10...and it's a school night! But we needed some Tong time and it was really fun...and worth the grumpiness we'll have in the morning. Happy Birthday to Amy & Skylar!!Skylar is such a sweet girl and we are so glad that she is part of our family. She is the perfect big sister, who takes great care of and is very considerate of her brothers and sister. She is such a smart cookie and is always coming up with some exciting adventure or project to keep everyone entertained. Skylar has such a passion for reading and takes a book everywhere we go. She is also a little social butterfly and really gets along well with all of her many friends. She has so many "best friends"!

The other day Skylar taught our FHE lesson and bore her testimony of the gospel for the first time to our family. It was amazing! What a great thing it is to watch from a parent's point of view as those testimonies really begin to grow. Skylar is an amazing girl with so much potential and will just continue to amaze us as the years go on. I wish we could just stop her from growing but since we can't, I'm glad that she is growing into such an incredible person. I love you so, so much Skylar!! I hope that all of your dreams come true just like you've made my dream of being a mom come true, teaching me what true joy in this life really means.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Feeling Alone

I've gotten to this point where I just feel so alone. I don't feel like I really fit anywhere now. I really don't feel like I have anyone out there that honestly knows how I feel, even Ben, who readily admits that he doesn't. He is so supportive and helpful but our grief over Gabriel is different, and that's okay, but at the same time, it's lonely being where I am. I know that the Savior is with me, but right now it feels like it's that part in the Footprints poem where there's just one set of footprints and I can't always feel Him, as much as I know He wouldn't abandon me. I have never felt so alone and it's not just emotionally, it's physically too. I miss my baby being here-the weight of my growing belly, and his little flutters. It is the emptiest feeling.

I've been reading a lot about miscarriage and losing a child since Gabriel died. I guess some of it has been helpful but at times it just makes me feel more alone. I most definitely know I'm not alone in infant loss, and loss in general, and I ache for every one that has had to go through it. However, I feel like I'm in this weird category without anybody in it-late miscarriage. It just isn't very common. I don't know anyone else personally that has ever been here. Early miscarriages sadly happen all of the time-1 in 4 pregnancies. Cord accidents happen only 1 in 1000. They are considered a "freak accident". When I went into my 2 wk. checkup, after finding out how far along I had been when the baby died, the nurse said, "Wow. That never happens." It just made me feel awful, like some horribly weird person, and completely alone.

One of the books I've read shares others' feelings about miscarriages. Not many people that have a miscarriage get to see their baby at all, often left wondering what the gender was, and even sometimes if their baby was real. That thought just makes me feel so badly for them. Of course their babies are real! Last year Ben and I had the opportunity to go to the Body Worlds exhibit and they had these tiny babies that had died at different gestations. I was so in awe of these tiny little bodies, so perfectly formed, even early on. They are very real babies, even from the beginning. I feel grateful that I was able to hold Gabriel in my arms, to look at his little fingers and toes, and marvel over how perfectly formed he was. Sometimes I feel like the term miscarriage just doesn't give weight to our experience with Gabriel, as silly as that sounds, because I labored with him, gave birth, and held him. I don't know what to call it, because he doesn't qualify as a stillborn, but yet he was born. He doesn't even qualify to be on a family record sheet listed as a stillborn, but yet I felt his little body move in mine and I held that little body in my hands. He's my son and part of our eternal family. I almost feel like I have to explain to others because they won't understand the gravity of his birth and death, why it is so hard for me, and why I am grieving so much.

In the gospel, there aren't many answers about the death of infants. There are some, but even especially fewer when it comes to miscarriages. Joseph Smith said, "The Lord takes many away, even in infancy, that they may escape the envy of man, and the sorrows and evils of this present world; they were too pure, too lovely, to live on earth." We know that babies are perfect, having never sinned, and it's been promised that they will be raised from infancy after the resurrection, but I still have many questions. Skylar and I were talking about this the other day and she showed me in her illustrated Doctrine and Covenants about the promises of that day that she had recently read about. It will be such a joy to raise Gabriel then, when I don't have to worry about him ever being in pain or feeling sadness. Knowing these things does help, but it doesn't take away the sense of emptiness that I have right now. I still have to face the rest of my mortality without my little Gabriel. Sometimes the hardest moments for me are watching my children play happily together. I know I'll get to raise Gabriel, but he doesn't get to be a part of my other kid's childhood. They will never get to play together and have that sibling bond on this earth. I understand that because I have always felt that with my sister who died and I feel this incredible loss for them because of that. I have done my best to talk about him as much as they are comfortable, so that they do feel that he is their brother, and that he will always be a part of our lives.

Over the last year or so I've come to just hate death and all the people it leaves hurting. There is comfort in the gospel but sometimes the pain just overrides that and there's no stopping it, as strong as my testimony is about the plan of salvation. Before this I've never really had a fear of death and actually thought it was a good thing. I've always seen it as a release for whomever had died and always thought how happy and peaceful they must be. About 6 years ago now, both of my grandpas, whom I've always felt close to and love very much, died within 6 months of each other and I really, honestly felt joy for them. I miss them incredibly but I know that they lived long lives and are now with loved ones. When my Grandpa Jensen died, the family members that knew the gospel, were actually happy for him. He was 102 and had lived a good life and had a ton of posterity around him, but when he died, we knew he had so many more waiting for him on the other side, including my grandma, who died 25 years before. His funeral was kind of a celebration and the only ones that were sad were those without the gospel. When my Grandpa Henricksen died a few months later, I felt so relieved for him to be out of his pain, and the pain I felt was actually for my grandma, because I knew she would miss him. I feel so grateful that I had two wonderful grandpas and such great memories of having them throughout my life. I miss my grandpas all of the time, but I'm happy for them.

I feel the same about Gabriel. I know he is where he's supposed to be, and he's happy and I really am happy for him. His life on this earth was just a short one, but it was what he needed to do. Ben and I have talked about what an amazing boy he must be and we can't wait to meet him. I hate that I don't know anything about him. I hate that I have few concrete memories of his life. I remember feeling him kick and move for a few weeks, but that's really all I have. The rest of the memories I have of him are painful and sad. I can't even begin to describe how much it hurts to hold your baby in your arms and have to say goodbye before you've even had a chance to say hello.

I have been trying to be strong. I'm trying to get back to normal and do the things that will help me to move through this. It's hard. It's still minute to minute. I will have a good day and then something will happen. It could be a comment someone makes, or just seeing someone who is as pregnant as I should be, or hearing a song that has nothing to do with anything but one line sticks out to me. Then the whole world seems to crash in again. I keep thinking that maybe it will get easier, but this week was definitely harder than last, and I can only imagine how awful it is going to feel when my due date approaches. Another thing is that I feel like everyone feels I should be better now or that I don't want to talk about it so they don't say anything. I know at first that I didn't want to talk, but it wasn't that I didn't want to talk about it, it was that I couldn't then. I know it probably makes others uncomfortable to talk about it too, so I understand that. It's a part of every moment of my life now and I know it's probably just a brief thought for everyone else. But it's just another thing that adds to my loneliness. What a horrible feeling this is.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Silver Linings

I really want to just complain today. Really, really. When you wake up crying in the morning you kind of just expect it to be a bad day. And so far, it has been. Already this morning we had to plunk down close to $500 getting new tires because somehow in my limited driving yesterday I managed to find that one stray bolt and picked it up with my tire. The last 6 weeks we've had to buy a new toilet that was busted the day we got home from the hospital, throw out a freezer full of food that went bad when I left it open a crack while we were in Yellowstone, and on top of it we got our first hospital bill the other day. I know it's just money, but right now I really wish that if we were spending money that we didn't have, it would be for something a little more exciting than toilets, food, tires and the hospital bills that are just a painful reminder of what we don't have. Blah.

Of course, Ben can find the positive. We were starting to need new tires anyway and wouldn't have gotten them because we don't have any money...which may have led to one blowing out and perhaps an accident, which would've been worse. Why can he always see the silver lining when I just see the clouds? I try so badly to see the positive and hope to be an optimist but that's just it, I have to try. He just sees it. So, in my complaining today about how I'm just tired of all this stupid junk we still keep getting, of course, Ben has to go and encourage me to look for the silver lining. Well, you asked for it, Ben. In my life, you are my constant silver lining. So now you have to deal with me gushing about how lucky I am to have you.

Last night was an anniversary for Ben and I. Little did Earth, Wind, and Fire ever realize how much we'd remember the 21st night of September when they wrote their song. Well, we remember it well. Fourteen years ago last night, Ben and I started this whole thing with our first smooches. Quite memorable, indeed, especially for me. You see, I had loved Ben forever at that point and I couldn't have been more happy.

The day I met Ben I was kind of enamored. Here he was, fresh off the mish just one day, and he was just so cute and I could tell he was just a good guy from the beginning. As I saw him around the next few months, I just liked him more and more. The problem was, I was hooked up with his friend, so Ben wasn't even looking my way. At the same time, I was dating a guy getting ready to go on a mission. They were both great guys, but heck, one was leaving soon, and the other, though he's a super nice guy with a big heart, just didn't have the same beliefs and values that I wanted. One day I was telling my grandma about my plight of the three guys in my life. My wise grandma encouraged me to just go for Ben. He was the obvious choice. He was everything I wanted.

So, as things worked out, the guy I was with needed for us to take a break, the other guy headed out on his mission, and there I was, totally free to pursue Ben. Now, I'm not the type of girl to just go for a guy, even though I had a lot of boyfriends along the way. I was always painfully shy around guys I really liked. When I told my friends about liking Ben, they all wanted me to go for him too. One friend, who had known Ben for years, even said, " You have to go for him. You're perfect for each other. You guys are going to get married." That same friend ended up getting us together with a bunch of sly matchmaking moves along the way. So finally after 9 months of crushing over Ben, the night came where somehow the fates aligned and we ended up at my house completely alone, which was a miracle in itself since my house was the busy party house at that time. As shy as I was around guys, I just wasn't with him and we talked and talked and talked...all night long until the wee hours of the morning. As I talked to Ben about everything under the moon, I think I knew even then, that he was the one. Then he kissed me..and the rest is history.

So here we are, 14 years later, and I am still just as enamored as ever. Ben is an amazing man and I honestly don't know how I have ever deserved him. I have spent our entire marriage trying to be more like him. He is caring, patient, kind, and selfless. He works so hard for our family and works so hard to serve others and the Lord. Through all of the things that Ben has had to endure he has still found a way to be positive and happy and treat others so well. I could really go on and on and on about how wonderful he is and he would hate it, because he's incredibly humble too. Through everything that Ben and I have been through, both the most wonderful blessings and the most awful trials, he has stayed by my side and encouraged me to be strong. He has taught me to have hope and faith in the promises we have made to each other and our Heavenly Father. I feel so very, very blessed to have Ben to love me. Today, he encouraged me to look for the silver lining and having this amazing man as my husband will always be my silver lining and the reason that I can find happiness, even on days when I wake up crying.

Yesterday I came across this quote. I have no clue who it's from but I love it and needed it and it reminded me of the love I still have even though I'm also feeling such loss right now.

"I realized that there is something that happy people know that unhappy people don't; no matter what happens in life, there's always something left to love, and the love that remains is always stronger than anything that goes against it."

I love you, Ben, more than ever. Thank you for loving me back and making me so happy. Thank you for the best 14 years, through all of our ups and downs. I love you more than I have ever had the words to say to you and I know that I am the luckiest.


Monday, September 20, 2010

Happy 2nd Birthday Sweet Little Alexis!!

Two years ago today this sweet little one was born into our family. I remember how tiny she seemed. In the picture above my hand looks so big compared to her teeny face. She was just such a sweet baby. I can't believe she's already 2!! Believe me, I've shed more than my share of tears today about the fact that she has grown up so quickly. She has brought so much joy, love, and wonder to our family and we simply adore our little Lex. I absolutely love this picture of the moment my kids got to see and hold their beautiful little sister. They were in awe: I have to admit that this day was so hard for me for many reasons and I just didn't feel up to my same old, same old usual birthday celebratory mood, plus I haven't been feeling too good for the last few days either. I'm usually super big on birthdays so it made me feel kind of bad that I just couldn't do it today. Skylar has been reminding me for the last couple of weeks that since it's an even year that Alexis should get a party. Um, yeah, poor girl, I'm sorry, but I couldn't manage that this year. Good thing you're 2 and don't know you're really missing out anyway, right?

Alexis did have a fun day though. She's starting to get the idea of birthdays so all day when I'd ask her whose birthday it was she would say "It's mine, Mom," and she would smile really big-a big "showing teeth" smile. After we took Kade to preschool, I took her to get her free Coldstone ice cream. I think she was a little surprised that she got to eat it all by herself-being the 4th, she's pretty used to having to share everything. After that we went to the grocery store and picked up some cake stuff and I let her pick out some balloons. She was just so excited to get balloons and probably would've been good with just balloons for her birthday. Isn't it great when they are so easy to please?After Ben got home we went out to eat at Olive Garden. Our kids love our tradition of going out to "restaunauts." We had a good time and then came home for cake and ice cream and presents. Alexis got beyond spoiled this year. I was especially glad that she LOVED her Cinderella/Belle doll that I actually got for her way back on my girl's Disneyland trip. She kept grabbing it and flipping it from Cinderella to Belle and saying "Oh look! Look! Look!" It was just too cute. She's all about princess right now & the kids all insisted on giving her something of the sort.
Alexis is just so fun right now. I wish I could bottle up every moment of all of the adorable things she does. Here's some our favorite things about our cute girl:

~ Alexis just loves her blankies. As much as I tried to stop it, she's a thumb sucker and loves that thumb and her blankie with it. Having had a previous Linus with Kade, we tried really hard to find a replacement blankie just in case anything happened to her beloved blankie. We couldn't find one anywhere! So we found a mini version, which we call woobie. At first she hated it but after blankie had a washing machine accident and got ripped, she decided that woobie could do in a jam. Now she likes to have both blankie & woobie at all times! We've created a blankie monster!

~Besides loving princess, Alexis is our princess. She's such a girly girl. She really, really loves to wear dresses and on Sunday when the rest of us can't wait to get out of our church clothes, she is prancing around showing off her pretty dresses and will not let me change her. She is also really into accessories right now and loves to wear bracelets, necklaces, and of course, a purse.

~At the same time, Alexis can hold her own with her big brothers and is just as daring as they are. She loves to jump on the bed, ride on the scooter, and even skateboard! She pretty much has had the same bruise in the same spot on her forehead forever because she always manages to land in that same spot when she's doing something crazy.

~Alexis is totally spoiled by her siblings. They pretty much give her whatever her little heart desires. She's pretty easy going for the most part but if she wants something, she's learned how to get it.

~Alexis is a little mommy. She loves babies! Everywhere we go she always points out the babies. Lately this just breaks my heart because she would be the best big sister to her little brother. I have some necklaces I wear that sweet friends have given me to remember Gabriel and many times a day Alexis grabs my necklace and says "Baby. Baby with Jesus, Mom."

~Every night after the other kids go to bed, Alexis loves coming downstairs to drink some milk and watch TV with Ben and I for awhile while she settles down for the night. For a long time we've watched Scrubs each night and she was so sweet at the end when the baby says "Buhbye" in the credits and Alexis would say it too. After that, she was good to go to bed. A few weeks ago we realized that she's probably getting too old to watch it and switched her over to Blues Clues every night instead. She's become a huge fan! Now instead of "Buhbye" we get to hear "Notebook!" We love our nightly routine of cuddling with Lex!

~ Alexis loves to sing and when she's playing alone she will sing to her toys. She has a song that she especially loves where she just sings "I'm happy. I'm happy." She plays really well by herself but loves playing with her friends and going to nursery. Her two favorite friends are Ane Maile, who is just her age, and Dylan Tong, who is 7.

~Alexis has totally gotten over her major mommy separation anxiety and loves babysitters now. She really loves her grandmas and especially loves Grandpa Bruce to gives her nuzzies. She's really ticklish and laughs like crazy if a nuzzie is even mentioned.

~Alexis is a jabberbox, but only with us. She is really quiet around most people but let her get comfortable and she as a thousand things to say. She can talk really well and we can mostly understand all she says but sometimes she breaks into long dialogues of complete gibberish and it's really cute to listen to.

~ Alexis loves to read! I often will notice she's been quiet for awhile and while this is usually a bad sign with most kids, it usually means that Alexis has just found a good book to look at. Sometimes she will just grab her books and read to us in her cute gibberish talk. The other day I caught it on film. Isn't she the cutest?:
video

We love you so much our dear sweet baby girl! You have the biggest, cutest personality in that little body of yours. You make us so happy and bring smiles to our faces, even on the hardest of days. We feel so blessed to have you!! We love, love, love, love you Alexis!!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Disappointment

So it's been a busy week because I really needed it to be. I've tried my best to get my house back in order because it's something I can control when I don't feel like I have much control in anything else right now. Plus when I'm busy, I don't have time to sit and cry. I still think of Gabriel constantly though. It's amazing how one little life can affect you so much. I miss him like crazy.

Part of cleaning this week included switching out Alexis's clothes and putting away all the clothes the kids had grown out of that have been sitting in the family room for the last month. I guess I should have thought about how horrible it would make me feel, especially when I got out those last few unisex onesies out of Alexis's drawer to store them away and put away some of the boys' smaller clothes. When I was pregnant, I was so excited to feel I was having another baby boy again because I really, really wanted a boy. I also packed away the last of the nursery items. My baby doesn't need any of those things and I wanted them to be his. This is the first time since we've ever had kids that I won't be pregnant on my youngest's 2nd birthday and I hate it because I've always had that little excitement of having a little baby again soon. That's the way we've always planned it. Seeing Little Lex grow out of her babyness is so heartwrenching right now. I can't believe I don't have another baby to take that spot.

I went through a huge thing of "This is not fair!" over the last week or so. It's just not. There is nothing about this that is fair. We wanted this baby so very badly and felt so much that he was supposed to be ours to raise. We're good people and we're good parents, right? Isn't that what Heavenly Father wants for his children-exactly what we could've provided him? We wanted him, we prayed for him, we planned for him, we prepared for him, and now we are left waiting until the next life until we get to have him. I have yet to see many blessings in this. I'm sure they'll be there someday but right now I can't find any.

Remember when I declared 2009 the year that just sucked? I had no idea how much more awful it could get. In fact, I thought it couldn't possibly get worse because I was at my limit then. The last two years have definitely been the hardest of my life with trials of all kinds hitting us from every side. Two years ago, right now, I was trying my best to "take it easy" so that Alexis wasn't born too early. I was so relieved when she was born on her term date-the day the Dr. said she would be okay and that she was born with relatively few complications. What a blessing she has been these last two years. I don't think I could have half of any positive attitude I've ever had without her sweet little spunky spirit here because it has just been trial after trial after trial since the day she was born. She, like the rest of my children, have given me reasons to smile through this all.

We had Stake/Regional Conference on Saturday and Sunday. The topic at Stake Conf. was of course, the pathway to happiness. Yeah, not feeling it. Thanks, my dear friend (you know who you are), for letting me know that's okay right now. I'm just not happy. I'm not. I know that someday I will be but right now I am not finding anything to be happy about. I can find some peace and comfort, I can even find humor and laugh, but I'm not "happy" and I hate that because I've never not been able to find a way to that. It's a little weird for me that this whole thing is called the plan of happiness because I know that's the ultimate promise and goal, but it's hard when happiness is not part of the journey right now.

Regional Conference was a little easier for me to take because it was about trials, and I totally get that. Even hearing about others' trials helps me to remember I'm not the only one suffering and it helps to get me out of my "poor me" mode. Julie Beck said something that really hit me, " We were promised trials. That's the reason we fought the war in heaven so that we could grow and progress. The Lord gives us these experiences so we can be more drawn to Him." I know that in the last two years, through all of these trials, I have drawn more close to Him. I've never prayed harder or tried harder to be a better person. I've tried to cherish my husband and children more, I've tried to make better choices, be more in tune with what the Lord wants me to do, and have done my best to serve in my callings and to serve others. I know I have so much further to go, but I feel like I've been making a concentrated effort to just be better. That's another point where the not fair thing comes in, because I feel like when I'm trying so hard, why do the trials keep coming?

I think that the last two years of awful have also helped me to prepare somehow for this, the death of Gabriel, the greatest of any trials I've had. At conference, Jeffrey Holland said, " Work to have faith so that when you need it, you will have it to rely on." I guess that's where the grateful part comes in because in a way, I feel like my faith has been prepared and I'm so grateful for that. I still hate the fact that my sweet baby boy is dead, but I have all the faith in the world that it's part of Heavenly Father's plan and we will be together again. If I didn't, I don't think I could do this at all because it's so, so hard.

Regardless of the preparation I've had, I still am having such a difficult time with the lack of control and disappointment I feel about all of this. I know that Heavenly Father gives us our freedom to choose but not everything is our choice alone and ultimately He's the one in charge. It's tough realizing I have to just turn this over to Him and trust Him that it will work the way He has planned because I'm a planner. I like things to go just the way I have planned and Gabriel was very planned and all my plans are askew now. I feel like I don't know what to do or how to make plans. Seriously, when you have such a big thing as the life of your child included in all of your plans and then he's gone, how do you just pick up and go on with those plans? I just wish I wasn't a planner right now. I wish I hadn't thought of feeling big and pregnant at Christmas and how it would be so special this time preparing for my baby's imminent birth as we celebrated our Savior's own birth. I wish I hadn't discussed when we'd bless him with my sister so that it wouldn't interfere with my niece's baptism. I wish I hadn't already thought of how we'd manage to go to Disneyland with a newborn for Kade's 5th birthday. I wish I didn't know what Gabriel was going to be for Halloween next year. I wish I wouldn't have planned to have all of my children's blessing and 18 month pictures displayed together on my wall for the rest of my life. Maybe most people don't make crazy plans like that, but I do. I plan everything. I just hate that all of these plans are ruined now and as much as I know that Gabriel will be mine forever, I really just feel so beyond disappointed that forever isn't now.

I just miss you so, so much today, sweet Baby Gabe.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

I know that this is not goodbye

A month ago today was the day that Gabriel was born. Sometimes it feels like this has lasted forever and sometimes it feels like only a minute ago that it happened. I'm just missing him so much and wishing there was some way that this thing has just been a nightmare and I'll wake up. Every morning I still wake in shock to not have him there and the feeling of complete emptiness can be so overwhelming some days. Some are better than others and I know that I'm going to be okay. I can do this because I know that if I can endure this, I will get to be with Gabriel again.

Each of our kids have their own song that we have sung to them since babies to comfort them. We learned very early that the song that we sung to Skylar was not about to be accepted from Nickolas. He actually would cry if we sang her song to him. He wanted his own song and he got it and hence each of our babies has gotten their very own song. My kids often ask me to sing or play them their song. I love that it still brings them comfort to hear the song that is specifically for them. Gabriel has a song too. It is the song that has not left my mind since the morning my labor was induced and I knew I'd have to say goodbye to him. Instead of comforting sweet Gabriel, this song comforts me. After explaining to my children about the meaning, they now often request that we listen to it. It brings them comfort when they too are missing their baby brother.

The song is Kite by U2.



We love you so much, our sweet baby boy, and miss you every moment. You make us want to be better people so that we can be with you again. We wish you were here with us but know that you are where you're supposed to be and that this is not goodbye.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

What Not to Say

It's been a rough few days...again. Sunday at church was awful. Maybe I wasn't ready to stay for all three hours, but I knew I'd have to do it sometime. Every moment of this is hard and I am trying so badly to do hard things. I am so thankful for supportive friends that helped me get through it. Even with the support of friends and knowing my Heavenly Father and Savior were helping too, I sobbed the entire time and then came home and sobbed the rest of the day and even throughout Monday.

This morning, my friend took the kids for a few hours so I could have some alone time. My sweet friend, Mindy, actually came over and we had a good long, uninterrupted talk. Just last year, Mindy's little Sarah only lived for 15 minutes, after being born too early. I have ached so badly for her this last year and not known how to comfort her, but she has been such a comfort to me through this. It has been so wonderful to have someone who truly has understood what I am going through. It was so good to talk to her today about our perfect little babies, who we miss having in our arms.

One of the things that has been so hard about this is some of the things people say or don't say. Some things are just right and some things are so insensitive that I want to scream. Some people just don't say anything, and that in itself is painful. It makes me feel as if they don't really count Gabriel as my child. Mindy and I talked today about how hurtful words can be. I actually had run across something someone who had a miscarriage had written about the things people say. I know that in times of other's grief, I've not known what to say myself. I wish I would've had this because I honestly wouldn't want to hurt any one more when they are already hurting so much. I hope that I don't offend anyone in posting this, but I thought it may help some to know what to say if they know someone in the future that has to face this:

When women experience the loss of a child, one of the first things they discover they have in common is a list of things they wish no one had ever said to them. The lists tend to be remarkably similar. The comments are rarely malicious - just misguided attempts to soothe.

This list was compiled as a way of helping other people understand pregnancy loss. While generated by mothers for mothers, it may also apply similarly to the fathers who have endured this loss.

When trying to help a woman who has lost a baby, the best rule of thumb is a matter of manners: don't offer your personal opinion of her life, her choices, her prospects for children. No woman is looking to poll her acquaintances for their opinions on why it happened or how she should cope.

-Don't say, "It's God's Will." Even if we are members of the same congregation, unless you are a cleric and I am seeking your spiritual counseling, please don't presume to tell me what God wants for me. Besides, many terrible things are God's Will, that doesn't make them less terrible.

-Don't say, "It was for the best” - there was probably something wrong with your baby." The fact that something was wrong with the baby is what is making me so sad. My poor baby never had a chance. Please don't try to comfort me by pointing that out.

-Don't say, "You can always have another one." This baby was never disposable. If had been given the choice between loosing this child or stabbing my eye out with a fork, I would have said, "Where's the fork?" I would have died for this baby, just as you would die for your children.

-Don't say, "Be grateful for the children you have." If your mother died in a terrible wreck and you grieved, would that make you less grateful to have your father?

-Don't say, "Thank God you lost the baby before you really loved it." I loved my son or daughter. Whether I lost the baby after two weeks of pregnancy or just after birth, I loved him or her.

-Don’t say, “The pain won’t last forever.” It just might. I was planning on having this baby forever. It will ease in time, but every birthday will be painful. I will miss first smiles, first words, first steps, the first day of kindergarten, high school graduation, and their wedding day. Every milestone he should have achieved will make me ache for my baby.


-Don't say, "Isn't it time you got over this and moved on?" It's not something I enjoy, being grief-stricken. I wish it had never happened. But it did and it's a part of me forever. The grief will ease on its own timeline, not mine - or yours.

-Don't say, "Now you have an angel watching over you." I didn't want her to be my angel. I wanted her to bury me in my old age.

-Don't say, "I understand how you feel." Unless you've lost a child, you really don't understand how I feel. And even if you have lost a child, everyone experiences grief differently.

-Don't tell me horror stories of your neighbor or cousin or mother who had it worse. The last thing I need to hear right now is that it is possible to have this happen six times, or that I could carry until two days before my due-date and labor 20 hours for a dead baby. These stories frighten and horrify me and leave me up at night weeping in despair. Even if they have a happy ending, do not share these stories with me.

-Don't pretend it didn't happen and don't change the subject when I bring it up. If I say, "Before the baby died..." or "when I was pregnant..." don't get scared. If I'm talking about it, it means I want to. Let me. Pretending it didn't happen will only make me feel utterly alone.

- Don't say, "It's not your fault." It may not have been my fault, but it was my responsibility and I failed. The fact that I never stood a chance of succeeding only makes me feel worse. This tiny little being depended upon me to bring him safely into the world and I couldn't do it. I was supposed to care for him for a lifetime, but I couldn't even give him a childhood. I am so angry at my body you just can't imagine.

-Don't say, "Well, you weren't too sure about this baby, anyway." I already feel so guilty about ever having complained about morning sickness, or a child I wasn't prepared for, or another mouth to feed that we couldn't afford. I already fear that this baby died because I didn't take the vitamins, or drank too much coffee, or had alcohol in the first few weeks when I didn't know I was pregnant. I hate myself for any minute that I had reservations about this baby. Being unsure of my pregnancy isn't the same as wanting my child to die - I never would have chosen for this to happen.

-Do say, "I am so sorry." That's enough. You don't need to be eloquent. Say it and mean it and it will matter.

-Do say, "You're going to be wonderful parents some day," or "You're wonderful parents and that baby was lucky to have you." We both need to hear that.

-Do say, "I have lighted a candle for your baby," or "I have said a prayer for your baby."

-Do send flowers or a kind note - Every one I receive makes me feel as though my baby was loved. Don't resent it if I don't respond.

-Do something instead of just asking me to let you know if I need help. I need help. In my grief, I don’t have the energy to even do the simple things and I may not for awhile. I might not have the strength to ask for help and asking would be an extra burden.

-Don't call more than once and don't be angry if the machine is on and I don't return your call. If we're close friends and I am not responding to your attempts to help me, please don't resent that, either. Help me by not needing anything from me for a while.

-Do recognize that I have suffered a death in my family - not a medical condition.

-Do recognize that in addition to the physical after effects I may experience, I'm going to be grieving for quite some time. Please treat me as you would any person who has endured the tragic death of a loved one - I need time and space.

-DO understand if I do not attend baby showers/christening/birthday parties etc. And DON'T ask why I can't come.

Please don't bring your baby or toddler over. If your niece is pregnant, or your daughter just had a baby, please don't share that with me right now. It's not that I can't be happy for anyone else, it's that every smiling, cooing baby, every glowing new mother makes me ache so deep in my heart I can barely stand it. I may look okay to you, but there's a good chance that I'm still crying every day. It may be weeks before I can go a whole hour without thinking about it. You'll know when I'm ready - I'll be the one to say, "Did your daughter have her baby?" or, "How is that precious little boy of yours? I haven't seen him around in a while."

Above all, please remember that this is the worst thing that ever happened to me. The word "miscarriage" is small and easy. But my baby's death is monolithic and awful. It's going to take me a while to figure out how to live with it. Bear with me.



Friday, September 3, 2010

How Blessed I am

So yesterday and last night were awful and by 10 pm I couldn't do anything but climb into bed to read and even doing that took all of the energy I had left. But it was there that I got the good kick in the butt that I obviously needed. Just the other night, after another particularly bad day, my dear friend Abby, who helps me every day, brought me a book that has helped her this last year since her Naki died. This book, When You Can't Do It Alone, by Brent L. Top, has already helped me so much to remind me that my Savior loves me and is there to support me through this. Last night, in my despair, I opened it up and read:

"The more I realized what the Lord has done for me, the more I felt guilty for feeling so sorry for myself. It's pretty hard, if not impossible, to say "Woe is me" at the same time you are saying, "How blessed I am." It's pretty hard to say " I can't do this" when you recognize all the ways the Lord has carried you in the past and helped you get through the worst things."

This statement just rang true at the exact moment I needed it. This week I just have let myself feel all the grief, and while that's important, I wasn't spending any time being grateful, and when I was doing that, I was just feeling progressively worse. I've hated that I just keep feeling worse and feel like there's no way to get out of this. I can't help but think that Baby Gabriel wouldn't want me to feel this way either. It's no way to honor his precious little life. That statement above helped me to realize to remember those moments, as rare as they are right now, that I'm grateful for.

Kade, Alexis, and I have this thing we love to do whenever we have a few minutes to kill. We drive up the canyon that we are so blessed to have just minutes from our house. We don't really drive far, just up to the Sundance turn off and then we turn around. Kade always makes a wish when we go through the tunnel and it makes him happy. Alexis has started counting when we reach the tunnel in her cute voice and gets so excited. I love this time with my kids. Any of you who know Kade, know that he's a busy kid-my dad compares him to a wind up toy because he just goes and goes and goes until he crashes into bed. But when we are driving in the canyon, he is calm and peaceful. Sometimes we have good talks and sometimes we just listen to music, but it's always relaxing and we all come back happy. I'm so grateful for that time I have with my sweet little ones.

This week we've made that drive every single day and though I wouldn't say that I've felt happy, I have felt peaceful for the entire duration of it. It is absolutely beautiful there. In that short drive, we see amazing rock structures, trees of every kind, gorgeous waterfalls, a rushing river. Right now the tops of the trees are just starting to turn red and the sunflowers are out in full force, brightening the sides of the roads. The beauty of this world that the Lord has given us is magnificent. I feel so very, very blessed to have the mountains right out my door, where in just minutes, I can feel at complete peace and be surrounded in them. I guess I imagine that Heaven is a little like those majestic mountains (with the ocean at the foot of them, of course) and Gabriel is there in that glory and beauty all of the time and that helps to brings me peace as well. I'm reminded that our Savior loves us so much that He has given us the beautiful things in this world to bring us the peace we need here. Even though this life has trials that may break us down, He's there to carry us and help us through the worst. I haven't spent time being grateful for that this week. I truly feel grateful and humbled for the reminder to be grateful and to remember how very blessed I am.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

When the minutes drag

So it's Thursday-three weeks now since Gabriel was born-will I ever look forward to Thursdays again? They used to be our busy days but the kids quit gymnastics last week, so we're just down to piano lessons, so it's nice in a way, but I'm finding that the non busy days are often the hardest because there's not even an instant that I stop thinking about and missing Gabriel. When I'm busy I'm forced to think of the moment at hand, even if it's just a moment. It seems like the minutes just drag right now and I feel anxious for something to happen...someone to send me a message, naptime, Ben to get home and take over, bedtime...just anything to give me a break from my own miserable thoughts.

The last week has been a hard one for my thoughts and emotions. It feels like I feel a different one every few minutes and I hate the unpredictability. I'm a planner and I'm learning you can't plan grief. I think I'll be okay one minute but then the next I'm sad and then I'm angry the next. When they list the emotions of grief, I think someone left out envy, which is a pretty sucky one. Everyone, everywhere, is pregnant. It's not the best time to live in the baby-making capital of the U.S.-my own ward is having the usual baby boom that we've always been a part of. It's a conflicting emotion too because I honestly feel happy for all of my friends that are pregnant-it's the best thing in the world. I just want to still be pregnant so badly and I hate that I'm not and I hate envying others that are because I feel like it won't get me anywhere and that just makes me angry. I hate the emotion angry the most because that is when I just don't feel any comfort. It's so frustrating to be angry that I can't control this and feel anger that others aren't having to do this. Then it will move on to self-pity, which always follows with guilt. Everyone has their trials and I wouldn't want theirs or ever wish this on anyone, so the guilt can be overwhelming. I'm thankful to a friend who sent me a journal to write all of this in. Blogging has helped me to get some of my emotions out but the ugly emotions I just hate to share because that would just make me feel worse, and believe me, some of my thoughts are much worse than these.

I'm starting to feel better physically, so that's good. I hate the fact that I still have this little rounded belly. The Dr. reminded me that it was 19 weeks before my uterus was given the message to stop growing so I'm going to have to give it time to shrink back down. It's just annoying to have to wear maternity clothes still because I can barely squeeze into my pants. Maternity clothes in themselves are annoying but you usually have something to look forward to or something in your arms when you're forced to still wear them. It probably doesn't help that I have absolutely no energy to do anything so I spend most days on the couch watching the kids play or laying down reading. One of my friends has offered to go on walks with me and one of these days, I'm going to actually do it. One of these days I hope I have the energy to even go on a walk.

The energy part is really hard on me. I'm used to being out doing things and going places so usually if I'm lacking energy it's because I've had a full day. I want so badly to be normal again, but don't have much energy for normal and I don't know if there is a "normal" now. I dread leaving the house because I have to see people but I know seeing friends will only get easier. On Tuesday, we had a Joy school mom's meeting. It was the first time I had to go where I knew I had to see friends and talk. Ben gave me a good pep talk that morning and reminded me that I was going to see friends that I love, who love me back. I went and I was okay and it was good. I've missed seeing friends and hate how lonely it is. I guess I've gotten to the point where I can face friends again, so if you've been avoiding coming over because I asked people to stay away, you're welcome to come by now. I can handle friends and feel so blessed to have you. I even want to thank the friends that haven't stayed away. Some days those short visits where I could just hug someone and cry have made it possible for me to get through the day.

I guess the people it's hardest to face right now are the strangers, or the ones that don't know what I'm going through, or maybe they do but don't want to say anything to upset me so they don't say anything at all. I'm learning the littlest things upset me at inoppurtune times. The other night Nick had his first soccer game. We signed him up really late because we were debating between continuing gymnastics, which he really excels in, and letting him try something new. Then when we were finally going to sign him up, Gabriel died and everything hit, and we just plain forgot. So we just barely signed him up last week. I guess his school team was full and they placed him on another team but didn't let us know so we went the wrong time to the game and missed it. When we were talking to the lady in charge of all of the schedules and she told me we had missed it, I lost it. I just started crying and I'm sure that she thought I was the craziest soccer mom she'd ever seen. She apologized and felt bad. She even sent an e-mail saying how sorry she was. I just stood there crying and I couldn't talk and I couldn't possibly tell her why I was crying-that my baby had just died and the day had been especially hard because before soccer, we were supposed to have gone to our ultrasound appointment, and that soccer was really the last thing I cared about. I was thankful that Ben was there and could take over for me. It was just an awful, horrible moment and I dread it ever happening again. Man, this grief thing is awful, and I think I'm hating just about everything about it.