Tuesday, February 22, 2011

My Story

Awhile back I found this wonderful website called Faces of Loss. It puts a face on this world of baby loss. It's so sad to see how many people have to deal with the loss of a baby and the excruciating pain that comes from that. Often it's not talked about and that can leave one feeling very alone. The stories on this website have helped me to know that I wasn't completely alone in this. They have also given me a greater appreciation for the gospel and the plan of salvation and what a blessing it is through this journey. I can't imagine doing this without it. A week or so ago, on Gabriel's half birthday, I finally submitted my story, and today it was put on the site. Maybe my story can help someone else going through this pain. You know the old saying about helping one person.

Here's my story:


P.S. Do you know how hard it was to find a decent picture of me that didn't have a child's face smooshed up to mine...just the way I like it? I love my kiddos!!

We love and miss you sweet baby Gabe!

Sunday, February 20, 2011


So, today I got released from my calling as Camp Leader. Let me just clear it up for anyone thinking it...and I know some are, since I've already been asked a few times...I'm not pregnant. I'm more of a quitter. Yup, full on a quitter. I didn't ask to be released, but when I was asked if it would make me feel better to be released, I couldn't say no. This has just been a calling I've struggled with from the get-go because of what it entails and the timing and all....and I tried so badly to get into the spirit of it...and I failed.

In President Uchtdorf's October 2010 General Conference talk, he talked about slowing down during times of trials. He said, " One of the things we learn from studying the growth of trees is that during seasons when conditions are ideal, trees grow at a normal rate. However, during seasons when growing conditions are not ideal, trees slow down their growth and devote their energy to the basic elements necessary for survival."

I think one of the things that I was meant to learn from Gabriel's death was this message....to just slow down. I've never been very good at that whole thing. I've always kept our schedules full, very planned, and busy. I've learned through this grief process, that it's entirely necessary for me to slow down. In fact, I feel as if I've almost had to slow down so that I can go anywhere, if that makes any sense. I've had to learn that my energy definitely has had to be concentrated on those things of utmost importance, even like making sure that my kids are cared for and fed, as simple as that should be, but isn't always. The last six months have been so hard and I've just felt like I'm barely keeping my head above the water. The entire time I had the calling it was a such a stress for me, at a time that I just don't feel like I can handle any additional stress. I felt so overwhelmed by all that I had to do and the timing. It's a tough calling that really entails a lot of work and I've struggled to know how I could fulfill it with what I've been going through. As the intensity of camp planning is beginning I've felt even more stress knowing how instead of slowing down when I needed to now, I was actually about to start speeding up with so much to do to fulfill the calling.

For the last few months, the concentration of my calling has been on being the sports director. Although I've felt completely inadequate in that, I have grown to love the girls I've been serving. There were times that I really felt so comfortable being with them, especially on Sundays, and this has led me even more to feeling so worried that I would disappoint them in being their camp leader. The hardest thing for me was the responsibility to the girls of the young women to provide them with an amazing camp experience, and at the time, I'm not feeling too amazing with my ability to do much of anything.

I kept calling this my Abraham calling. We desperately hope to have another baby soon. The timing hasn't been right for that just yet, but it's our plan, and hopefully our Heavenly Father's plan too. This calling just didn't fit in with what we have planned for our family. I kept thinking maybe Heavenly Father just wanted me to show the faith that I can do this calling, that I'm willing to do this calling, and then instead I'll get the calling of expectant mom again. I kept struggling with that though too because I know that the planning for girl's camp happens months before the whole production. I felt guilty that I would instead leave the young women leaders in a lurch as they had to search for a replacement when my new, hoped for calling came. Today, as I was released, and my replacement was called, I knew that she would be perfect for this calling. It was a relief for me to know that she would be able to fill the shoes that I so fully couldn't do. I know the girls will love camp with her...and that's what it's all about, the girls loving every minute of something they will remember for the rest of their lives. I just felt so inadequate at providing that for them.

After I was released, our lesson in Relief Society was about sacrifice, and we talked about Abraham and Isaac and how they showed their willingness to sacrifice. While the lesson was wonderful, I felt pretty darn pathetic about myself. This didn't end up being my Abraham calling because I didn't see it through. I didn't trust enough in myself to do it and I'm disappointed in myself. I wish I had been more able to sacrifice my discomfort and struggles with this calling to really see it through. I took the easy way out....and that's not what this journey on earth is about. The easy won't help me to grow. It won't help me to be worthy of that great prize that my little Gabriel has already gained. I wish I could find a way to be worthy to be the mom of such an obedient and faithful son of our Heavenly Father as Gabriel must be. At a time when I want so desperately to do all I should do to be with my Savior and my Gabriel again, I feel so very inadequate in doing the things I know I should do. This is all just so hard. I wish I knew how to do all of this just a little bit better.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Merry Christmas!!! Ha ha. I know this is super late. It's safe to say that I wasn't too excited about Christmas this year without Gabriel. It was definitely such a difficult holiday season for me. At the same time, I knew my kids deserved to have a great time so I did my best to put on a smile and try to bring them the joy they needed. So, better late than never, here's what we did for Christmas!

Here's our family picture. We haven't had a family picture taken since Alexis was teeny and the plan was to get one as soon as Gabriel was born. Getting Ben into get a family picture is like pulling teeth...he hates the whole process. So he gave in to doing it but talked me into having our friend, Troy, take it. I think he did a wonderful job! P.S. Alexis does not do pictures well. :)
One of our favorite ways to kick off the Christmas season is to go to the Provo Tabernacle Live Nativity. We almost missed it this year because I wasn't really thinking about it. We just happened to be driving by and the kids noticed it was going on. We stopped the car and headed in to see the beautiful program and feel the spirit of the season. Just a few weeks later, this beautiful building burnt down. We're so thankful we got to spend some time there in it's last days since we have so many great memories there. It has always been one of my favorite buildings in the valley.
This year Skylar danced at the Gingerbread Festival instead of the Festival of the Trees. It was really low key, which was nice, and there were some pretty cool gingerbread houses/creations. Skylar did a great job dancing!

We celebrated my grandma's 96th birthday! 96!!! We sure love that she's here to celebrate with! Love you Grandma!!
Of course the kids wanted to see the "real Santa" this year. We know where he is every year. He's only there for one day so the kids know he's real because Santa's much to busy to go to the mall like the rest of those fake Santas. They also love that he brings Mrs. Claus along.
We celebrated St. Nick's Day & St. Lucia's Day (minus pics). Skylar performed this year in the school choir and also played The Christmas Song beautifully for her piano recital.

Kade's preschool Christmas program was fantastic!

Kade also had his program for Joy school, performing the nativity at a care center and also for our family party.

We headed to the Riverwoods to see the beautiful lights and go on a horse drawn carriage.

It's a tradition now to go to the Festival of Lights with the Tongs & Hoens and then head to one of their houses for hot chocolate & good fun. We forgot the camera but yay for camera phones!
On Christmas Eve we went to my parent's house & had a great night eating yummy food, visiting with family, and opening presents. The oldest girls did the St. Lucia thing and most of the grandkids had some kind of performance to share.

We did our traditional nativity that is always so nice. Skylar & Nick were shepherds, Kade was Joseph, and Alexis was Mary. She took it very seriously.

Here's a grandkid picture...sort of the last of the original grandkids (and it's not even all of them!). My nephew, Mark, on the left, got engaged just a few days after Christmas! How exciting...and how old does that make me feel!?!!
Christmas morning arrived with much excitement. Everyone got thoroughly spoiled.

Gabriel was a big part of our Christmas. Santa brought the beautiful picture, In His Constant Care, by Simon Dewey, that I was so wishing for. It's the first Christmas present I've ever cried about getting. I love it! The kids also got these adorable angel bears from a wonderful resource for families of baby loss, Angel Whispers, who sent us a care package with a bear for each of Gabriel's siblings. Now each of them have a reminder of their baby brother right by their beds.

This makes all the months of planning and shopping all worth it:Ben's family came over on Christmas day for yummy lunch & to open more presents!

Over the break, we had some good times playing our new Rock Band 3 with the awesome keytaur!

A few days after Christmas Ben took off half a day and we headed to the Discovery Gateway Children's Museum.

Then we headed over to beautiful Temple Square, where our friends, the Frisbys, met up with us....right as the batteries died on the camera.

On New Year's Eve, we went sledding with our friends, the Chadwicks, and froze our hineys off! It was freaking freezing!!

We spent the night bringing in the New Year with the Tongs & the Hoens. Good times!!All in all we had a good time, as tough as this year was. I feel so very blessed to have a knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ and that we always have this time of year to remember his birth and what it means to us all. This year it took on even more meaning to me and I felt more blessed by the birth of Christ than ever before. I know that because our Heavenly Father was willing to send his only begotten son to teach us, atone for us, and die for us, that we will get to be together with Gabriel again. Gaining a deeper appreciation of my Heavenly Father and my Savior this year was the greatest Christmas gift I could have ever received.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

6 months

6 months ago today I woke up happy for the last time. I woke up feeling complete. I woke up with hope.

I miss you so very very much my precious baby Gabe and my arms are literally aching for the day you'll be in them again. I love you beyond words. XOXOXOXO

Sunday, February 6, 2011

God is my strength

Today was the last of those significant dates that we had planned for Gabriel's life. Today was the day that we had planned to give him a name and a blessing at church. This is always one of my favorite days in my babies' lives. It is the one day that everyone shows up in their honor to celebrate their new life. I love listening to the blessing that Ben so thoughtfully prepares to give our kids through the spirit. Gabriel never got this day and I know he didn't need it, but at the same time it hurts to know that he was never given a day to really celebrate his little life.

Ben has an annual snowmobile trip that he and his friends go on. When we knew that we had a baby on the way, we decided the trip was out this year since we'd have a new little one. After Gabriel died I told Ben he could still go on the trip because I know how much he enjoys it. I honestly hated the thought of him going from the beginning but when it started approaching and I realized the trip would overlap today I really dreaded that he'd be gone. I knew that he needed to get away though and so I didn't say anything to him about it. I wanted him to be able to go, have fun, and not think about it. I've learned that the anticipation of the day is harder than the day itself, so I knew somehow I'd survive it, even if he wasn't with me.

This morning, I was absolutely dreading going to church with the kids all by myself. I was dreading that someone else would have the chance to bless their baby on the day I wanted to bless mine and my heart was aching at having to sit there through it without my Ben's hand holding mine tight. I knew I had to go though. Skipping church doesn't get me any closer to Gabriel and it doesn't set an example to my other kids. However, I knew that I'd need more strength than my own to go. I often think of Gabriel's name when I need that strength. Gabriel means God is my strength. So this morning, before I could go anywhere I had to call on the Lord for His strength to get me through those three hours. I prayed that somehow one of the testimonies given during our testimony meeting would be the words I needed to hear at this time when I'm just struggling so badly.

Thankfully the Lord heard my prayer and also gave me the mercy of not having any baby blessings. Throughout the meeting, I noticed a theme. Many people talked about God being their strength and the phrase kept resounding in my mind. As I listened to all of the testimonies borne, one brother shared a scripture that I knew was what I needed to hear. It was 2 Nephi 22:2:

"Behold God is my salvation: I will trust, and not be afraid; for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also has become my salvation."

I needed to hear that because lately I've just been lacking in that trust. I've had such fear in what lies ahead knowing that life isn't always going to give me what I've planned. I've even had too much fear to plan much of anything because I'm afraid of being disappointed. I hate to say it, but in a way, I've lost a little of my trust in Heavenly Father's love for me. That seems so downright ungrateful and horrible of me to think that way because I know He does love me, but when you feel so darn horrible, you sometimes forget.

But there are times I remember. There are times that there's just no way I can deny God's love for me. It's in the text that a friend sends just as I leave the store in tears because it's the baby sale and all the cute things I don't need are right in my face. It's in the simple words of a friend saying, "Hey, I've been thinking of you." It's in the friend going out of her way to spend time with me this weekend, knowing it would be a tough one for me because I don't handle alone very well. It's in the friend's arm around my shoulders right when my heart was feeling very heavy. It's in the comfort of my husband's arms when he returned home today safe. I am loved. We all are. Heavenly Father knows what we need and he sends that to us when we need it. Sometimes it's not the happy things that we want but it's always what we need. Sometimes we have to ask for it. I certainly had to today. But the Lord knows us, and He's there to give us the guidance we need if we open our hearts to hear and receive it. God is my strength and because of this, I can make it through this day, this week (the 6 month mark...yikes!), and this lifetime, until I can return to be with Him, our Savior, and that precious baby boy of mine.

Saturday, February 5, 2011


Lately I've just felt so frustrated and discouraged with this new life of mine. It sucks to literally not be able to make yourself happy, especially when you've generally been a happy person before. I know that happiness is a choice and blah, blah, blah but it's not for me right now. I can't just choose to be happy when I am still just so heartbroken and feel, in a way, as if my choices have been taken away from me. I would never have chosen for Gabriel to die, for me and my family to have to deal with the enormous grief of losing a baby, or any of the other junk that comes with depression and this world of baby loss. I don't feel as if I have the choices to do the things that I want to do because I'm always grieving and depressed and I don't just have a choice to just stop that. Depression is just not very convenient.

There are days when I'm just so ready to be through with the grief, to just be done. It's just too hard and tiring to have to do this day after day. I know I have to go through this before it can get better and I don't have any choice but to go through it. A book I read by an LDS woman whose timing coincidentally paralled mine (due at Christmas time, lost her baby at 18 weeks) wrote this about the stages of grief:

"The third stage brings disorientation and disorganization. This is most severe in the fourth and six months after the loss. Depression hits hardest at this time. We found ourselves wavering between lack of motivation and wanting to work all of the time. We felt like overeating at times; other times we didn’t want to eat at all. We found it difficult to make decisions. I often avoided going out of the house or to family gatherings."

This is where I am...and it's frustrating because everything about it is not me. I greatly dislike the lack of organization in this whole thing. I can't think clearly and I feel like I'm in a constant fog when it comes to planning and deciding things because I honestly don't know whether I'll be up or down when it comes to each moment. I don't feel motivated to do the things I'm expected to do and can't seem to get the desire to do them no matter how much I try. When I do end up doing them, it just makes me feel worse because I feel pushed when I'm just not ready.

One of the things I'm frustrated with is that I'm in this new group....parents who have lost a child....and it sucks to be here. I was finally able to go to a baby loss support group. It was good and it was bad. It was so nice to be able to feel like I could really talk about how I felt and others really understood because they were also saying the same things I was thinking. It helped to know that all the crazy things in my head aren't just in mine. Everyone there had a different story, but we all shared the same loss of our babies and all of the dreams we had for them. It was also good to be able to recognize that I had actually come a long way in my grief. There were those that had just lost their babies and are at such an extremely difficult stage and those that were a year out that were in a much better place, although still having such a hard time. I could see that I'm now somewhere in between and it was good to see that eventually this will get "easier", for lack of a better word. There was something that I hated though. There was a point when I realized that everyone there was just complaining about how much it sucks to be here and the awful thing is that as much as we just needed some time to complain, there is not one single thing any of us can do about it. Our babies are always going to be dead.

I hate that part about me too. I just hate being such a complainer. I'm sure anyone reading this (anybody out there any more?) doesn't want to hear me complain. I don't want to be like this and I know the complaining won't change my situation, but getting it out there also is helpful for me too. I don't want to become bitter about all of this, and yet I feel like there are times that I just can't stop the bitterness from seeping in. I can't help but feel the hopelessness.

There's something that I read a few months ago that I've often come back to:

"When you are compelled to give up something or when things that are dear to you are withdrawn from you, know that this is your lesson to be learned right now, but know also that as you are learning this lesson, God wants to give you something better."

~Elder Enzio F. Busche

That's what I want, the better, not the bitter and yet I often lose sight of how to get to the better. Frankly, right now there is nothing better about this new life of mine. I have yet to find many things that are good about Gabriel's death and the ache I feel with him gone. I keep doing the things that everyone suggests to get better, and most of the time I don't see much progression, yet sometimes I do. I still have a very grateful heart for all of the things I've been blessed with and I think now, more than ever, I take the time to recognize them because I need to remind myself that this is all worth it. I search more for those tender mercies that show my Heavenly Father's love for me. But they're not always the things I want. Spoiled kid, remember? I'm learning that I'm incredibly impatient and the things I want, the better things, may take a lifetime to get to. I think it's harder to even trust that now I'll get some of the things I want. I trusted that we'd have Gabriel and it was such a disappointment when that was taken from us. I know that his death was part of the plan for our family but now it's hard to trust that our future plans won't be filled with continual hurt. Henry B. Eyring said,

“We cannot see the future with precision, but we can know what the Lord intends and what it will take for each of us to qualify personally to participate.”

The word that stands out there to me is participate. I don't feel much like participating right now but yet I so want to participate in that future with so much promise. However, if I don't participate now it will make that future much more bleak. I know I have to keep going and endure to the end. But yet knowing this and getting up the guts and strength to actually do all of the things to qualify sometimes seems so overwhelming, and honestly, completely frustrating.