October

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October. I love October. It’s my favorite month of the whole year. Leaves changing, pulling out the sweaters, a sudden crisp in the air, pumpkin spice lattes. You know, all the things that make fall, fall. Even in the midst of all those amazing things, October still holds a certain sadness for me. October was the month I was supposed to have Judah. If I’m being honest, I don’t even 100% remember my due date, but it was within the first week. I always longed for an October baby. It is, after all, my favorite month. As soon as I knew my due date, I started planning a pumpkin patch first birthday party. I had pinned pins for it and everything. I was so excited. I had literally prayed for an October baby. I was crushed when everything came crashing down.

Did you know October is Pregnancy Loss and Infant Death Awareness Month? Did you know there are so many women out there who have lost babies? Were you aware that you probably know some, but you simply may not know their story. When we lost Judah, it was like women were coming out of the woodwork. I had no idea that I knew so many people who had lost a child. When I posted our Judah Story, even more women came forward to share parts of their journey with me. What an honor!  I felt so humbled-and so saddened-by the amount of loss surrounding me. But it’s been in moments like those, that I know I am called to something more. That I’m called to share my story, and to help other women share theirs.

This journey of loss can be so overwhelming and all consuming. Some days-especially at first-it can be so hard to know how to get on with life. There are days, and nights, filled with unbearable grief. There are aches so deep, it feels like nothing could ever touch them. There’s a part of yourself that gets lost with each precious life you lose. Parts of yourself that may never come back. A part of you that will never be “fully whole” again. But with Jesus, there’s a peace which surpasses understanding. There is hope for a new tomorrow. There are hands that can reach those deep down aches and turn them into something so beautiful, you hardly recognize them. And while the “old you” may never show her face again the way she used to, there will be a new you. A woman who can see more deeply the hurts of those around her. A woman who can hold somebody’s hand and know how much it really means to simply be there. A woman who may have some hairs that are grayed and some wrinkles on her face, but is a whole different kind of beautiful because life has happened to her, and she has endured it. A woman who has learned to thrive, not just in spite of, but because of the things she has faced. A woman broken, beautiful, and made new.

I specifically remember walking around the dollar store days after we lost Judah. I think we were shopping for stuff for his funeral. Every part of me felt heavy. I just looked at the people around me and thought, “Not a single person in this store (apart from my family) knows what I’ve faced these past few days. They don’t have a clue what I’ve been through.” I almost felt like I was walking in a dream. Every time I deal with a difficult person, or somebody who seems disconnected or angry or upset or sad or “off”, I think of this moment. I think, “I have no idea what they’ve been through. I have no clue what the past couple of days, or weeks, or months, or years have held for them. I need to give them some grace.” I am so grateful I’m able to have that perspective. It gives me a more sincere, genuine Christ-like love. Even when I’m not my best self towards those people, I later remember to pray for them. And I’m grateful.

There are pieces of me that are better because of what I’ve been through. And there are pieces of me that are worse. I’ll share more of all of those things along the way. If you want a little sneak peak: I have more anxiety, but I also know more how to act towards those who are hurting. My marriage was not good, and then my marriage was amazing. I often think I’m dying (no really), but I value life so much more. I am a totally different person, but I’m truly grateful for that. While I don’t love the circumstances that brought me here, I can say with all sincerity, that I am thankful for where those circumstances have brought me.

While I’ve shared our Judah Story, I have yet to share our Twin Story. I know I need to, but for some reason I always feel like something is holding me back. I don’t know if it’s fear, or if the timing doesn’t feel right, maybe it doesn’t feel organic, or it may be that I still have unresolved hurts that I’m not sure I want to bring up yet. Either way, it’s on my list to post that this month. I was planning on sharing it tonight, but when I started typing, that’s simply not what came out. I kept trying to tie it in somewhere, and it just didn’t feel right. Not tonight. I’m also wanting to post some helpful tips for those of you who maybe haven’t lost a baby-to help those who have. And for you who, precious one, who has experienced loss-on any level-I see you. I hear you. I am with you. Reach out to me and we can chat. This journey is so much better together.

P.S.- I’m enjoying my little man all the more this October! I mean, look at that sweet little hand!!!!!

Our Judah Story-Part 7-Recovery

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It’s hard to say how long my actual recovery took. Even after the memorial service and burial, even after my release from the hospital, I still had to be watched. My placenta had been a poison to my body, and though it was no longer a part of me, there was still a chance that I would develop some serious side effects. For one, we had to make sure that none of the placenta had broken off and remained in my body. I don’t know how much you know about placentas, but normally they come out spongelike-you can pick them up. Mine was in no way, shape, or form, solid. It was basically a gooey mess. My doctor who has been  doing his job for over 30 years said he had never seen anything like it. For another thing, we had to make sure I didn’t develop cancer. I had lots of follow up appointments, x-rays, blood work and the like done. It seemed like forever until I was released from bed rest.

I delivered Judah on May 2, 2012. The entire rest of our summer I was still really weak. I couldn’t do normal things, and taking care of Lane took about everything out of me. Thankfully, my parents had bought a camper that year, and we went camping almost every weekend. There is just something about being outside, relaxing around a campfire. It’s good for the soul. Normally, I’m the type of person who almost never gets sick. I couldn’t even count how many times I got sick that year. My body was still so weak, it couldn’t fight off any sickness. I love to sing, and was on the worship team at church, but singing literally hurt my lungs-in fact, it was physically difficult to sing. To say it was a long road to recovery would be an understatement. And that was just my body. I haven’t even talked about my heart.

One thing that helped hold me together was a phone call I had received from Dr. Harry the day after I delivered Judah. He heard that I had delivered the baby and wanted to know how I was doing. “I can’t believe you delivered the baby so quickly” he told me. “The medicine simply doesn’t work that way. You know, we see miracles everyday, but the fact that you delivered your baby so quickly is truly a miracle.” He said I probably miscarried on my own and my body simply passed Judah-he didn’t think it had anything to do with the medicine. Even when things are terrible, God is still good. I kept reminding myself of this moment, because it helped me to remember that God still remembered me

Friends, this was the worst time in my life. I have seen some really, really hard times since, but this trumps them all. Losing my first baby boy. Almost losing my life. Having to relinquish my motherly duties to somebody else. Not to mention the impact that losing our baby had on our marriage. I have yet to see a darker time in my life. But dear ones, I can also say with total confidence that I felt the Presence of my Sweet Jesus so fully during that hard season. I have never had more peace than I did in that wretched time. You see, even amidst all the pain, and the ugliness, and the disparity, there is still beauty. Jesus is telling a story in my life, through my life. Jesus is using me. He’s using my story. He is using Judah. One friend had to explain death to his little boy when we lost our son, and it resulted in his salvation. That was only one victory. And I know there will be others. I know my Judah’s life was not in vain. I know there is more to the story and I am excited to see what is to come.

Jesus held me during that time. He held me in that hospital room. He held me through the labor, through the delivery, through the sickness, and the pain, and the loneliness and the confusion. He held tightly onto me. He was holding me together. I easily could have died. I know I was close to it. But my Lord and my God kept me here for a reason. For such a time as this. I can’t take that lightly. I can’t just let that sit on the shelf and collect dust. He gave me a reason and a purpose. And I am here to tell you that He loves you too! He has a plan for you. A purpose. There is a reason you are here. There is a reason for the painful things in your life. There will be beauty, there will be peace, there will be redemption. I’ve seen it. I know it. And it is just as true for you as it is for me. So take heart, beloved. For your Savior is near.

I won’t lie to you. This path is not easy. Yes, I have healed, but there is still healing yet to come. I still don’t understand why my son was ripped away from me. This side of heaven I may never know. I still have hard days. There are still times when Blake finds me crying on the shower floor. There are still days where it’s hard to pass by the boy clothes in the baby section. It still hits me like a ton of bricks every time I meet a little boy named Judah. It will always be hard to visit his gravesite and physically see him apart from me. I don’t think those things will ever go away. I don’t think a day will ever pass where I don’t think of him. But even still, my God is good. And He is on my side. And He is guiding me through. I promise you, He will guide you too.

Thankfully, I never did develop that cancer. My body eventually returned to normal. And right around November-December, I got pregnant with our sweet Raegan. I had a great pregnancy, and an awesome delivery. Rae was a perfect little baby. A sign of hope for today and for the future. All of this is only the beginning of our Judah story. I know there is so much more to come. Judah: praised. Let His Name be praised above all other names. Even when it’s hard. Even when it hurts. May His Name be praised. Joseph: He will add. He is not done with our family yet. He will add joy. He will add babies. He will add life. He will add…He is not finished with me yet.