Even Though

Time moves so quickly, passing by like a raging river, though most days it feels like the trickle of a small brook. Somehow we have already made it four years — four years today since we found out Joanna had passed at 25w5d and tomorrow is her birthday. Four years. It feels as if the days have gone so slowly and yet I can still remember the physical pain like yesterday. I can remember what it felt like to hold her. To touch her skin. To look at her face. To sing her special lullaby to her.

But even with all the passage of time, I don’t have to remember the emotional pain. The heartbreak. The ache for her, so much that it physically hurts. These are the things we still feel now. The effects of great loss, the toll of great love.

But even four years later, I can still say I would do it all again. I would suffer every type of pain to carry her for nearly 26 weeks. To hold her in my arms again, even for just those few short moments of time. To sing to her. I would let my heart break a million times over to be with her.

We are so blessed with our beautiful rainbow babies, both who are here because she was here. Because she showed us what love is, made us parents, and made us brave.

But we will never not miss her. We will never not wish we could hold her in our arms and not just our hearts.

It’s a break up song, but I have recently come to love the song Break Up in the End by Cole Swindell. I cry every time I hear it because I feel the same about Joanna. I would do it all over, even though I know how it ends.

If you read this post and you think of it, please do something kind in honor of our girl tomorrow. A simple random act of kindness. A donation to a charity you love, or to our Facebook birthday fundraiser for Emma’s Footprints.

We love you, Joanna! Happy birthday!

Even if I knew you’d be the one that got away
I’d still go back and get you
Even if I knew you’d be my best and worst mistake
Oh, I’d still make it with you
Over and over, again and again
Even though we break up in the end

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Joanna’s Gifts – The Third Birthday

Tomorrow is Joanna’s third birthday… It’s incredible how fast the time moves, and how much our love for her grows, even though we aren’t holding her in our arms anymore.

It’s hard to imagine what Christmas could have been like with an almost three-year-old and an almost 18-month-old. Leo loved pulling paper off of his gifts, but didn’t quite connect that the unwrapping meant he was getting a new toy to play with. I know Joanna at nearly three would have had the most magical Christmas. I don’t know what she would be into at three, but maybe unicorns and a Doc McStuffins play set. It’s not hard to see those aspects of the holiday, it’s hard to imagine because it still hurts.

It still hurts that she is not here. It still hurts so much. When I go to get my nails done and there’s a little girl getting her first manicure about Joanna’s age. When we go to weddings and dads give toasts and dance with their daughters and moms help brides into their dresses. When I listen to the radio and hear songs written to daughters, or children in general.

When I think of all the moments I will miss of her life, when I think of the small moment in time when she was here with me, in my belly, in my arms. It all hurts.

Even three years out. I have a feeling the hurt won’t ever go away, even old wounds still ache. And so this will too. Every reminder will bring on a little pain, a little longing for that little girl, my firstborn. Every time I hear her name belonging to another, the hole in my heart will open, raw, all over again.

The truth is that time can heal you in some ways. I wouldn’t say time heals all wounds, no. But, it can make you see how strong you are. It can make you see how much love you are capable of. It can show you how love can even be multiplied and how loss is not the end. Time can’t heal your heart after a child is taken from your life, because that wound will always burn; but time can help you move forward, find purpose, use your pain to help others.

I wish I could say that I see the reasons why Joanna died – you know the “everything happens for a reason” reason. But in three years I have not found one and I don’t think there is one. I don’t think there’s a purpose for babies to die and I don’t see it as “God’s plan.” I don’t think everything happens for a reason. I don’t. But I think through the struggle and through the pain, Joanna’s life and death have helped me to be a better person.

From being able to share my story to help others to having more empathy in almost any situation. I have learned the value of time–how there is never enough to spend with the ones you love and to be more present in those moments. To laugh even in hard times but also to cry when I feel like it and let my feelings out so they can be processed and understood.

I’m still learning to love myself, to not feel guilty about Joanna’s death, to not be angry at myself. These are harder to accept but I am making an effort each day.

Bill gave me a necklace for Christmas that I have been wanting; it says “And if not, He is still good.” And in all things, I still believe He is good. In good times and bad times and in long lives and those cut too short. In my life — even if He doesn’t save me from the fire, He is still good. I know three years ago today when I found out Joanna had died, in that exact moment, God was still good. When I held my beautiful girl in my arms, He was so good! Even leaving the hospital empty-armed — still good. Nothing that can happen in this life can change who He is, which is good.

And when I was pregnant with Leo I had the words “But if not…” written on a post it, stuck to my computer at work where I saw it all day long. It was my motto, my mantra. To remember that God was in this with me and even if I didn’t get to bring Leo home, He would still be good.

Because Joanna was good. Short life. But good life. She will always be the one who made me a mama. That’s good. She will be my firstborn. That’s good. She was perfect. That’s good. She was mine. That’s good. She will always be with me. That’s good.

Happy birthday tomorrow to my girl. We love and miss you so much!

xo

If you’d like to help us celebrate, check out our Facebook event. We are having a random acts of kindness day and would love you to participate and share what you do in J’s honor.

Triggers

It’s been quite some time since I have written. I would like to say it’s because we aren’t sad anymore, but that’s not true. Not a day goes by that we don’t think of and miss Joanna. It’s hard to believe it’s been more than 14 months since we held J, and just a few weeks ago was the first anniversary of my blogging about our baby girl and our journey through pregnancy loss, stillbirth, grief and healing.

And a lot of healing has happened. Late in the summer of 2015 my blog posts started to taper off. I think this is because, though I always have a lot to say, especially to Joanna, I was getting to a place where words weren’t what I needed to continue healing. Just living was the thing – training for my first 5K, celebrating my birthday, going on vacation with my husband and best friends. Getting out and doing things I’ve wanted or needed to, and not feeling scared to make them happen. Not being afraid of triggers and not being afraid to tell my story.

That is not to say life is not without triggers. In living more fully and celebrating my own life, as a way to honor J, I have found many things that bring me to a stop. That immediately draw tears. That make my heart drop. I don’t think there will ever come a day when certain things won’t make me sad and miss Joanna.

Recently Bill and I went to a pet adoption event just for fun, after doing some furniture shopping. We were having fun petting the little puppies, holding them, playing with them. Then we walked to another area in the store where the older dogs were hanging out, hoping for someone to adopt them. We ran into a pretty lab/retriever mix. She was golden and so sweet, but seemed pretty antsy. That’s when the handler told me that she was feeling a little sad because her puppies were taken away that day.

I looked down and walked away so fast. The tears were immediately in my eyes. Of course that dog was sad, and not just a little. Her babies were gone and she wasn’t going to see them again. I know things are different in the animal world, but I have a dog and I know he understands a lot more than I think. I know he has feelings that have been hurt and he expresses joy and happiness. So I know that mama dog was heartbroken over her pups being taken. It hurt my heart and took me back to the day I left the hospital without my baby.

It’s so crazy how quickly something can trigger me. But at the same time, it’s not. It’s going to be a lifetime of grieving – of parenting a child who is not here. There is no “getting over” it. Healing comes slowly, but even when we are feeling better, there will be weeks, days and moments of deep, deep grief that will take over. No matter what happens in our lives from here on out, we won’t forget, we won’t stop loving, we will always miss our Joanna. No one can replace her. No one can take away the special place she holds in our hearts, and in our family.

God, in His mercy and grace, has started to heal my heart, and in His power and compassion, He holds me when I feel broken all over again.

Reflections

A year ago today marked four weeks since I gave birth to Joanna, still, at just shy of 26 weeks.

That first month was so hard, as are the months that continue to come, season by season, without Joanna.

But if you had told me at the four-week mark that eventually I would not feel physical pain every day from the emptiness, I would never have believed you.

Around the two-month mark, you might have said that I would not cry every day from the sadness, but it seemed such an unlikely scenario.

At three months, I heard that I would not be angry forever from the injustice, that I would truly laugh again and feel pure joy. But it seemed like the feelings would be my daily routine.

If you had told me at the four-month mark that a time would come when happy memories of my pregnancy and Joanna’s birth would come more often than the sad days, I would have certainly rolled my eyes and pulled the covers back over my head.

Five months in you might have said, it will get easier, and I would have cried oceans of tears, telling you it hurt too badly to believe that could ever be true.

At six months, when people asked if I had any children, I didn’t know how to respond. Practice makes perfect, you might have said. I would have said there is no way to tell my story to people who don’t understand.

At seven, eight, nine months, as babies were born who weren’t even conceived before Joanna’s birthday, bitterness tried to make its way into the cracks of my heart. I fought to keep those cracks filled with my love for Joanna.

And you know? If you had told me I would laugh and celebrate and smile and love, and so sweetly ache for my baby on Joanna’s first birthday, and not hide under a blanket and cry, I absolutely would have laughed in your face.

But this year has gone by, and these changes have come. Tears do come less often, not because we miss her less, but because we have found our “new normal” – we have figured out how to live without Joanna in our arms, though always in our hearts.

I have found the right way to share with strangers the story of my daughter, a way that brings peace to my heart and a smile to my lips – a story where my happy memories of her outweigh the sad memories of her death.

There are days I still ache, days where my chest hurts, that physical manifestation of my broken heart. But I know that love and hope and healing are filling the cracks, and I know Joanna is happy we are healing.

 

Dear Joanna (6.8.15)

Dear Joanna,

I thought I would write a letter to you today.

I wish I had some great lesson or encouraging insight to share with you so that you know I am healing and I am growing through this experience. But, I don’t really have anything much to go on this week. Plus, I miss you just the same.

Would you like to hear about our weekend?

Your dad and I went to WMZQFest – the first concert in our country mega-ticket deal. There were a lot of artists there who you liked. I know you liked them because I could feel you moving around when some of their songs came on. You know the playlist I play in the car all of the time? The one I made for you? One of the songs is Leave the Night On by Sam Hunt. He was there this weekend, and he sang that song. It was a cool experience to hear a song I like so much live. But it also reminded me that if you were here, we wouldn’t have been at that concert.

And so it goes, J. We make it through each moment, day, week, month without you. Some days it’s hard to get out of bed, some days we can’t keep the tears from falling. But other days we just are. We go to the movies. We go to work. We go to concerts. We smile and we have fun, your dad and me. And then, in the midst of a good moment, we are pulled back into moments of sadness. The grief comes in like a wave, washing over me, and in an instant has receded back into the ocean.

That’s how it felt watching Sam Hunt perform. I was so happy, then, for a few minutes, all I wanted to do was cry. A moment later, I was squeezing your dad’s hand and felt stronger once again. However much we do miss you, those moments of joy are slowly beginning to overtake the moments of sorrow. Thank you for that – for being our daughter and for bringing joy into our lives.

Something else I accomplished this weekend, for which I’m sure you’d be proud, I finished painting the nursery, aside from the striped accent wall. (That seemed like too much work to do on my own.) I had been feeling ready, so I thought I would make an attempt. I taped off the ceiling, the trim and the window and finally completed the entire first coat of paint. While I was waiting for it to dry to put on the second coat, I began talking myself out of finishing. I’d already spent a few hours in the nursery and was ready to stay away, to give myself a break. But when the two hours were up, I marched myself upstairs determined to finish.

You were supposed to be the first to occupy the nursery, but we planned a gender neutral theme in order to keep the nursery the same for all of our children. Completing the job is a labor of love, for you, even though you’re only in the room in spirit. Also a labor of hope. Hope that another little one will someday fill the room, and our lives, with as much joy and love as you gave us. So much love.

For just as the swan’s last song is the sweetest of its life, so loss is made endurable by love. It is love that will echo through eternity. -Call the Midwife

Love you, sweet cheeks!

XO,

Mom

Walking into the Room

Over the weekend I watched Cake, with Jennifer Aniston. I don’t want to give the story away, but Jennifer Aniston’s character is in chronic pain after a terrible accident that left her very injured and her son dead.

The film doesn’t focus a lot on her son’s death, but rather the life she is living post-accident (or not really living, rather), and the family (husband and son) of a woman she met in her chronic pain support group who committed suicide.

There’s a moment in the movie where Jennifer Aniston’s character goes into her son’s room, a room she clearly tries to avoid. It is mostly unchanged, aside from some boxes of clothing packed up. As she swung open the door to the room, I felt myself go back to the first time I looked in the nursery after Joanna died.

This half-painted room, a crib still boxed up, mattress still wrapped, dresser in the middle of the room. No blinds or curtains over the window. Unfinished.

At first going in the nursery always felt sad. My stomach would drop and the tears would well up. This incomplete space that was supposed to hold the greatest miracle, now, still, empty, not to be filled with our firstborn. I would hesitate to open the door. Once I did make it inside, I would open the closet and look at the items packed away, never to be used by Joanna. I would stand by the window and cry, wishing I could sit in a rocker and cuddle her.

One morning, though, as I had not closed the door all the way the last time I had visited the room, the sun was shining through the window and lit up the space around the door so if looked like it glowed. A little bit of light traveled across the hall floor to just about where I was standing. The light invited me to the room. As I walked in, the warm morning sun touched my face and the whole room felt bright and alive. It felt like the light was telling me to have hope – that this nursery would be finished someday. That another baby would come someday. That it is OK to miss Joanna as much as we do, but that she will always be remembered and cherished.

So many times since I have gone into the nursery and sat in the morning sun. Lately the nursery has been a sanctuary. I talk to Joanna. I pray for further healing. Sometimes I just cry. I talk to God about my brokenness, about my hope for another child.

Walking into the room today, I think I am ready to finish painting.

A Breath of Fresh Air

Jane Austen once wrote, “Friendship is certainly the finest balm for the pangs of disappointed love.”

While she was writing of romantic love, I have found a lot of meaning to this quote in the disappointment that is pregnancy loss, that is a mother losing her child.

When we miscarried our first baby, I cried for days. How could we have waited so long for a child and struggled with fertility nearly two years only to be disappointed days later? I was devastated. I was hurting. I felt alone.

But in my time of pain and sorrow, friends who had experienced the same kind of loss were there for me. From my mom, to my sister-in-law, to friends far and wide who had lost one, two, or more pregnancies. Their kind words and encouragement and shared experiences helped to ease the heartache and bring some hope back into my life.

When we miraculously conceived Joanna only 3 months later it seemed like she was going to be our rainbow baby. Flash forward nearly 26 weeks. When a doctor tells you, “There’s no heartbeat,” it literally breaks your heart. I say literally because you feel it inside your chest ripping in two and then it crashes to the pit of your stomach into smaller pieces. Heartbreak really does physically manifest as chest pain, among other things.

I cried every day for months. I still cry most days. But the outpouring of love and support and prayers from our friends and family has been what helps us get by. One day at a time. Or more accurately, one moment at a time.

Over the weekend I had the chance to visit a friend. A dear, sweet friend. It had been a long time since I had seen her; we hadn’t seen each other the whole time I was pregnant. She has not experienced the same kind of loss, but this deep, precious connection that we have had for so many years – it was the balm I needed. Her sweet cards and consistent phone calls and texts have been coming to me on the days I have needed them most. Yet there is no comparison to seeing a dear friend in person when your heart is aching. There is nothing like a familiar hug from one whose heart is as broken as yours, for you. Friendship is, itself, a healer. A ray of light and breath of fresh air in a dark and saddened place. A glimmer of hope when all feels lost.

I praise God in all things, even the most devastating times. And I thank Him daily for the blessing of friendship, the balm of the brokenhearted.

Joanna’s Playlist

First – sorry for the ultra-long post, but I hope you’ll read it all.

It’s not surprising that music is important to me. I think I get my love for it, and my skill for recognizing songs quickly and artists’ voices easily, from my dad. Not a bad gift to have given, thanks! I can’t do much without music – I have to have either iTunes going or the radio when I am in my car. I listen to various playlists at work on Spotify each day. Silence is hard for me (especially since Joanna died), so I also listen to music when I am falling asleep.

Music has also played a role in mourning the loss of Joanna. From her lullaby to the song playing in the car on the way to the hospital, songs have a way of meeting me where I am, and helping me feel the emotions I need to at the moment.

I recently created a playlist – “Joanna.” The songs are ones that remind me of my pregnancy, the help me express my pain, that help me mourn and that have started to help me heal. I wanted to share the songs with you. For some, I wrote out stories or a specific reason for the song’s inclusion, for others, I just quoted lyrics.

Part One: The Joys and Memories of Pregnancy

Safe & Sound – Taylor Swift and the Civil Wars

Before Bill and I got pregnant, I had a small list of songs picked out for our future children. My plan was (and still is) to pick one special song each time I get pregnant to be that child’s lullaby. For Joanna, I chose Safe & Sound. I would play this song in the car and sing it to her in bed as I fell asleep each night. The hope was that she would recognize it when she arrived. I sang this song to her when she was born as I cuddled her little body close to mine. I know she couldn’t hear me on this earth, but I believe she heard me from Heaven. While it was meant to tell her that I would keep her safe, it still applies – she is safe in Heaven and will never know the pain and heartache that this world can bring.

Just close your eyes, the sun is going down. You’ll be alright, no one can hurt you now. Come morning light, you and I’ll be safe and sound.

Leave the Night On – Sam Hunt

This song made the playlist simply because it was my favorite new song on the radio while I was pregnant. It’s a happy song and I loved to sing it on my commute to work, which was often a time I felt Joanna moving around in the mornings. I guess she liked it too! (Or maybe my singing was awful…)

Layin’ down would be in vain. I can’t sleep with you on my brain.

Perfect Storm – Brad Paisley

Have you ever come across a song that makes you cry every time you hear it? Well, that’s what Perfect Storm does to me. It reminds me of Bill and how he loves me. While I was pregnant, my hormones tended to make me cry over every song ever recorded. Now, this song still makes me cry as I think about what it means and remember hearing it often while I was pregnant. Plus, Joanna’s second concert was Brad Paisley and he performed this song.

She destroys me in that t-shirt. And I love her so much it hurts.

Something in the Water and See You Again – Carrie Underwood

As anyone who knows me knows, Carrie Underwood is my absolute favorite artist ever. My friends joke that she is my best friend, but that she just doesn’t know it. These songs makes the playlist for a number of reasons, but the first is that, even in my loss, I know that Joanna and I shared one of the best moments as mom and daughter – I took her to a Carrie Underwood concert (The Concert for Valor). She got to hear Carrie sing these songs live from inside the bump! It was one of the best days of my life. Even though we were far away from the stage and I could only see Carrie via the big screens nearby, we were there and Joanna and I were together. When Joanna died, I couldn’t listen to Something in the Water for a while. But as I am healing, I am cherishing this special memory. See You Again is special in its own right because, for me, it is about seeing Joanna again someday in Heaven.

(Not to mention being pregnant at the same time as Carrie was a dream come true… and she just had her baby last week!)

You are my tomorrow. Sometimes I feel my heart is breaking. But I stay strong and I hold on, ‘cause I know… I will see you again. This is not where it ends. I will carry you with me till I see you again.

Part Two: The Pain of Loss

Cry – Kelly Clarkson

Whenever I feel your memory is breaking my heart, I’ll pretend I’m ok with it all. Act like there’s nothing wrong. Is it over yet? Can I open my eyes? Is this as hard as it gets? Is this what it feels like to really cry? I’m talking in circles. I’m lying, they know it. Why won’t this just all go away?

Over You – Miranda Lambert

This song was chosen because the lyrics of the chorus sum up perfectly how I felt more than once in the last few months. Besides the deepest sorrows a mom can feel when her baby is stillborn, I have been angry. The lyrics here say, “You went away. How dare you? I miss you.” I still feel those words coming up to the surface sometimes. How dare you? How dare you? (This song also reminds me of my grandfather, and we left the hospital after Joanna was born on the 7th anniversary of my grandfather’s death.) Also, Miranda Lambert was Joanna’s first concert.

But you went away. How dare you? I miss you. They say I’ll be ok but I’m not going to ever get over you.

Glory Baby – Watermark

A song that has meant so much to me… Seeing Watermark in concert as a young teen was a fantastic experience. And to hear their story of loss, and now they have three beautiful children, it’s an inspiration. Glory Baby has been a song that has helped me cry the tears I’ve needed to, but also to remember that Heaven is the only home both my miscarried baby and Joanna will ever know.

Sweet little babies, it’s hard to understand it ‘cause we’re hurting, we are hurting. But I will rest in knowing Heaven is your home and it’s all you’ll ever know.

If I Die Young – The Band Perry

I think the song title speaks for itself. However, when we were trying to get pregnant over the past 2+ years, I loved to see rainbows. They were there reminding me of God’s promise to take care of us. I saw many rainbows in the summer when we got pregnant with Joanna and I hope, as the song says, when I see rainbows from here on out, I’ll be reminded of Joanna and that she is safe in Heaven. Plus, babies born after loss are called “rainbow babies” – and we do hope to have one someday.

Lord, make me a rainbow, I’ll shine down on my mother. She’ll know I’m safe with You when she stands under my colors. Oh, life ain’t always what you think it ought to be; aint’ even grey but she buries her baby.

Held – Natalie Grant

This song says it all. God didn’t promise us an easy life or everything we ever wanted. He promised to never leave us, no matter what.

Who told us we’d be rescued? What has changed and why should we be saved from nightmares? We’re asking why this happens to us who have died to live? It’s unfair. This is what it means to be held. How it feels when the sacred is torn from your life and you survive. This is what it is to be loved and to know that the promise was when everything fell, we’d be held.

Part Three: Mourning and Healing

I Am Not Alone – Kari Jobe

I’ll let my Facebook post from a month ago sum up why I chose this song for my playlist.

“This song, that I have loved for a while now, has become so much more meaningful to me in the last four weeks. It was four weeks ago today Joanna was born. Four weeks ago on the way to the hospital this song played. And it played the next day as we left the hospital. And it played on the way to the funeral home the day we brought Joanna home. And every word of the song is true and it has helped remind me day after day… I am not alone. God went before us in all of this and He hasn’t left.”

When I walk through deep waters, I know that you will be with me. Through the valley of the shadows, I will not fear. I am not alone. You will go before me. You will never leave me. In the midst of deep sorrow, I see Your light is breaking through. Through these trials, You’ve always been faithful. You bring healing to my soul.

Not for a Moment – Meredith Andrews

After all You are constant. After all You are only good. After all You are sovereign. Not for a moment will You forsake me. Not for a moment will You forsake me

You were singing in the dark, whispering Your promise, even when I could not hear. I was held in Your arms, carried for a thousand miles to show not for a moment did You forsake me.

You’re Not Alone – Meredith Andrews

You cry yourself to sleep ‘cause the hurt is real and the pain cuts deep. All hope seems lost with heartache your closest friend.

You’re not alone for I am here. Let me wipe away your every tear. My love, I’ve never left your side. I have seen you through the darkest night and I’m the One who’s loved you all your life.

What We Ain’t Got – Jake Owen

We all wish it didn’t hurt. When you try your best and it doesn’t work. Goodbye is such a painful word. We all wish it didn’t hurt.

Part Four: Hoping for the Future

Wonderful – Christy Nockels

A song of praise and worship to my God who has been with me through it all. Even on the days when I didn’t think could praise Him.

And my life will burn for You. ‘Cause Your light shined in the darkness. I was hopeless and You lifted up my head to sing for joy with a song that broke the silence of my worship. Now I’m singing all the day. And forevermore, You will be adored, ‘cause You are wonderful.

I Am – Nichole Nordeman

This song reminds me that God is here, no matter what stage of life I’m going through. He is holding my hand and holding my heart. He is healing me and keeping me afloat each day. He is I Am.

When I am weak, unable to speak, still I will call You by name. Oh Shepherd, Savior, Pasture Maker, hold on to my hand. You say, “I am.”

Creator, Maker, Life Sustainer. Comforter, Healer, my Redeemer. Lord and King, Beginning and the End. I AM.

In Your Sight – Kerrie Roberts

There is so much about this song that I love. I love that it talks about wishing to know the wisdom of a broken heart without the pain. Yes, please! If only I could know what this is like and have the experience without hurting so badly. But it also says that God saw EVERY MOMENT before I was even born. While I believe that He could have chosen to save Joanna, I do not think He chose for her to die. I believe that the sin in the world, the Devil, he chooses that. Our free will allowed sin to enter the world and God knows what those choices lead to – and He can prepare us and make a way for us to survive those trials that sin will cause. But think about that. EVERY MOMENT. He knows what will happen and He knows how to use us and lead us in these moments.

This song says that I can rest because God is holding me, holding these moments. It’s about closing our eyes and trusting that we are going the right way, wherever God is taking us. This is important for me because I’m completely terrified of having another baby. I fully believe that Joanna needs at least one sibling, that Bill and I need at least one baby on earth to raise and love on. But getting to a place mentally and emotionally where that is something I can do is hard. This song says that because we are in God’s sight in EVERY MOMENT we can be unafraid. I want to be unafraid. I want to trust. This is part of my healing process and I am grateful for this song.

I wish I never really had to fall this far, could have the wisdom of a broken heart without all the pain. But Lord you saw these moments before I began to breathe. And You see how to use them and where they’re going to lead. And I will rest knowing you are holding me. I believe You will never say goodbye. I close my eyes, unafraid of what I cannot see ‘cause I am always in Your sight.

Thanks for reading to the end. What are your songs for joy, grief and healing?

The First Month

All posts below this one are from my original “married life” blog – Mrs J at Home. I wasn’t very good at keeping it updated, but recent events in my life, mainly the loss of my stillborn daughter at 25w5d, have made me want to share again. So, I changed the name of the blog, and here we go. Writing is both therapeutic for me, and a great way to encourage others who may be going through similar situations. Not to mention, it can help those around me understand how I am feeling and how I am grieving and healing. For an intro post to the original blog, check it out here.

As a starter post this time around (check out the About page for more), I wanted to share some of my heart. My grieving process. My thought process. I am a mother. I am a bereaved mother, and a mother with empty arms (read Joanna’s Story). When I hit the “one month” mark, I realized my heart was still breaking every day. I was sitting in my cubicle one day, unable to work. My mind was everywhere. My heartache was physically manifested in chest pain and an upset stomach. I took a few minutes to write what I was feeling. As I am approaching the “two month” mark next week, the feelings in this little writing below still hold true. Every day I am broken again. But I do feel the healing beginning…

One Month.

Today is January 29 and my heart is broken. I am trying to concentrate, but as I sit at work looking at my beautiful baby’s face on her last ultrasound picture, I wish for the chance to hold her again.

The truth is the heart can break. And just because it’s broken, that does not mean it cannot break again and again. It doesn’t need to be mended or healed first. Every day the pieces can just get smaller, more broken.

I once wrote a blog post in college about trying to heal heartbreak with Elmer’s glue. How you could take the heart and put it back together with Elmer’s, and that even though the cracks would come together and make the heart look whole, the glue, now invisible, would still be there. The heart, once broken, can never be the same.

Sometimes that’s what I think happens. Each day and night I cry tears of healing. The heart slowly comes back together, drying with Elmer’s glue (or just my tears, really). Then each morning I awake and know I am not dreaming; this is my life. I buried my baby after holding her in my arms. I kissed her goodbye when I should have been kissing her scrapes. I sang her a lullaby as a final love song when I should have been singing her to sleep each night. I rocked her, lifeless, when I should have been joyfully rocking her in the nursery each day. And when I wake each morning and remember the nightmare I am living, my heart breaks all over again.

People have said that I am strong. I am not sure they are right. I feel weak. I feel tired. I feel devastated. And I feel guilty.

First: guilt that I was not enough for Joanna. I could not keep her alive and she’s gone.

Second: guilt that it’s my fault. In my head, I know I did all I could for her; I know nothing I could do differently would save her. But in my mama’s heart, I am filled with sadness and disappointment in myself. How could I do this to my baby?

Third: guilt when I feel moments of happiness. How can I be happy when my daughter has died? How can I laugh when I will never hold my little girl again? Will she think I don’t miss her? That I don’t love her? Does she know I would do anything to change what happened?

From Moments Like These by Selah:

I’ve got a little girl in Heaven right now
Those streets of gold are her playground
[The time] she lived was enough to fall in love
She’s the sweetest thing I’ve ever let go of.