Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Naked Truth

Many people told me that losing Hope would make me a better mom to Sadie.  They were wrong.  Today was horrible, down right awful.  Today I hit the wall of a build up of Sadie's whining, complaining and bad attitude.  I don't know what happened to our sweet girl, but over the last 72 hours she's been more of a thorn in my flesh than a precious blessing.  By 4:30 pm I had hit rock bottom.  Sadie and I could no longer work together and we needed Shawn.  At 4:45 I begged him to leave work early to save me from the anger and frustration I was feeling.  The moment he walked in the door I washed my hands of being a mother for the rest of the day.

Tonight I went into Sadie's room where she was sleeping, crawled into bed beside her and wept bitterly.  Losing a child doesn't make you a better mother, it only makes you feel worse when you aren't a great mother.  I know the reality of how much it sucks to be "free" of parenting a child.  When I have a day where I feel like I wish I'd never had children, I crash at the end of the day feeling the horrible and real pain of what that would cost me.  I stroked Sadie's hair and sobbed into her pillow as I knew that I had not been capable of showing her the fruits of the spirit, of parenting her in love and kindness and feeling like a failure for giving up on her.  How can you be so angry with someone you love more than yourself?

Tomorrow hasn't yet arrived and I know that it will be a day full of more pain than today and it frightens me too much to go to sleep.  My 6th 21st and a half year since I watched my baby girl take her final breath, all her muscles relax and life leave her body.  A baby that was so difficult to parent so many times and yet I would take our worst day back over and over again just to spend it with her.  I long to spend tomorrow alone, curled up in bed with a large supply of kleenex.  Instead I have to live a normal day and function for Sadie.  Perhaps I should say that Sadie has to deal with me for the day.  I realize that much of my impatience and frustration comes not only from her attitude, but also from my emotional state.

Becoming a mother has been one of the most painful, difficult and rewarding decisions I've ever made.  I often resent the deep wounds that Hope's death left.  I cherish the lessons I learned through her life, the way it forced me to fully rely on God and the understanding that we all need community that came out of it.  But I struggle with how the deep wounds leave so much pain, pain that makes me tired as a mother with Sadie.  Pain that makes it too difficult to deal with 3 year old attitude on bad days.  Pain that hides in the soul and bubbles up whenever it feels like it, often when I don't have time for it.  Usually on a weekday when I don't have the luxury of turning to Shawn for help and support.

In these last few days of deep frustration and intense feelings of failure, I have reached out to God.  I find a show Sadie loves and get her cozy next to me on the couch so I can sit and journal in prayer.  My frustration only grows as she decides to draw in my journal, touch my face and ask me 4,000 questions instead of watching her show and letting me get refreshed.  At night I'm exhausted and just want to sleep and when I wake up each morning I have never had enough sleep.  The pregnancy takes all the extra energy I have.  When you can identify that you're empty and you are tying to refuel, it's only that much more frustrating when your efforts are failing.  I've resorted to praying while I pee, at least I do that a lot while pregnant!

Once again I am reminded of my deep need for Jesus.  I can't parent a healthy child without him.  I don't have the strength in myself, I don't have the patience required either.  Just as I have no idea how single mothers survive, I can not understand how one parents without the grace and love that Jesus gives.  Each time I have a day of darkness like today, the only thing that carries me through is knowing that I am not perfect, but Jesus has saved me by grace.  Salvation is thankfully not earned, as I would fall short.  It is grace that will get me out of bed tomorrow and give me the strength to try again, even on a day that I just want to be alone.  We get so frustrated with our children, I can only imagine what it's like to be God and watch his children fall over and over again.  Tonight I am reaching out, taking his hand and getting back on my feet.  Thankfully this earth is not my home and is fleeting in comparison to eternity.  One day in glory I will go to sleep without tears.

Tomorrow is a new day, a difficult day to face, but a day I hope to show Sadie how much I love and cherish her.  A day that I hope to hold her close and remind her of how blessed I am to be her mother.  A day that I will feel the pain of not holding Hope, yet be comforted to know that Jesus is doing it for me and one day I will join them.  Tomorrow is a day I could really use some prayer.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

2 Years of Change

It was 2 years ago today that Hope was diagnosed with HLHS and our lives were changed forever.  It's hard to believe it's been that long, it truly feels much longer.  I sit at almost the same place in a  new pregnancy, just 3 weeks ahead of where I was with Hope, and carrying another girl.

Sadie has been very excited about Christmas this year and putting on a lot of pressure to decorate.  After Shawn carried the boxes up from the basement I began going through everything completely oblivious to the emotions that lay inside those boxes.  Our stocking holder is down a stocking this year and it remains in the box.  Our tree carries a couple of ornaments with Hope's name and one that represents her first and only Christmas here on earth.  I was thinking yesterday how beautiful it is to know that she celebrated Jesus' birth once on earth and will now forever celebrate him face to face.  I forgot how much the holidays are full of decorations with her name and how easily my mind goes to her.

In the last 24 hours I attended 3 Christmas craft sales.  I absolutely love wandering through Christmas craft sales each year.  This year I find myself leaving not with Christmas themed goods, but with anything that has a heart.  I am so drawn to the things that remind me of her and love to put hearts on Sadie and I know I'll love putting them on the new baby as well.

Some things are still too difficult for me.  The thought of putting a family photo in a Christmas card is too much this year.  I don't want a photo without her in it, but knowing that she's been gone since May makes it obvious that our photo would be very outdated.  Next year I hope to be more comfortable with our family of 4, always knowing it was meant to be a family of 5.  Sadie's school asked for a family photo to put up on our their bulletin board.  Knowing Sadie would never bother going to look at it, I decided not to send one in.  I couldn't decide whether to send one with Hope or without.  I look forward to the passing of time in that way, one day it won't make sense to send a photo with her in it any longer.

Sadie has taken to informing random strangers that her sister died.  It creates some interesting conversations, but her desire to talk about her sister is so innocent and beautiful that I embrace the awkwardness and just try to make the shocked stranger more comfortable.

I think a lot about the families that will spend this Christmas in the hospital and my heart breaks for them.  I think the hardest thing last year, was knowing that everybody is excited and happy.  It's weird to walk around in a world pumped with joy for a holiday when you feel completely exhausted, emotionally empty and not interested in anything festive.  It does force you to look beyond the hype of the holiday and back to the reason we were meant to celebrate anyway!  I'm trying to balance how to raise Sadie to be excited about the birth of our Saviour and not just the new toothpaste in her stocking.

November 21st will mark 6 months without Hope.  It's hard to believe that half of a year has already passed by.  I dread facing another 21st and yet look forward to another one being gone.  We have our Bible study that night and with timing I may have to force myself to cook dinner on the 21st once again.  I know that we need to continue living, but that one day a month I like to allow myself to let the pain of her loss set in and truly grieve.  Perhaps we better order a pizza!

Monday morning I'll have the echo done on the new baby's heart.  I feel confident that everything is okay, but will be more relaxed when it's completed.  Thank you for continuing to pray for our family and this little one that continues to grow.

Monday, 4 November 2013

A Precious Face

Last night was one of the worst sleeps I've had in a long time.  It was one of those nights where you long for morning to come so you can stop trying to sleep.  Finally my alarm went off and I got up to get ready.  Shawn and I had very little time to get Sadie ready and get in the car.  I'm not sure why I didn't just get up and start earlier, I guess I had hoped I would be sleeping.

We sat in almost the same place we sat as we waited for the ultrasound with Hope.  It's across from the kids play area and both times we had Sadie in tow.  As we went into the room I was nervous.  I was hoping the technician would begin with the heart, but she waited until later in the ultrasound to even take a look.  As soon as the probe was over the baby's heart, I could clearly see each of the four chambers.  I'm not sure I would have previously recognized this detail.  It struck me as I finally saw a healthy heart and realized how broken Hope's heart truly was.

I went into the ultrasound fairly confident that this baby was a boy.  I think in knowing that a baby girl would be more difficult for me emotionally, I believed that God would have mercy and give me a boy. You would think that I would have learned through our journey with Hope that life is difficult and we don't always get an easy ride.  When we found out that this baby was indeed a baby girl, I was surprised and emotionally numb for a moment.  It slowly set in and I knew that I was okay with it, but also needed to be very careful.  I don't want this baby girl to have to live in Hope's shadow and to fulfil the dreams that I missed out on with Hope.  This is a new creation, and we want her to know that we want her to be an individual.  We are thrilled that Sadie gets to have the sister she's been asking for and I'm good at raising girls, it's all I know!

The doctor came in shortly after looking everything over.  She agreed that this little girls heart looks to be healthy.  She would still like us to have an echo done.  An appointment was booked for 2 weeks from now.  An echo will allow them to see clearer detail of the heart and with our history, this could be important.  I'll likely relax a lot more after this echo is finished and we know this girl has a healthy heart all over.

This pregnancy has not been easy.  Emotionally I've done fairly well, I have my moments of rubbing my belly and remembering those safe moments we had of Hope in my belly.  Most of the time I look forward to the experiences I missed out on with Hope.  I want to hold my baby right after she's born, to nurse her, to bring her home and to not have to insert feeding tubes or give injections.  My hips and my pelvis have been a whole new level of horrible.  When I look back at my pregnancy with Hope I can now see how much better my body handled it.  I have such severe pressure in my pelvis that I can barely walk at times and often struggle to fall asleep because of the pain.  I continue in treatments and am doing what I can, but I know these next 20 weeks are going to be long and difficult.  I would rather suffer pain in pregnancy, than have my baby suffer pain in life.

Thank you for praying for us, for the health of this baby and for this transition in our lives.  We praise God for a healthy baby girl and the opportunity to raise another child.  Please pray for us as we prepare to bring home another girl.  I cannot forget preparing for Hope's birth and many of the clothes and blankets I put into the drawers will be the same.  Please continue to pray for each of us as we get ready to enter a new transition.  Most of all, praise the Lord with us for this precious blessing.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Another November

It's odd to find ourselves in a similar position in November, just 2 years later.  In November 2011 we got up early in the morning to take Sadie and have our 19 week ultrasound.  Now, here we are in November 2013, about to do the same thing.  Tomorrow morning at 7:45am we will pack up our little family and head to the exact same ultrasound clinic to FINALLY find out what's growing inside my tummy.  I never imagined myself hoping so deeply for 4 healthy chambers in the heart and caring so little about whether the baby is a girl or a boy.  Tomorrow will also mark 20 weeks into this pregnancy, half way to meeting this new miracle.

As I've been reflecting about this ultrasound and trying not to be concerned, I've come to the conclusion that nothing inside my heart will change either way.  Although Hope's life was extremely difficult and we did not receive the desired outcome, God proved faithful.  When I look back at her life I am able to clearly see how God used her life and her struggle to draw not only us, but thousands of others to their knees.  It's through that realization that I'm able to continue breathing and know that whether this baby has a healthy heart or not, we will love it deeply and continue to trust in a God that deeply loves his children.

Tomorrow will also kick off a new time of processing for me.  Once we know the sex of the baby, I've committed to going through Hope's room to begin transitioning it into a room for the new baby.  I'll be removing her clothes and filling the drawers with newborn clothes in pink or blue.  It's something I've avoided doing but am finally feeling ready to conquer.  I spent some time in there this weekend and although my time in her room is often full of tears, I do not leave her room defeated.

This past week Sadie told me that Jesus died but he is alive again.  When I told her she was right, she continued with, "that's what happened to Hope too!"  I was confused at first as I worried she was suggesting that Hope was going to move back into our home.  When I questioned her, she explained that Hope and Jesus were alive together in heaven.  I was so blown away by her ability to understand "new life" in Christ.

Please pray for our family tonight as we try to get some rest and tomorrow morning as we face a familiar setting that is not full of happy memories.  Please pray that we would be ready for whatever is ahead and that they'd be able to get clear pictures of the baby.  Thank you for continuing to care and for walking with us through this journey of grief, and the gift of new life.