Month: January 2016

Palms Up

It’s hard to explain.  People ask me often how I am doing and how I am holding up, and all of it is hard to explain.  It’s hard to explain that the paralyzing hard days I just stare at a wall, literally.  It’s hard to explain how desperately I want to be near Enoch and why I go to the grave everyday.  But it’s the most difficult to explain how I feel like God prepared me for where I am today.  In all honesty I would not have survived this tragic loss a year ago.

Since Enoch has passed away I have revisited my journal a number of times, knowing all the lessons God was teaching me were written in different forms throughout it.  Here is just a glimpse, as there is no way to explain in full all of what I learned.

This is a page from my journal.  I drew and wrote themes, phrases, and verses God was teaching me throughout the first half of 2015 on one page.   So many nuggets, and yet a few main themes that came up over and over again.

If you have been around me at all in the past year or have heard me talk about how “Everything is a gift,” you might notice it written in the center of this page.   I genuinely understand that “everything is a gift, and nothing is deserved.”  I even drew a picture of our family of three with an arrow to that phrase.  I learned this over and over, it was a major theme in my life, and one I believe so deeply.  That is how just 51 days after Enoch was born and died that I can say that pregnancy really was a gift!   (Click here to read an entire post just on this idea).

Another theme throughout 2015 was the phrase, “palms up.”  A dear friend, Kara, initially challenged me with this phrase at the beginning of the year.  As I would tell her or text her that I was anxious or overwhelmed, she would encourage me to let go. “Palms up.” It was a good reminder, and I soon adopted it as my own.  I used to write it on my palms as a physical reminder that I wasn’t holding onto anything tightly.  That it was all God’s.  All of it.  Everything.  All of the time.  Other times I would write in my journal, “Palms up, arms in the air,” meaning I hold nothing tightly, and I worship God in all circumstances.  It’s written over and over in my journal.  I reminded myself of it daily.  God really is in control, and I need to let Him be.

This was written in my journal, not found on the page above.
I have very regularly prayed this past year that my life would bring God glory.  Over and over I prayed that, and it’s why I wrote below, “None of it matters, ‘things,’ ministry, accomplishments, relationships, what people think, problems, the latest…, or any earthly thing.  Only bringing God Glory!”  Each night when I woke up, I begged God that our baby would know God and would bring Him glory.  Honestly and truly, every night I begged God for His glory in our sons life.  I had no clue at that time that this would be how it would happen.  I thought Enoch would grow up and live a radical life that brought people to the saving knowledge of Jesus.   That’s what I had in mind.  Not this!  Not at all.  

So where am I with all of this in light of my son dying?   The same place.  There was no small print in these thoughts and prayers.  I didn’t believe everything was a gift, but think God owed me Enoch.  There were no qualifications with my “palms up” and “arms in the air.”   I didn’t tell God I would surrender “all areas of my life” but say my son was off limits.  I didn’t ask God to bring Him glory as long as it was on my terms.  
Don’t get me wrong; this was NOT my idea of how it would go!  I’m devastated.  I’m grieving.  Yet at the same time I can still write and know that all of the above are true.  I am very aware that this is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through, and I am also aware that I submitted everything to God trusting him with ALL areas of my life.  “Palms up.”
Let me be clear, I don’t think God DID this.  I think we live in a sinful broken world, and this is a result of it.  I think God prepared me.  I think God is using it for his glory.  I trust Him and his plan, even if I don’t get it all of the time. 

All positions

I woke up this morning thinking about Enoch.  Specifically thinking about holding him.  Trying to remember what his little 3 pound 11 ounce body felt like in my arms.  Trying never to forget.

Something I hadn’t thought about prior to the wee hours of night on December 9th were all the positions you hold a baby.  That night as I was trying to sit up straighter in the bed, I laid Enoch on my legs.  It wasn’t until that moment that I realized the anticipation I had of him laying like that.  And suddenly I knew I needed to hold my son in every position possible before the night was over.

And that’s what I did.  Throughout the night, slowly, deliberately, I made sure to hold him every possible way:  
I held him sitting down.
I held him standing up.
I held him against my chest.
I held him in my arms.
I held him away from me so I could see his face.
I laid him on my legs.
I laid him on the bed beside my legs.
I laid beside him on the bed with my arm around him.
I held him on my chest while he held my hand.
I held him while walking.  (This was the last position I held Enoch before leaving the hospital.)

I had to!  I had to hold my son in every position I could think of because I knew I would never get to again. I needed to feel him in my arms and next to me in every possible way.

So this morning when I wanted to remember how it felt to hold him, I went through every one of those positions in which I held him.  I needed to remember… to feel him again.

As I look back now I understand what a gift to have gotten to hold him for those 11 hours.  And I am so grateful to have realized that I needed to hold him in all those positions.

This Man

On New Years Eve it was the 17 year anniversary of our first date.  Tim and I have had a jam packed, adventure filled 17 years.  I’m grateful for all the years, even the really hard ones.  No matter the season, good or bad, three things have always been true:  he sincerely is the love of my life, I am really glad I married him, and I honestly always think he’s the most attractive man in the room.  
The season of pregnancy was a good one for us!  He was thrilled to be a dad and took on the role of caring for the baby the only way he knew how, through caring for me.   From early on in pregnancy, even before I needed more help with things, Tim cared for me.  As I look back on those 9 months I see it as such a gift and such a blessing that he took on the dad role so seriously even before Enoch was born.  
In preparation…
I love that he had our whole household watch a video on the five S’s in calming a baby.
*Our household = Two friends, Julie and Bethany and my nephew Johnny.
I love that afterward he made Bethany and I practice one of the S’s by swaddling Julie. 
I love that he made all of us practice swaddling a stuffed moose.  
In the moment…
I love that he then swaddled Enoch.  There really is no way to express how much I loved him in the moment.
I love how much he loved and cared for Enoch.
I love how he was overprotective as any new dad would be.  
I love how he stayed up all night to be with our son for the few hours we were able to.

And now…
I love that he is by my side as we figure out this season of grief.
I love that he is my comfort in the middle of the night.
I love that he continues to care for me well even on his hard days.
I love that he is who is by my side when visiting Enoch’s grave.

Most of all, I love that through 17 years of some extremely hard and many joyful days, that he continues to be the love of my life and the father of my child.

Thank you isn’t enough…

Tim and I have been humbled, to the point of tears, because of your love and care for us.

On Tuesday, December 8th Tim and I woke up excited that any day our first born would enter the world.  In a matter of hours our lives were turned upside down when we found out Enoch had no heartbeat.  Within mere minutes of sharing our heartbreak until now, six weeks later, there has been an outpouring of love, support and care.  This is our attempt to thank you all:

  • Thanks to all of you who helped plan and host Enoch’s funeral.  What a hard day!  So many decisions to make when we were in such a difficult state, and yet so many of you helped walk us through it.
  • Thanks for all of you who have brought us meals! I don’t love cooking on a good day.  I’m not sure we would have eaten anything outside of cereal if it weren’t for the meals brought.  Thank you!
  • Thanks to all of you who gave to our medical bills.  We were nervous about the large and unexpected costs with no maternity insurance and the way Enoch entered the world.  So thank you for covering those costs!  What a blessing!
  • And our desire really was that people would donate to First Glance, the ministry we love.  Your donations will continue to impact the lives of the teens and young adults we work with.  Thank you for those that have and may yet!
  • Thank you for every text, card, email, FB message, etc. that has expressed your sympathy and your prayers! Your support and thoughtfulness is encouraging.  We even go back to cards and messages to help get us through the dark days.
  • Thank you for praying and continuing to pray.  We really do believe prayer changes things!  Thank you for praying for us during this time.  We have felt the effects of those prayers.
  • And most of all thank you for sharing about how Enoch has impacted your life or the lives of those around you.  The truth is the loss of Enoch is a tragedy.  But when you share with us the things that Enoch’s little life challenged you with, then it brings God glory, and it’s no longer JUST a tragedy.  So thank you for telling us about these things.

We wish so much we would have had a chance to greet all of you that came to the funeral or personally thank all of you that have prayed and given and loved, but it just hasn’t been possible due to the overwhelming number of you and the loss of capacity in our grief.  Please know it has not gone unnoticed!  We really are so thankful!

I love them all so much!

These three are dear friends of mine.  When I look at this picture it makes me smile for couple reasons.  First of all, I love each of these girls so much.  Oh the stories I could tell you about the entertaining adventures and friendships I have had with each of them over the years.  The other reason this picture makes me smile is I remember how annoyed I was that Jessica was making us take this picture as we all happened to be in the FG office that day.  I didn’t love taking pregnancy photos, but now am so glad to have it!

All four of us were due within weeks of each other, and I had plans with each of them for our shared maternity leave.

  • Kendra and I always do Swensons, so why not have Swenson dates with our babies?  It was a solid plan!
  • Sarah and I were going to be first time moms together.  We shared a baby shower and hoped to continue the sharing with mom advice, frustrations and middle of the night texts.  
  • Jenna and I meet monthly to talk about leadership in ministry, as she’s the Director of The Mother’s Nest.  We planned to keep our monthly meetings, but just tell everyone it was a mom date that way nobody could yell at us for working on maternity leave.  

When mourning the loss of Enoch I also mourn the loss of the plans and parenting along side these ladies.

After Enoch it took a minute for all of us to figure out how to interact with one another.  Kendra already had Zelda, but was afraid her little baby girl would bring me pain.  Sarah and Jenna felt bad to express their joy of their expected little girls, and I was fearful that I was the walking embodiment of their worst nightmare.  We had some good conversations.  We worked to be sensitive toward one another.

The truth is their babies and pregnancy didn’t bring me pain.  The only thing I prayed for consistently and fervently after Enoch was for Sarah and Jenna’s babies to be healthy.  As much as these ladies wanted to protect me from the sadness their babies might bring me, that’s not what I wanted.  Their little girls don’t bring sadness, and I am so excited for my friends to have their babies.  Honestly I never want anyone to go through what I did!  I’m not jealous or bitter… I desperately want them to hold their babies close as every mom should.

This week Jenna was the last of the four of us to give birth.  And so the next day I went to the gravesite and told Enoch about his friends: Zelda, Evangeline and Reyna.  I told him how he would have been outnumbered for sure.  I cried most of the time I was there.  The mourning, the loss, and the grief is real, and there are so many layers… I wanted Enoch to meet these little girls; I couldn’t wait to parent with their mom’s; and I simply want Enoch to be alive.

I have to say as much as I grieve, I also rejoice.  I am so grateful for the friendships I have with these ladies and I am thrilled to get to meet and know and love their little ones.  I really do love them all!

The Nursery

The door is closed to the nursery at our house.  Before we arrived home from the hospital friends took all the baby stuff throughout our house, neatly put it in that room and closed the door.  I don’t open it.  I’m not quite ready to feel the void of what should be in that room.

In all honesty part of the reason I don’t want to go in is because I have such good memories of getting the nursery ready.  For me it represents joy, anticipation, and projects with my husband and friends.  I smile when I think about:
  • Tim and I having a hard time picking out a color for our room, so he let me pick the nursery color.  I chose gray, of course.
  • Alicia helping me paint the nursery, since Tim hates painting.  I helped with trim, and she rolled it.  Two coats in two hours.  We were up against the clock, but don’t worry we still made the meeting we were in charge of on time, with just a little paint on our skin.
  • Going to Lauren’s to get a pallet and hearing Xavier convinced he saw the helium balloon that Emery let go of a week earlier.
  • The difficulty we had in taking apart the pallet…  It’s a lot harder than it seems like it should be.
  • Asking Tim and Andrew to help us attach the letters to the pallet project.  They may have laughed at and fixed some of our handiwork.
  • The pizza party we threw to get so many friends to help us move all Tim’s office stuff out of the soon to be nursery.  
  • The many gifts piled in the room to the point where there was no where to walk.  Thanks to everyone who came to my four showers.  Yes, four! 
  • Marlies’ excitement to organize all the gifts, and even thanking me over an over for letting her have the “fun job.”
  • How much harder it was to get the dresser than anticipated and having to order it.  Who knew they don’t keep those things in stock?
  • Tim and I sitting on the floor forever putting together the dresser and crib.  It took forever even using Tim’s drill instead of the itty bitty allen wrench they give you… We laughed about their time estimation.
  • Alicia being a much better painter of the pallet than I was, but she never admitted it.
  • Tim literally making 19 holes in the wall trying to hang the pallet.
  • Tim doing a pull up on the pallet after it was hung, telling me he wanted to make sure it wasn’t going to “fall and squish the baby.”  
  • Asking Tim to hang and then move the picture Ashely made for us.  
  • Having Julie help us hang the converse shelf… Is it straight?
  • Filling the dresser and putting everything in it’s place.
  • Putting on top the black t-shirt with tattoo sleeves that my family got the baby.  
  • Tim laying on the changing table pretending to be a baby and crying.  
  • Hanging pictures that Tim’s family made during their shower for us.  
As I consider this pregnancy a gift, preparing a nursery fits in that category too.  Tim and I really enjoy doing projects together, and getting a space ready for our anticipated baby was all the more fun.  I am so grateful for that time with Tim as well as with the friends who helped.  

Clinging to truth!

Some days I feel like I’m drowning in the unrelenting sadness & grief.  I can’t catch my breath.  There seems to be no hope.  It’s on these days I work hard to remind myself of this truth.  A truth I know so well, and at times so easily forget.

Deep down I know it… I cling to it.  God Wins!