Sunday, March 31, 2013

Screaming at a stranger

A strange thing happened to me the other day... I felt like screaming at a complete stranger. Can't say it's ever happened before. Here's what happened:

I was crossing the road, heading towards a Centrelink office, when an older man got my attention.

Him: Excuse me, are you looking for a job?
Me: No, I'm going for an appointment.
Him: So you don't have a job. People these days don't want a job, they just want easy money.

I didn't feel the need to tell him that the reason I don't have a job is because my baby was stillborn 2 months ago and I don't know that I would cope in a completely new situation. Instead I simply pulled it together and said "I just have an appointment" and kept walking...only to walk into Centrelink and have to wait in line behind a couple with a newborn in a pram that was the same model as the one we have. Needless to say, it wasn't a good morning.

The conversation with the man just made me think how we really have no idea what is going on in the lives of people around us. We don't know which woman is the 1 in 4 who has lost a child. We don't know who has just lost a parent, had a fight with their spouse, or lost their job. We just don't know. Which means we have no right to judge on appearances or actions. I always knew that we shouldn't, but this encounter certainly made me realise why: it's so easy to hurt someone unintentionally.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Nine months

Today marks two months since Ariella's birth. Here's  the nine months we had with her:

Nine months with our girl

Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday

As Easter approached this year, I found myself thinking more about Mary, the mother of Jesus, than I did about Jesus (although I did think about Him too). Not because I think she's any more special than the rest of us, and no, I'm not turning Catholic! :P It's just that she had to watch her son die. Her precious firstborn child died. And until this year, I never really stopped to think about her grief. But this year, I can understand it. No matter how old your child is, whether only a few weeks past conception, sometime during pregnancy, as a child or as an adult, no parent should have their child die before them. 

I said the other day that it's not fair my daughter died while others have healthy babies. While I do still feel that way, I shouldn't complain. I don't know why I have to suffer grief, but I know why Mary did:

Mary had to suffer grief because of my sin. 

That fact alone draws me to my knees in repentance. Add to that the fact that our sin separates us from the one true God but He did what it took to enable reconciliation, well, I feel like I'm constantly on my knees (at least, my heart is. Does a heart have knees? Ah well, I'm sure you understand what I mean).

Romans 3:23-24 - For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ.

Romans 5:8 - While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

I need you to...

From Carly Marie Project Heal

I found this picture the other day, and while all of it is true, the last line really struck me:

I need you to forgive me for not being the friend that I once was

What I like about it is that it put into words what I have been thinking. It's not that people have been annoyed at me for not returning messages or for not catching up with them (at least, not that they've told me). It's the opposite - everyone has been very understanding. It's just that I like to please people, I always have. I hate it when people are annoyed at me, or think I've done something to hurt them.  I hate not being able to commit to things because I know I won't handle it well. I don't like feeling like I'm letting people down (even if, in reality, I am not)...

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Not fair

Last night I had a dream that a friend had triplets. She had three baby boys, all of whom were healthy. 

Even in my dream, I was so jealous. It was not fair. How could she have three healthy babies, and I didn't even have one?

It's not fair. I miss her...

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


If there's one thing that has been proved to me in the last 2 months, it is that God is faithful. We have been blessed by so many gifts, meals, cards, etc, but there was one night when I started to worry about one thing in particular. I don't even know if I had the energy to pray about it...but the next day my non-existent prayer was answered by two separate people. God had perfectly (and I mean perfectly) answered my need, even though I didn't have the strength to ask Him to provide.

God is faithful.

On Friday night I had a little "moment" - it just seemed like everything was too much, that it was too hard to cope with. On Saturday, Marcus and I received a very generous gift from a group of friends. It was unexpected, and reduced me to tears when we opened it. I wasn't crying because of their generosity (although we were both truly touched and blown away), but because it was like that gift came straight from God. A not so subtle reminder that He can and will provide.

God is faithful.

I had finished writing this post, when a delivery from some dear friends arrived: some flowers to add cheer to our day, and remind us that we are loved. 

God is faithful.

I wrote about a Steven Curtis Chapman song in my post Dance Among the Ruins, and I'll probable write about many more in the future. After the death of his daughter, he wrote a song called Faithful. I love it because it shows how we can know God is faithful even when we're struggling.

I am broken, I am bleeding
I am scared and I'm confused
But You are faithful
Yes, You are faithful
I am weary, unbelieving
God, please help my unbelief
'Cause You are faithful
Yes, You are faithful

I will proclaim it to the world
I will declare it to my heart
I'll sing it when the sun is shining
I will scream it in the dark

You are faithful!
You are faithful!
When you give and when You take away
Even then, still Your name is Faithful
You are faithful!
And with everything inside of me
I am choosing to believe You're faithful

I am waiting for the rescue that I know is sure to come
'Cause You are faithful
Yes, You are faithful
I've dropped anchor in Your promises
And I am holding on
'Cause You are faithful
God, You are faithful

Though I cannot have the answers
That I wanted to demand
I'll remember You are God and everything is in Your hands
In Your hands You hold the sun, the moon,
The stars up in the sky
For the sake of love You hung Your own Son on a cross to die

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Ariella's Lioness

Us with Ariella's Lioness at our college graduation

"Ariella" means lioness of God. Before she was born, I had planned on buying a toy lion for her (and if we'd had a boy, well, what boy doesn't like lions?!?). However, I never found one in time. After Ariella died, I decided that I still wanted to buy a toy lion, except it wouldn't be for any future children to play with. Instead, Ariella's Lioness will appear in our family photos from here on out. Ariella will always be a part of our family, and this is one small way that we can show that. 

Dear parents of a newborn

Dear parents of a newborn,
Congratulations on your new arrival. I'm so happy and relieved your baby is here safely. But if I do not tell you this person, please don't be offended; sometimes it is hard for me to talk about babies.
If I do not comment on Facebook pictures, it's not because I don't think your baby is cute, it's just that I don't want the notifications when others also comment.
Please forgive me if I don't get excited over your baby reaching milestones, it's just a reminder that my baby never will.
I'll do my best to be happy for you, I will. But please understand if at times that is too hard for me.
A grieving mother.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

A quick thanks

I've been blown away by how many people have been reading this little blog of mine; to think that people are taking the time to read my mess of thoughts is I'm truly touched by the comments (either here or on Facebook ), and by the fact that some of my posts have been shared by others. People have even taken the time to message me and tell how much they appreciate me sharing my thoughts, or how my posts have touched them. I really am blown away by it. Having so much support really does help me get through this crazy journey of grief. 

Thank you.

Friday, March 22, 2013


One of my biggest questions is why. Not why did Ariella die but why does no one talk about stillbirth. 

There was a point during my pregnancy with Ariella when I was scared about stillbirth. But I thought that stillbirths were rare; that they don't really happen in countries like Australia or in low-risk pregnancies. 

But did you know that:

*2000 babies are stillborn in Australia each year?
*7 babies are stillborn each DAY in Australia?
*50% of stillbirths are unexplained?

If 50% are unexplained, that means that low-risk pregnancies are not excluded.Before Ariella I thought that stillbirths only happened in higher risk pregnancies, or if there were health problems for the baby.

Society will often talk about SIDS, AIDS, malaria and road accidents. But did you know that:

*Stillbirths are 10 times more common than SIDS?
*There are more stillbirths each year (globally) than children killed from AIDS or malaria combined?
*More babies die in Australia from stillbirth and newborn death than people die from road accidents?

Statistics for stillbirths/newborn death haven't changed significantly in the past decade. So why don't people talk about stillbirth (and newborn death)? I'm certainly glad that people talk about it more than they did in the past, and that the way stillbirths are dealt with have changed. In the past, stillborn babies were taken from their parents straight away; most parents never even got to see their precious child. We were able to see, hold and spend time with Ariella. We have memories with her, and for that I am grateful. But I still hate the silence that surrounds stillbirth.

This video contains most of the stats I mentioned above, plus more. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

I'm good thanks

An amazing thing happened to me yesterday. A friend asked me how I was. My answer?
"I'm good thanks"
Not "I'm ok" or "yeah, I'm alright", but
"I'm good thanks"
It wasn't stretching the truth. And there was no guilt at feeling good. Simply,
"I'm good thanks"
For the first time since Jan 28, I could say with complete honesty
"I'm good thanks"

Less pain?

I had a friend ask me on the weekend if the pain is getting any less. I had to think about it for a moment before answering, as I hadn't thought to put an "average" on the pain. It turns out that the answer was "no". It still hurts just as much. His response was to give me a hug, because there was nothing to say. I really appreciated that :)

But his question stuck in my head for the rest of the day, and I realised that while the pain isn't any less, perhaps I could say it is less constant. As the weeks pass, my thoughts more easily dwell on other things. And for that I am grateful. It means that I actually feel happy at times! But when I do think of all that has hurts just the same.

I'm grateful to realise that I can actually be happy, even with such acute pain in my life. So, to the friend who asked me that question...thank you.

(By the way, this does not mean I want everyone to ask me if the pain is less!! More often than not, a simple "how are you going today?" and "how is your hubby going?" are the best questions)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

In Christ Alone

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are still, when strivings cease
My comforter, my all in all
Here in the love of Christ I stand!

This song is one that has so many memories connected to it for me. I listened to it for comfort when my Nanna died, when a friend/mentor died, we sung it at our wedding, and it was played at a dear friend's funeral last year. I've always loved how it tells the gospel message:

In Christ alone, who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save
Til on the cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live!

The third verse is my favourite. I love how there is a somber tone in the first lines, but absolute joy after that:

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His, and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ!

After my 39wk midwife appointment, we drove to the hospital to have an ultrasound to see if there was a heartbeat. At that point, we both knew we were unlikely to see/hear our precious baby's heartbeat, and I was trying not to get my hopes up. It had never been tricky to find her heartbeat, so I knew something was wrong. Deep down, I knew our baby had died, but I also knew that our God works miracles. If we thought it was too late and there was no heartbeat, He could have easily changed that for us. While thinking all of those thoughts, this song came on.

No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life's first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of Hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hands
Til He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand!

What do I do with that verse? I have no fear for my own death, but I was certainly afraid of our baby dying. On the other hand, I knew without a doubt that nothing, not even our girl's death, could take me from God's hand (there is no pit so deep that God's love is not deeper still...)

What if life doesn't have a first cry, or a final breath? Ariella did neither of those. I now find it hard to sing that line, as they assume there is always a first cry and a final breath. There's not. And this song now reminds me of that. And while verse three proclaims that Jesus' body was in the ground but He rose, it reminds me that our girl's body is also in the ground, and I don't get to see her resurrected until I get to Heaven. And that feels like a long time to wait.

So even though it makes me cry when I hear it (like the past two weeks at church!), I will still try to sing:

Til He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Dance among the ruins

Earlier this week I told my husband that I feel like my life is ruined. Not in the sense of "now there's no hope" or anything like that, but because I know that I will always have this sadness with me. I don't know how I'll ever be 100% happy again, because even happy events will be tainted by the knowledge that Ariella is not here with us.

Like college graduation this coming weekend, when I was expecting to introduce Ariella to some people for the first time. 

Or the friend's wedding reception that we organised to take Ariella to, and were going to be seated in such a way as to make having a baby with us easier.

Or the other friends' wedding and reception, when I was expecting to have to juggle the wedding and Ariella by myself, because Marcus is a groomsman. 

Or Mothers' Day.

Or Fathers' Day.

Or. Or. Or. 

So many events and "celebrations" that are, in some small way, ruined.

Steven Curtis Chapman is a Christian singer/songwriter who has also had a daughter die and the album he wrote after that tragedy, Beauty Will Rise, has been playing almost constantly in my car since I bought it about 4 weeks ago. Two days after telling Hubby that I felt my life has been ruined, I was struck by one of the lyrics in the song Beauty Will Rise:

Out of these ashes
Beauty will rise
And we will dance among the ruins
We will see with our own eyes
Out of this darkness
New light will shine
And we'll know the joy that's coming in the morning

It's not that the ruins will disappear. They will still be there. But I can learn to dance and find joy among the ruins. 

Not despite the ruins. 

Not instead of the ruins. 

But among them.

Thursday, March 14, 2013


I wrote yesterday about how it is difficult to realise that time moves on. But I realised last night that one thing has gotten easier with time, and for that I am grateful. It's only a small thing, but nevertheless, it is one thing:


Given that Ariella was my first pregnancy, I didn't have stacks of pregnancy clothes. I had "enough" to get me through, but towards the end I was getting tired of the lack of variety. I adore wearing cute dresses and skirts, but do you know how expensive cute pregnancy clothes are?? I had a few items I loved, but I still missed my normal clothes. I was very much looking forward to having our baby, and eventually fitting back into my cute dresses and skirts.

After Ariella was born, I fit back into my pre-pregnancy clothes  straight away. There was one pair of jeans that didn't fit, but given that I don't wear jeans that much, that didn't matter.  I know a lot of women struggle with pregnancy weight, and I am grateful that wasn't an issue for me. If Ariella had lived, I would have been so happy to wear my normal clothes again. But she didn't, and my clothes fit straight away.

I hated it. 

I couldn't wear my maternity clothes because of the sadness associated with them, and I didn't want to wear my normal clothes because they reminded me that she wasn't there. In a way, I felt guilty. I would have chosen months of trying to lose weight and fit old clothes over fitting them straight away, if that meant our daughter would have lived. I know the guilt was unfounded, but it was there. 

The week after she was born I had to choose what to wear to her funeral. How on earth do you do that? Do you buy a new dress, knowing that it will always remind you of that day? Or do you wear something you already had? I ended up choosing one of my favourite dresses, one that I had worn to my 21st party. I didn't want something that only had sad memories attached to it. And I'm glad I did...I've worn that dress multiple times since then, and often I don't even think about the fact I wore it to our daughter's funeral. 

I'd say it was about 2 weeks before choosing clothes to wear each day was not an issue. I remember getting dressed one morning without even thinking about it, and then turning to my husband in shock. I was amazed to realise I had chosen clothes without any guilt or sadness. And that made me smile. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Six weeks

It's been six weeks since I first held my girl. Five weeks since I last held my girl. 

How can time seem so slow but go so fast?

I feel like each day drags on, that every week is longer than the last. 

Then I stop and realise it's basically halfway through March, and that means it's been 5 weeks since I last saw my precious Ariella. 

Time is moving on and I can't stop it. How can we be 1/4 of the way through the year already? It doesn't make sense to me, because I don't know how to live without my daughter. And yet I've been doing it for six weeks already. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Hurt and the Healer

There are a number of songs that have become quite meaningful for me since Ariella's death. Some are specifically about stillbirth or suffering and some remind me of God's character. The Hurt and the Healer by MercyMe is a mixture of the two. It's a song that I feel I could have written myself (if I was any good at writing songs/poems!) as it beautifully captures how someone who is suffering can both suffer and trust God at the same time. To apply that to my situation: I can grieve about Ariella while still trusting in God. I'm allowed to be sad, even though I know my daughter is safe with God. Feeling hurt does not negate my belief that God is healer. Please don't try to "cheer me up" by reminding me that Ariella is with God. I am very grateful for that truth, but I can still be upset that my daughter is not with me and my husband.

I thought about just posting snippets of the lyrics - just the bits that really apply to me at the moment. But I then realised that if I did that, I'd be posting basically the whole song! So here it is:

The question that is never far away
The healing doesn't come from being explained
Jesus please don't let this go in vain
You're all I have, all that remains

So here I am,
What's left of me
Where glory meets my suffering

I'm alive
Even though a part of me has died
You take my heart and breath it back to life
I fall into Your arms open wide
When the hurt and the healer collide 

Sometimes I feel it's all that I can do
Pain so deep that I can hardly move
Just keep my eyes completely fixed on You
Lord take hold and pull me through

It's the moment when humanity 
Is overcome by majesty 
When grace is ushered in for good
And all our scars are understood
When mercy takes its rightful place
And all these questions fade away
When out of the weakness we must bow
And hear You say "It's over now"

Jesus come and break my fear
Wake my heart and take my tears
Find Your glory even here
When the hurt and the healer collide

MercyMe - The Hurt and the Healer

Monday, March 11, 2013


I finished my college degrees last year, and the plan for this year was to be a stay-at-home mum to Ariella. Her death has meant all my plans for this year are gone. I was faced with a year that was completely blank. And it terrified me. I'm not good when there's not a plan. I'm slowing learning how to fill each day, but it's hard. Nothing is normal any more.

When my husband and I first went to the cemetery to pick a place for Ariella, I remember how it felt to see the children's section for the first time. I was outraged at how close together the rows of graves were. No one should die if they are small enough to fit in that gap; no graves should be so small. But now, 6 weeks later, I look at the adult graves and think they look huge. This is my normal.

Normal is child-size graves.
Normal is being petrified to do things I used to love, like holding babies.
Normal is getting upset when the mum's group at church is mentioned, instead of attending.
Normal is being introverted when I used to be much more extroverted.
Normal is crying almost everyday and feeling strange when I laugh.
Normal is people looking at me with sympathy/pity. It's hard to tell the difference sometimes.
Normal is knowing how to suppress breast-milk instead of breastfeed. 
Normal is my heart jumping when someone asks if I have children, and answering "yes, but..."
Normal is choosing flowers to put on my girl's grave, not choosing clothes for her to wear. 
Normal is saying goodbye to my child, not goodnight.

This is my normal. And it sucks.


I love it when people acknowledge my daughter, or ask to see photos of her. Please don't be afraid to mention Ariella for fear of making me sad...chances are I'm already sad!

Perhaps the cutest acknowledgement comes from my three year old nephew, J. We have a photo of Ariella in our lounge room, and a few times while here, J has stopped playing, looked at her photo, and said loudly, "It's Ari-lella!" It's always been an out-of-the-blue acknowledgement, and is extra cute given the slight mispronunciation of her name.

It makes my heart smile to hear my daughter's existence acknowledged, especially in such a cute way.

Friday, March 8, 2013


Some things I am thankful for, in no particular order:

  • My midwife, Julie. She was allocated as my midwife when I was 20 weeks pregnant, and from the first voice-mail she left, I knew she sounded like a lovely lady. And she is. She has been with us literally every step of the way, from the first diagnosis of "no heartbeat", through labour and birth, daily visits in the first week and frequent visits from then on, Ariella's service, and our final visit to the doctor. She's an amazing woman, and I'm grateful to have gotten to know her.
  • Birth. Even though I had to be induced, labour and birth progressed as though I'd gone into labour naturally. I even got to have the waterbirth I had hoped for. This meant that I didn't have to deal much with a physical recovery, just an emotional one.
  • Time. We had two full days to spend with Ariella. Hearing stories of people who never even got to see their baby makes me even more grateful.
  • My church family. They have provided all sorts of things for us - meals, money, cards, prayers, name it, someone at church has probably done it for us. This includes one of our pastors, who brought us dinner on the Tuesday night, and stayed to eat with us (we hadn't even thought about the fact we would have to eat, yet alone what to eat!)
  • My immediate family (Mum, Dad, sister and brother-in-law). Four pretty special people.
  • My husband. He's amazing. 
  • My daughter. I love her.
  • My God. Always faithful, even in the deepest pit.

Lamentations 3:55-57
I called on your name, Lord, from the depths of the pit. You heard my plea: "Do not close your ears to my cry for relief." You came near when I called you, and you said, "Do not fear."

Thursday, March 7, 2013


Lorelai: You know what they say about those who assume!
Emily: No, what do they say? 
Lorelai: You just...well...shouldn't.

It's true. So let me ask you one thing:
Please, please please - when it comes to a stillbirth, do not assume anything. 

I was told one day "oh, this must have tested your faith in God." Blanket statements like that give little room for a grieving parent to move; a statement that has "must" in it is essentially telling us how we should feel. And you may unintentionally make us feel guilty for not feeling the way we are "meant" to be feeling.

Ariella's death did not test my faith in God. I'm not trying to make myself "super-spiritual" or anything like that. I imagine that the death of a baby could make some people question their faith in God. That's ok. Every parent is different. While Ariella's death made me question a lot of things, there were some things I never questioned: God's faithfulness and love, and my husband's love for me. They are my unshakable rocks. 

So please don't assume anything. Don't tell us how we are feeling, rather, ask how we're feeling. It'll make a big difference, and probably lead to a more meaningful conversation.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


My favourite singer is Josh Groban. Ever since I was first introduced to his music almost 10 years ago, I have eagerly awaited the release of new songs and albums. This year was no different. His latest album was due to be released on February 5, which was also Ariella's due date. For some reason that made me even more excited. I could have some amazing new music to listen to while holding my new baby. 

I didn't realise just how connected his songs would become to my daughter. 

The first single from the album is called Brave, and it was released about a week before Ariella's birth. Before the induction on Tuesday, my sister sent me the lyrics for the song. Even though I had listened to it multiple times (it had been on repeat for days,just ask my poor husband!), I hadn't connected with the lyrics until I read them in connection with my daughter's death:

You wanna run away, run away
And you say that it can't be so.
You wanna look away, look away
But you stay 'cause it's oh so close.
When you stand up and hold out your hand
In the face of what I don't understand,
My reason to be brave.

I wanted to run. I wanted to look away. No heartbeat? IT CAN'T BE SO! And it was oh so close. Too close. 

But my husband was my reason to be brave. I could not get through this without him. 

I love you Husband.

(To hear the whole song: Josh Groban, Brave)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Deeper Still

"There is no pit so deep that God's love is not deeper still."

I came across this quote about two weeks after Ariella's death, and it's stayed in my mind ever since. It was said/written by Betsie Ten Boom, the sister of Corrie Ten Boom. Which puts it in the context of a Nazi concentration camp. That's a pretty deep pit to be in! And yet she could still believe and proclaim that God's love was deeper still. 

The stillbirth of my daughter was a pretty deep pit to find myself in. The deepest pit so far in my life. But do you know what? God's love is deeper still. 

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is Christ Jesus our Lord.
~Romans 8:38-39~

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