Sunday, June 30, 2013
Friday, June 28, 2013
I had the honour this month of sharing Ariellas story in the Sands SA newsletter. My blog link was also shared, so I wanted to quickly post to say welcome to anyone who has come as a result :)
I haven't posted a lot in the past fortnight, but am usually posting regularly. Feel free to look through the archives, to discover more of Ariella's story and our life since her birthday in January. I also have a few posts aimed at friends of baby loss parents (what to say, what not to say,etc) that you might find helpful to show friends.
If you read the Sands newsletter because you have lost one or more precious children, I am so sorry for your loss. It's a club that no one wants to join, but I hope you find some comfort through Sands or this blog.
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
My first introduction to flashbacks came a few years ago, after I was in a car crash on a country highway. I wasn't injured too badly (which was a miracle) but emotionally I was a mess. It was a long time before I could travel on country roads without flinching or crying, especially if the intersection we were approaching resembled the accident site. It was worse if I was a passenger, as I had been a passenger in the crash. Sometimes all it took was the bump of a car tyre hitting the curb to make me jump. And sometimes I could smell the accident - the rubber of the tyres, the smell of the air bag, etc. It was awful. And while I'm mostly ok these days, I do still struggle at times, especially when travelling on highways.
This year I'm having flashbacks of a different kind.
Flashbacks of leaving our daughter in our hospital room, of the nerve-wracking drive to the ultrasound where her death was confirmed, of having to tell family that our baby had died. Sometimes I remember the Saturday...day 3, when baby-blues normally set in. Curled up in a ball on our couch, crying the most I'd ever cried and thinking I must be going crazy, only for my midwife to remind me that day 3 is always the tough one, and that of course it was going to be tougher for me. I flashback to the agony of laying our baby girl into her coffin, and walking out of the room. Of feeling like I'm a failure because I didn't deliver a living baby.
Flashbacks. Flashbacks. Flashbacks.
Why is it that I rarely flashback to the better memories? Of seeing her for the first time, the two days we spent with her, or the hilarious moments during pregnancy when she made my belly into all sorts of crazy shapes? What about eating pizza with my husband and our pastor, a nice distraction during early labour? Or the ultrasounds when we could see her happily wriggling about? Why can't I remember THOSE moments?
Instead I hear a song that was of great comfort in that first week, and instead of being comforted I am confronted by flashbacks of raw grief and empty arms. I drive past the hospital going to and from work, and flashback to just how scary it was to drive there on the Monday not knowing if our baby was alive or not. I see newborns in their parents' arms and flashback to walking out of the hospital room and funeral home with oh-so-empty arms.
It's hard. So very hard.
I assume I'm not the only person who struggles with this. So if you also struggle, I want to offer you some encouragement - it is possible to get through the flashbacks.
A few months ago I was really struggling with guilt; I was feeling as though it was my fault she had died. And that is ridiculous. It's not. For me, every single test that was done came back saying her death was unexplained. But that didn't stop the guilty thoughts from creeping in. There's a verse in the Bible that I valued a lot at that time. In 2 Corinthians 10 it says that we are to take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. When the guilty thoughts came in, I had to take them captive and make it obedient to Christ, which for me meant lining it up against what I knew to be true of the situation and God (He did not say it was my fault, nor did the tests). When I did that, I was able to move past the thoughts of guilt and not get stuck in them.
I think the same applies for the flashbacks. If I take them captive, I am not letting them control me. If I take them to Christ, I can trust Him to comfort me and replace them with better memories.
It's not just positive thinking. That relies on our own strength, and I know for sure that I do not have the strength for that. I'm as weak as can be. But my God is strong. And by taking my thoughts to Him, it is possible to overcome.
Thursday, June 20, 2013
I go to church each Sunday. I go to work during the week. I might catch up with friends. I can smile. I can laugh. When I meet new people, there's no way that they'll know just by looking or observing me that something is always so, so wrong. I miss her.
I never knew I could miss someone so much until I met my baby girl. I never knew I could live with such an ache in my heart. I wish I had something more to say. Something that might encourage you, or point you towards the reason I can continue (Jesus and a relationship with Him). But today I've got nothing. Just I miss her.
Saturday, June 15, 2013
Stillbirth isn't widely talked about, so many people don't know how to react when they hear about it. If you hear about a stillbirth (especially an unexpected one) consider asking what the child's name is, or when their birthday is. If you believe in prayer, maybe tell the parents you will be praying for them (but make sure that if you say this, you follow through and actually pray). Tell them that you are sorry that this happened to them and that you will be thinking of them. Depending on your relationship with them, perhaps you could give them a hug...but ask first! If nothing else, admit that you don't know what to say!
I know it's hard to hear about a baby who was stillborn. When I hear of a friend's loss, it hits me hard. I feel as though I stumble backwards in shock. It's ok to feel that, just please don't actually do that. Please don't back away...
Friday, June 14, 2013
|Ariella's necklace: photo by Held Your Whole Life|
All of the necklaces they make say "Held Your Whole Life" around the outside, and the name (or date, if that is what you'd like) is hand-stamped by volunteers. I got to choose the butterfly and the little heart - they have a variety of options to choose. About two weeks after I had requested my necklace and chosen the heart, I received this key-ring from a friend...which has a similar heart!
One thing I do want to highlight is that to receive a necklace, your baby must have been lost to miscarriage or stillbirth, not newborn death. And it must be the parents who request the necklace, you cannot request one for a friend (they used to do that, but received complaints, so have had to stop). They open for requests on the first of each month, and my necklace was posted within a month. It came in lovely little origami box and it was such a delight to see the package in my letterbox after I came home from work!
I do already have one Ariella Jade necklace, which some very generous friends bought for me. This necklace will not replace that one; it's a different style and now I won't have to be worried about wearing the other one so much that the writing disappears (as I have a habit of fiddling with the necklace, which has begun to slowly wear out the letters)!
If you know someone who has lost a baby and would appreciate a necklace like this, please share with them about Held Your Whole Life. They do a wonderful thing by providing mementos to bereaved parents; I know I am thankful :)
Thursday, June 13, 2013
Do her and sweet Evie Caris dance among the flowers? Has she met handsome little Samuel, and do they tease each other like many little boys and girls do? Did precious Jonah Pete show her around, since he's been there for longer? What about Desiree Amelie and Lucy Ann? Do the three of them sit and giggle together? Do Ariella and Baby Pierce smile at how they have brought their mums closer?
Those are just the little ones. Has she met Geoff and Steve - two amazing men of God who would have been so excited to know that I was pregnant?
I kind of hope so.
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
I don't know why, but that is something that I find very hard to do. I've been thinking about why I find it so hard, and I've come to a conclusion: it's because I don't want to burden other people with my needs.
Yes, I know. That's ridiculous. When someone asks me for help, or even vaguely mentions a need, I start to think of ways I can help. I don't react by thinking they are a burden! So why should I assume that people would do the same for me? It's not fair to my friends to think that, because it means I am underestimating their care and compassion. So I want to say this:
I'm sorry it has taken me so long to ask widely for help.
On Sunday I asked (via Facebook) if any friends could make us some meals, because I struggle to cook (side-effect of grief) and Marcus is working everyday. I hate knowing that he's going to come home from a full day of work only to have to both look after me and cook. I wish I could make it easier for him, but I just cannot handle having to cook. It's strange, but true. So, after having sporadically mentioned to friends/family that I needed help, I realised that wasn't enough. So I asked broadly. I was blown away by how many responded, and by who responded. It wasn't just the people that I see regularly, it was also people I haven't seen in years! I felt truly blessed by people's offers of help, and I know Marcus will enjoy the break from cooking the meals will bring.
Initially, after Ariella's birth, we had almost too many offers of help - we didn't know what to do with them all. I was saddened to realise a few months later that we hadn't accepted offers from some our closest friends. People wanted to help then, and although 4.5 months have passed, I shouldn't have assumed that people no longer wanted to help.
Asking for help. It's hard. It's humbling. But I'm learning that it's worth it.
Friday, June 7, 2013
My mum has made a cross-stitch for each of her grandchildren, and yesterday we received Ariella's completed one. Isn't it lovely? Mum picked the design and Marcus and I picked the yellow matting and white frame. It's now hanging in her room, and it makes me smile whenever I think of it. A perfect addition to our little stash of Ariella items!
Thursday, June 6, 2013
I know death has changed me when prayer is war. How do you love and praise Someone whom you feel so deeply betrayed you? Or, perhaps worse, seems to have forgotten about you?
I know death has changed me when life seems like the exception, and death seems like the rule.
I know death has changed me when I choose to fight with God in prayer. I give Him my pain. My betrayal. My anger. And I place my bruised, bleeding heart into His perfect hands. He doesn't heal my hurt. But He does always hold it for me.The author lists a number of things, but these three are what got me. Sometimes I worry that I come across as not having any issues with the fact that God didn't heal Ariella. That because I say "his love is deeper still" or "God is still good" that somehow I'm this perfect Christian, even though I've been through the worst thing a parent could.
It's not true.
I struggle. A lot. More than I care to admit sometimes. I've never once doubted that God is still God, or that He is still good. He is. And that's why I have problems. If He wasn't good, I could not have expected Him (or even asked Him) to re-start Ariella's heart. But He is good. Therefore, I (subconsciously) expect Him to do what I say is good.
And that's why I have to fight with God in prayer, just like the quote above says. Because I am in pain. I do feel betrayed. And I do feel angry. My heart is bruised, and sometimes I worry that it will never stop bleeding. But the reason I can do that, the reason I can come to Him, is because He is still good. He is bringing good out of this situation. And I'm thankful for that. For example, the makers of Return To Zero - the movie I blogged about here - were hoping to reach 50,000 pledges before the meeting with Hollywood. They reached 56,000+!! Ariella's death is helping to break the silence surrounding pregnancy loss. I'm grateful for that. I'm grateful for the friends who have told me how their life has changed since January 30, because of Ariella's story. I'm grateful for the people I have connected with in ways that I probably wouldn't have otherwise. Sarah. Heather. Brittany. Annika. Marsha. To name just a few. Precious friendships God has brought into my life (or deepened) because of Ariella.
Don't get me wrong, when it all boils down, I'd rather have my daughter in my arms still. I don't have that, but I do have God, who, despite my pain, anger and betrayal, is still good.
Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Monday, June 3, 2013
Together we can break the silence.