Sunday, December 21, 2014

Levi's Dedication

Today was a big day for us. This morning at church we dedicated Levi! I have to admit, for months I didn't want to dedicate him at all. I was scared. I thought that if I told God I trusted Levi to Him, and something happened to Levi, I would be so hurt and so mad at God that I may not recover. That already happened with Ariella and I didn't know how well I'd be able to hold onto my faith if God "let me down" again. Part of me thought that if I didn't entrust Levi to God, and something happened, I would be devastated but I wouldn't be mad at God. Of course, that logic isn't very logical at all, nor was it a good place to be in my relationship with God. I knew my attitude needed to change but I was honestly too scared to know what to do.

The main reason we did it today was that some of my husband's family were visiting from interstate. None of his family live here and we don't get to see them often. We decided to dedicate him while they were in town so that they could come. Once the date was set, I panicked. Completely. To the point where I wanted to call it off because I didn't think I was ready and I didn't want to do it unless I meant it. I went back and forth for what seemed like forever (probably only a week!) before I decided that yes, I did want to do it and I did want to do it publicly at church. We had considered doing it with just close family and friends as I didn't know if I could handle the emotion of doing it in front of so many people at our church. Don't get me wrong, I love my church but I didn't know I was ready to be so emotionally vulnerable in front of them! Then one Sunday, as I was taking Levi into the creche, I heard part of a sermon about the importance of testimony and sharing our stories. If there's one thing I have, it's a pretty remarkable story of how God blessed us with Levi after the tragedy of losing Ariella. It was decided. We would dedicate him at church and I was going to share some of our story.

As adamant as I was about what we had decided to do, I still got to this morning and wanted to cancel! I was so nervous - I couldn't even read through what would be said without tears streaming down my face. How could I stand there in front of everyone, yet alone speak? And to top it all off, the last song sung before the dedication was In Christ Alone. That song has been sung at many significant events for me (our wedding, the funerals of friends) and happened to be playing in our car as we drove to the hospital knowing Ariella had likely died. Needless to say, it's not a song I can hear without crying. As it started, I shared sympathetic looks with a few other people who feel similarly. Was this really happening? Did they have to play this song? But then I thought...it played at our wedding. It played for Ariella. And today it played for Levi. Maybe it wasn't so bad after all (no matter what the tears in my eyes implied)!

We chose Psalm 121 for Levi.

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

The LORD is your keeper;
the LORD is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.

The LORD will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.

The first section has been very significant to me since Ariella died. Those verses were read aloud at her funeral and I think of them often when I visit her, as you can see the hills from her grave. The rest of the Psalm summerises what we believe for Levi: God will keep him and protect him. Marcus read the Psalm out, while I shared a bit of our story. I had warned our pastor that he might need to read it for me, but with much shaking and a few deep breaths, I managed to share it myself.


"Whenever I think of Levi, there is one Bible verse that springs to mind. It's from 1 Samuel verse 27, when Hannah is talking to Eli and says "for this child I have prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to Him". For those who don't know, we have a daughter named Ariella who was born almost 2 years ago, but she died just 2 days before her birth day. That experience meant that my pregnancy with Levi was the most terrifying experience of my life so far, because I didn't know if he would live or if he would die like his sister. There wasn't a day when I didn't pray for him, begging God that He would keep Levi alive until he was born and safely in our arms. I'm so very grateful that God answered that prayer and we've had the honour of raising Levi for the last 11 months. And even though I would do anything to keep him safe, I know that he is safer in God's hands, not mine. And so that's why we are here today. As Hannah said in verse 28 of 1 Samuel 1, "now we dedicate him to The Lord. From this time on he is dedicated to the Lord".

If I was being judged on my public speaking abilities, I'm sure I would have failed. I could barely look up from the page, my hands were shaking (perhaps my voice too) and I don't know how expressive I was. I was much too busy concentrating on getting the words out! Although it was quite hard to do, I'm glad I did it. I wanted Ariella acknowledged and I wanted to share how God had answered our prayers. I'm so glad I did, as two women came up to me afterwards to thank me for sharing and to tell me about their children who had also died. It was an honour to hear their stories and to have them share their children with me. Overall, this morning was a very emotional time; I haven't felt this emotionally exhausted in quite a while! But I'm so glad we decided to do it in the way that we did. 

At home before the service. Levi in one of his many lion tops!


 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Isolation

Yesterday I heard a friend describe baby loss as an isolating event. I hadn't thought about it on that way before, but it really is an excellent way to describe what happens when a baby dies. No one else understands exactly how you feel; other loss parents will understand to a degree, but you are the only one who has experienced your story. When friends and family don't mention Ariella, or say something to imply Levi is my only baby, the isolation strikes. It strikes again when I'm sitting with a group of mums discussing labour and birth. Because it's a hard decision whether or not to mention my daughter's birth - will it be met with awkwardness or acceptance? Or perhaps it will invoke pity, I think that's the worst of all. Feeling alone in a group, being the "quiet mum" in most situations, this is the isolation that baby loss brings. 

And then there are days like yesterday, International Pregnancy and Infant loss Awareness Day. My Facebook newsfeed was filled with candles lit for my girl and other babies, photos of precious childen gone too soon, and awareness raising images. The ones that touched me the most were the images shared by friends who haven't experienced their own loss. It truly felt that bereaved and non-bereaved parents were in this together. Side by side. No isolation to be found. And it was wonderful. 

In memory of Ariella Jade and all babies gone too soon. 


Saturday, September 27, 2014

In and Out

Today marks the day when Levi has been out as long as he was in!

38 weeks in: 



I was tired from pregnancy and exhausted from constantly being anxious. Levi was quite wriggly, having gone from head down, to breech, then tranverse and back again within a matter of weeks.


38 weeks out:


I am no where near as tired as I was and so much less anxious. Levi is still very wriggly and I love watching him roll and crawl around our house (it's much better than when he rolled around inside!) I tell him so often how glad I am that he is alive and how much we love him. He's a very cheeky boy and is such a delight to us daily. I'm so grateful to have the opportunity to watch him grow and he heals my heart a little bit more each day.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Too Close to Home

I haven't written much lately. It's been hard to find the time and my head hasn't been in the right space for writing lately. I felt like I was healing, that maybe I was getting better. 

And then July happened. 

July begins and ends with the anniversaries of the deaths of two friends. Two inspiring men of God, both gone too soon. But this July two more anniversaries were added, as friends lost their wife and mum and other friends lost their dad. Both deaths were unexpected and both left me reeling. Neither death seemed fair; they still don't. Two funerals within a week. I hope not to need to do that again. Ever. 


August hasn't been the best either, although for slightly more removed reasons. A friend messaged to say that a lady she knows lost twins recently. No one should lose a baby and no one should lose two. It's not fair and my heart breaks for her. 

An Australian actress revealed that her son was stillborn yesterday. As I read that news, so many emotions flooded my mind. I felt so sorry for her. The grief of stillbirth is unfathomable and she has to go through it in the public eye. I do hope she and her family get the privacy they have asked for. 

But since reading her heartbreaking news, I can't stop thinking about Ariella's stillbirth. I can't adequately describe the shock, heartbreak and devastation of those first days and what it feels like to walk out of the hospital without you baby in your arms. I have photos of my last moments with Ariella in the hospital, but I can't bring myself to look at them. The memory is hard enough, but as time has gone on it's as though the pain in that memory has dulled. When I look at those photos, I can't pretend the pain wasn't as bad as it actually was. I'm glad I have those photos, but I can't look at the photos of the worst moment of my life. It just hurts too much. 

I've been incredibly angry at God lately. I'm not exactly proud of that, but I have to be honest. There have been too many deaths too close to home, and in the words of a friend, Heaven seems too populated with those we love. It's like I've been pounding my fists on his chest and screaming WHY? But all of my pounding and screaming hasn't pushed God away. He's bigger than that. And instead of holding me at arms length as I scream, He's wrapped his arms around me when I collapse from exhaustion and whispered gently to me that Ariella's life has been fruitful and that it's ok to be mad. 

I have to believe that.
I just have to.

Because if I don't...I don't know what's left. Believing that gives me a sure hope that I will see my baby girl again. I'll see Geoff, Steve, Heather and Don again too. I don't normally write things like this, as I don't like seeming pushy, but all these sudden deaths lately has really reminded me that nothing in life is certain. Except Jesus. I am certain that because of Him I will go to Heaven and see my loved ones again. If you don't have that certainty, will you think about it? If you've ever thought I am strong, this is why. I'm not strong, but my God is. And He can be your God too. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Eighteen Long Months



My dear Ariella,

It's been eighteen long months since you came and went. Or is it went and came? After all, you were gone before we met you. Sometimes I still can't quite believe that. How is it that your anniversary is before your birthday? It shouldn't be that way my sweet girl.

Eighteen long months since I first saw your beautiful face. It really was love at first sight - I couldn't believe that you had dark hair. Your daddy and I were blondies so I expected that for you too. But no, you decided to surprise us with dark brown hair. And no matter how many months pass, I don't think I will ever forget just how dainty your fingers were. They were so beautiful. I miss them.

Sweet girl, you have a baby brother now. He looked so much like you when he was born! Same dark hair (although that didn't surprise us) and the same little nose. Even now, I still look at him and think he looks so much like you. I wonder what you would look like now. Would you have stayed long and dainty, or would you have developed the same glorious chub that your brother has?

I don't know how Heaven works...I don't think you'll be able to read this, but I wonder if you can see me? Would you be proud of your mama? I hope so. It's been so hard without you but I'm doing my best. Your brother loves looking at your photos, although at this point he's probably just enjoying the way the light reflects on them! But one day he will know who you are and how special you are.

Precious Ariella, eighteen months ago today was one of the best days of my life. I got to meet you. And that is a moment I will always treasure.

With love,
Your mama

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Love Matters

Today, in a Facebook conversation about breastfeeding and formula feeding, I read a comment that said something along the lines of "if your child still lives and is healthy, you did your job as a mother". Occasionally I see pictures implying that the one thing a mother needs to do to be successful is keep your children alive, like this one:

From someecards.com

And every time it's like a stab in the heart.

Because I couldn't keep my child alive.

But that does NOT make me a failure.


I believed for too long that it did, but I refuse to believe it now. There is not a single baby loss mother I know who has failed her baby...because every single one of them loves that baby with their whole being. For those who haven't lost a child, allow me to let you in on something...most baby loss mamas blame themselves in some way, at least initially. We feel like we have failed our babies, our partners, our family. We don't need comments implying that (intentional or otherwise).

But it's not just about keeping your child alive, success should not be defined by having a healthy child either. I cannot speak from experience, but I don't think my friends whose children are unwell or have a disability would be comforted by the idea that a healthy child is what defines a good mother. It's not.

Motherhood is about more than "keeping the kids alive" or having a healthy child. Motherhood is about love. If you do the best for your child, with the knowledge you have, and you do it out of love, THAT'S what matters. That's a mother doing her job.

From carlymarieprojectheal.com

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Pregnancy After Loss: Reflections From the Other Side



It's been nineteen weeks since my baby boy safely arrived into this world. Considering how slow the weeks went past during pregnancy, I was amazed to realise that he has now spent one third of his life on the outside with us! 38 weeks in, 19 weeks out. Wow. Not bad for a baby that I honestly didn't believe would spend any time with us...

Notice my 'Ariella Jade' necklace? I just had to wear it!

The past nineteen weeks have been such a blessing. My little boy loves to give smiles and giggles, and just last week he laughed and laughed when I tickled under his chin. Melted my heart I tell you! Every smile from him is a stitch that is slowly mending my broken heart. I know an Ariella-shaped scar will always be there, but I cannot deny the healing my son has brought.

My Superman - mending my heart with only a smile.

And it is only as I heal that I realise just how broken I was. Last year, I thought I was doing ok. Friends would ask me how I was going, and my answer would be "I'm ok". I truly thought I was, certainly not "great" or even "good" - but I thought I was ok. Now I realise that I wasn't. I look back at photos and can't help but notice the glazed look on my face and bags under my eyes. I guess that's what happens when you wake up every hour (maybe more) overnight from anxiety. I was so on edge, all the time.

But not anymore.


Now that I'm on the other side, with a baby in my arms instead of my belly. And I thought I'd share some reflections with you.

I cannot describe how wonderful it is to have him in my arms.

Firstly, I wish I could have found more joy in being pregnant. I did my best - taking monthly bump photos just like I did with Ariella and trying to enjoy the kicks. But it was hard. And unless you've been through it, I really don't think you can understand. If there was a harder kick than normal, I immediately wondered if that was a good-bye kick. Because Ariella's last movement was harder than the rest. I would buy an outfit in a burst of confidence that he would live, and then have to put it away because I didn't want to see it.

Little darling. Love him.

I want to say that I wish I had worried less, but I know that's ridiculous. I couldn't not worry! And it was so constant...there was no break from the worry because I could not know that Levi was safe all the time. I still worry about him at times, but at least now I can always check on him. And I do. All.the.time! He's going to roll his eyes at me when he's older, I just know it! But I don't care. He's my son and I'll worry all I want :P

Baby toes. So precious.

My final thought is less of a reflection and more of an encouragement to those pregnant after loss: it's ok. However you feel, it's ok. It's ok to be frustrated at little feet that just will not get out of your rib cage. It's ok to be both hopeful and fearful. It's ok not to put the car seat in the car until the day your baby is born (just make sure you have one ready). But most of all, it's ok to fall in madly in love with your sweet baby growing inside of you. Let yourself dream. Let yourself hope. It's ok.

My babies. Together. Well, as close as it gets!


All photos from the incredibly lovely and oh so talented Karen Pfeiffer.


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

There's a Box on the Shelf



There’s a box on the shelf.
It’s a pink box.
A pretty box.

It sits in the cupboard next to some flowers, under a handmade quilt and on top of some papers. Beside it sits a photo of a pretty little girl.

There’s a box on the shelf.
A box that rarely comes down.
A box that contains the memories of her.

I never imagined that all the belongings of my child could fit into a box. And yet they do. Some days it’s hard to comprehend that; other days it seems normal.

There’s a box on the shelf.
I know it is there.
One day I’ll open it again.

It used to be opened frequently but life seems too busy now. There’s no time to peacefully sit; there’s no time to reflect. I miss opening that box, I'm forgetting what is inside.

There’s a box on the shelf.
Last night it came down.
Last night it revealed memories otherwise forgotten.

The baby was asleep and the husband was busy. As I opened the box and gently picked up each item, emotions overwhelm me. I can smell her scent on the clothes and I discover a photograph I had forgotten about. A photograph that shows her baby brother’s hands are identical to hers. One more similarity between my babies. My heart is full.

There’s a box on the shelf.
A precious box. 
My treasure box.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

If I Could Go Back

If I could go back...

Would I say one more 'I love you'?
Would I give her one more kiss?
Would I give her an extra cuddle or maybe sing an extra song?

I couldn't sing an extra song, she is the song I sing. 
I couldn't give an extra cuddle, she's held within my heart.
There wouldn't be an extra kiss, I kissed her all I could. 
There would not be one more 'I love you' because I live that every day. 



Thursday, April 24, 2014

Easter Without My Baby

Sometimes I fight with myself about whether I should write about a particular issue or not. I had talked myself out of writing about Easter without my baby, until I read my friend's post about her broken Easter. Her honesty inspired me to be honest too, so here it goes...



This Easter sucked.
Big time.

And I feel like a bad Christian for even thinking it, yet alone saying it.

Easter is a time when Christians focus on the death and resurrection of Jesus. It's always there in the back of our minds, songs and sermons, after all, it's the event our faith is based on, but at Easter it becomes front and centre. Rightly so! I think it is wonderful that it makes us think more purposefully about such an important event. Last year, all I could focus on at Easter was Mary and how she had to watch her firstborn die. This year, my focus could not get away from the little sayings people use:

The day death died.

O death, where is your sting?

Death has been defeated.

Etc, etc.

I know that people have been using little phrases like that since, well, probably forever. And one of those sayings is a Bible verse, so I'm not against them entirely. But this Easter, it didn't seem to me that "death had died" or that death was in any way defeated. Because on the way to church on Sunday, we stopped in at the cemetery where my firstborn is buried. That is where death's sting is.

Death to me is not dead.

I see it when I look at my daughter's photos - the only photos I will ever have of her.

I am reminded of it when I look in my car's back seat and see only one car seat, not two.

I feel its power when the ache in my heart comes out in my tears.

Death to me is not defeated.

The Christian faith is about more than little statements or catchy phrases we use to summerise the most significant event in history. I know that. And I do believe that one day I will see Ariella in Heaven, alive. I believe that one day there will not be any death, pain or suffering. But right now there is. And as a result, Easter without my baby was just too hard.




Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Someone Remembered Her

I was up late a few nights ago and it got me thinking...



It's late. My son is sleeping peacefully in his cot and my husband is asleep beside me. The late hour means that is dark, and something about the darkness and being the sole person awake makes me feel reflective. I feel like I should be sad that my daughter died, normally that is how I feel. But I cannot feel that sadness because today is different.

Today, someone remembered her.

Today, someone bought me an Easter egg for each of my babies; one blue, one pink. Of course, neither baby is able to eat their egg. That job falls to me and my husband (what a shame). But that doesn't matter. What matters is that someone not only remembered, but also included, Ariella today. 

Because of that simple gesture today, I can sleep peacefully tonight. Because of that pink Easter egg, I'm going to sleep with a smile on my face. 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

TGP: Four Days of Gratefulness

I haven't been able to stay up to date on here with The Grateful Project, but I promise I've been grateful anyway! Here are my past four days:

DAY THREE

I'm so grateful for this little guy. He has brought me so much healing and I feel so blessed to be his mama. 

DAY FOUR

I'm grateful for a friend inviting me to her MOPS group. It was wonderful to see her, but to also meet some new people and have a lovely morning with them. I won't lie... I'm especially grateful for the chocolate bar!

DAY FIVE

I'm grateful for my Mum! She's pretty great!

DAY SIX

I'm grateful for the beautiful sunny day we had today. It was perfect weather to go for a walk to visit my girl and it was warm enough that my boy didn't get cold. It was also perfect weather for drying clothes and getting the lawn mowed - thanks hubby!


What have you been grateful for this weekend?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

TGP: Mums group in the park


Today I'm grateful for the mum's group I went to this morning. We met in the park next to this (mostly dry) creek. Not a great photo to represent this, but I only thought to take a photo after putting Levi in the car, so my options were limited! A friend invited me along last week and I felt very welcomed into the group. Today was my second time attending, and it was an interesting morning! My poor son was not very happy as he didn't get enough sleep for his morning nap. This led to him crying for a large chunk of the morning, which always is a struggle for me. I know it's not logical, but this is what goes through my mind when Levi is really upset:

Nothing I can do is making him happy or calm. I am failing my son. Failure. I failed Ariella. I couldn't keep her alive.

And then I cry. It's a battle to stay composed, especially in front of a group of people; I didn't want to cry and look silly. But as the tears began to fall, they were met with offers of help, words of encouragement, prayer and a hug. I didn't feel silly for crying, I felt normal. It's hard to know how many of my struggles are because Ariella died and what is "normal" for any parent. I think that most of the time, it is both. But today, I actually felt normal. That doesn't happen all that often. 

So ladies, I doubt that many of you will see this. But for those who do - I am very grateful for all of you. Thank you for your help, patience and encouragement this morning, it meant more than you will ever know.


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

TGP: The mobile above the change table



Today I'm thankful for the mobile above my son's change table. It makes him so happy when he looks at it! Even if he's really upset, glimpsing this mobile is enough to make him stop crying and even giggle sometimes. There have been multiple times when I've taken him to look at it just to calm him down. 

What are you grateful for today?


Monday, March 31, 2014

Introducing The Grateful Project


My attitude hasn't been all that great lately. It's been too easy to see the things that are hard and complain about them rather than see the good things and be thankful for them. I knew something needed to change, and The Grateful Project was born. For the month of April, I will find one thing to be grateful for each day. I'll hopefully take a photo of whatever it is I am grateful for and share it here with all of you. I'd love to see what you are grateful for too!

I know a lot of readers are people who have lost children. And I know it can be SO hard to be thankful for things when the one thing (person) you desperately want is not with you. But will you join in? Even if you don't share publicly what it is you are grateful for, I encourage you to have a look around you each day and see the good things.

It's my hope that by doing The Grateful Project, it will be easier for me to have a positive attitude and be a little happier each day. I'll see if it works in 30 days time!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Always meant to be ours

When I got pregnant with Levi, I was excited, scared, thrilled and petrified. But above all the mixed emotions was one simple thought that I could not get out of my head for weeks: if Ariella had lived, this child would not have existed. You see, if our baby girl had lived, we would not have planned to get pregnant as soon as we did. I struggled with feeling guilty and wondered how I could love my second child whilst knowing that their existence was dependent on Ariella's death. It was really hard!

But then a dear friend suggested something to me. Maybe, just maybe, Levi was the child we were always going to have second; maybe all his sister's death did was bring his arrival forward in time. It was a comforting thought and one I tried to hold onto. A few months later, another friend said something very similar. After hearing it for a second time, I decided that I needed to believe it to be true. I assumed I would never really know for certain, but I liked the idea that Levi was always going to exist and that Ariella's death simply meant that he existed sooner.

By the end of my pregnancy, I had forgotten all about those thoughts. I had forgotten my initial worries and feelings completely and never thought about what Ariella's death meant in relation to my second child. After Levi was born, I had a lot of bad dreams about things happening to him. But I also had one dream that was oh so lovely while I was asleep but heartbreaking when I awoke. I dreamt that it was a lovely weekend morning, and Marcus and I were laying in bed with our two children - a curly haired, sweet faced two year old girl and a darling little baby boy. I woke up with tears streaming down my face because that dream would never be my reality. It made me miss by baby girl even more as it showed me what I would never have. For weeks I hated that dream.

And then I realised what it meant. It wasn't Ariella and some baby. It was Ariella and Levi. Ariella AND Levi both existing, just with a larger age gap between them. I don't believe that every dream is significant or has meaning (thankfully, as I can have some strange ones....drummer for Jimmy Barnes' band? I don't think so!) but I do believe that the dream I had of my two children was from God. It has put to rest any question as to whether Levi only exists because Ariella died. In the dream, both of my children were alive and the gap between their ages was closer to the gap I would have hoped for if Ariella had lived.

Levi William, always meant to be ours.


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Guest Posts Galore!

Today seems to be the day for guest posts! You can find me over at Still Breathing, where I wrote a love letter to a mother pregnant again after loss:
Dearest mumma,
You are so brave. I know you probably don’t think you are, but please know that you are braver than you realize. If you’re anything like me, your pregnancy after loss is the hardest thing you have done since you said goodbye to your precious baby. I became pregnant just ten short weeks after my daughter was stillborn. Never had I felt such a strange mix of emotions – I was elated to know that at least one of my children was alive but I was so very scared that I was going to experience another loss. It takes courageto have another baby after loss; it takes bravery to face each new day. Pregnancy after loss is a long journey and you, sweet mumma, are the bravest of all mothers... click here to continue reading.


You can also pop over to Life and Grace where I am sharing some advice on how to show love to a friend who is pregnant after a loss:
When my first child Ariella Jade was stillborn last January, I knew that I wanted to get pregnantagain and have another baby. My arms felt so empty and while no subsequent children could replace Ariella, I believed that having a living baby in my arms would bring me immense healing. And I was right – the birth of my son Levi on January 4 has helped me to heal in ways I didn’t imagine. But my pregnancy with him was without a doubt the most worrying and anxiety filled weeks of my life. You see, it was hard not to expect history to repeat itself and for that pregnancy to also end in loss. The only way I survived those intense 38 weeks was through prayer and the support of my family, medical staff and friends. Here are some ways that you can show a friend L.O.V.E. if you want to support a friend who is pregnant after a loss (please excuse the corny acronym, but it fits!)... click here to continue reading.


And while I'm at it, I don't think I shared the link to my January Still Standing article, which also happened to be about pregnancy after loss. In it, I share honestly the thoughts in my mind as I approached the end of my pregnancy:
When I got pregnant after my daughter’s stillbirth, I knew it wouldn’t be an easy nine months. Between worrying about people’s reactions (because contrary to popular opinion, this pregnancy will not ‘fix’ me) and constant concern over whether the baby is moving enough, it has been a very draining time. There are still a few weeks to go. People can tell me it is going to be okay and try to be reassuring but it just does not help. They say this Christmas without Ariella will be hard, but next Christmas it will be different. But how do they know? My mind races and over thinks absolutely everything, just as it has from the moment that second line showed on the pregnancy test. Because here’s the thing: in my experience, I have babies and they die. One pregnancy, one loss...click here to continue reading.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

I Never Knew

I never knew it would hurt this much. That almost 13 months later the pain would be just as raw even if the tears don't always flow so freely. 

I never knew it would be so hard to use basic terminology. That words like dead, funeral and grave would be replaced by stillborn, service and special place because my broken heart can barely cope with using the others in connection with my daughter. 

I never knew that I could feel so much guilt for something that wasn't my fault. That I would have to battle so hard against the lies of the enemy in order to simply glimpse the truth, yet alone believe it. 

I never knew how desperately I would wish that I could visit Heaven. That a beautiful sunset could bring me to tears as I wished the clouds were stairs. 


I never knew how frequently I would get asked if Levi was my first child. That at least once a week my heart would begin to pound as I worked out what to say. 

I never knew that sometimes I would answer yes to that question. That I would deny Ariella's existence to protect my heart from breaking or even just to save a stranger from feeling awkward.

I never knew I could miss someone so much. That my heart could be so full and so empty at the same time. 


Monday, February 10, 2014

The Loveliest of Gifts

In September 2013, a special baby boy was born. From what I understand, he was perfect. But sadly, just like my Ariella, this little boy was born still. I met this precious boy's mum through my blog and after Levi's birth, she sent me a gift that brought me to tears.

My friend has good taste in baby names; you see, her son's name is also Levi. And after my Levi's birth, she popped some very special items in a box and sent them to me: monogrammed items that were made with love for her Levi. I feel so honoured that she would share these items with me and my boy and I'm happy that these special items can get some use.



Thank you Stephanie, we will always treasure the items you sent. I desperately wish your Levi was the one who could wear them, but know you are in my thoughts as my Levi makes use of them.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Heaven's Got a Plan For You

On January 28 2013, we were eagerly anticipating the birth of our first child. I was just under 39 weeks pregnant and my midwife came for what we thought would be a routine check-up. Instead, we discovered that our precious baby had already gone to Heaven. To say it was awful would be an understatement. Later that week, my husband and I went shopping for a dress to bury Ariella in. It was a very challenging experience - not only did we have to spend time in the baby section of shops (which tend to be filled with parents and little babies...) but it was very difficult to find a dress in her size, yet alone a dress good enough to be her forever dress. I felt like I was on the edge of a breakdown the entire time, until I heard the voice of God in this song that was playing in one of the stores:

Don't you worry, don't you worry child
See Heaven's got a plan for you
Don't you worry, don't you worry child...

To this day, I can't decide if what I heard in the song was God speaking about me or Ariella. Was it the voice of my Father God, calling me His child and reminding me that He had a plan even in the midst of our tragedy? Or was He telling me that He had a plan for Ariella? Or was it both?

I think it was both. As we wandered through the shops doing something I never wanted to do, I needed to know that God was still in control, that He still had a plan for my life. But I also needed to know that there was a plan for Ariella that hadn't stopped just because she had died. One year later and I cannot say that I know what either plan is. I don't know what God is going to do with my life or Ariella's legacy, but I know He'll do something. Over the past year I've had the privilege of getting to know some incredible women, sharing with them in this grief journey and honouring the lives of their babies. I'm grateful for those whom I have met and the impact they have had on me.

I cannot say I am grateful for the events of this day last year, but I am grateful for the knowledge that God still has a plan.


Don't you worry, don't you worry child...

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Ariella's Birthday Week

Next week is a significant week - it's the one year anniversary of Ariella's death and her first birthday. I have to be honest and say that it's quite difficult to think about those days. But no matter how hard those days seem to be, I still want to celebrate our girl. My friend Sarah had a "birthday week" to celebrate her little Evie. I loved the idea and decided to do likewise for Ariella. Will you join us as we spend the week celebrating the life our little girl had?


I've put together a range of different things you could do to celebrate Ariella throughout the week. If you choose to celebrate with us, please let us know.
-Take a photo and share it with us via Facebook or Instagram using the hashtag #celebratingariellajade 
-Send a message telling us what you have done in her memory
-Leave a comment on this post 

For those who want to donate in her memory, three organisations have helped us a lot.
  • Heartfelt: provided our gorgeous photos of Ariella. Many of you donated to the camera project for my birthday and enough money was raised to completely cover two kits and half of another (Heartfelt covered the other half). If you would like, you could donate so that Heartfelt have to contribute less towards that third kit. My fundraising page has closed, but you can donate via the website and just write in the comments that it is in memory of Ariella Jade for the camera kits.
  • Pregnancy Loss Australia: gave us a care package on the day we found out Ariella had died. It included a teddy bear so that we had something in our arms when we left hospital. You can donate in Ariella's name and provide a teddy/care package for another grieving family.
  • Sands: provide great ongoing support. I went to a support meeting and it was the first and only place where my grief has felt normal. They rely heavily on donations and you can donate in Ariella's name.


Please feel no obligation to donate, but I thought I would suggest a few options if that is something you would like to do. Thank you in advance for any way you choose to remember and celebrate Ariella Jade next week. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Welcome to the World

If I don't post much over the next few weeks, here's the reason why:

Levi William
January 4, 2014
5:37pm
2.95kg (6lb 8oz)
48.5cm (19")

About 15 hours old

Isn't he just the sweetest? I had an appointment with my midwife at the hospital on Friday afternoon, and while there, contractions started. We decided to stay at the hospital until birth, but after a few hours I fell asleep and woke up in the morning to discover that labour had stopped! We were grateful for the sleep and that I didn't have to labour through the night again (like with Ariella), but it did mean that I needed help to get labour started again. After about 7 hours of labour, our little Levi was born.

With Ariella's Lioness; my two babies

Words really can't describe the relief we felt when he was born. I finally had a baby who curled up. I'm told he did a few little cries as my midwife passed him to me, but I don't remember that. All I remember is that he was curled up. I was mesmorised and he was alive. That's all that mattered. We feel truly blessed to have him with us and one of the best feelings I have ever felt was walking out of the birth centre with him in my arms. I didn't have to leave him there and in the words of my midwife, you couldn't wipe the smile off my face! 

Loving holding my boy close

We came home the following afternoon and have been enjoying having our precious boy with us at home. Everyone always talks about the loss of sleep when there's a newborn but I am actually sleeping better the past six nights than I have since we found out Ariella had died. Levi wakes once or twice a night for a nappy feed and then goes back to sleep, and after 12 months of waking closer to a dozen times a night due to grief and anxiety, I'm loving only waking a few times and being greeted by this face:

Sweetly awake, 1.5 days old
A number of people have asked us why we chose the name Levi William. Well, Levi means promise. We knew from the start that God had promised us this child, so there was no doubt that this name was meant to be his. William means resolute protector. God has big plans for this little boy and we know he will grow up to protect his siblings, both Ariella's memory and any future siblings should they happen. 

So there you have it. He's here, he's safe, I don't have to give him back. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to go stare at my baby :)


 
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