normal.

People talk about life getting back to normal.  A “new normal” they say.  Normal is such a weird word.  Our lives are anything but normal and it’s hard to imagine they will be.  But I know it will come.  It seemed impossible that we would ever live a normal life after finding out about Gabriel’s T18.  But soon enough I found myself living life, doing things just like I used to.  Obviously, it wasn’t the same as before, but we had found our “new normal”.  And we lived in that for a long time.  17 weeks really.  It shifted some as things happened and there was always the waiting.  It’s hard to live life with a giant cloud of uncertainty hanging over your head.  The when, the how of it all was a lot.  We knew an end was going to come sooner or later.  We knew that any day I could stop feeling him move.  We knew that we could go in to any doctor’s appointment, any ultrasound, and there be no heartbeat.  And we lived a “normal life” with all of this hanging over us for 17 weeks.

 

We also knew Gaby was different.  We knew he was strong and we knew he was beating the odds.  We didn’t live in fear, and looking back on it I find that surprising and amazing.  How one has a constant cloud of impending death hanging over them and doesn’t live in fear or become consumed by that is beyond me.  See how this was so not us?  I hope that no one looks at our lives, looks at Gaby’s story, and thinks we’re really good people.  That’d be a shame.  I hope people look at us and think those are some really broken people who have got to have something bigger holding them up.  Because that is the truth of how it is.

 

So a little over 3 weeks ago I was terrified of anything being normal.  I was terrified of people moving on, getting back to their lives, when ours would never be the same.  I was mostly just terrified of people forgetting our sweet baby.  I have some wonderful people who have promised me that they will never forget our boy.  And I believe them and trust them with all of my heart.  So I was able to come to peace with people moving on.  But we didn’t just yet.  We had more time to be in a bubble.  We spent 17 1/2 straight days together all the time — Tommy and I did.  And that 2nd week Tommy, Jack, and I spent a lot of time together.  I call it our little family bubble.  It was safe and glorious and unfortunately had to pop.  And when it did, when Tommy went back to work, I realized life outside the bubble wasn’t so safe and was really hard.  I hated that we had to have a “new normal”.  What a terrible term.  I liked normal with Gabriel.  I was disgusted by the thought of having a normal life without him.  And now I’m sad to say that not even 2 weeks later, we are settling into that very thing.  Days are becoming routine again.  And life is moving on and it’s ok and it’s so very not.  I wish I was more upset about our new normal, like I was a week and a half ago.  I wish I was still fighting it, rather than settling into it surprisingly well.  I wish I thought deeply about Gabriel more than I do.  I wish it didn’t feel like he was born forever ago.  I wish my biggest reminder of his birth wasn’t the 3 bruises on my spine from the worst epidural ever.

 

But instead we are settling in over here in some state of normalcy as the 3 musketeers who have been through so much together, deeply missing our 4th family member.

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today i feel.

Privileged.  Today I feel so very privileged.  Privileged to have walked this journey.  Privileged to be Gabriel’s mama.  Privileged to have a baby who is with Jesus now.  Now know that I don’t always feel this.  Actually, this is a rare feeling for me, but I have felt it strongly today.  Often I feel sad, upset, angry, jealous, hurt, lonely.  I also feel blessed, thankful, joyful, and even some times happy.

 

I feel a lot of things — often times things that are very conflicting.  It might be a normal part of grief, I’m not sure — maybe if I ever read any of those grief books I’ll get an idea if I’m the odd one out.  I’m guessing that I’m not, though.  Most of the time I always feel 2 ways.  I’m always thankful that Gabriel was born alive and that we got to spend time with him.  And I always feel like it wasn’t enough time.  Some moments, even some days, one of those feelings outweighs the other.  But they’re always both there.  Some times I learn about another Trisomy 18 baby that died in the womb and I’m so thankful ours didn’t.  And the feelings of thankfulness for that outweigh the grief of his short life.  Then the next day I see a picture of someone’s new baby, and I’m devastated all over again that mine isn’t here.  He never was meant to be here long, but it wasn’t enough time.  Some times one feeling outweighs the other, but they’re both always there. 

 

I miss my baby a lot.  Writing makes me miss him more.  Being still.  Thinking about him.  Remembering the details of him, make my body hurt because my heart aches so heavily.  But today, I had this glimpse that gave me a different perspective.  Tomorrow, I’m sure my feelings of being privileged will be gone and I’ll be on to feeling something new or back to feeling something familiar.  But today I am thankful for this perspective.

 

Sometimes when I watch my friends with their babies I am jealous.  I am so thankful for their children and so thankful that their babies are healthy — I would never wish it another way!  And most of the time, I don’t think anything about it.  But occasionally, I find myself jealous of their sweet babies they get to love on and care for and raise into fine human beings.  But today, I thought that I have something that they don’t, that most people don’t.  My baby — my child of my own flesh and blood — is in Heaven with Jesus as we speak.  And while there have been plenty of moments in the past few weeks where that doesn’t comfort me, today I find it a privilege.  Today I feel as if a part of me is in Heaven and that’s a privilege not many people get.

 

We’ve been entrusted with this really important journey.  And I’m really still not sure why.  I probably won’t ever really know.  I’m thankful that I’ve seen some fruit from it, and I hope that there continues to be much fruit that comes from Gabriel’s life.  But today I was reminded of the great responsibility that comes with us being Gabriel’s parents.  God didn’t just pick anyone to parent him, to walk this journey.  And don’t misread what I’m saying here — I don’t think we’re awesome in any way, but I do think that Tommy and I were specifically chosen to be Gabriel’s parents and with that comes great responsibility.  There’s a lot that I haven’t written about here.  Gabriel’s birth is one of those things.  I haven’t decided yet how much of the day I want to share and how much of the day I want to be sacred and known only in our hearts and minds.  But one of the things that happened that day, was that we had a nurse taking care of us who had also lost her baby.  I remember she came up beside me, at some point during that night, leaned in close and told me she lost her baby pretty early at 16 weeks, and that his name was Gabriel.  She told me that she believes God chose us to lose our babies because we would love them so well.  And that we did.  We loved our Gaby so well.  We still do.  We always will.  We also took and continue to take the responsibility of having this child, with his condition, and his story very seriously.  It’s a story that is worthy of being told.  It’s a story that has planted seeds and we will continue to sow them and watch them grow.  It’s a story that needs to be stewarded well.  And today I was reminded that it is a privilege to be the one who does that.  To be the mama not with 2 kids in my house but the mama with one child here and with a baby in Heaven.  If my baby is with the Lord, then surely that brings me closer to Him, right?  So while these thoughts today have brought comfort, they have also brought a heavy load of tears.  Being privileged is a blessing but it’s heavy and carries with it a lot of weight and heartache as well.

he’s 2.

Our firstborn, our sweet baby boy #1, is 2 years old today.  Two years old.  I can hardly believe it, but at the same time it feels like he’s been our little buddy for forever.  I tell him all the time he’s my favorite person.  Obviously Tommy and Gabriel are my favorites, too, but that’s just one of my things I tell Jack often.

 

birthdayjack2

 

He is the most incredible little person.  He’s so loving, so full of life, so caring, so passionate.  I’ve never known anyone like him, and I’m so thankful for him.  He is the biggest blessing to us, and we are so acutely aware of that, especially now.  I have a lot more I want to say about our Jack Jack, and I have a lot of the sweet little things that he does right now that I want to share and have written down here.  But I’m tired, it’s an emotionally exhausting weekend, and I’m going to watch tv and go to bed.  So soon, when I have more emotional energy, I will share more details about our sweet boy.

 

 

birthdayjack

 

 

anni-Jacka-birthday.

Well kids, our weekend is here.  Today is Day 1 of the Anni-Jacka-Birthday weekend.  Tommy coined the term “Anni-Jacka-Birthday” 2 years ago when Jack was born on the day in between our anniversary and my birthday. Tommy and I were married on May 24th, Jack was born 2 years later on May 25th, and my birthday is May 26th.  Actually, this year it’s my golden birthday.  We keep saying that we’re going to go to the beach for the week every year, but things keep coming up — like due dates on my birthday.  Jack and Gabriel were both due on May 26th, so that adds some extra weight to my birthday this year.  I think the time Gabriel came was absolutely perfect, but the 26th is a big reminder of him.

 

So this is typically our party week – several reasons to celebrate big.  When we found out we were due May 26th again with baby #2, it was crazy!  What are the odds of my due date being my birthday… twice!  So we envisioned adding another birthday onto the Anni-Jacka-Birthday week.  Tommy was pulling for the 23rd .  That was until that January day where our world turned upside down.

 

So normally I get really excited about this time, but this year I don’t feel like celebrating much.  Sunday will be 3 weeks since Gabriel was born and then passed away.  It doesn’t seem right to have a big weekend celebrating when we don’t have him here with us.  I know people will tell me that he’d want us to celebrate and all of that stuff.  I’m sure it’s true, but that doesn’t change how I feel.  So this year we’re balancing and having a hybrid sort of Anni-Jacka-Birthday.  We definitely want to celebrate these things and celebrate our sweet Jack turning 2 [!!!!]  but it’s not the big weekend it normally would be.  I couldn’t do a party for Jack this year.  I knew Gabriel would come before his due date so that made it hard to plan a party early, and I knew I just wouldn’t be able to do it after Gabriel was born this year.  Jack will be fine, mostly because he’s awesome, but also because he’s turning 2, so he probably won’t know the difference.  We plan on spending the day doing special things with him and then we’ll celebrate his birthday with both of our families this weekend.  We’ll make sure he’s well celebrated.

 

 

So on to today — our anniversary.  Some words for my husband.

 

Four years ago on this day I never could have imagined where our lives would lead.  I couldn’t have dreamed that we would have moved 4 times, bought 2 houses, worked on one all the time, got a puppy, survived that, crazily got another puppy, got really great starts on our careers in DC, got to move home, and had 2 babies.  We made it through the crazy new parent, newborn phase.  We made it through not knowing if Jack would make it after he was born so sick.  I never in a million years could have dreamed how sweet our Jack would be and how much we’d love being parents, or what road we would walk with our Gabriel.  I never would have thought on our 4th anniversary that we’d have 2 kids and have lost one of them.  But somehow through all of that, we are closer and stronger.  When the trials have come, when the biggest fire of all started us off this year, we drew closer to God and closer to each other and he’s made us see that we’re each others greatest ally.  I’m really thankful that in these past few weeks, my greatest comfort, my favorite thing in the dark days is talking with you.  Or just sitting with you as the heavy silence speaks volumes over us.  I’m thankful for you, Tommy.  And as hard as life’s been this year, I know for sure I couldn’t have gotten through it without you by my side.  Here’s to many more years, love!

 

wedding

update.

I have so much to write about.  I want to write about Gabriel’s birth day.  I want to write about his burial.  I want to write about his celebration.  I want to write about how I feel.  I want to write.  And I don’t want to write.

 

I think one of the things that’s surprised me most about this mourning and grief thing is the simultaneous conflicting emotions.  I want to write/ I don’t want to write.  I’m ok/ I’m not ok.  It’s only been 2 weeks/ It feels like it’s been forever.  I’m thankful Gabriel was born alive/ It wasn’t enough time with him.  I’m so thankful he isn’t suffering here/ I’d take care of a special needs baby and I want him here with me now.  I am thankful he’s with Jesus/ I’d be a really good mom to him here.  Life goes on/ How does life go on.

 

People keep asking how we’re doing.  What we say is that we’re ok.  We’re not good, we’re not bad.  We’re still here and we’re ok.  I think the #1 question we were asked at the celebration was how Jack is doing and does he understand.  So since so many people have asked, I thought I’d post that answer here since I’m sure more people are wondering.

 

Jack is awesome.  He’s never ever been so happy as he has the past 2 weeks.  Ever.  He is a happy kid and he always has been.  But he has laughed so purely, so joyfully, so loudly, SO MUCH since Gabriel was born.  He’s been pretty easy on us — active as usual — but pretty easy.  And he has just been so full of life and so joyful.  He loves his family and has enjoyed all of the time with them and all of the attention he has been getting.  We recognize that this is all a gift.  That his loving heart and cheerful personality are a gift to us, a gift to help us through this time.  We are so thankful for him.  We are thankful that our house is noisy.  We are thankful we trip over toys.  We are thankful for the little voice that says the same word one hundred times, until you acknowledge it, and then after you acknowledge it, he says it fifty times more.  He’s the best.  But it doesn’t make losing Gabriel any easier.  It helps in many ways, and he keeps our hearts full, but it doesn’t take anything away.  There’s a misconception that because you have another child or children, that it’s easier to lose one.  Anyone who has lost a child will tell you that’s not true.  Even if we have 10 children, our hearts will always ache for Gabriel.  Tommy said the other day that in 20 years we will take a family picture and no matter what our family looks like at that time, we will see a hole in the picture where Gabriel should be.  Every time I think about that, I can’t help but cry.  He’s so right.

 

I don’t want to take anything away from Jack.  He is the most joyful kid in the world.  And he is propelling us through these days.  He makes us get out of bed in the morning.  He makes us laugh all the time.  He is proof that there is hope.  But we’re parents of 2 children now, not just one.  So we think about both of our children, just like any parents would.  And just because most people only see one of our boys, doesn’t mean anything less for our second boy.

 

In terms of Jack’s understanding of everything, I think he gets it.  A lot.  I honestly believe that he has a deep understanding that is beyond what we can understand.  I believe that he knows we need him to smile and laugh.  I believe that he knows he’ll see his brother again one day.  I believe he understands that Gabriel was sick and is now with Jesus.  Does he understand everything like we do?  No, of course not.  But I think he understands things in ways we cannot.  I think he has an innocence that us adults have long lost.  And when I tell him that “Mommy’s sad because baby Gabriel isn’t here with us anymore” and he says “Ok” and then gets back to playing, I think he knows what I’m saying and his response is just perfect.

 

We are having a lot of fun with our little guy here.  And we are doing ok.

celebration.

Just another reminder that this evening is Gabriel’s celebration.  We are so excited to celebrate his life and are so thankful to have people who have been supporting us through this whole journey be there with us.  We are really excited to see y’all and say thank you for loving us, thinking about us, praying for us, and blessing us in so many ways.  And in case we don’t say those things today [which we probably won’t], please know we want to say those things and we mean it so much.

You’re probably sick of hearing this, but the information again in case someone needs it:

7 pm.  Fellowship Church.  And I forgot to mention before that we’ll be having a brief receiving of friends starting at 6 pm.

we’re celebrating.

Just wanted to post real quick to remind and share with anyone who hasn’t heard that tomorrow is Gabriel’s celebration service.

 

 

Tomorrow — Saturday, May 18th, at 7 pm at Fellowship Church — we will be celebrating Gabriel.  We’re looking forward to celebrating his life, how he’s changed us, and all the joy of our sweet baby boy.

 

 

We hope to see you there!

many many thanks.

I didn’t think I’d be writing on the blog again so soon.  But yesterday I needed to write.  I needed to document our day so that I can always look back and read what I wrote on the day we buried Gabriel’s body.

 

In 3 hours, it will have been 5 days exactly since we met our sweet boy.  Crazy thing is that exactly 5 days ago I was just getting to the hospital.  But 5 days ago, we got our much anticipated moment of meeting Gabriel.  We held him in our arms.  We watched him and loved on him.  He was with us, and he was alive.  We are so thankful for that.  We want to share that our prayers were answered to meet our baby boy alive.  We want people to know that.  Yet, it would be a lie to say that we weren’t so so sad that he isn’t here with us now.  We so badly wanted him to be the baby that keeps going.  The one who defies all the odds.  We wanted a million moments to snuggle him and kiss him.  We wanted to take 10,000 pictures of him.  We wanted to bring him home.  We wanted minutes and we got hours, so we are so thankful.  But we also wanted a day, a week, a month, 99 days.  But none of those would have ever been enough.  We have hundreds of thoughts running through our heads.  Emotions that go up and down and back and forth.  Things I do want to share eventually.  But for now, know that we are so thankful, so blessed that our baby boy was alive with us.  We will never forget how it felt to hold him in our arms, yet at the same time, the details are already starting to fade away and the exact feelings of it all are getting fuzzy already and it’s terrifying.  Know that we are thankful that our baby never suffered here on earth.  Know that we are learning that as God tells us, there is no difference between an hour and one thousand years.  Know that we are comforted.  Know that we are aching.

 

And know that we are so thankful for you.  We have felt so loved and cannot imagine getting through this without all of your love.  Our words could never be enough to express how deep the gratitude and love runs in our hearts for you.  But in our weak attempt, we say thank you.

 

 

We do have some information we’d like to share.

 

 

We will be having a service celebrating Gabriel’s life next Saturday, May 18th at 7 pm at Fellowship Church.  We would love, and be very honored, for everyone to come celebrate his life with us.

 

 

We have been asked about where donations can be made in honor of Gabriel, and we have that set up now.  We are so incredibly touched by this and are so blessed that Gabriel’s life continues to bless others through memorial gifts.  Thank you for honoring our son in that way.  Please send memorial gifts to Soar Youth Ministries.

Soar Youth Ministries is a Christian after school and mentoring program serving at risk youth in the Lonsdale area.  They seek to make the love of God credible to hurting children through relationships grounded in Christ.  More information can be found on their website at soaruponwings.com

*Please be sure to note in the memo line that the donation is for Gabriel Morgan

Donations can be mailed to:

SOAR Youth Ministries

1317 Connecticut Ave. NW
Knoxville, TN 37921
(865) 544-5881

 

 

 

 

 

today.

Today we buried our baby boy.

 

Today we laid his physical body to rest forever.  Today we said goodbye to his body.

 

Today was a beautiful day.  If you’ve been reading our story, you know how much I’ve talked about rain.  After we found out Gabriel’s diagnosis, it rained for  nearly 2 weeks straight.  It seemed like every time I was going to the doctor’s office it would rain.  It rained so much during our pregnancy.  We always assumed that it would rain on this day as well.  But today started out beautiful and got even more beautiful.  The sun was shining, the temperature was perfect, the sky was blue and the clouds perfect.  It was the most beautiful day.  And we were so surprised.  And then we realized the significance behind it all.  Gabriel was sick and it rained and rained and rained.  He is now healed, and on the day that we said goodbye to his earthly body and  celebrated his life in Heaven, the sun broke through in an amazing way.  We know that today especially, God is celebrating having our Gabriel in Heaven with Him.  We know that Gabriel is healed.  That Gabriel is peaceful.  That Gabriel is not suffering.  We know that sunshine and beautiful weather are probably nothing compared to God’s glory that Gabriel is seeing in Heaven.

 

Today was hard.  Today was a beautiful day.  Today we had our family gather around us and say goodbye to our baby’s body.  We had an intimate gathering at the graveside where wonderful words of hope were spoken, a song of great love and hope was played on the guitar, and where my husband stood and spoke in honor of our son.  It was perfect.  Then everyone left except for Tommy and me and we sat by our little baby’s casket as the breeze blew in, listening to the birds chirp, just us for a short while.  Then the men came to bury his body and we stood at a distance and watched until they were finished.  His body rests peacefully now.  His soul is with our Father.  He is dancing with Jesus in Heaven.  Thanks be to God.

 

 

grave