8 weeks.

Eight weeks ago our baby boy was born.  Eight weeks ago our baby boy’s heart beat on this earth outside of the womb for a little less than 2 hours.  Eight weeks ago our baby boy died.  Eight weeks seems to be really hard for us.  Seven weeks and six days was ok but something about today has been really hard.

 

We went to church this morning, and it was really hard.  It’s like our pastor had it out for us 🙂  The message was one of encouragement but was really, really hard to hear as the truth of it is that we are in a really really hard place.

 

 

Tommy and I have talked about how we want to be ok.  How we wish we were ok.  For 8 weeks now, I’ve told everyone that we’re ok.  Maybe a better answer is that we’re not ok, but we will be.  Because how can you be ok just 2 months out from losing your baby?  But we know, or we trust, that we will be ok.  That our hearts won’t break every day.  That doing life will get easier.

 

 

Today we are sweetly remembering our baby boy.

 

Gabriel + 325

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cars everywhere.

My 2 year old is obsessed with cars.  Matchbox cars have taken over our house.  I bought some at a consignment sale almost a year ago, and he had no interest in them.  One day recently, he picked them up and has officially become obsessed.  He has his favorites — purple car, little jeep, blue truck, blue car.  But he’s happy with any car.  They come to the table for meals, they join him in his bed while he sleeps, they ride in the car with us, he holds them while he reads books.

 

 

jeep

 

 

 

lunch

 

 

 

reading

 

 

 

riding

 

 

cooking

 

 

 

[Cars everywhere.  And I promise the boy does wear shirts.  And he doesn’t take things out of the oven or off the stove either.  He just likes to wear my oven mitts.]

 

_______________

Yesterday was Jack’s six month check up with the ENT doctor.  It’s been six months since he had his 2nd set of tubes put in and his adenoid out.  And the six months has gone by remarkably fast!  We’ve been to plenty of doctor’s appointments, but not for Jack.  It was a nice break for him.  Yesterday the PA looked in Jack’s ears and didn’t say anything.  Once he had finished the physical exam, I asked him if everything looked ok, since he didn’t say anything.  He paused — a moment that I am all too familiar with — and said Jack’s tubes are falling out.  This is very disappointing to me — ear infections bring out the worst in me.  But this is not that bad.  Six months ago, I thought my battle in life might be having a kid with really bad ears.  A healthy child with bad ears is a delight that I welcome now.

 

Tommy and I have learned that you never want to shock the doctors.  It’s never a good thing.  We’ve done it a lot lately.  Jack has now surprised the ENT twice with how early his tubes have come out.  “It just doesn’t happen,” he says.  I’ve heard that quite a bit lately.  Twice about Jack’s tubes coming out early, and about two 20-something people having a Trisomy 18 baby.  So I’m disappointed that the safety net of the tubes has gone away.  I’d be lying to say that I was ok with hearing that his tubes are no longer functioning.  But after having a child with severe disabilities, with a massive heart defect, with a condition that didn’t allow him to live very long, tubes and ears just aren’t that big of a deal anymore.  Jack is so healthy.  We’ve known what it’s like to worry over the life of a child.  Actually, with both of our children.  So as I struggle with gearing myself up for more ear problems, I must remember a bigger perspective — Jack is here and I get to love on him all the time.  We’ll deal with the ears as we have to.

 

 

 

love having them.

Yesterday morning one of my friends asked me if I’d read Ann Voskamp’s blog that day.  I hadn’t yet, and she told me about it and suggested I read it.  Angie Smith was guest posting, and I love Angie Smith.  I had actually never heard of her before this year.  But a couple of weeks after we found out about Gabriel’s diagnosis, a sweet family from our church in Maryland sent us her book.  I read it in a couple of days.  She’s a beautiful writer, her blog is great, so are her books, and what really draws me to her is that she, too, has lost a baby.  Her story is different yet very similar to mine.  Our babies had different diagnoses, she has girls, I have boys, we live in different cities, she’s very well-known, I am so not, but the biggest  commonality we have is that we’ve both experienced what it’s like to carry a child you know you will never get to raise here.

 

She lost her baby several years ago, and one of the things I love about her writing is that her baby is always in her life.  Yesterday she wrote a beautiful post about a very scary situation she had with her oldest daughter.  In that she mentioned that it brought back memories she tries to run from every day.  I knew exactly what she meant.  I live this constant balance between embracing our story, embracing what’s happened in our lives – in Gabriel’s life – and trying to run from it.  Every day I run from the memories of burying my child.  I run from the memories of walking into the funeral home to see my baby’s body.  I run from the memories of handing our baby over to a nurse, knowing I’d never kiss him or hold him again.  I will always remember these things and so many others.  Always.  And I think I will also always run from them. But the thing about running from memories is that you can never outrun them.  And maybe that’s ok, because those are things that I always want to remember, even when I don’t feel like I want to.

 

 

Another thing Angie said in her post was:  “I want to love having her more than I fear losing her.”  And this hit me so very deeply.  You see, I find myself living in fear a lot.  I’ve always struggled with fear; it’s not a new thing to me.  But it is intensified now, especially when it comes to my husband and my oldest son.  But I want to love having them more than I fear losing them.  It couldn’t be said in any better way.  There are so many moments, so many days, where all of us get caught up in the fear around us.  I could operate in that mode, trying to protect them and keep them mine forever, but that’s a terrible way to live.  I want to be able to reflect on our days together and be able to think about how much I loved them, not how much I was afraid of what might happen to them.  It’s a concept that is very freeing and encouraging, but one that is also so challenging to surrender to every day.

 

You can find the post on Ann Voskamp’s blog here.  And Angie Smith’s blog here.

reminders from God.

People who have lost someone, particularly those who have lost a child, talk about looking for little signs that remind you that your baby is in the arms of God.  They say to look for rainbows and butterflies and things like that.  To me, it always seemed cheesy.  To think that a butterfly floating by is somehow supposed to bring comfort to the fact that my baby isn’t here always seemed pointless to me.  But I have had a couple of moments recently that have been gifts, reminders from God that He is near and that my Gabriel is with him.

 

A couple of weeks ago, I conquered some big things — some “firsts” since I’d last done them when Gabriel was with us.  So feeling a little braver I went to visit Gabriel’s grave by myself for the first time.  Tommy and Jack and I have been a lot, but it was my first time going solo.  It was really hard and also really good.  I love where his body is buried.  I love the whole cemetery and I particularly love the part where he is.  It’s in the back, so it’s quiet and there’s hardly anyone driving by.  It’s so peaceful and so beautiful.  I parked my car and just sat there where my baby is buried, sitting with him for awhile.  It had been raining earlier that day, so I sat on my rainjacket and spent some time just the two of us.  And several times while I was there, the wind blew strongly and perfectly through, reminding me that God was there, and more importantly, that God had my baby with Him.

 

 

Then last night, I had a similar but different reminder.  I got to take some friends over to show them where Gabriel is buried.  It was very special to me to get to show them that little spot that has become so familiar and second nature to us now.  We went very late at night and as we all got out and I showed them the area, someone noticed a bunch of lightning bugs.  It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen in nature.  They weren’t flying around the cemetery so much as they were in the trees that lined the side opposite from where Gabriel is buried.  And they just flashed and flashed in the trees.  It was awesome and unlike anything I’ve seen before.  And it was undoubtedly a gift from God.  A reminder of His presence, and a reminder that Gabriel is in a place far, far better than we are.  We miss him greatly here, but he is with the maker of the fireflies.

 

And so I’ve learned that things in nature are great gifts from God.  That they are reminders that my littlest one is in the hands of God and that God is sad with me now even though He knows the greater purposes.

a long time.

Y’all are so kind to continue reading my blog.  Even though I haven’t posted in nearly 3 weeks, and have barely posted in the past 7, people are still reading.  So thanks for reading.  Thanks for loving our family.

 

I think my absence on here has led some people to wonder just how I’m doing and if I’m ok.  There have been some times in the past 7 weeks where I’m ok and some where I’m not.  There have been some times where I’m happy and many where I’m not.  There have been normal rhythms of life and then they’re just as quickly interrupted.

 

I do have lots to share.  A lot has happened in the past month plus.  And I want to recap more of Gabriel time — his birthday, his burial, his celebration service.  I will be working on writing those posts.  I’m also working on real life stuff.  Mail piles up so quickly, doesn’t it?  I’ve been going through stacks of mail and bills.  I started cooking again last week.  Thanks to some really wonderful people, I was able to squeeze a full 6 weeks with no cooking.  Craziness.

 

 

Our updates:

 

I’ve been very frustrated lately with my physical health.  I had to make 2 trips to the ER and have had some problems with my heart, among other things.  We’re thankful that it doesn’t appear to be anything serious, but is hopefully all driven by hormone changes during this peripartum time.  I find myself being full of self pity as to why I can’t just have a normal recovery.  But I’ve been reminded that hormones can do some crazy things and do control a lot.  I never knew they could play a role in my heart and electrolytes, but we’re hopeful things will be well controlled now that I’ve started taking a new medicine.  I’m also remembering that self pity is a terrible thing.  I’m very thankful for my friends who continue to love me through healthy days and crazy heart beat days, through “more sane” days and just crazy days.  God has given us really great people in our lives.

 

 

Gabriel —

We got pictures from the Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep photographer, and they’re amazing.  They are the most beautiful pictures of our sweet Gabriel.  I will share some of them soon and share more about the NILMDTS organization.  These people have been such a blessing to our family, and the pictures of Gabriel have brought me great comfort and joy already.

 

Depending on your point of view, we are either dragging our feet or taking our time on the marker for Gabriel’s grave.  I got an email a couple of weeks ago from the woman at the cemetery saying the template for his market was in.  I haven’t opened the email yet.  It seems really final to give our “OK” for what will forever mark where his body is buried.

 

 

Jack —

Jack was a pretty perfect kid for about 5 weeks.  The 5 weeks after Gabriel was born, Jack was so so well-behaved.  He made our lives easier.  It was definitely a blessing not to have to handle a typical 2 year old for a little while while we started grieving.  Now I can report that our two year old Jack is back in full force 🙂   He’s still an awesome kid.  He always has been.  And he is so full of joy, like always, and has the sweetest heart, like always.  But tantrums and tempers and emotions have kicked back in, and our boy is back to keeping us on our toes.  And as long as our toes are outside doing what he wants to be doing, then we’re all good.

 

He had his 2 year old check up recently and is very healthy.  Something I do not take for granted.  Our pediatrician is wonderful and very interested in both of our boys.  So at Jack’s check up we talked about both of our boys, and I was happy to be able to show him our Gabriel pictures and tell him all about our second son.  He had wanted to be there when Gabriel was born, but we forgot to call him.  So Jack is very healthy.  He weighed in just shy of 33 pounds, which puts him over the 90th percentile for weight.  He’s 35 inches tall, making him above the 50th percentile for length.  He is a big boy who now talks all the time.  We spend our days being very active and now talking a lot!  He wants to know what everything is and how to say it, and he wants to make sure he is saying it correctly and being heard correctly.  We’re really starting to be able to have good conversations with him, which is a lot of fun.

 

 

So, we’re here.  I’m still here.  Writing has been a bit intimidating to me, and I’ve been so tired that it’s hard for me to stay up and write like I used to do.  So now I’m going to go watch the Bachelorette.  Judge away.

funny boy.

For the past few days Jack has been staring very intensely at my face when I’m talking to him.  It’s been in moments where we’re face-to-face and he has been looking so sweetly into my face — just staring at me — that I’ve found it just dreamy.  It’s warmed my heart so much, and I’ve loved those moments thinking how sweet he is and how much he must love me.

 

Then today he did the same thing again, and when I was mid-way through telling him something he started pointing at my mouth saying “bubbles bubbles”.  Apparently the dreamy stares I’ve been getting were just him staring at spit bubbles in my mouth.

 

Glad my 2 year old is keeping me grounded.