Gabriel’s first birthday.

May 5th came and went just like that.  On Monday, we celebrated Gabriel’s first birthday.  A year ago he was born, and we held him in our arms and watched as he took breaths and listened as he let out sweet cries.  And we loved all over him, and we kissed his chunky cheeks so much.  And we spent hours just admiring every single thing about him.  It was such joy.

 

He passed away 2 hours later, so the same day that we celebrate his birth, we also celebrate his arrival in Heaven.  Monday was the first anniversary of his arrival in Heaven.  It would have been his first birthday if he had still been alive.  It marked one year since he was born — since I gave birth to our miracle baby.  It’s amazing how quickly this day arrived.  It’s so hard to believe it has been a year since we had him.  This time last year I dreaded being this far out.  I hated thinking about being so distanced from when I held him.  I hated thinking about the memories fading.  How I wouldn’t be able to feel him in my arms any more.

 

And it’s true that the memories have faded.  I can’t remember vividly what it felt like to hold him.  So many things have faded.  But I will never forget that day.  And when I close my eyes I can almost still smell how amazing he smelled that day.  I will always cling to what I can hold on to from our second son.

 

May 5th is a day worth celebrating, and we had a lot to celebrate this year.  I wanted to celebrate Gabriel’s birthday.  I wanted to celebrate that Gabriel is in Heaven, and I wanted to celebrate how far we have come — that we are still here, that we are survivors.  Sunday was more of a pensive day for me because I had Gabriel on a Sunday last year.  I kept remembering how I was in labor and when we went to the hospital and what time he was born.  I thought about that a lot on Sunday.  But on Monday, I just wanted to celebrate!  If Gabriel was alive we would have had a party for him and celebrated his life.  Gabriel was alive and is now in Heaven which gives us so much reason to celebrate.  So we had a really fun day!

 

We went to Dollywood!  I hadn’t been in over ten years, and Tommy and Jack had never been.  So we sun screened up and made the hour drive to have a great day.  And we did!  We had a blast!  It was just so much fun to be together as our little family — the 3 musketeers.  We call ourselves that because we are such a bonded unit and we have been through so much together.  The weather was gorgeous!  A little hot — or a lot hot to me — and so sunny and just perfect.  I was surprised at how many rides Jack could ride.  He LOVED it!  He wasn’t afraid and had so much fun.  The water ride we went on was my favorite, and he loved it, too.  We spent the day at the park having such an awesome day riding rides, carousels, trams, and trains.  Then we headed home.

 

On our way back into town we stopped by the cemetery.  It was beautiful and sunny and just another day at the cemetery.

 

 

It was the perfect way to spend Gabriel’s first birthday.  We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day, and more importantly, we couldn’t have had a better day together as a family.  We miss our precious baby — a lot — and hitting this mark feels like so much time.  It feels like an accomplishment — sort of like a sense of ‘we’ve made it’.  We will still grieve and still miss our G all the time.  But we have come really far, and have continued to stay bonded together through the hard times of last year.

 

One of the biggest parts of Monday was the love we got.  We are so incredibly overwhelmed by the love and support we have. It was so amazing on Monday to be so loved.  We felt completely undeserving of such love and are just so very thankful to all of you who have reached out to us and supported us.  Thank you for the cards, the love, the gifts, the food, the messages, the kind words, the prayers, and for remembering us.  I couldn’t believe how many people remembered our sweet G’s birthday, and that made my mama heart just burst with joy.

 

I used to be so afraid of people forgetting our sweet G, and Monday just showed me that hasn’t happened.  Thank you for loving our family so well.  We are incredibly blessed.  And we are thankful for you.  God has been so gracious to us and brought us through the last year and a half.  And we have seen the hands and feet of Jesus through friends and family.  So thankful for the love that has been poured out on us.  Thank you, sweet friends, for loving us so well.  We love you!

 

Here are some pictures from our G Day…

g day 2 happy first birthday Gabriel!

g day 3 g day 4 g day 5 g day 6 sleep kid on the way home  g day 7 g day 8 g day 9 g day 10 g day 11 g day 12 g day 13 g day 14 g day 15 g day 16 g day 17 g day 18 g day 19 we’re going to Dollywood!  g day

i miss my son.

I miss him.  As Gabriel’s first birthday approaches.  As new life is all around.  As our most joyous month is just over a week away.  As I plan Jack’s 3rd birthday party and realize I will never get that for my second born.  All of these are just little things that are part of life and make me miss him so much.  Last night I sat.  I just sat and listened to this song, after reading my friend’s blog about how that song made her feel about her baby in Heaven.  And as I listened to it and imagined what it must be like for Gabriel in Heaven — which I can’t even imagine — but knowing that he is there, I felt so far away from him.  Some times it does feel like we are only separated for a brief moment.  Our lives here are short in the grand scheme of things and having the hope of knowing that we will see him again one day is an amazing comfort.  And sometimes it feels as if we are only briefly separated.

 

But some days, like today, it seems so far away.  And I feel so far away from my baby.  How I’ll never know so many things about him.  I don’t get to watch his personality develop or see if he is like Jack or so very different.  I won’t have the opportunity to worry about him  — in good and bad ways because that’s what moms do.  I won’t know if he would have been a good or bad eater.  A good sleeper or up all night.  Many of the things moms complain about, I would happily take if it meant time with my son.  I wonder if his very dark brown, very curly newborn hair would have fallen out.  Would his hair be curly at one year?

 

If life went how I planned it, I would have two boys sleeping upstairs in side by side rooms.  I would walk upstairs each night and look in one room, cover Jack back up and kiss his squishy cheeks, then quietly close the door and go to Gabriel’s room.  I would pull the blanket back over him, scoot his pacis back beside him so he could reach them if he needed them, lean far down over that crib rail and kiss his squishy cheeks, then quietly close the door behind me.  I would walk back downstairs to our room and lay down knowing I had a perfect life and a perfect family of 4.

 

But my nights don’t look like that, my life doesn’t look like that, and I don’t have 2 boys sleeping upstairs.  We have the side by side rooms, but one of them is empty.

 

I walk upstairs each night and see the empty room at the top of the stairs that is Gabriel’s room.  I walk past it to go check on Jack every night.  And as I quietly close Jack’s door, I walk back past G’s empty room.  Sometimes I stop in the doorway and just look.  Occasionally I will imagine what life would be like with G in that room.  But most of the time I just accept it for how it is because all I’ve ever known is that room being empty.

 

If my plans had worked out, I would have boys about to turn 3 and 1 next month.  I would have a big boy running, wild, always playing with cars, trucks, and tractors, and I would have a no-longer baby toddling around right after him, I imagine.

 

 

My house feels empty, my arms feel empty, and my heart feels heavy.  Sometimes the pain of loss is so great that it physically hurts.  I know I am being healed, I know God is completing a work in me, and I know He is going to take these ashes that are my life and make them beautiful, but I am still broken.  I still have a broken heart.  And I miss my son.

 

Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!  
Psalm 126:5  

happy Easter.

Easter has felt very different to me last year and this year.  It is more personal and I’m so much more thankful for what it means now more than ever before.  Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection not only have saved us from our sin, for which I am so in need and so grateful, but it also means that Christ defeated death.  And because of that, this isn’t where it ends with our baby.

 

Gabriels grave Easter 2014

 

Because of God’s love for us, because of Christ’s victory over the grave, we will see our son again.  Grieving parents, or anyone in this world, could not ask for more hope than that!

 

 

Happy Easter!  I pray you know how loved you are by God’s deep love for us and by Jesus’ death on the cross for us.  He is not dead, but He is risen!

Easter2014

 

i’m back and it’s wednesday already.

It’s Wednesday already, and I’m having a hard time believing it.  But I guess that happens when you sit the first day of the week out completely.  Monday is a blur — Jack and I were both exhausted, so we had a lazy day recovering from our busy weekends.

 

I got to spend the weekend doing DiscipleNow with the church I grew up in.  It was awesome.  I was a guest minister in a house of 8th graders, staying with a host family who poured so much into our lives when we were youth.  It is so cool to see those things come full circle.  I got to meet some awesome new people and spend the weekend studying God’s word.  It was seriously awesome.  And seriously exhausting.  It’s been a long time since Tommy and I have worked with youth, and it felt really good and really challenging to be back in it.  I told the youth minister it was like a work out that uses muscles you forgot you had.  That definitely describes my weekend.  It felt good, but I’m also really sore from it.  Good sore.  It’s also the first time I’ve done anything like this since I’ve had an autoimmune disease, so that was a different twist on it.  I think where I normally would have just been tired, I was exhausted and hurting.  But I’ve been taking it slow this week and giving myself a lot of room to just sit and rest after a busy weekend — and busy month, really.  Hence the reason why it doesn’t feel like Wednesday to me.  Monday was fantastic.  I just sat and read a book.  A whole book.  In one day.  I cannot remember the last time that happened.  If you’re looking for a light-hearted read that will make you laugh out loud I highly recommend this book. The Antelope in the Living Room: The Real Story of Two People Sharing One Life  The chapter “nilla wafers aren’t a food group” had me laughing so hard.  Jack must have thought I’d lost it as I laughed out loud.  Or that’s the good thing about a 2 year old, he didn’t care why I was laughing, he just joined in laughing with me.

 

It’s hilarious, as is her first book, Sparkly Green Earrings: Catching the Light at Every Turn  She has a line in there about how you buy kids a kids meal and they eat like 1/4 of a chicken nugget and then 12 packets of ketchup.  Um, yes.  Free ketchup always gets more attention than the food you paid for.

 

Jack had a great weekend staying with his Nan and Pops.  He loves to be with them, and I’m pretty sure the feeling is mutual seeing as how he has them wrapped around his finger.  He got a large amount of attention being with them all day Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, so I’m fairly certain he didn’t think twice about me or Tommy over the weekend.  Tommy worked the whole weekend, so he was the one not having a different and fun weekend.

 

 

I’m thinking over a lot from the weekend.  I’m not one who is good at sitting, thinking, and resting in something.  But I am learning and God continues to shape me into some different.  This is part of that.  I’m trying not to rush back into reality so quickly.  Spending time away was freeing from the every day tasks that were bogging me down.  It’s so refreshing to sit and rest and be and to look at things like bills and budgets, and bathroom cleaning and kitchen cleaning as joyous works and not burdens.

 

I took 2 pictures over the weekend.  This one is an elevator selfie of the students in my house, me, and another guest minister.

DNow 2014

These are some awesome people!

 

 

Hope you had a great weekend and have had a good first half of your week.

 

 

happy monday, last week, + the weekend.

It’s Monday and today is the start of a new, short season in our lives.  Tommy goes on shift work for awhile starting today, so we will be adjusting to a new schedule.  This week will be different learning that new routine, but we’re up for the challenge.

 

The weekend was… interesting.  I started potty training on Friday and we continued through the weekend.  Friday was rough.  I kept texting my friend, Megan, who is basically a potty training pro, asking her if everything was normal.  It didn’t help that Thursday night was rough for Jack for some reason, so he and I were both tired on Friday.  But he did really well, and I think he learned quickly!  Just in the moment, it felt pretty hard on Friday.  Especially when he was crying that he didn’t want to sit on the potty after we had been doing it all.day.long.  Ohh… the joys.  But seriously, he is awesome, and I’m so proud of how well he did!  He’s doing great, but we are definitely still working on it.

 

I’m thankful that the things that have hung over my head for awhile with regards to him becoming a big boy are getting crossed off, and I’m so so proud of Jack for doing so well with getting rid of the pacis and potty training.  Whew.  Can we get a lot of ice cream now to celebrate??  Maybe a nice Carribean trip?  Potty training and paci dropping deserve that, right?

 

 

And last week.  Whew.  It was a crazy, busy week.  But a beautiful week.  I felt so honored to get to spread the word about Trisomy 18 Awareness Day, and I am so thankful to Jessi at Naptime Diaries for allowing me to share my story on her blog last Tuesday.  I’m also thankful that Natalie at Knoxville Moms Blog has been so encouraging about me sharing my story over there, too.  I wrote about our G and hope on Jessi’s blog last Tuesday.  And then I got to share some about T18 on the Knoxville Moms Blog.

 

My big news of the week was the announcement of Project Gabriel.  Man, I was blown away by the support.  I’m so thankful and so blessed by the encouragement and positive feedback we have gotten.  I am also so hopeful that this little project can meet some needs and spread some love.  Thank you so much for supporting us!  If you haven’t like our page on Facebook yet, would you go do that?  Click here and it will take you to the page.  Thank you so much!

 

Wednesday I had a reporter filming my closet for a piece on organization and getting rid of stuff, and Thursday it aired.  I wasn’t nervous to be on there because I love cleaning and organizing and getting rid of stuff.  So that was all fine with me, but I was definitely nervous about my closet being filmed.  My house is not TV ready.  But she was so sweet and it went well.  And now that I have broadcasted that I have 40 hangers, I have some serious accountability!

 

I hope you’ve had a nice Monday!

thank you.

Wow!  I am so overwhelmed by the love and support yesterday.  Thank you for your encouragement, love, and words of kindness yesterday on Trisomy 18 Awareness Day.  And mostly thank you thank you for all of that about Project Gabriel.  I am so thankful for how you encourage me.  Seriously, I am blessed.  So thank you.  Truly.

 

If you missed my post yesterday, you can read it here.  And if you haven’t headed over to Facebook to like the new Project Gabriel Facebook page, please do.  I want it to reach those who really need it, and having support and people sharing and spreading the word is the best way to do that.  Click here to be taken to the page.  Or you can find it at Facebook.com/ProjectGabriel

 

Thank you!  My heart is overwhelmed with love and just so thankful.

 

If you are new here, thank you for reading.  I am so happy to have you here reading.  I’m off to watch Tennessee in their first [and hopefully not last] game in the NCAA tournament.  Go Vols!

it’s trisomy 18 day!

Dear friends,

It’s Trisomy 18 Awareness Day!  A day where we focus on T18 — the chromosomal syndrome our sweet baby G had.  We are going to spend the day remembering him, celebrating his life, and spreading awareness about T18 but also infant loss in general.

T18 Awareness Day

via

 

 

Today is one of those days I’ve set apart and made really special in my own heart.  I think the reason it is such a big deal to me is because I feel helpless, I am helpless.  As I learned about this day last year while I was pregnant with our T18 baby, I knew that in the future I would have to take advantage of what this day was set up for and spread awareness — do something.  And I have all of these dreams and big ideas in my head.  Some of them may happen, some may never come to be.  But I want to do something.  As a T18 parent, I have been helpless.  I would have done anything to save my baby’s life.  Any amount of procedures, doctor’s appointments, whatever it took.  But there was nothing that I could, nothing that our doctors could do.  Our Gabriel had Trisomy 18, and his days were numbered just as each of ours are too.  Feeling helpless is a terrible thing.  It’s something that doesn’t sit well with me.  So for over 14 months now, I have been learning to rest in that and rest in God’s powerfulness and not my own.  It’s been a hard lesson and one that I imagine I will continue to learn for a long time.

 

However, within that feeling of helplessness, I believe that God has stirred something in me.  I believe He has been at work for over a year now on my heart.  Seeds were planted a year ago, and they have taken root, taken hold of my heart, and are bursting forth.  And I am busting with excitement to share what all of this means with you!

 

A year ago, while I was still pregnant with Gabriel, Tommy and I knew that we wanted to do something to honor our sweet G.  We weren’t sure how that would look, what form it would take, and when it would happen, but we definitely had the stirring that we needed to do something.  We explored several very different ideas — I mean incredibly different ideas.  But we weren’t ready for it yet and none of the ideas really felt right.  In September, it hit me!  Just like that.  I knew exactly what we needed to do.  So I introduce to you first, dear friends, Project Gabriel.

 

 

Project Gabriel is a support network for women and their families who have experienced miscarriage, perinatal, or infant loss.  Project Gabriel is brand new and just getting started, and I am beyond thrilled to share and have this safe place for women who need some love, support, and encouragement during the most difficult time in their lives.

 

As the first act of Project Gabriel, we will be having a peer support group for women who have lost a baby either through miscarriage, perinatal, or infant loss.  This first meeting will be on April 14th at 6:30 pm with the location to be announced.

 

Project Gabriel

 

This is the passion of my heart, and it is with great joy that I share it with you today.  It’s both terrifying and exciting to share this little secret with the world!  And now, I need your help.  I want to reach as many women as we can.  If you know a mama who needs this support, who could benefit from being around women just like her who know that deep pain of losing a child, would you please let her know about our group?  I know the way for us to make the most impact is to have support from friends and the community.  Thank you friends for how you have supported and loved me over the past 14 months.  Now let’s do it for other women, too!

 

First up, would you head over to Facebook and like our Facebook page?  You can click on like our Facebook page, or find the site at Facebook.com/ProjectGabriel

 

And please share this post with anyone you think could use it.

 

so much love!

 

\\\\today I have the incredible privilege of sharing on one of my very favorite blogs Naptime Diaries  so head over there and check out Jessi’s great blog and incredible heart\\\\

 

Last year’s Trisomy 18 Awareness Day post.

_____________________________

If you are new here, thank you for coming over to read.  If you’re interested in knowing more about our story here are some posts to catch you up quickly:

when we shared that our 2nd baby was very sick

the definite diagnosis of T18

sharing details about baby G in the womb  

when G was born

Click on the Gabriel category to read more about our precious baby.  We celebrated every day with him — the special, the mundane, the hard, and the joyful, and I’ve shared a lot of it here.

10 months.

Yesterday I posted a recipe, and I accidentally posted it before I was finished writing it.  So if you read it shortly after I posted it, you may want to go back and take another look.  I left out the nutrition information the first time around.  So I had to make some edits.  You can look at yesterday’s post or just click here to check it out.

 

Wow, it’s been a long week, and it’s only Wednesday!  Come on weekend.  I had a doctor’s appointment yesterday and have another one today.  Tommy was traveling Monday and Tuesday for the 3rd week in a row.  And I’ve eaten way too much ice cream this week.  Whew.  Need a fresh start.  Maybe I will do a “fresh start Thursday” this week.  Anyone else need a fresh start this week?

 

 

Today is a sweet day and a harder day.  It’s a sweet day to remember our precious baby G, as it has been 10 months since he was born.  It’s hard to believe that he would be creeping up on 1 year if he were here.  It feels like only yesterday he was born.  Time is funny like that.  Yesterday I was deeply missing my baby boy.  While the really hard moments are fewer and farther between now, there are still times where my heart hurts so bad that it physically hurts.  It’s a reminder of my need for God every day, every moment.  At those times I have to remember to just keep breathing.  And thankfully, it passes.  And it passes quicker these days.  Grief lightens, but it’s always present.

So on this day, we remember where we were 10 months ago.  We remember meeting our sweet Gabriel.  We remembering celebrating him and life.  We thank God for the time we got to spend with G.  And we continue to miss our G.  We continue to grieve.  Thank you for loving him with us.

 

Gabriel 10 months

Sweet flowers with Gabriel’s initials on them were delivered on my doorstep this morning along with a giant Coke, and apple slices for Jack from my sweet friend, Becca.

when you only see the imperfections.

I look around my house and all I see is this awful color on the wall.  I notice every mark on the wall.  Every spot on the carpet.  I notice every scratch on each baseboard and those few spots where the crown molding doesn’t meet perfectly.  I notice the scratch on the sink.  The worn floor in the kitchen.  I notice how Jack’s room needs something else but I’m not sure what.  I notice how my bathroom is missing something fun, something special. 

When I look in the mirror I see that my glasses make my left eye bigger than my right.  I see the scar on my lip from where I got hit with a softball and my lip got stuck to my braces.  I notice how my hips are quite wide these days, forgetting that it’s because I’ve birthed 2 children. 

 

It’s easy to see the imperfections.  It’s easy to get caught up in the negativities of life, missing the beauty.  And I have certainly been stuck there.  Believing lies of all that is wrong, things we don’t have, and how this is not enough – how I am not enough. 

 

And those are just that – lies.  We are so blessed.  God has been faithful to us.  We are still here.  I have an amazing, loving husband and two precious boys!  One who I get to raise here and one in Heaven with our Father.  We live in this amazing city.  We have a beautiful home.  My husband has a good job.  I get to spend my days with my sweet JT.  All of these blessings and so many more.  But I tend to quickly forget those things.  These important things that I should always be thankful for, I tend to overlook.  And instead I look at things that don’t matter, things I can’t control, or things that have no eternal significance.  I don’t want my focus to be there.  I want a thankful heart.  One that is overflowing with thankfulness for this life.  And the beauty of it is that I can control what I focus on.  I can shift my thinking and re-focus on what matters. 

As I stood washing dishes in my sink thinking about all of the things I would change, I realized all of this.  There will always be imperfections in life, but I’m choosing to see past those and just see the beauty. 

Family Pictures Fall 2013 006

standing on holy ground.

This week is beautiful here in East Tennessee.  Beyond beautiful.  We’re talking 60 degrees, even 70 yesterday.  I went by the cemetery today before I picked Jack up from preschool.  It was a perfect day to go.  The warm weather, mixed with sunshine and partly cloudy skies, with an incredibly strong and present breeze made for an amazing visit.

 

I like to drive through the cemetery with my windows down.  I open the sunroof and roll the windows down, and usually turn my music up really loud.  I’m pretty sure I would have found that inappropriate before – and I do try to be respectful if other people are around and turn down the music – but for me, that’s just part of how I do it.  There is something about feeling the fresh air in the cemetery and listening loudly to music praising God and exclaiming His truths that makes it part of how I grieve – how I handle visiting the cemetery as much as I do.

 

Today was a perfect day to make that drive.  As I drove in and around and up the hill to Babyland, where our sweet G is buried, I took in the beauty of the day and the anticipation of this visit.  I visit a lot, so it’s not like it’s a big deal for me to go.  But today something seemed a little different.  Because I was short on time I left the car running and just hopped out quickly.  My current very favorite song for our lives was playing and was at the perfect point.  I could hear the music as I felt the incredible presence of the wind around me.  And as I stood with my feet over where my baby’s body is buried, my eyes closed, and my hands out, I sang along to this song.  To this exclamation of truth.  And proclaimed it in our hearts and in our lives.  And as I stood there soaking in this incredible moment, feeling the intense presence of God in the strong gusts of wind, I became very aware that I was standing on holy ground.  This plot that belongs to us.  This patch of dirt.  This marker that marks where our son’s earthly body lay to rest.  All of those things I had known of this place became the background to the very holy ground I was standing on.

 

I was suddenly reminded of the Holiness of our God.  Of His power.  Of His presence.  And how He is God over all – the big and the little.  As big as life and death.  And as little as growing the grass around this grave plot.  I was blessed with a holy encounter with our Father today.  One that commanded reverance.  One that reminded me of His power and His presence.  One that I am thankful the Lord allowed me to be a part of.  And one that brought my mama heart deep comfort in knowing that my baby is intimately known by our Creator, just as I am.

 

this hope is an anchor for my soul

 

The song is Anchor by Hillsong.  And it is unbelievable.