project Gabriel support group meeting.

adventures of jack and me-2

 

Monday is the first peer support group meeting as a part of Project Gabriel.  It is for mamas who have lost a baby through miscarriage, perinatal, or infant loss.  And any woman who has experienced this is welcome!  This is our first meeting, and I’m hoping for a time of community and for women to just gather and not feel alone.  If you are thinking about coming, please do.  I would love to meet you and know you.  And if you know someone who should come, please pass this on and encourage them to.  It doesn’t matter if it happened last week or 10 years ago.

 

We are meeting on Monday, April 14th at 7 pm at the Chick-fil-A at Homberg Place in Knoxville.  I am so excited for this.  And just really hopeful of what the evening will be.  Thank you for your support and kinds words.  This wouldn’t be happening without all of the support and love from you all.

 

 

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.

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.

the difference between snow and rain.

Last year was the rainiest year Knoxville has seen since the 1800s.  It rained all the time.  I talked about rain a lot, because it rained for more than a week straight after we found out Gabriel had T18.  It would rain on most of the days I had OB appointments.  Rain was a constant in our lives, and it represented how I felt really well.  2013 was a rainy year both physically and symbolically for us. 

 

Now we sit here in the year 2014.  It is a new year.  We continue to grieve for our sweet G.  We miss him.  I wish he was here – Jack would love having a brother to play with.  There are many moments where I think that Gabriel should be here with us.  But the truth of the matter is that he isn’t.  And while it is impossibly hard, we are not defeated because we have hope.  We are anchored in hope.  We trust that we will one day be reunited with our sweet G.  That we will know him well then.  And we trust that he is presently with our Father – being cradled and loved lavishly – so much more than we could ever do or imagine.  And knowing those things, thinking about those things reminds me of snow. 

 

There is nothing more pure, more new, more fresh than snow.  Watching the snow fall, watching it build and lay is a blessing for us.  To watch it fall from the sky and create beauty that is rarely seen on earth, is a special gift for us here.  Waking up in the morning to a fresh snow fall – one that is undisturbed and entirely peaceful is such a reminder to me that God makes all things new.  So with these recent snowfalls we have had, I am reminded of this about our Father.  And I am even more deeply stirred to think about how He has made our Gabriel new.  He has made him pure as snow.  And one day, He will do the same for us. 

 

It’s only fitting that this winter we have seen much more snow than usual for Knoxville.  While this time last year, all we got was rain, this year we seem to be sitting under snow.  A visual example of where we are in our lives.  In a season of awe appreciating God’s graciousness, His blessing, and His healing and new creation of our son who was so sick on this earth. 

Nikon D3200 714

a broken heart.

One year ago, with Valentine’s Day looming and the worst news of our life a few weeks behind us, all I could focus on was the heart.  People were decorating with hearts all around, living this normal life, and all I could think of was that my baby had a broken heart – literally.  This child growing inside of me had a heart that was a terrible kind of broken – one that couldn’t be fixed.  And it was every where.  And it was always on my mind. 

 

This year looks different.  I see hearts all around this year and I remember our sweet baby G.  And I also see hope.  Our sweet G has a healed heart now.  He has been made whole and he no longer has a broken heart.  This year I even find myself putting up hearts, wanting to celebrate this day.  It’s amazing the difference when you don’t have a broken heart anymore.  And while my heart might just always be a little bit broken because I lost a child, I can also see the hope that comes with healing.  The hope that comes when you’ve celebrated hard days, held on tight, and are maybe just a little bit better for it.  The hope that comes when you see some more joy alongside the pain.  The hope that sits on each little construction paper heart – because you know each one of those represents something greater – love. 

 

As I reflect on a lot of heart issues of my own this week, I am reminded of my brokenness, my broken heart, but also just how much I have been healed.  Thankful for a week of reminders and the blessing of seeing healing in our lives. 

 

pictures 1929

seven months.

Seven months – it sure has gone by fast.  I miss our baby every day. 

 

Seven months

 

December at the cemetery is looking dark and dead.  But there is beauty in the sparkling Christmas flowers.  Tomorrow I’m adding a Christmas wreath to Gabriel’s grave. 

28. waves of light celebration, love, + support.

Y’all are awesome!  Awesome awesome awesome.  I cannot even say enough how blown away I was on October 15thfor pregnancy and infant loss awareness day.  I said we would be lighting a candle in memory of our Gabriel and for others who have lost babies and asked you to do the same if you felt so inclined.  I couldn’t believe how awesome it was to see all of the pictures!  Man, I lit up knowing so many people were thinking about Gabriel and us.

 

I don’t have pictures to share of my baby beyond ultrasound pictures and the precious ones we took on his day of life.  I don’t get to Instagram or Facebook or tweet pictures of what he’s doing and how he’s growing.  I don’t get to share pictures of how Jack is with a baby brother and how the boys play together.  I don’t get to rock him as he is awake at night, or has an upset tummy, or just can’t quite figure out the routine of this life yet.  And I’ve come to terms with that.  This is our lot, and for this we are grateful.  But there will always be things I miss.

 

So to be able to use social media to bring encouragement to me and mamas like me is a powerful thing.  It was pretty special to have a few hours one night where feeds were blowing up with candles and loving words that helped us remember our babies who we don’t get to lay eyes on daily.

 

It was such a reminder to me of the role we play in each other’s lives of bringing encouragement.  Words are so powerful – and actions, too – and we can bring life to dark and hopeless situations.  So thank you for doing that for me.  Thank you for reading this blog, thinking about our little family, lighting a candle, and taking a picture to send to us.  Your effort, and mostly your heart, are beyond appreciated.  I have thanked God for each and every one of you.

 

So my intention was to publish this post on the next morning, the 16th, but Tuesday was a rough post-op day for me after having my gall bladder removed 5 days earlier.  By Tuesday evening I was in some serious pain and had to take some medicine, so I didn’t get to see many of the pictures until the next morning.  It’s taken me awhile to respond and get the pictures together.  But I wanted to share them all here.

 

 

Thanks for the love dear friends!  For you I am so grateful!

 

Tiffany Gleason Alice Erickson Amy Ross Becca Edwards Cretia Goodin Deb Macklin Elizabeth Neutens Emily Larson Gordy and Sue Holly Young Honoring Rebecca and Gabriel 10 1013 Katelyn Liles Laryessa Worthington Lindsay Maureen Prentiss and Family Molly Morgan Mom, Dad, and Grandfather Nate Lawless our family Rosalie Hadley Sheri Super Sophia Davidson Stephanie Joyce

Casey Aldredge

 

 

I couldn’t figure out how to save the pictures from Instagram.  So if you put a picture only on Ig and it’s not too much of a hassle, could you send it to me?  I really want to get them all together.

 

There were many people who lit candles but didn’t get pictures or who wanted to light candles but weren’t somewhere where they could do that.  So for those people, thank you for thinking of us and letting me know!

 

We had people lighting candles all over this country!  Tennessee and Maryland, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Texas, and Maine just to name some of the states.

 

[I tried to gather all of the pictures but if I missed yours please forgive me and let me know!]

 

So much love to you all!

15. waves of light.

Gabrielspictures170_thumb.jpg

 

 

It’s October 15th, which means it is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.  Let’s celebrate!  Last week I asked if you would light a candle tonight at 7 pm [your time zone] in remembrance of our Gabriel.  Tonight is the night!  So please, take a few moments to light a candle in honor of our baby and for all of those who have lost a baby.  I know many of you will be lighting a candle because you or a loved one have lost a baby.  Know that I will be lighting mine along with you.

 

 

WaveofLight

via 

We would love to see your candle!  Please send me a picture – email, comment here, facebook, twitter, instagram.  Anything!  We want to encourage moms and dads that their babies are remembered, even when they think they aren’t.  Help us remember sweet babies in the Wave of Light tonight.  Cannot wait to see all the candles glowing brightly.  It brings hope to my heart and the hearts of other mamas who have lost their babies to know that people – friends, family, strangers – are remembering our precious children who aren’t here to be remembered every day.

 

 

Help spread hope by lighting a candle.

 

 

pregnancyandinfantlossbyShanaSmith.jpg

via 

 

 

 

31daysofhopebutton_thumb.jpg

Joining the Nester for 31 Days of writing.

To see all 31 Days of Hope posts click here.