day 15 // pregnancy and infant loss remembrance day 2014.

October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.  I seriously cannot believe it has been a year since we marked this day in 2013.  It’s crazy how a day I didn’t even know existed, is now marked pretty big on my calendar.  I’m a big supporter of this day.  I think it’s really important to take the opportunity to remember women and families who have lost a baby.  It’s easy to feel forgotten and alone when you’ve lost so big.  Especially when we are surrounded by people who have what we so desperately longed for.  Our family has been so incredibly blessed by so many people as we walked through losing our son in 2014.  The love and support we’ve been shown has blown us away.  I know many women who don’t have any support.  Not from a husband, family, or anyone.  Today is a day to share hope with all the women who have lost, and especially these women who really need to see some love.  It’s all around us.  One in four women will have a miscarriage.  That number doesn’t even include stillbirths or neonatal loss.  It’s all too prevalent.  Let’s spend today taking time to remember the babies who are no longer here with us.

 

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So today, just like last year, I am asking you to light a candle.  At 7 pm tonight [or another time if that doesn’t work for you!] light a candle wherever you are in remembrance of a baby who is no longer here and to give hope to their parents.  Then send a picture of that candle — text, email, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or anything else you want to us to help spread awareness of infant loss and most importantly share hope.  Help mamas know they aren’t alone.  I cannot wait to put all of the pictures together to see the beauty that is people coming together, encouraging, and sharing the burden of loss.  Thank you for loving us, thank you for loving others, and thank you for remembering our sweet Gabriel.  We can’t wait to see your candles!!

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Check here for some of last year’s candles!

 

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And in case I haven’t adequately expressed how much last year’s candle lighting meant to me, here is something I wrote on October 16th last year ::

I want to thank you all so so very much for remembering Gabriel last night.  I was BLOWN AWAY by the love.  That is what hope is.  I wish I could have bottled last night up so I could take a big whiff of it whenever I needed encouragement.  We feel so loved and so blessed to have people who not only haven’t forgotten our baby but also took the time out of their lives to do a kind act for him and us.  So touched. 

 

Tonight I will be lighting a candle at 7:00 and remembering many babies.  I will remember a sweet little baby who just passed away a few days ago.  I will remember twin boys who passed away a handful of years ago.  I will remember a baby girl who passed away just over a year ago.  I will remember a baby girl who’s parents fought so hard to keep her here.  I will remember a sweet baby who passed away in the womb.  I will remember my friend who had an ectopic pregnancy almost a year ago.  I will remember the women who are pregnant with a baby who they know won’t live.  I will remember the women who have had a miscarriage.  Many friends of mine who have known that pain.  There are a lot of little and significant lives to remember today especially.

 

 

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day 9 // and then sometimes it smacks you in the face.

So I posted a couple of days ago about having a hard time seeing beautiful.  And then you guys encouraged me and shared beautiful with me, and I loved it.  And then today, beautiful just smacked me in the face.  I was going to see my friend Julie and her new baby who are at home and doing well!!  I was driving through Chick-fil-A so we could eat lunch together over at her house, when I saw a woman.  I was at a different Cfa than I usually go to because it was on the way to their house.  As I turned in I saw a woman standing at the corner of the parking lot with 2 kids with her while she held a sign.  I didn’t read it all, but I saw “No job, hungry, no food for children, need money for food for kids”.  It was a really long sign, and I’m not sure what else it said.  But I was kind of hit by it.  It’s not something you see too often where I live now.  And it really hit me that she had her children with her.  My child was at preschool, which we gladly pay for each month, while these kids were sitting on curb helping their mom beg.

I couldn’t shake it, so as I pulled through the line I grabbed our food and a gift card for them.  As I swung back by the woman, I was able to give her the gift card.  I got to talk with her for a few minutes before the cars started lining up behind me.  She told me she was making her way from California to Maryland.  She lost her job in California and her sister lives in Maryland, so she could stay with her.  She said she was trying to get enough money to buy gas to get them to Maryland.  She said it was really hard for her and tears welled up in her eyes.  The cars lined up behind me were not happy, so I told her I would pray for her and I drove away.  I just kept thinking about them.  Not even an hour before I had gone shopping at Target.  I had nearly $300 in clothes, shoes, towels, medicines, and some random things in my trunk, and here was this woman who was just trying to get food and gas money.  I felt awful.  I was so convicted about my spending, about what we’ve been blessed with, and reminded that not everyone is where we are.  My heart and my attitude were all wrong, and today God used a beautiful woman to show me that.

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This post is part of the Write 31 days series through the month of October.  Find all of this month’s posts here.

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

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

you are not broken.

Jack falls asleep listening to music every night.  But last week the last song on the CD quit playing correctly, so it just started skipping and making bad noises.  This became problematic because it wouldn’t just turn off anymore, and we had to go in Jack’s room to turn it off – which would sometimes wake him.  So on the advice of my friend, Tommy ordered a sound machine.  We should have just done that from the beginning.  Oh well.  The sound machine came, and we set it up telling him how special it was and that is was just for him, and he hated it.  He screamed in terror.  So now we are trying to convince him that it’s great.  If Tommy puts him down, he just puts the sound machine on, but Jack knows he has me at nap time.  I need him to nap, so I will do what it takes.  Yesterday afternoon I did his music and the sound machine, and he wanted that again last night.  So I turned Jack’s music on after his repeated requests wore me down.

 

After it started playing, he said “it’s not broken”.  I told him he was right, that it wasn’t completely broken.  Then he said, “I’m not broken.” I told him he was right, that he wasn’t broken.  Then he said, “You’re not broken, mommy.”  

 

Man, how does my 2 year old keep teaching me things?  I told him that he was right, that I wasn’t broken.  Then I paused and said, “even though it feels like it sometimes”.

But wow, he was right.  I am not broken.  And today, I want to share that with you, too.  If you’re feeling that way, I hope Jack’s words strike you deeply like they did me.  I hope you will find comfort in knowing that no matter what is hard in your life right now – kids who won’t sleep, kids who fight, a draining job, a draining home life, a messy house, an illness, grief, loss, death, fighting, people letting you down, hurt, no job – whatever it is that’s making you feel broken… know that you are not.  God is in the business of healing, and He makes us whole.  Because of Him, we are not broken.

 

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And tomorrow when you wake up and life feels just as hard or your day gets worse, remember my sweet boy’s words in the most innocent of voices, “you are not broken”.  And cling to that truth.  And keep pushing forward.

 

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wedding weekend.

We had a fun weekend!  One of Tommy’s closest friends got married on Saturday, so we had so much fun celebrating them this weekend.  They got married at this beautiful place in Loudon, Tennessee.  It was gorgeous – especially decorated for Christmas.  Lights everywhere, greenery, and so much charm.  I loved all of the details that Steph chose.  I am a huge fan of her style.  I wish I had taken more pictures this weekend but have just a few to share.  And please excuse my grainy and terrible pictures.  My phone is crawling to the finish line as I wait for my upgrade. 

 

 Rehearsal dinner beautiful

 

 

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If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve already seen this picture and the next one.  I was sitting at the rehearsal and felt something weird in my sweater pocket.  I reached in and pulled this out.  It’s like they follow me.  My friend who was sitting next to me said one time she was sitting somewhere and reached in her jacket pockets and pulled out her kids’ socks.  Which sounded super weird until… 

 

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At dinner I pulled Jack’s socks out of my coat pocket.  Reminders of my life and toddlerhood everywhere 🙂 

 

 Wedding fun  

 

Wedding with my love

My date made for a pretty handsome groomsman.  He also caught the groomsman in front of him who passed out twice.  I didn’t even see it happen, but people were telling me about it afterwards saying he made a great catch.  He says anyone would have done it.  The guy seemed to be fine afterwards, thankfully, and the wedding wasn’t disrupted at all. 

 

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I had such a good time with my handsome date.  I forgot my coat, so I got to sport his for the last part of the evening. 

 

 

It was a beautiful wedding and a sweet, fun, and tiring weekend!  Josh and Steph, we love y’all so much!  Congratulations!!  We couldn’t be happier for you, and cannot wait to hang out when you get back. 

fall family pictures.

This fall our sweet friend took our family pictures again.  I love them, and I am so happy this has become a tradition for us.  Erin Rodgers is not only a talented photographer but a very thoughtful friend, too.  She wanted to honor Gabriel and help us remember him by gifting us with family photos.  I am so thankful she did this. 

I had actually thought about booking fall pictures with her this year, but then I thought that I didn’t want to take family pictures this year – that it would be too hard.  I wouldn’t have done it without some gentle nudging from her, and I’m so thankful for that.  Now we have pictures for this year, and in the future I will be able to look back and remember how those pictures were taken during our hardest season.  It’s a really special thing to have. 

 

We were also able to bring along our Gabriel bear.  Obviously, I missed having our sweet G in our family pictures, but it was neat to have a symbol for the member of our family who is missing in the pictures.  Plus, Jack thought it was so special to bring his Gabriel bear and get to take pictures with him. 

 

Erin, thank you for these sweet pictures.  We love them, and I’m glad you encouraged me to do this even though it was hard this year.  We are so thankful for you!! 

 

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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. 

24. a hopeful tribute.

As I have shared, my grandmother passed away on Tuesday, October 15th.  We miss her greatly and mourn her loss.  I am heartbroken for my grandfather and pray often for him.  This weekend we celebrated our Granny – remembering her precious life and all who she was.  There were 3 things to people kept saying over and over and I heard dozens of times from people coming through the line at the visitation. 

 

1.  She was always smiling, always happy. 

2.  She always thought of others, asked about others, and did things for others. 

3.  She was fun! 

 

 

Those are things that I will always remember about my Granny.  And here are some more of my thoughts about a wonderful woman: 

 

I always thought it was so cool that her initials were GGG.  Who else has that?  I learned how to be creative from her.  I learned how to make a beautiful home from her.  I learned to love and appreciate antiques from her.  I learned how to wrap presents pretty from her.  And I learned how to write beautifully from her.  Sometimes I catch a glimpse of my handwriting and think it looks like Granny’s and that makes me so happy. 

 

My Granny was an avid reader, an intelligent woman who kept up with the news and current events, studying the Bible, and who also watched shows like the Bachelor and picked her favorites.  I used to watch Grey’s Anatomy with her – back before it got way too bad for both of us.  Granny read every single post I ever put on this blog.  She was one of my biggest fans and cheerleaders.  My Granny made the best food.  Her cooking was something else!  She always knew I would eat a lot when she was cooking.  She taught me how to make the best chocolate sauce and the best chocolate pie anyone has ever had. 

 

Granny cooking 

 

 

 

She was adamant that she would be called Grandmother.  She did not want to be a granny.  She wasn’t old and certainly didn’t fit the description, was what she told us when we were little kids.  So the more she insisted we call her Grandmother, the more it made us want to call her Granny.  So we called her Granny, and it stuck.  And she grew to love it.  That’s the kind of woman she was. 

 

 

She loved her husband of nearly 63 years so much.  Their marriage was a wonderful example to all of us.  Always taking care of each other. 

 

G and G 

 

 

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G and G again 

 

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She loved her family so much. 

 

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Granny and girls 

 

 

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Granny and us wedding 

 

 

Granny dad me 

 

 

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Granny Christmas time   

 

 

Granny and tommy 

 

 

Granny and Jack 

 

 

 

My Granny LOVED my kids fiercely.  Fiercely.  She loved Jack so much.  She found great joy in that little guy.  She was always lovin’ on him and playing with him.  He loved her too.  Every time we drove past their neighborhood, which is on the way to our house, he would ask to stop and see Gigi [what he called his Granny and Grandfather].  Granny also loved our Gabriel.  She was so sad to learn of his diagnosis, she was so sad to not get another great grandbaby to hold, and so sad for us.  She prayed for us a lot.  She sang Jesus Loves You to baby Gabriel every single night while I was pregnant.  And after he was born.  She came to his burial even though she had just had a knee replacement surgery.  She wasn’t going to miss it.  She loved watching Jack’s every move.  Finding him adorable even when he did something mischievous. 

 

Since we moved back to Knoxville, I’ve gotten to spend a lot of time with Granny and Grandfather.  Jack and I would stop by and see them during the week, and we all loved the time together.  Granny was always focused on that boy.  Always having cookies and crackers for him.  Keeping his high chair ready for a meal.  Granny was the best “Happy Birthday” singer.  It’s not going to be the same without her there to sing.  She always sang above the rest of us, and I think we all just loved it. 

 

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Granny did the most fun things.  For the past two years she had a “Back to school spaghetti supper” for us.  She hung a banner and gave my brother and sister who were going back to school giant Hershey’s bars. 

 

Granny's back to school supper  

 

 

I will always remember Granny as being active.  We joined their gym last year, so she wanted us to work out together.  She and Grandfather did so many things – they did everything.  They traveled the world.  Looking through many of their pictures last week was so fun to see all of the places they’ve been and the friends they have everywhere.  They’re those people everyone loves. 

 

granny playing 

 

 

 

So now we grieve.  We miss her, and life is harder without her.  But I do know that she would want us to live joyfully and make the most of our lives.  And we find hope in that we will see her again one day.  We have hope that she is in Heaven with our Father now.  That she is with Jesus.  That she has met and is holding our Gabriel.  We have hope in things greater than this life, and in One bigger than us. 

 

                Granny puppy

21. remembered.

Back in August I had a new word pop into my head.  Remembered.  I think God had been telling me something.  I felt that He wanted  me to know, He wants to remind me that I am remembered.  That we are not forgotten.  When you’re hurting it’s easy to feel forgotten.  And while I didn’t necessarily feel forgotten, or think I was forgotten, because we were surrounded with love and amazing people blessing us in so many ways.  But through a series of things – mostly people in our lives blessing us, God has shown that he remembers the broken hearted. 

 

And since August the remembered message has stuck and been pounded in.  Being remembered brings hope.  There is a light, a joyful thing, and a hopeful thing in being remembered. 

 

It’s why we live in community – to be built up and encouraged by those around us when we need it.  And likewise to build up and encourage those who need it when they are down.  We have had amazing people in our lives blessing us over and over.  We have had food brought to us again and again, beautiful life-giving tree planted, gift cards, many words of encouragement in cards, letters, emails, and social media, friends bringing groceries, gifts honoring and remembering our Gabriel.  People calling and listening, people loving and supporting.  The gift of people in our lives to lift us up is an amazing blessing.  One that I know has helped to get us through the worst days of our lives. 

 

It’s been such an encouragement to us, and I find myself reminded to do the same for others.  To support them and love on them.  Thank you to all of you who have done that for us.  We are so very grateful.  Thank you for being a picture of hope on earth. 

19. student of hope.

I probably should have published this post on day 1 or 2 or at least very near the beginning.  It occurred to me the other day that I haven’t share this yet.  I want to share that I am a student of hope.  By no means an expert.  Very much a student.  A learner as this hard year has forced me to be. 

 

It’s a privilege to get to share my observations here.  And it still astounds me that people actually come to this site to read those observations.  There are many who could speak wiser words about hope than I could.  There are many who have studied it and know so much about it.  There are many who have lived far more difficult lives than me who could speak to hope.  But I am thankful that I get to share.  The work God has done in my life is not something I can keep quiet about – I must share.  And the song I hear him singing into my life and over my family is HOPE. 

 

So I have a lot to learn about hope.  Much to still experience in this life, I’m sure.  I think this might be one of the first times in my life where I am realizing that I am the learner.  I so often think of myself as an expert – that I know more than I do.  And that’s just not true.  I’m thankful for you friends for walking with me. 

 

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This sweet, precious picture came home from preschool with Jack.  I absolutely adore that his teachers put Gabriel’s initials on the tree.  So thankful for them, all those who teach me so much, and my precious boys who are still brothers even though it doesn’t look like most brothers. 

 

 

 

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Joining the Nester for 31 Days of writing.  See all 31 Days of Posts here