Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Thankful for the Joy...

Losing our sweet little babies took me to a dark place. I was so, so very sad. Heartbroken. Far more heartbroken than I have ever experienced. I have lost babies before, ended relationships. But never before have I been this heartbroken. I felt so much anger. I felt like no one was hearing my prayers.

It has been a little over a month now. I am still sad, still cry so easily. Any emotion at all brings the tears to my eyes. My husband. Oh my. He and I have come through all of this so very much in love. It's weird, how something so painful can bring about a level of love and closeness that is astonishing in it's strength. I don't quite know how to describe it, but I have been marveling at it, and reveling in it. I am so grateful for it, because it has brought so much joy back into my heart. I am so grateful for him. Thank you Lord, for the gift of my husband.

The kids are sweet. They were sweet the whole time, but I was having to really dig to feel the joy they usually bring me. It's back. Some of it is a little bittersweet. My Yebbi - the babies really looked like him. The shape of his head, his legs, they will allow me glimpses of what our little George and Gabriel would have looked like. My Ben has been sick this whole time. Usually this would have made him extra grumpy, but I don't know if he is picking up on the warm, sweet vibe running through our house, but he has been pure joy. Sweet, kind, huggable. Wanting to snuggle and be held. He, Yeb and Luke have been full of funny things to say and I have been savoring each and every one. I am so glad to be "back"! I love being in love with all these kids. I love tucking a little boy under each arm to read stories and say prayers at night. I love how smart and funny Kolbe is. I love how much Jonah loves his brothers and spends so much time playing with them. I love how he likes to stand close to me, to prove how tall he is, and that he is gaining on me rapidly. I love how my Jenna is such a help to me, and loves to chase after Yebbi and grab him up for a snuggle. My Kenzie Rose, she is like my right arm. We sing in the kitchen, in the car, doing laundry. It is so good to want to sing with her again. Thank you, Lord, for the gifts of my sweet children.

Our little house. I was mad at it. I can't really tell you why. I think, perhaps, I have always looked at it with those rose colored glasses. We moved here 10 years ago. It was the first house we purchased together. I loved it. I mean, really, really loved it. It's an 80 year old foursquare with some arts and crafts influences. It needs plumbing work, wiring, paint, and lots more. But to me, it was this little haven where we were safe. Where we were raising all these sweet little babies. Somehow, when this happened, my house bubble burst. I felt like the house let me down somehow. I know it doesn't make sense, but I didn't care if we moved, if I never saw this house again. But, my love for this place, the joy I feel here is starting to come back. I know a house can't keep you safe from life, but up until this point, I really felt like it had. I love our house again, and I am so glad. I don't love the stickiness, or the mess, or the plumbing, but I love the arches, and the french doors, the solid cherry woodwork, the huge windows that I cannot bear to cover completely, as they let in so much light. I am happy we live here, again. Thank you, Lord, for the gift of a safe and happy home.

I am so thankful to be able to feel joy again. I know I will never get over losing my little babies, but I will be happy, feel joy. Even feel joy in knowing that I have completed the mission of getting my children to heaven. I have six children in heaven, waiting for me. I will do everything I humanly can to make sure the rest of us get there, too. I love you, my little ones. I will meet you someday. Thank you for the joy you brought me, so very briefly, while you were here. I am grateful for the joy you feel at the feet of Jesus, for all eternity.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Thankful for an Opportunity to Share...

As part of our Christmas this year, we have decided to help with a very special project. My very dear friends' parents run New Covenant Mission in San Benito, Peten, Guatemala, and they have discovered 121 people living in the municipal dump, including 49 children under the age of 8. If you are looking for something special to do for someone else this year, please consider donating, or even shopping and sending clothing or small toys and books for the children. Our kids know about this project and are excited about it. Please check out the video and consider making it part of your Christmas, too.

In the video, Mr. Spurrier mentions that 40 some people live there. Upon investigating further, they have found that it is actually many more. My friend, Amy, gave me a run down of the ages of the children, to make it easier to shop. I have included her list, as I didn't want to mess up any details! I am really good at messing up details:

"They can't take anything that is perishable because it'll never make it thru customs. mom and dad are taxed less if the tags are still on it bc of the used clothing trade down there... sounds crazy, I know. They really could use hats, socks and gloves, stuff like that. It only gets down to about 60degrees at night this time of year there but when your body is used to 120 degrees and you have no blankets to cover at night and it's windy... they freeze. Little dollar store toys and trinkets are always welcome too.

Here's the breakdown of the kids:
Girls (ages 3-8) : 11
Boys (ages 3-8): 19
Toddler Girls (ages 2/3): 6
Toddler Boys (ages 2/3): 4
Girls 12-18mos. : 2
Boys 12-18mos. : 2
Girls 6-12mos: 2
Boys 6-12mos: 3"

If you are looking for a something very special to do with your kids this Christmas, please consider this project. Our family has decided to help with this. We were planning on buying things for our babies, but since we won't be doing that, we have decided to shop and choose gifts to send, and offer it up in prayer for our sweet George and Gabriel. I think it will help my heart, and I know my kids will love choosing small gifts and toys to send. I wish I could scoop them all up and bring them home, but I can't. So, we will help in the ways we can. Blessings to you all as we approach this holy time of year!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Thankful for My Husband

I don't know if I've ever told this story here, but since part of my keeping this little blog is having a record, I am going to go ahead and tell it. Seventeen years ago last month, my husband and I met at the Olive Garden for dinner. It was a blind date. He was waiting for me outside when I arrived late, dropped off by my brother. As we drove up, I could see him standing there, and I guessed it was him, I think by the shirt he told me he would be wearing. Before I got out, I asked my brother if he looked like an ax murderer or anything. His teenage reply was something to the effect of "No, he just looks like a guy". While he was being mildly sarcastic, it made me feel better, so I hopped out, and approached the guy in the plaid shirt, leaning against the wall. I introduced myself,apologizing for being late (my brother and I had to move a bunch of cars just to get one out so he could drive me over) and instead of some polite reply he said to me; "Well, I already let one table go while I was waiting for you. We have to wait for another one." Clearly, I had already made a bad impression. Lateness on a first date, especially a blind date, might make the other person think you are not coming. I probably was just a minute or two shy of him leaving all together, though he has never mentioned. Hmmm, I'll have to ask him.

So, we went into the Olive Garden to have dinner. Me, babbling away nervously, him, barely saying a word. I was starting to think I was talking to much, irritating him, or he just didn't like me. So, we ate, and drank copious amounts of iced tea. When it was time to go, though, he held my chair and then gently guided me towards the door. We were going to go to the mall to kill some time before our movie started. When we got to the mall, Doug mentioned that he needed to use the restroom because all that iced tea had 'swoosh (with an arm motion and everything) gone right through him'. Well, that finally broke the ice - he turned beat red at the admission, and I giggled, and we were finally a bit more comfortable with each other.

We had spoken on the phone, and decided to see the new John Travolta movie, "Pulp Fiction". Neither of us knew anything about it, but it was supposed to be his comeback movie. And how bad could it be, ya know? We both had loved the "Look Who's Talking" movies and all of his previous work. Seemed like a safe choice.

Well, we got in there, and first of all, tons of cursing, scary scenes, sexy scenes. etc. are really embarrassing when you are sitting next to someone you barely know. It's like you are not sure how to react to them. Never mind the fact that I REALLY don't like scary/suspenseful movies, they just make me a nervous wreck. I was just about to crawl under my seat to hide until it was over when the main female character says something like "Don't you just hate all this 'getting to know you' bullsh*t?" Ya know, just what I had been doing all night long. All the "Where do you work?", "Where are you from?","How many brothers and sisters do you have?", of course not delving any deeper, but still a getting to know you session. Talk about awkward. It was just plain weird.

Anyway, Doug drove me home in his truck, telling me not to worry about the smoke coming out of the heater vents because he had just hit a deer in it, and had it fixed, but they hadn't fixed it right. (This would be the first of many, many deer he has hit in our years together.) When he dropped me off, I just looked over at him, babbled out a "It was nice meeting you!" and ran into the house. I didn't even give him a chance to walk me to the door. I can't remember if that was on purpose or not, but the next time I talked to him, he let me know that he felt badly about not walking me to the door. He had been a gentleman all night, and I hadn't allowed him that last courtesy.

We started talking on the phone the next week. We talked for hours and hours...long distance! I still can't figure out how we paid all those long distance charges, but at the time, we didn't care.

During one conversation, Doug was sewing Elizabeth's pants. I don't remember why he mentioned it, but something happened to me when he said it. It became really clear to me what kind of dad he was. After all I had been through with Meg's biological father, this was amazing to me. He was so aware of his child's needs, he knew her pants needed mending.

Doug picked me up for our second date. We went to a haunted house. I was so excited. I had been daydreaming all week of how he would hold my hand as went we through the haunted houses.

Turns out, I don't like haunted houses, which I didn't want to tell him when he asked if I would like to go to one. I wanted to be all polite and go with the flow. So, not only did he hold my hand, the poor guy held my hand, tucked the rest of me behind himself as he dragged me through the place. I just kept my eyes closed and stumbled along. I am a total chicken. Just can't take that stuff!

We went on a hayride after that, and Doug shivered the whole time because he had just worn a little windbreaker. This isn't relevant, except for the fact that we always talk about how cold he was all night that night.

We wanted to go to dinner after that, but it was getting late. One of the only places we could find open was a Country Kitchen. The food was awful, the place was kinda dirty. We got out of there as fast as we could, but weren't ready to go home, so we spent a few minutes trying to think of an appropriate place to go to be alone to talk. We tried a park, but promptly got kicked out. Who knew you couldn't walk through a park after sundown? After that, Doug took me back to my parents'house, but as usual, it was a lit up and there were a billion cars outside, indicating that there would be no quiet corner to talk. So, we walked around the neighborhood until it got too cold. So we tried to say goodbye in the driveway, but we just weren't ready to leave each other yet. Inside someone had music playing so we danced in the driveway, talking and laughing long after the music went off. I think we were out there for three hours. Neither one of us was cold anymore, and I knew. I just knew deep down that this man had been hand chosen for me by God.

We dated for a few months, but we both knew what was coming. We were married a year to the day we met. We've been together through lost babies, sick babies, blended family issues, and everything that a married couple goes through. He's my best friend. I talk to him even when he isn't standing there (which sometimes leads to confusion, because I am convinced I told him something, and he has no clue), he's the only one who knows everything there is to know about me. He has never let me down, and has always been what I need. Plus, He ALWAYS smells good, is tall enough to make me feel small, and has really bad eye sight, so is convinced that I am hot, poor guy. I think God did a pretty good job picking him out for me, and I am thankful. I hope and pray that I have been all those things to him.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Finding Some Thankful...

Being thankful has been a little bit of a challenge for me lately, and that's not usually how I operate. I usually am steeped in gratitude for all I have, especially the short people I trip over constantly while trying to accomplish any given task. I hold them in my arms and whisper prayers of thanksgiving. My heart is usually full. Gratitude comes easily to someone who has had sick babies live and near disasters averted.

Then this happened. When we were going through it, I was heartbroken, but found small things to be thankful for. Like our parish priest dropping whatever he was doing the day we found out to come to our home to give us and our dead, unborn babies a blessing. Like the fact that we were able to deliver in a hospital that was very respectful of our grief, and of our sweet boys. And the nurses who gave us magnificent care. And Sister Kathleen who came to see us three times during our hospital stay to pray with us, and finally, to give our babies a final blessing.

I was grateful that my mother and father-in-law made sure our kids at home had a hot, grandma prepared meal. I was grateful that my sister had come to stay with them, so that they would have a grown up telling them that everything was going to be okay, dole out hugs, and provide some cheer. I was so very, very grateful that everyone heeded our request to go through the labor and delivery of our babies alone. We were able to sit in the quiet, hold hands, cry, pray, and let sleep come when it would. We didn't have to pretend for anyone, that we were okay. For that, I was especially grateful. I was grateful that my mother prayed for me, and reminded me that Our Blessed Mother is right here, always praying for me, when I wouldn't pray myself. I have been very grateful for the words of other mothers who have been through this. Your words have reminded me, blessed me, and helped me in so many ways.

It was after we got home, when I had time to think, that the anger over it all set in. I was so, so angry. I had prayed, and prayed, and prayed for the safety and health of my babies. I felt betrayed, sad, confused. You see, God has so rarely ever answered my prayers with 'no'. I have had babies, lots of 'em. Prayers answered. I have had sick babies get well. More prayers answered. I prayed for these little babies for weeks and weeks. I was so scared something was wrong. Maybe that was God preparing my heart, just a little, for what was to come.

It's hard being mad at God. I'm not as religious as some, and more religious than others, but I consider myself a woman of faith. I thought my faith was deep, and abiding, and would accept whatever God had in store for me. I never expected to feel anger towards Him. I was shocked at myself, and the level of my anger. I begged Him to understand - all the while knowing that He did. He knows my heart. He knows it so well, that He knew how angry I would be before I did. Perhaps that's why I had this sort of intuition that things were not going to go well.

I am finding my way back. Little by little, I am less angry...less questioning. I am starting to accept that He creates for His kingdom. His ways are not the ways of man. (Sound familiar? I have been constantly repeating this to helps.)Some of you Catholic mamas will be shocked at this...but I haven't been back to Mass since this all happened. I have found legitimate excuses. But they are still excuses. My husband and I stopped at our local Catholic bookstore the other day, and with it's quiet music, religious items everywhere, well, I just wanted to cry, standing there. I made my purchases and we got out of there as fast as we could. I know when I go back to church, I will cry. My soul is already clawing at me to go. I wish I could go alone. I need to find a daily Mass where no one knows me. Then I could sit in the back and cry all I want, and no one would say anything to me. I want to lay all this at His feet, at the feet of my Lord and ask Him "Why?!" and yell at Him, because He can take it, and then hug Him, and have Him hug me back and tell me that my little babies, all of them, are just fine. That they are waiting for me. I know they are, so I need to start finding my thankfulness again.
So, in that mindset, I want, need, have to try and remind myself of all the beautiful things for which I am thankful. Tomorrow, I will start with my husband.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A New Way of Thinking...

When I was pregnant, my mind constantly revolved around how we were going to move bedrooms around for our twins, how many nursing bras I would need, whether we would be painting the bedroom that would be the nursery (for girls) or just dress it up a bit for boys. Doug and I had a constant but friendly battle over names going, and I would have to say that a good 70% of my thinking revolved around babies, doctors, pregnancy, nursing, or some other baby related topic.

Actually, I have been either pregnant or nursing or both for the last nearly 16 years. All of it. No breaks in between. To suddenly have only me physically dependent on my body is weird. I feel like I am having a bit of an identity crisis. If I go to take a pain reliever, I stop and think first, and then realize, I can do whatever I need to, without consideration for how it will affect a wee one. To some this might be welcome, but it just makes me sad.

I need a new way of thinking about my life, my own body, and the way the future is stretching out in front of me. We've had so many miscarriages, and this last one is beyond anything we have gone through before. My husband is staunchly in the "no more babies" camp. I wish I were. Six months ago, I would have told you I was in that camp too, and meant it. But, six months ago, I was still nursing our baby, Yeb. Six months ago I was tired. Six months ago, I hadn't just lost my twin boys. I know that another pregnancy would not bring back my boys, but it might fill some of the ache. It might (I have long since learned that a pregnancy does not necessarily mean a living babe in arms) fill my aching arms, and it might help the tears stop. I know that this is a knee jerk reaction to loss. I have had this same reaction every time we have lost a baby. The urge to be pregnant, hold a baby, nurse a baby comes on so strong. I think I am driving my poor husband crazy. I know he understands, and I am also aware that he considers it a normal, though irrational reaction to loss. He is waiting for me to get over it, patiently. He gently reminds me of why it's not a good idea to have any more babies (aside from the fact that he turned 49 yesterday). But, BUT, BUTTTTTT. I am full of "buts". But I want a baby. But Yeb is still so small that it won't be that big a difference, but I have wanted a little girl for so long. But I am so selfish.

I know what my husband, who has been by my side for all of the last 16 years of babies, miscarriages, emergencies, sick babies, and so many other things, wants. We've been through a LOT. Not as much as some, but still... a lot. He needs to be able to be his age a little. Not a new dad every 2 years or so. But that isn't even why. He thinks I have been through too much. He thinks we've pushed our luck too far, too many times. 16 years, 12 pregnancies, 7 babies. Three babies very ill at birth. It's been hard, and scary. And incredible. It's been our life. I need a new way of thinking about life that doesn't mean babies... and that's hard for me. I have dreamt of nothing but having babies since I was about 12 years old. I just wanted babies. A couple of times I have gotten to a point where I thought I would be comfortable if we never had another baby. When I got pregnant with Luke, I was so tired, and I was a little dismayed. But, he was Doug's (and God's) idea. He wanted another baby - and so we had our Luke. Then, after Yeb - being born c-section and sick, we thought that would be a good time to be done having babies, but I never really ruled it out in my head. I had dreams of a sweet little pink bundle. Those dreams are hard to give up, even though I know that we have been abundantly blessed. But, I guess it's time. My body has become more of a death trap for a baby than a cozy place to grow. We are getting older, and we could even have grandchildren in the next few years. It's time to close this chapter and move on to the next one. I'm not ready. I still dream of that bundle of sweetness. I still want babies. I guess acceptance of this new phase of life will come in time.

If you are one of my babies reading this, I want you to know this...all the heartache, all the scares, all the hospitals and doctors and losses...every second I got to hold you, nurse you, love you. Each and every single second of that was worth all of this.