On Tuesday, February 19, 2013 our family gathered at a gravesite to comfort one another and celebrate a precious life. In honor of that life, I wanted to share the words I read at that service....
To think back on the last week of our family's life is not easy. One week ago today our world was shattered by a doctor visit and phone call.
No heartbeat. When I heard the words, I am certain I was like the rest of you. Shocked. Outraged. Horrified.
How could something so final and so hopeless interrupt our family's peaceful world?
My first strategy was one of denial. This can't really be happening. Surely someone will wake us from this nightmare, and we will discover it is simply a cruel joke.
My second strategy was to fix it. To find some way to pull Adam and Kalyn from the pain as quickly as possible, much like a firefighter drags a victim from a burning house. To snuff out the reality of death or at least to soften its cruel blow.
My third was to question it. Why did this happen to us? What did we do wrong? Where is our God in this horrible time of loss?
But, I must say, those strategies only produced for me sleepless nights and desolate, dead end roads in my mind that led to nowhere helpful.
So today I am eager to lead us toward a fourth idea. To embrace together where we are in our journey as a family and to dig deeper to see the Lord's treasures within our family's pain. To celebrate the beauty of a little girl's 16 week life who lived briefly, but purposefully before her God.
Esther Kate Waller. Second born daughter of Adam and Kalyn Waller.
My precious 5th born grandchild.
From whose birth I have gained so much.
From her life I learned.....the depth and loyalty of sacrificial love. I watched a young mother wail for her precious child, willing to exchange her own life for Esther's if she but could ....willing to accept any deformity or defect without question...willing to suffer any pain it would take.
She asked protectively to the few attendants near her birthing bed, "Who's taking care of my baby?" even when her baby had no breath to protect. And suddenly I understood in a deeper way what God revealed about Himself when He said... "Can a mother forget her baby? And have no compassion on the child she has born? Though she may forget, I will never forget you. " (Isaiah 49:15)
From her life I learned....the unconditional acceptance and steadfastness of daddy love .....as I watched Adam gaze at his little six-inch long, immaturely formed daughter laying in his hand and say, "I want to rock her." Proudly he cradled her on his lap as he gently maneuvered the stiff hospital rocking chair. Why? Simply because she was his. Precious. Cherished. And wanted.
And I understood deeper an unconditional love flowing toward another daughter who also is immaturely formed. "For how great is the love the Father has lavished on me that I should be called a child of God!" (1 John 3:1) And that is what I am!
From her life I learned...the beauty of the mystery of life. Where others could have callously termed her little body a “product of conception” or even a demised fetus, I clearly saw a baby. Perfectly formed. Full of energy and life when we peeked in on her via ultrasound at 12 weeks. Properly equipped by her God for a destiny of service to Him. My resolve to honor and protect human life is strengthened from just those few hours in the presence of little Esther. She demonstrated concretely for me those words I sometimes abstractly quoted....."You created my inmost being, You knit me together in my mother's womb." (Psalm 139:13-16)
From her life I learned...the reality of eternity. For my Esther has entered into the place I long to be. I am comforted to know Ging-gi and Mom, my grandmas who held me, are holding Esther now. She broke through this earth into paradise before even having to suffer the struggles of this life...which is actually, not that bad of a deal! She won't need this Grammy to sing her Jesus Loves Me and read her the Bible stories. She already knows Him so completely she will be ready to show me around some day.
From her life I learned....the faithfulness of our God even when my human questions go unanswered. I will still trust Him even when umbilical cords get tangled around legs so tightly that little babies die. I will still trust Him when pain and sorrow are attempting to crush my soul. I know more clearly that right now I am "only able to see as through a glass rather dimly" (1 Corinthians 13:12) but someday, I will see in clarity as Esther, our sister in the Lord, sees now. Everything makes sense for her. And now she stands as a witness urging us on in our race to trust and serve the One she loves completely. (Hebrews 12:1)
From her life I learned....the sensitivity of human grief. Never have I known personally or seen in our children such raw human pain. I thought I knew....but Esther has caused me to grow the size of my heart exponentially. Often we sweep over what pain we don't understand. Truly broken hearts feel miserable. But a broken heart can also become a blessing in disguise. Soft and pliable, it is able to receive beauty for ashes. Joy for mourning. And soon I will be able to comfort others with the comfort I have received from our Lord. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
Esther, through your life, I do believe many other lives will be healed.
Adam and Kalyn, thank you for bringing this child into our lives. Her birth has forever changed our family. She has brought to us exactly what the name you gave her means....secret purity.
The world may never know her, but her destiny, her assignment has been magnificently accomplished. She has brought us secret revelations of the purity of our God.
My treasured grandchild, I love you with an everlasting love.
I miss you terribly. I hurt to see your mama and daddy cry. I deeply wish we could have watched you grow, running hand in hand with your big sister, Kyla. But today, we celebrate who you are in our family and honor what your little life has deposited in us.
Together, we say thank you God, for the blessing of our baby Esther Kate.
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Gratefully linked to: Tell His Story Friday Favorite Things at Finding Joy Faith Filled Friday True Stories Gratituesday Thriving Thursday Winsome Wednesday Legacy Leaver The Better Mom Welcome Home Modest Mondays
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My Experience With Pregnancy After Loss – A Reflection on the Last 8 months
Lately it has been much harder than normal to sit down and organize my thoughts into a blog post. I can hardly believe we are in the final stretch of this pregnancy. The last 8 months have seemed like a blur in many ways. I have had so many things running through my heart, and my mind has been scattered much of the time. When I try to sit and reflect, I recognize consistent patterns of inconsistencies. A big mass of conflicting emotions and thoughts.
I feel like I just have my eyes on September 2, and I am running(or waddling), struggling, striving to just GET there. To get to labor and delivery, have my baby alive and crying, and bring him/her home with me.
It might seem strange to the average mom, but sometimes this feels like a feat as large as climbing Mt. Everest. I have to remind myself that everyday, hundreds of women around the world are pregnant and give birth to living babies. It’s not so difficult. But my heart doesn’t quite understand. I wanted to share a few thoughts on what pregnancy after loss has been like for me…
Pregnancy after loss for me has been:
…Unspeakable joy for the opportunity to carry another child and continuing grief for the life I will never get to know. It is hard to explain the confusing, powerful, assortment of emotions that have been my constant companion since the beginning of this year. I have been stretched and challenged by this conflicting mix daily over the last eight months.
…Days of smiling to the kicks of life in my belly and days weeping at the grave of my second born. Having a baby after the death of a baby is really such a gift. There is a renewed sense of hope in a way. And yet, there is this lingering (even deepened) sense of emptiness knowing that nothing will ever fill the hole left by my little Esther’s absence.
… A combination of moments that take my breathe away – like hearing the heartbeat for the first, second, third time – and moments that I literally can’t breath – like laying on the table while they try to assess and re-assess the health of my baby’s organs. I know pregnancy can always be a roller coaster, but the stakes just seem so much higher now. The ups are so high, and the downs are very low.
…Heart melting moments of seeing Kyla attach to this baby, and heart stabbing moments realizing what she has already missed. It thrills me to see Kyla run up and give my belly kisses, tell the baby how much she loves him/her, and how she will see them soon. Her fascination with babies and excitement over having this little brother or sister is so precious. Yet she should already have a little sister just turning one. I still feel my heart skip a beat every time she says, “Our baby Esther is in heaven” or “I want to go see Esther’s grave. I miss her.” How can a mommy heart fully understand? What beauty and yet what pain interlaced.
…Much easier physically, yet much more difficult emotionally. The uncomfortable side effects of pregnancy just really haven’t bothered me too much this time. I’m pretty sure I feel about the same, I’m just looking at it very differently. When my feet swell, all I can do is waddle, and bouts of sleeplessness set in, it seems so much easier to take it in stride. Instead of being concerned about weight gain, unsightly veins, or stretch marks, I just think about that little heart beating inside of me and these things all seem like such small prices to pay. Yet the emotional stress has been much greater this time around. I wish I didn’t know everything that could go wrong. I miss that innocence.
…Preparing baby things while baby things still represent deep pain to me. This may be hard to understand, but let me explain. After losing Esther, seeing babies and baby things brought fresh pain to my heart. Every time I would walk by baby girl clothes, I would feel the ache. Sometimes I would completely ignore the baby department, and sometimes I would browse through, imagining what she would look like in the soft pink outfits. Every single time I have gone to buy something for this baby, I have found myself in an emotional war zone that many times has led to a tearful breakdown. Since baby stuff has been a “trigger” for this grief, getting ready for another baby has been a constant emotional trigger. I’m thankful for the patience of my hubby as he has lovingly helping me walk through this. You don’t want to know how many trips to a store or website it took me before I finally bought some baby clothes for this little one.
…Exciting and terrifying all at the same time. I can hardly imagine how wonderful it will be to have another baby in our home! Sometimes I feel like I could burst from the excitement. And yet I have hardly known this kind of fear before. I feel like I have to slay dragons every day. My heart and mind remember the trauma so intimately. I know that most people probably do not feel inclined to do kick counts in the middle of the night, but well, most people probably haven’t given birth to a stillborn baby either. Sometimes I have to tell myself to get a grip. This journey has required me to hold onto my God like never before. I often feel like a toddler holding onto their daddy for dear life. I am thankful for the steadfast nature of my Father God that has upheld me day by day.
…Beautiful. I have been able to appreciate the wonder of this process like I never could otherwise. Every flutter, every kick, every ultrasound photo has inspired in me such an awe for the beauty of created life in the womb. How special to get to experience the fullness of this.
…Humbling. I have a very Type A personality. I like to be in control and know what is going on. This whole pregnancy I have felt pretty out of control, out of my league, and unable to figure things out myself. I have felt like my heart is sitting out in the open. I’ve realize that I am really unable to protect myself or my child. I have needed more support. And most of all, I have had to find a hiding place inside my Jesus to get through each day.
So many times this process has seemed like too much for my heart to bear…the waiting, the uncertainty, the what ifs. Yet God has upheld me day by day. He is so faithful. In closing, wanted to share a song that has meant a lot to me in the last few days:
My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:26
We are now 29 days away from the estimated arrival! SO CLOSE!!! Thanks for your continued prayers. Pretty soon, I’ll be introducing a new member of our family!