Job | tears and giggles

“Thy will be done.

I know you see me.

I know you hear me, Lord.

Thy will be done.”
Sweet Job. Nearly six years baby boy, since I held you. Six years that the world has moved on without you in it. 

I’m sitting here, alone in my car, eating food I shouldn’t be eating, dreading the fact it’s September. Every year, I can’t hide from it. 

These days, I go months without the breath-stealing pain. Most days I can think of you, mention you in conversations, tell your story, without it triggering that deep emptiness you left. 

But there are always those triggers that I least expect. Those are the ones that make me miss you more than I can even comprehend. When I’m watching a show while folding laundry and a mama with an 8 month is sitting on her couch at her husband’s funeral. Someone offers to hold the squirming baby, but instead she holds him tighter and buries her face in the baby’s neck and quietly sobs. 

I know how that feels. To need to cling to the life around you as another life slips away. 

I know Jarvis doesn’t remember it, but he was 9 months old when you were born sleeping. And there were so many days that I sat, alone, on the floor in that house we moved into just so we would have room for you. I would sit and hold on as tightly as I could while I sobbed and my precious 9 month old giggled and patted the tears streaming down my face. He would laugh and then finally pull away to crawl away to play. And the emptiness inside me would echo without you, Job. 

But his giggles are part of what helped me carry on without you, Job. One of my most vivid memories of the day we found out you were gone are his giggles. We had just been to the very short ultrasound. I saw the still line over your heart, but they wouldn’t tell us anything. They said we would need to come back tomorrow to see the midwife. Barely holding on to the last shred of hope, I insisted we speak to her today. As we sat in the waiting room at the OBs, watching the big bellies walk by, i was trying to not breakdown, not yet, not until someone told me for sure. When we finally went in, after hours, the midwife saw my red, splotchy chest and face, my nearly hyperventilating breath, and asked if I was ok. I told her I was afraid something was wrong with the baby. She placed her hand on my knee and said the words that changed my entire life. “The baby is gone. There’s no heartbeat.” 

In that moment, as I sobbed and clutched Jarvis, he patted my tears and giggled. What incredible grace for Lord to give me that precious, giggling baby to pull me from the depths of my grief over losing you, Job. Everyday, as I felt the emptiness of my soul echo without you, He put that giggling baby right back in my lap.

He taught me that in the midst of sorrow there is joy. He taught me that we must endure the greatest sufferings of this world to appreciate the joy, the blessings. He taught me that my children, the 5 with me and the 3 with Him, none of them were ever mine. They are but His, on loan.

And when I hit a trigger now, when I find myself, in the middle of a laundry basket, unable to see for the tears that fills my eyes, unable to breathe for the sobs that fill my chest, He puts another blessing in my lap. Another giggling baby to pat my cheeks and laugh. Another toddler to beg to be picked up, another child requesting a snack, a big kid skipping excitedly to show me their latest lego creation. 

I don’t have you, Job. I can’t watch you learn to read or ride a bike. I don’t know your favorite color or who you look like. I don’t know what your favorite foods are or how you like your hamburger. I don’t know if your personality is like the bears or the buddies or something all your own. I don’t know you. 

All I know is the fading memory of the feel of your tiny legs kicking me. The cleft of your chin, your big eyes, how you loved when I ate sweets.  And I know how it feels to walk around eith a piece of you missing everyday. I know the pain.

And because I know the pain of living without you, I also know the joy of life. 

I have 5 beautiful, intelligent, healthy, frustrating, challenging, life-giving kids filling my life.

So thank you again, my sweet precious boy, for teaching me the greatest lessons of my life. Loss. And life. 

I’ll let myself grieve you again this month. I’ll let myself feel the triggers and relive the dark moments. And I’ll let the others pat my cheeks and giggle. And I’ll take a deep breath and live my life more patiently, more compassionately,  more fully, more Christ-filled when I remember you. 

Til the day I can hold you again, 

Love, Mama. 
Read more about Job and our other baby losses. 

day thirteen | national pregnancy and infant loss day | write31days

I thought a lot about what to say in this post.

To tell the truth, I’ve said nearly every thing before. And since this day falls just a month after the anniversary of Job’s birth, and just two months after our most recent miscarriage, I’ve posted about this recently.

So what do I want to say today, on this day that serves to remind us of pregnancy and infant loss?

Well first off, I want to rejoice on just how open people are now about baby loss.

I’m thankful that many of my friends have opened up in their own losses.

I’m thankful for the older ladies that have shared stories of their lost babies with me, many of them who had rarely talked about their babies with anyone.

I’m thankful that more and more it’s becoming common to share your pregnancy early (at least with close friends and family), so that you have support, whether it’s in a joyful birth or a heartbreaking loss.

 

This last miscarriage, it was different for me. Like I said, it was early, earlier than the rest, we only had a handful of days to begin to dream of this new life. We didn’t tell anyone (except the two ladies who happened to be with me the day I took the test, and couldn’t help but notice my shock!).

To be honest, I cried a few tears and then tucked the thoughts and pain away. This child never had a heartbeat. Development stopped before that could happen. I told myself it was different. I told myself I was fine. I’d done this before.

Just a few days later, I found myself sharing with another woman about the miscarriage. And her reaction stopped me in my tracks.

She was heartbroken for me. She grieved for the life and hope I had lost. She teared up for me. Her words, “If we truly believe life begins at conception, then you should take the time to grieve for the life you lost.”

Ugh. She’s right.

Just when did baby loss become so normal to me?

It’s common, yes. But the loss of life is never to be glossed over.

Jace and I have each lost a grandparent this year, and the grief process over each of them has been long and hard.

Obviously I grieved Job and Monkey.

The difference?

I was telling myself that since we only had a few days to get attached to this one, that it hurt less.

 

But I was fooling myself. I’ve said it before, and I do believe it, every loss, no matter how small, how early, or how brief, is devastating.

Thanks to my friend’s words, I finally made myself face the real feelings behind our most recent loss. I let myself feel the pain, and along with it came the echos of pain from before. The emptiness inside. The nights of crying in the dark at the sheer stillness inside me.

That, that is what I was avoiding, the inevitable fall off the cliff into the memories of pain. But our child deserved it. I needed it to heal.

 

So today, I just want to encourage you to not lessen any loss. To realize that every loss, no matter how early or for what reason, is exactly that, the loss of a life. Of hopes and dreams and knowledge.

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Dearest Piggy,

I’m sorry that I didn’t let myself feel your loss. I’m sorry that we didn’t get to meet you. I will always wonder who you were and what you might have been. But I am thankful that your brother and Monkey were there to greet you. I am thankful that you never knew the pain of this world. Someday, I can not wait to hold you! Until then, we will love you forever,

Mama


 

(What is #write31days?? Check out here to learn– and check out the #write31days post to see all the posts together.)

four | remembering

Every year, I anticipate it. It’s this mixed feeling of dread and excitement.

His birthday is approaching. The anniversary of his death.

Our son, Job Whitcomb.

For me, it’s both. Which is why my emotions are so complicated as the 18th approaches.

It’s like I finally have an excuse to reflect on him, to share the thoughts that I think all year-round, but keep to myself. Because for some reason, grief is only acceptable in pre-determined moments. But that’s not how it works. It comes in waves, sparked by the most unexpected things. So I find myself excited, because I can talk of him more freely. It’s like a free pass to allow myself to feel that pain, to remember, to celebrate, to share.

He didn’t breathe a breath on this earth, but it’s still the day I held him for the first time. It’s still the day that I memorized his face. The face that I see in Joelle.

It’s also the day that my life changed forever. Completely and irrevocably.

It’s the first day that I truly felt God in my life.

 

I remember that sometime in that year after we first lost him, I came across a new book that sounded wonderful. One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. I remember it being wonderful, a story of finding joy in the everyday. I actually changed my previous blog’s name for that reason. But the details of the book were fuzzy as time went on.

A month ago, while cleaning out some shelves, I grabbed it again and decided I needed to read it again. I stuck it in my reading basket and have thought of it many times.

But today, despite that I am halfway through another book, I picked it back up, ready for a re-read. And I got lost immediately.

See I had forgotten the first chapter. The chapter that made me cry incessantly the first time around, and brought me to tears again. It’s that God-timing. He knew I needed to read it again this week. I wish I could type out the whole book for you, really- just go read it. But basically the first chapter is about her discovery of the Lord. And it highlights the tragic loss of her younger sister as toddler when she was run over by a vehicle and the loss of two of her nephews to a rare genetic condition. Which of course, speaks to me instantly, the loss of a child. But these words, oh how they haunt me.

“I think of buried babies and broken, weeping fathers over graves, and a world pocked with pain, and all the mysteries I have refused, refused, to let nourish me. If it were my daughter, my son? Would I really choose the manna? I only tremble, wonder. With memories of gravestones, of combing fingers through tangled hair, I wonder too… if the rent in the canvas of our life backdrop, the losses that puncture our world, our own emptiness, might actually become places to see.

To see through to God.

That that which tears open our souls, those holes that splatter our sight, may actually become the thin, open places to see through the mess of this place to the heart-aching beauty beyond. To Him. To the God whom we endlessly crave. 

Maybe so.” Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts

 

Um, yeah.

Oh Lord, that I might let you take these gaping holes to use for You.

Losing Job knocked a hole so large in my life, in my perceptions, in my concepts of life and goodness, and it’s only now that I can see God’s light streaming through it.

I truly believe God doesn’t set out to cause us pain, but I do believe he can work in incredible ways through it. As most of you know, shortly after we lost Job, we had another miscarriage, Monkey.

 

We had another miscarriage about a month ago. It was early, our earliest.

I’ve posted about our choice to use Natural Family Planning. But the process has grown us a lot since that post. We actively try to seek God’s will and timing each cycle when it comes to if we are ready for another child. We had been preventing for a while but we had both reached a point where we weren’t sure if it was the time for another baby. But we also felt that we were no longer sure it wasn’t time. We didn’t feel that it was clearly being revealed. So we decided to simply trust and leave it up to Him. To trust that God would carry out His will in our lives. Trust that He knows our family and it’s needs and it’s future better than we do.

Clearly, although we were still unsure as to God’s direction, He intended for us to conceive. That’s why we practice Natural Family Planning anyway. To make room for His plans, His will.

Although we had been a bit unsure of what He would bring, we were pretty thrilled, a new life is always a blessing. But just as we began to get ready to spread the news,  it became apparent that this pregnancy would not continue. And despite the brevity of our pregnancy, we still grieved. Because we believe, from that very first moment, a life begins.

But we are thankful. For the brief moments of knowing this latest little one. For the days spent dreaming of who this would be and how our lives would grow. For the moments we had with our others. For the four littles running about. For the chance to seek His will. For the chance at new life.

And we will continue to approach NFP month by month, trying to to prayerfully consider the timing of adding to our family, the timing of adding another blessing. For this, this family, these children, they are our most important ministry.

 

Sweet Job, you changed my life forever, from the first moment I came running down the stairs with that pregnancy test to your daddy feeding your 3 month old big brother. To the last moment that they carried you out of my room. I still long for you to be here with us, wrestling with your big brother, digging in the dirt with the twins, tickling baby Jean. But oh the glories you must see daily. I hope you welcomed your brother or sister. I wish I could know you three. Could of had the chance to mother you. Someday, I will hug the three of you, and I can’t wait!

Love, mama

 

October 15th | pregnancy and infant loss awareness

It has been a rough couple of months for several of my friends, as they have experienced reoccurring losses and anniversaries of babies gone. So I just wanted to remember on today, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day, all the babies who dance with our Lord as their parents grieve.

I can only imagine the joy those sweet, innocent babies feel as they bask in His Eternal Glory. I can’t wait to see it someday. Until then… may His peace and love comfort grieving hearts.

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My Job.

I wear this necklace every day. It has your name, your birth date. I rarely take it off. I seem to need it. I reach for it unconsciously all the time. Find my thoughts drift to you as I grasp the metal. Even more as September begins. I feel incomplete without it on. I feel incomplete without you.

I don’t like this month. As I feel it nearing, my emotions become more raw, closer to the surface.

It’s been three years. I don’t understand how. The days slip by so quickly.

And yet, I can still clearly see the stillness of that line as the wand hovered over your heart. I can feel the searing pain in my heart as the last contraction brought you silently into this world. One you would never open your eyes to see.

No, your eyes will only ever behold the glory of the eternal life your Father has set out for us. I know you have it better than any of us here.

But, oh sweet boy, I miss you. I will always miss you.

love, mama

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