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. 

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.

facesoflossfacesofhopebutton2

three

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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Torn | The ‘DO’ list

Pregnancy loss. Baby loss.

You would be surprised just how often I get a text, facebook message, email, or blog comment about it. At least once every two weeks. Oftentimes more. In the last week alone I’ve gotten three messages. And every.single.time, I want more than anything to ignore it. Because answering those questions, describing how I felt, what I did and didn’t need, hearing the details of another mom’s pain, I loathe it. It hurts. It’s hard. And it takes me back to that ‘body-racking-sobs alone in the quiet of the night’ kind of pain.

I didn’t want this. I didn’t want to be a ‘face of baby loss.’ I didn’t want to be the person that someone thinks to email for advice when they hear a friend has lost a baby. I don’t want to answer those emails, to hear their stories.

BUT. but. I truly believe that the Lord works good through all things (Romans 8:28). And part of the good I have seen come out of our loss of Job is the opportunity to share my story with other women. To be a sounding board, an understanding shoulder, someone who gets it.

I’m torn.

I do it. I answer the emails. I give advice, I tell my story. Personal, painful details. And I am thankful for the opportunity to love on someone else. But I’ve noticed that it has an impact on my life at home, on my mood, on my daily life. So I’ve decided to create a little guide. A resource on my blog for ways you can help a friend going through a loss, good things to say, what to avoid, what they might want to hear.

Please don’t feel like you can’t email me, or ask me specific questions. And if YOU are experiencing the loss, by all means, please contact me! But maybe this will help you know how to be there for a friend or relative. And just keep in mind, every mother is different and every mother will grieve differently. Some will agree with me and others won’t. Think about your friend and what you know of her personality and how she has handled hard times in the past. It will be different for everyone.

  • DO take her meal. Something warm and in something disposable. Meals are the last thing on her mind.  But drop it at the front door and send her a text that it’s waiting. I promise you she will appreciate not having to open the door in week-old pajamas with messy hair and red-rimmed eyes. 
  • If she has older children, include a new coloring book, some stickers or chalk, or a little dollar bin toy. I promise you the whole house will appreciate the few moments of entertainment. And maybe a little sweet treat too. Joy will be in short supply around her house, no matter how hard she tries. Help her to not feel like she is failing her living children by providing little joyful times. Offer to babysit, but understand she may not want her children out of her sight for now.
  • DO text her on the way to the grocery store to see if she needs milk or bread. It’s just not fun to start sobbing in the frozen food aisle as another new mother walks by you. She will appreciate not having to make a trip.
  • DO send a card or email. And don’t expect a response. She wants to know people are thinking of her, but once again, she doesn’t want to cry in front of everyone, and no matter what you say, she will cry.
  • DON’T avoid the topic when you see her or talk to her.  You both are thinking about it, just ignoring it doesn’t help. Don’t be too afraid to say the wrong thing and instead not say anything at all, that’s actually worse most of the time.
  • Words of encouragement are good, but realize there’s a time and place. Telling a woman 3 days after she buried her child that it is for the best and she can always have more children is just not appropriate. She will never be able to replace the child she lost. And while I believe God works good in all things, even the loss of a child, she needs time to come to terms with that, and it may take years. Dropping an encouraging bible verse or CD off with a meal, or in a card is good.
  • DO use her child’s name. It will be very painful, but very healing too. She desperately wants validation that no matter how short of a time her baby spent on this earth, that he/she will be remembered and that he/she was important. Send her a message randomly, or on the baby’s due date or birthday. Just a simple, I was thinking of ____ and wanted to tell you that I remember and love him/her. You have no idea how much that will mean.
  • More than anything, most mothers who have lost a child simply want someone to acknowledge how tragic and awful it is. People try to be encouraging and uplifting, which is good. But sometimes just hearing someone else say what they are feeling is more healing than anything else. This sucks. It’s not fair. It’s tragic and terrible. It simply is wrong that healthy babies are born to parents who don’t want them while loving parents lose wanted children. That may not be the ‘correct Christian answer’ or biblically uplifting, but I promise you she is thinking it. And will for a while. It takes time to come to grips with any kind of loss, but part of that is acknowledging that it isn’t fair or right. This imperfect human life isn’t fair, and we will never truly understand the ‘whys’ of anything until we stand before our Lord.
  • DO keep extending invitations to her to get out, have play dates or girl time. But don’t pressure. She will decline at first, simply not understanding how the rest of the world keeps going when hers has come to a complete halt. But when she’s ready, eventually, it will be easier to begin to pick up the pieces and take those baby steps back into her forever changed life if the invitations are there.
  • DO let her grieve. Do give her time and space to be upset and hurt and withdrawn. Every woman will react differently. Some will look like they continue on without a beat, even when they are broken inside. Others will take weeks or months or more to just get to some semblance of normal. Keep the lines of communication open but don’t be offended if she isn’t talking to you. DO make sure she is talking to someone, her mom, husband, friend, or another baby loss mama. She may only seek out one person and that’s ok, as long as she has someone.
  • DO buy, recommend, or mail her about this book. I Will Carry You by Angie Smith. She writes a beautiful, honest, heart wrenching story of coming to terms with the loss of a child from Christian standpoint. She addresses a lot of the why’s and questions in a truly seeking Christlike manner. I read it several times a year and learn and accept something new each time.

Remember, this loss will forever be a part of her. Ten years from now, you may not remember, but she will. She will never forget. And it will be a constant bittersweet longing to hold her baby until the day they are reunited with our Lord. She is forever changed. And it’s up to her to make it for the better. As a friend, all you can do is love her. Anything you do truly out of love will be ok. It will be the right thing. If you care enough to worry, then you will make the right choice.

Once again, please don’t let this stop you from contacting me. I truly want to help, and I will get back to you. But maybe this can be a starting point for you, something to think about. I pray peace and discernment over you as you seek to be a Christ-like friend. God bless.

Job. My boy. This is all because of you. The people I have gotten to talk to, to witness to. It’s all because of you sweet boy. Your weren’t here long, but look at all the good you have done. You have grown me and challenged me and you hold me accountable every day. I would have much preferred to get to mother you, to not have to learn to live without you. I didn’t want this responsibility or experience, but sweet Job, you have made me a much better mother, friend, wife, and child of God. I miss you  everyday Job. Every kick from bunny makes me think of the tiny, fleeting kicks you gave me. Of the feeling of your life inside me. Enjoy it up there baby, I can’t wait to hold you someday. But until then, I will take my pain and MAKE it for the better, with the Lord’s help, for you. I love you, Mama.