Thursday, May 28, 2009

My Creative Touch

What else can I do at a time like this other than make creative stuff to include in Olivia's memorial service? I guess creativity is just such a part of me, it can't help but show itself during whatever season of life I'm in. Here's just a small part of what I worked on today:

Those are each of my daughter's hands, holding something meaningful to our life with Olivia. I had previously scanned Olivia's footprints, so I've been using those as accents to the program and handouts for her service. Maybe people will think they are just a cute little pink decoration, but I think it's all the more special that they are her actual footprints! I have this intense need to make everything as special as possible. I think it's because I feel like this is the last thing we will ever do for Olivia. I don't know if other parents who have gone through this have felt that way or not. Having lots of little details to take care of is pretty exhausting, not to mention the grief itself, but it is kinda healing in a way to be able to do all of these creative little things for my daughter. Guess it's just another small way of expressing my love for her.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Holding on to Hope... the title of a book sent to me by my wonderful blogging friend Saralyn. Subtitled, A Pathway through Suffering to the Heart of God, the author's words are both amazing, encouraging, and soul-piercing all at the same time. I cry every time I pick it up. It reminds me of exercise in a way: I really don't *want* to do it, but I know it's good for me & I'll feel better after I do. Yesterday, my mom was here babysitting & when we returned she said, "I picked up that book and started reading it. How does she know exactly what I'm feeling?" Drawing on her own personal journey through painful {infant} loss, the chapters are short, but cut straight to His truth, based on the book of Job. I'm sure this won't be the last time I share about how God is changing me through what I've read....

Yesterday's chapter was titled "Mystery". It reflected on how we feel when God just isn't speaking to us, when it seems like He's silent as we're seeking answers or attempting to understand our suffering. Job can relate. I can relate. And I'm sure most of you can too. Job questioned. He struggled for it all to make sense. God didn't explain. He only answered Job's questions with more questions: Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Have you ever in your life commanded the morning...? Have you entered the springs of the sea or walked in the recesses of the deep? Have you entered the storehouses of the snow, or have you seen the storehouses of the hail...? {emphasis mine}

The author explains that God didn't reveal His plan to Job and He doesn't reveal everything to us either. Instead He reveals Himself. But it was one short sentence in the chapter that stopped me in my tracks. The rest of what I read was a blur because all I could think about was these seven difficult words:

God does not owe us an explanation.

And still now, it's so true, but yet I can't get 'past' that truth. After that sentence the author goes on to say that if He did explain the reason for our suffering, we think it would make the suffering easier. But would it? I'd have to agree with her that, no, it would not make the pain more bearable. I would not cry any less tears. My heart would not be any less broken if I knew the whys or what fors.

Over the last weeks, I've felt like the more I learn about God, the more mysterious He seems
{if that makes any sense} and the more sovereign I believe Him to be because it is revealed more and more to me that 'His ways are far above our ways'. And so I dare not even ask why {although all along I've always known the answer, which I'm sure I'll share in another post} and I pray I'll come to accept that He doesn't owe me an explanation for my pain. Moreso, I hope that, like Job, since I know who God is, I will be able to accept what God gives , even when I don't understand it.

Still Holding On~

Friday, May 22, 2009

While I Wait

This is the song I picked to listen to while viewing Olivia's obituary online for the first time. Here is a simple video of the song in case you are unfamiliar with it.

While I'm Waiting

I'm waiting
I'm waiting on You, Lord
And I am hopeful
I'm waiting on You, Lord
Though it is painful
But patiently, I will wait

I will move ahead, bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience
While I'm waiting
I will serve You
While I'm waiting
I will worship
While I'm waiting
I will not faint
I'll be running the race
Even while I wait

I'm waiting
I'm waiting on You, Lord
And I am peaceful
I'm waiting on You, Lord
Though it's not easy
But faithfully, I will wait
Yes, I will wait
I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting
I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting
I will serve you while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting on You, Lord

And just as in the days following our T18 diagnosis, I find myself waiting again. Waiting for the heartache to dull a little. Waiting for Him to lead me from the darkness into the light. Waiting for the day when I can see Olivia again.

Trying to be faithful in the wait~

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

One Month Ago...

One month ago today, I awoke to a seemingly normal day. Showered. Got dressed. Had breakfast. The usual. My mom arrived late morning to care for our munchkins & Hubs and I headed off to our level II ultrasound appointment. I remember the weather being unseasonably nice. We stopped at Panera and grabbed some lunch, eating in the car as we drove along. I got us lost {I thought I remembered the directions.....} and we arrived at the hospital a few minutes late. We didn't wait too long before being ushered into the ultrasound room. We got to see our beloved Olivia on the BIG flat-panel screen, which Hubs was quite impressed with. They were short staffed, so the tech left and returned several times, trying to get the doctor to come and discuss our results. I remember Hubs saying, "You're not worried, are you?" I did feel a little silly for maybe being too concerned about something that could turn out to be nothing. And then the doctor came in. Rick remembers him saying, "Has anyone talked to you about anatomy?" As he scanned, the doctor typed all sorts of terms on the screen: Dandy Walker. VSD. Left cleft lip/palate. Most of what he said next was a blur, but I remember how he began.

There's a lot going on here.

And that's the moment when I felt like my whole world came crashing down around me. All I could do was scream, alternating between "NO" and "GOD". Unless you've experienced it, I'm not sure I could describe it. It's as if that noise was coming from somewhere down deep in my soul and I just. couldn't. stop. My dear husband, bless his heart, did the best he could. He cried. He held me fiercely. I remember him telling my mom on the phone, "Just pray. It's really bad." I remember that I couldn't bring myself to look him in the eyes. To this day, I still don't know why. Maybe if I could avoid the pain and fear in his gaze that I knew was there, I could convince myself that things weren't so terrible.

No amount of convincing, though, could change the path that our lives had so suddenly careened upon. Trisomy 18 had entered our lives and would change them all forever. And as I sit here, exactly one month later, only 4 weeks between diagnosis and Olivia's death, I'm still shaking my head at the.....suddenness of it all. What happened to my old life? Did it really change in the blink of an eye? Is life truly that fragile?

Since many of you tell me, "Let me know if there's anything I can do....", I think today I will take you up on that offer. Here's what you can do for me: Hug your babies extra tight. Be a little more patient with everyone. Let the dishes soak a little longer and go play in the grass. Give your husband that extra dose of grace that you may not think he deserves, but so desperately needs. Call that friend that you've been estranged from and make things right.

And then, come back and tell me about it. If you don't want to tell me specifics, feel free to simply write: I celebrated life today. It'll give me blessings to focus on, instead of thinking about where I was one month ago. And I think you might just get blessed in the process as well.

Holding On,

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Let ME Help YOU

I have heard some of my dear friends express feelings of helplessness during the last few weeks. Sometimes they tell me point-blank that they don't know what to do or what to say. Sometimes the expression is a little more subtle. Sometimes I wonder if people are avoiding me because my grief makes them uncomfortable or because they just don't know what else to do. I came across a series of ten posts on How to Help Your Grieving Friend written by Molly Piper. The series doesn't take long to read through and it's well worth it. I have read each and every post & can say that they offer excellent insight into how grief upends someone's life.

Let me know if you find something particularly insightful.

Proud to Call You My Friends~

Friday, May 15, 2009


**one of my last pregnancy pictures taken the morning we left for the hospital**

Everything is so mixed up right now, I don't even know what to say. I feel such overwhelming gratitude to everyone for all your prayers.
Really. In my entire life, I have never felt such love and care or sense of "community", for lack of a better word, as I do now. I kinda feel like I owe it to ya'll to at least say something. So this is my feeble attempt at (yet another) update.

I realize you might be wondering, but I'll have to be brief about this part. The delivery was....
traumatic. I just can't think of a more appropriate word to use. It was...uh...very different from a "normal" delivery. There definitely was God's grace in certain respects {relatively painless comparatively & I praise Him for that}, but in other respects, I couldn't find Him there. The details of what happened are perhaps things that no one ever talks about. Things that even "they" don't want to tell you, so that you won't be freaked out beyond belief. I wish I were more prepared. Then again, I don't even know that there is any amount of preparation that could cover a delivery like what I experienced. I really need prayer that I will actually forget certain things. Please pray that God has mercy on my memories.

As for this moment, we are home now. It is quiet here & I am resting. Other than a backache, which I am going to care for shortly, I am not in any physical pain. We have plenty of food, as we went on huge grocery run on Monday {God must've known I needed to stock up}. Thanks to several angels, our house is clean. I mean, white-glove clean. I don't know what I've done to deserve such amazing friends.

We are preparing for a private burial tomorrow, which I know will be bittersweet. This might not make sense to some of you, but I am mostly feeling a sense of relief. Just relief that this leg of our journey is over, even if I did not end as I so fervently prayed that it would. I can not accurately describe the emotional agony that we had experienced over the last several weeks, so to have that specific chapter come to an end is just....
relieving. It has been replaced with a sadness and pain that is altogether different. But like I keep telling others, I am just grieving for myself and my family and what we have lost, not actually for Olivia, if you can gather that.

As I was being wheeled through the hospital to leave, I was crying to myself that I am leaving this place without being able to bring Olivia home. And in that moment I distinctly felt Him say...

...She already is

Thanking Him for all of You~

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Olivia was delivered, please continue to pray.

Update~ *updated at bottom*

Friend filling in for Ric and Becki:

Please continue to pray for Becki in her delivery of Olivia. They went to the hospital yesterday morning and Bec was started on Pitocin at 8am. Throughout the day only mild contractions. They stayed the night and she has now been started on a stronger medication, if in 4 hours there is no change they with make the dose even stronger. She is dilated to 1 and needs to get to 6.

Thank you so very much to all who are praying, and the encouraging comments given, I know that it means the world to them in this very difficult time.

*I will continue to update anything the family wants me to on this post, so please feel free to continue to check in and PRAY! *
Becki's water has broke and she is now at 2. They have doubled the dosage again so that things continue to move along. Thankfully the dr is determined to help bec deliver today. Thank you again for your continued prayers.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

In His Arms

Dear Friends,

I think simply saying what I need to say will be best: Olivia is with Jesus now. I had not been feeling her move for the last day and a half, so this morning we went to the hospital just to check. Little Olivia's heart had, in fact, stopped beating here on earth, but we know that her body is whole, healed, and playing in Heaven! It is the miracle that we've all been praying for, even if it doesn't look the way we quite expected.

This morning was so beautifully clear and sunny as we drove to the hospital. Truly majestic. I cherished the peaceful car ride, the blue sky, and His warmth on my face. I told my Lord that He created this day and whatever He had for me, I would accept it. I prayed for immeasurable comfort and peace, as I planned to have confirmed what my heart already knew: Olivia was home.

The last three weeks seem like such a whirlwind and at times, it barely seemed like it was truly my own life that I was living. One prayer that has remained constant for me was for God's mercy. I would cry out to Him and tell Him that I didn't know what that mercy looked like for me, but that I needed it so desperately. And He is so gracious to have heard my prayer and granted me what He knew I needed. I know that tomorrow, once again, I will need His mercy more than ever.

Please pray for our broken hearts during this time and especially for me tomorrow, as I begin the induction process at 6 am. I'm sure it will be one of the longest and most difficult days of my life, not only physically, but for my tender heart as I prepare to say Hello and Goodbye all at the same time.

Most Grateful for Your Prayers~

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Other People

I think until something really life-shattering happens to us {or to someone we're close to}, we tend to look at circumstances from the vantage point of "other people". I would hear about something truly terrible on the news that happened to a family or a child and maybe gasp out a "OH! How sad!", then carry on my merry way. I would watch a Dateline special, with slight sad surprise at another family's scary circumstance, feeling an invincible distance.

That would never happen to me.

Those kinds of things only happen to other people. I may not have said it out loud, but it was definitely there. We don't think our kids will ever get abducted. We can't believe our children would be victims of a school shooting. My child be sexually abused by someone I trust? Nope. Not mine! Or perhaps it's something like your house being foreclosed on, stumbling upon your spouse's addiction, or hearing your doctor's words: it's cancer. Other people, right? The things is: it's someone's child. It's someone's family. It's someone's life that was shattered in an instant. With a phone call. When an officer showed up at their door. When a drunk driver ignored the red light. When the ultrasound tech took much longer than necessary examining your baby.

I guess I feel like that invincible distance has been taken away and the few family members I've shared this with feel the same way as well. Because of how our lives have changed, I can no longer hear things like I've mentioned and just sigh from my comfortable vantage point. Just yesterday I ran across a news story about a 33 year old woman in Texas who is the first American citizen to die from the swine flu. She was pregnant & her baby was delivered by c-section after she slipped into a coma. Judy Trunell also left behind a 4 year old daughter. And I couldn't just read that, not immediately be stopped in my tracks, and with tears in my eyes start praying for her family.

I am other people now.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

HE is my Haven

Yesterday Rick & I visited with a perinatal hospice group in our area called The Haven Network. They provide practical and emotional support for families with adverse prenatal diagnosis {how I wish these words weren't even in my vocabulary} and families grieving through infant loss. Although I am really thankful that this is available to us & feeling a sense of relief regarding some of the details, it was just. Too. Much. I'm praising God that Best-Hubby-Ever was right by my side. He asked the questions & filled in the details that I just couldn't. Later yesterday evening I came across this poem and it was just what I needed to read at the moment.

When you are the neediest,
He is the most sufficient.
When you are completely helpless,
He is the most helpful.
When you feel totally dependent,
He is absolutely dependable.
When you are the weakest,
He is the most able.
When you are the most alone,
He is intimately present.
When you feel you are the least,
He is the greatest.
When you feel the most useless,
He is preparing you.
When it is the darkest,
He is the only Light you need.
When you feel the least secure,
He is your Rock and Fortress.
When you are the most humble,
He is the most gracious.
When you can't,
He can.
~Author Unknown

Sometimes I feel like I just "can't". And now I'm reminded....that
I don't have to.

Holding on to Him~

Monday, May 04, 2009


In the few days after our level II ultrasound which revealed some of Olivia's imperfections {can you believe that was exactly 2 weeks ago?}, I dug out a bunch of my unfinished cross-stitching projects. I think keeping my hands busy and seeing the seemingly random stitches come together to make something beautiful is just what I needed. It's proved to be calming during a very stormy season. Speaking of......

Tatiana {7 1/2}: Mom, do you think God will answer our prayers and Olivia will be able to come home with us?

: I sure hope so! God always answers our prayers, it's just that....sometimes the answer is "no".

If God does a miracle and Olivia is healed and is able to live on earth with us, what will we do about the hole in her mouth? {cleft lip/palate}

Well, she'd have to have surgery. They would stitch up that part of her mouth.

{thinking} Kinda like cross-stitching..only...on people!

{chuckling} Yep. Kinda like that.

There have been so many precious conversations similar to this one. Tatiana is just....sometimes so wise beyond her years. It has been amazing to see her understand more about miracles, God, life beyond this earth, healing and more. And since this is just as much my childrens' journey as it is mine, I figure I better preserve a few of these sweet talks for us to look back on in the years to come. Hope this one brought a smile for today.

More Blessed than I Deserve~

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Joining the Journey

I wish I could comment personally on all your wonderful thoughts, but know that I am thankful beyond words that y'all have decided to join in this journey with us. I've said it before, but I can't tell you how encouraged both Rick & I are when we hear that someone else is praying for us or that someone we've never met is thinking of us. With that in mind, I just wanted to touch on a couple of different ways to "make yourself known".

A bit about a blog....
I know that many of you reading never knew what a "blog" was before visiting us here {it's simply an online journal, in case you haven't yet figured that out}. You might not know all the details of a blog, so I thought I'd give you crash course. I'd love to have you "comment" on my posts: leaving your thoughts, questions, kind words that relate to whatever I've written. To do that, you simply click on the word "Comments", which is located just below the post, to the right of the time it was posted. It will have a number in front of it detailing how many comments there are so far. On the following page, you'll type in your comments and select "anonymous", if you don't have a blogger account yourself. Be sure to sign your name in the comments box, so I know who you are. It's that easy. Go ahead and try it! You're only a couple of clicks away :>)

Can be found on the right sidebar of the blog by clicking on the words "email me". Or to make it easier, it's chefgirl96 [at] yahoo [dot] com. If there is something you want to ask me or have some more personal words or an offer of help, please feel free to email me privately. I *love* email and really, all kinds of mail for that matter. I appreciate you sending me websites of other families that have walked this same road, as it is not something I am able to research myself at the moment. I have a growing collection of those & should probably sort them so that I can find everyone more easily. Even though it is utterly painful to have to read about how another family has suffered, at times this journey feels incredibly lonely since it is not something anyone else we know has been through. We also have a growing collection of cards on our mantle from those that are thinking of us and if you want to send us something via snail mail, please email me for my address.

Phone calls....
Don't be afraid to call me. Seriously. I have caller ID and if I don't feel like talking, I just won't answer. This isn't the case the majority of the time, but really, you're not bothering us. It helps to hear about what's going on in other people's lives, since mine just feels really one-tracked right now. Don't feel badly if something really great is happening in your life! I want to hear about it & be able to celebrate in God's goodness with you.

Again, thank you for your prayers. I probably wouldn't be making it through the days without them. I am privileged to call you my friends and have you walk beside us through these dark days.

With a Heart of Thankfulness,