Tear Triggers

Grief. It is ugly and painful. It hurts down to the soul and leaves me wondering if there is a light at the end of the tunnel. And tear triggers, those things that you experience, see, try to avoid, and dread are terrible and EVERYWHERE!

It has been 5 days already since I said goodbye to my sweet Norah.  And my list of tear triggers and hard things keeps getting longer.  And for the sake of my husband mostly, those I may encounter in the coming weeks, and those going through similar experiences here is a list of hard things/tear triggers…

  1. Coming home/being home with empty arms
  2. Going to a funeral home to pick up the ashes of my baby
  3. Picking out an urn for those said ashes
  4. Talking about my Norah
  5. Not talking about my Norah
  6. Going anywhere knowing you have this huge secret that isn’t a secret that no one knows you went through
  7. Being alone
  8. Collecting all our Norah things from around the house
  9. Experiencing my body recovering like Norah never happened
  10. Looking at myself in the mirror and not seeing evidence of her
  11. Journaling without hope for my baby
  12. Driving by the hospital
  13. First non pregnancy grocery list
  14. Eating healthy…eating at all
  15. Cooking
  16. Cleaning
  17. Sleeping
  18. Getting up in the morning
  19. Doing almost anything productive
  20. Others grieving with me
  21. Others not grieving with me
  22. Being a therapist
  23. Singing
  24. Listening to music
  25. Going to church
  26. Walking by any baby section or display
  27. Seeing pregnancy announcements
  28. Seeing pregnant women
  29. Still getting emails from baby apps
  30. Hospital and medical bills
  31. Not feeling judged by people for my grief
  32. The thought of going back to work

That is a long and overwhelming list…and each of those things I will need to face and then conquer.  It is intimidating.  I find myself completely lost thinking about this list along with all the other things that I will face in the coming days/weeks/months.  I don’t know what life is supposed to look like “After Norah” and yet I have to figure it out…somehow.  One day at a time…actually one minute as a time.  Lord, I can’t do this alone!

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Norah Maye Day

She was perfect.  Woven together so intricately.  So tiny.  So precious. So lovely.  Ten little fingers and ten little toes.  Two sweet little eyes and a button nose.  A sweet little mouth.  A chest where her heart once beat and little lungs and rib cage so small yet so obviously molded together with such love.  She was perfect.   Her arms and legs had elbows and knees and wrists and ankles.  Her fingers had tiny little finger nails and her eyes, precious little eye lids.  Her ears were so small, but still so present.  She was perfect.

God was there on Tuesday.  He was in that room with me and my people.  He was with me during each contraction and cramp.  He was with me during the tears, the pain, the heart break.  He was faithful yesterday and gave us unbelievable grace every step of the 11 hour process.

We arrived at the hospital a little after 5am and were greeted by my good friend, Alyssa, who would be our nurse for the beginning of the morning and would stick around to see us through the delivery.  The induction medicine was administered around 5:30 and the waiting began which was followed shortly by the pain.   Cramps and contractions were consistent eased only by pain meds which were administered only after my anxiety and fear got the best of me and uncontrollable body shakes couldn’t be stopped.   I feared and worried about the pain ahead, it all being over, the unknown of how and when labor would actually happen, and seeing my sweet daughter.  The pain medicine helped ease the pain and anxiety a great deal, that along with prayer and squeezing Jonathan’s or my mom’s hands through each birth pain.

My water broke around 2pm which only led to more cramping and more waiting.  In the 11th hour our Norah Maye was born.  Safely, simply, in an unexpected moment, and without pain her physical body entered this world with the help of Alyssa and our other nurse, Leslie.  The cord was cut and Norah was moved to the scale to be cleaned while I finished the labor process.  So much grace.  With a 15 minutes delivery process she was born at 4:15pm on September 15, 2015.

The following moments were so precious and so perfect.  IMG_2757Jonathan and I knew without any doubt that although we held her in our hands physically, she was being held so much tighter in the hands of her wonderful Savior and Creator.   We gazed upon her in her beautiful perfection and were in wonder and awe of our Jesus.  We had time alone with her and shared memories with her, how God has used her in our lives and in the lives of so many others.  Jonathan said it all too well…

“I can’t help but be in awe of how she literally embodies 2 Corinthians 12:9…”But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” Norah is weak by every human measure and yet, in the Lord’s hands, she was used to work in many lives and in many ways that continually surprised Meghan and I. All human life has purpose, even in its most feeble form. He is good, she is perfect, and they are together. Praise the Lord!”

IMG_0004I kissed my sweet daughter on her hands, her feet, and her little button nose.  She was so fragile and so sweet.  I cried tears of sorrow, pain, joy and relief.  So many emotions that all seemed normal.  We kept her for a while, held her and took in all we could of her lovely little body and then it just seemed right to let her go.  We knew she wasn’t really with us anyway, we have sweet pictures of her to remember her here on earth, we kissed her, loved her, prayed over her, and we let her go.

Norah Maye has only known love and what a pleasure it was to provide her that love here on earth.  And now Jonathan and I make the choice to live each day here on earth with each other and for our Lord while waiting with anticipation to love on our babies when God calls us home.

Oh to be in the arms of Jesus…

Oh my fellow travelers, it is with both complete sorrow and just the slightest bit of joy that I inform you that our Norah Maye is perfectly healed and safe in the arms of Jesus.

After what was a much shorter than anticipated ultrasound this morning, our doctor confirmed that Norah passed within the last few days.  We could tell something was wrong this morning when the ultrasound tech didn’t spend much time taking pictures and very quickly checked for a heartbeat.  She was in and out much to swiftly and as we waited about 20 minutes for the doctor to confirm what we knew was very likely, my emotions were all over the place…They still are.

At first Jonathan and I didn’t talk about what we were both thinking until I said, “It looks like she has grown…she just wasn’t wiggling much at all.”  Jonathan agreed and eventually said, “I think God answered our prayer.  He healed her.”  And tears streamed down my face.

For what seemed like an eternity I thought about and tried to process the likelihood of losing her and at the same time tried to have hope that it wasn’t true.   I wasn’t expecting to hear that we had lost her today so I tried to wrap my head around continuing the journey that looked grim, just based on what we did see of her little head.  I tried to imagine life without her all the while thinking about maybe getting to keep her.  And as we kept waiting, the reality seemed to sink in more.

The doctor was compassionate, which was an answer to prayer.  He was matter of fact but explained to us very gently what he saw and what the next few days may look like.  He told us that she is small and explained her diagnosis more before confirming that she was in fact no longer with us.  Up until this appointment I have been able to keep tears at bay until we got to the car, but they fell freely for me (and the ultrasound tech) this morning as the doctor continued to move the ultrasound wand trying to get a good angle of Norah for a picture that I requested.

And then we left…and we prepare for what is next.  Tomorrow morning at 5am we will head to the hospital and I will be induced.  I’m not completely sure how tomorrow will play out.  All I know is that I was scared for our appointment today and I am all the more scared about tomorrow and what will be required of me.

We continue to appreciate all the prayers we can get.  More specific prayer requests include:

  • A good nights rest so Jonathan and I have energy for what could be a very long day tomorrow.
  • Safe travel for my parents making their way here from Rapid City, SD to be here in time for the appointment in the morning.
  • Peace and calm during the induction and labor process.
  • For a special time when we get to hold and see her.
  • And for all the unknowns that I don’t even know need to be prayed for.

And already we wait with great anticipation for when we can join our Norah Maye and our first sweet Little One in the arms of Jesus.

The Norah Journey

I almost feel like I should begin this post with “Hello fellow travelers!” It is days like today when I feel like we are all squeezed onto a VW van and taking a journey to a destination only known by our driver.  I feel surrounded by support, encouragement, and prayers.  I am confident that I am not alone in a reality that seems so daunting and overwhelming.

On other days, like this past Monday, I still knew I was supported but it seemed as though everyone else chose to get off the van and it was just me and the driver traveling.  I felt alone.  It was only me sitting there crying and talking to the van driver about how exhausted I am from traveling on this journey that seems to never end the same journey that I don’t want to ever end.  This journey with Norah is lonely sometimes, even in the midst of the support.  I told Jonathan on Monday, “I want this all to be over…but I want it to end with Norah in my arms.”

I guess that is all to say, I need/feel/depend/appreciate every once of support and prayers that are offered on our behalf.  I don’t take any of them for granted, especially on days like today!  Lets load up that van and see where God is going to take us on this Norah journey!

VW-T1b-Bus-Normalausführung-Fr

We had a doctor appointment today and our little Norah Maye is still with us! We heard her quickly beating heart (140bpm) this morning and are praising God for her little life!

We also found out that we are still in the midst of a wait and see season.  Our appointment on Monday (Sept 14) will hopefully give us a better idea about what we are facing.  The Monday appointment will consist of an ultrasound where we will see the brain as well as any physical abnormalities she may have.  And we will have the amniocentesis which will give us definitive genetic results.

The waiting is almost unbearable! As time moves on we grow more and more attached to her and we pray so hard that God will glorify Himself through complete healing of Norah’s brain.  We know He can do it!

I am scared by it all right now. I’m scared that God will decide not to heal her.  I’m scared that the diagnosis will be worse than we thought and that the physical abnormalities will be too shocking to even look at.  I’m scared that it will be painfully obvious that we won’t be able to keep her.  I’m scared that I won’t be strong enough to handle the news and will fall apart in the doctor office.    I’m scared, but God is not and He is the one in control.  And so we will trust in His plan even when trusting in His perfect plan is so painful in the moment.

You promise instead….

I haven’t a doubt that God is on this journey with me…As I was praying/journaling the other day He was teaching me a valuable lesson that I still have yet to fully grasp.  Below is an excerpt from my journal…

September 5, 2015: As the appointments on the 9th and 14th get closer I find myself getting more anxious and wanting to cherish each moment with Norah all the more.  I’m afraid to let her go!  She has been with me almost 18 weeks already and I find myself wondering how I will move on if I have to say goodbye.  My heart hurts just thinking about it.  Lord, I pray so often for you to form her brain.  Maybe you are just taking extra time on it to make it all the more special.  That is what I tell myself just for some comfort in this wait.  I absolutely believe you can work a miracle.  I would be the woman in the crowd who would touch your cloak just for a chance at healing (Luke 8:43-48).  I believe you can do this.  I believe and yet I don’t want to get my hopes up, so the minute I think you will I bring myself back down to reality and the possibility that you won’t.  As I read to Norah this morning about the promise you gave Sarah and Abraham, I find myself jealous of the promise (Genesis 18).  I so wish that your promise to me was that we could keep Norah here with us and healthy, yet you haven’t promised us that at all.  You promise instead..

  • You have plans for me…for my good (Jeremiah 29:11)
  • You will give me rest (Matthew 11:28-29)
  • You give me strength when I am weak (Isaiah 40:29-31)
  • You take care of me and will supply my needs (Philippians 4:19)
  • Nothing can separate me from Your love (Romans 8:37-39)
  • You give me peace (Proverbs 1:33)
  • You save me from our sin (Romans 10:9)
  • You give me eternal life (Romans 6:23)

Where in this list is a promise to keep Norah?  It isn’t there, yet I realize there is a lot there for me.  Lord, help me to lean on the promises you DO have of me, even when I feel like they don’t supply me with all I need,  because I need my baby…I feel I need my Norah.

Teach me to be resigned to thy will, to delight in thy law, to have no will but thine, to believe that everything thou doest is for my good.

Help me to leave my concerns in they hands, for thou has power over evil, and bringest from it an infinite progression of good, until they purposes are fulfilled…

…May I not instruct thee in my troubles, but glorify thee in my trials; Grant me a distinct advance in the divine life; May I reach a higher platform, leave the mists of doubt and fear in the valley, and climb to the hill-tops of eternal security in Christ by simply believing he cannot lie, or turn from his purpose.

Give me the confidence I ought to have in him who is worthy to be praised, and who is blessed for evermore.

– The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions (Arthur Bennet)

Being Brave

This week has been harder than the last.  I’m not sure why that is.  I have had at least three nights when tears came and didn’t go till I was sound asleep.  Sometimes fear caused tears…sometimes anger…sometimes hopeless love for my daughter.  Lately it has come between 9:30 and 10:15. I know I’m tired then, which is probably a trigger all in itself.  Whatever the case, sometimes the tears come and can’t be contained.   I think fear is the emotion that tends to grab ahold of me most frequently.

Since the beginning of this pregnancy and especially now I have realized just how much courage is required to carry a child…and then how much courage is needed to carry a child with a fatal diagnosis.  Having one baby already in heaven made me fearful from the beginning of this pregnancy.  The fear was overwhelming, I think mainly because I haven’t had a “normal” pregnancy experience to gain confidence from.  I remember praying “Lord, can we keep him please!” Like a child would ask a father to keep a puppy.  Since the beginning, joy had been an emotion that I have to fight for…yet I can be overcome by anxiety and fear effortlessly.
Early on this song became my anthem.  I would drive home from choir practice on Wednesdays and sing at the top of my lungs with tears streaming down my face.  Lately I can’t even sing it because tears flow freely.  It is the reminder, the prayer, the promise that gets me every time.
I think in the midst of this, I just need the reminder that He isn’t my enemy.  He isn’t out to get me.  He has a plan and purpose for this journey that is better than my own…even if it really doesn’t seem that way.  It seems more like I am traveling along sometimes, like I am out in the craziness of the waves by myself.  But He has pulled me out into the waves, and His grace meets me there, and His love crashes over me wave after wave.
“YOU MAKE ME BRAVE! You call me out beyond the shore into the waves.” I can’t do this without Him…without His strength.  I couldn’t live each day and get out of bed to do what He has set before me if He didn’t lay the path for me to walk and surround it with the strength and courage I need.   I have never thought of myself as a brave person…I worry too much.  But living each day of this journey, I have no other choice but to be brave.

What’s in a name?

Our little Norah Maye started out as…baby…then Wiggles…now Norah.   What is it about a name that makes this little life more real?  At the beginning of the pregnancy we struggled with pronouns…he/she/it.  We didn’t really know how to refer to her.  Although, both Jonathan and I felt sure that she was a he.

We went to our 7 week appointment, the appointment that we found out that something in her head looked wrong, and we saw her wiggle.  Me, being a pessimist and always…I mean, ALWAYS finding something to worry about, focused on the “something wrong.”  Not Jonathan, he saw our baby wiggle for the first time…he saw a miracle.  We got in the car after the appointment and I cry….and he smiles and says, “It’s wiggling honey, he doesn’t know anything is wrong!”  He focused on the fact that there was still a heartbeat.  There was still life.  There was a wiggle. It was on this car drive home that our baby became, “Wiggles.”

It wasn’t until this week that we were challenged to name our daughter.  We had a name for a baby boy, but we had nothing for this precious daughter of ours.  And the list began… So what IS in a name???

A meaning, a reminder, a tradition, a title…

We don’t want this name to just be one we like the sound of, we want it to mean something.  We want her name to be strong…but lovely.  We picked out a name and marinated on it for a day and decided that it just seemed too sweet.  Jonathan described it as a jolly rancher…we just aren’t jolly rancher sweet kind of people.  We thought of names that meant “innocent,” and “pure,” and “God is my strength.”  We just didn’t like any of the options we found.  Then we happened upon the name Norah.  It is a strong name that seems to fit our family.  Norah means “light.”  And we are reminded of several scripture..

The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. John 5:1

Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” John 8:12

I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness. John 12:46

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; Matthew 5:14

I guess I just like the fact that even in what seems to be such a dark situation, God is our light.  His light shines in the darkness and makes our journey one of hope, purpose, and love.

I also like Norah because she is a little light to us.  Yes, we have sorrow and dreary times but her life is one of purpose, goodness, and light despite that fact.

Light: (noun) something that makes things visible or affords illumination:

And I guess I can’t help but think that our precious Norah’s life is bringing to light things about myself, that I would never have known. For instance, I never thought I was strong enough handle a journey this hard…I’m not.  But God is showing Himself very very strong through my great weakness.