Lydia Grace

Lydia Grace
Our first child, Lydia Grace

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Pictures and presents

   I had started Lydia's scrapbook during my first trimester. After she was stillborn, it felt too painful to continue to scrapbook her pictures. I felt like it would have to end with the pictures taken at the hospital. A woman in M.E.N.D. told me the pictures did not need to stop there. She had a scrapbook and included pictures from the Walk to Remember, from holidays, and birthdays. I was inspired to continue and have spent hours carefully scrapbook pregnancy pictures, pictures of Lydia in the hospital, and now pictures of her funeral. I will follow those with the pictures taken at the Walk. 
   Lydia's funeral pictures I just received a couple weeks ago from my mother. They are more painful for me to see than the pictures of my baby. It is difficult for me to look at myself in those pictures. I feel like my face displays the definition of sorrow and grief. And there are the pictures of the smallest white casket. Caskets shouldn't come in that size. 
   Scrapbooking has been good in helping me grieve. I've shared the scrapbook with others. Some have not wanted to see pictures, others mention the pictures are so sad, some flip through it quickly (yes, I take it personally). I've found all women who have lost a child (and a rare few who have not lost a child) look slowly, carefully, respectfully. They comment on the pictures; exclaim over the beauty of my Lydia Grace; point out her precious fingers and toes; study her face to find characteristics of my husband or me; ask about that day, her service. I like that. First for myself and second for those who care, I plan to keep scrapbooking and keep sharing with those who are interested. 

The mention of my child's name may bring tears to my eyes, but it never fails to bring music to my ears. 
If you are really my friend, let me hear the beautiful music of her name. It soothes my broken heart and sings to my soul.

  Last week I received a gift in the mail from an unexpected person. A woman with whom I have never felt particularly close and I rarely see, sent me this necklace. I was touched and have worn the necklace every day since I received it. In this journey I have found it so interesting that those I may have thought would be supportive are different than those that are still around 13 weeks later. Thanks for the support and prayers. I appreciate it. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

It's a girl!!!

  I had been really, really hoping for a girl. I have three brothers, no sisters. I felt certain the little baby in me was a girl. I had all these theories and reasonings, as well as my intuition...perhaps I was certain because I was so hopeful. The original day of my ultrasound at 20 weeks had to be rescheduled because my husband was at a conference in Oregon. We were both so excited for the ultrasound, I threatened (jokingly) to have it while he was gone.
   The day of the ultrasound, my mother and youngest brother (age 10 at the time) drove down from their home a couple hours away to be part of the moment. My youngest brother was just as certain I was pregnant with a boy as I was that we were having a girl. All the important things were checked during the ultrasound (all very normal and healthy, I might add). Then the ultrasound tech announced that this little one was indeed a girl. I was thrilled. My brother, however, was not. He asked how we knew. He stated that we might be wrong. Or that when the baby was born, it might really be a boy instead. He was not too happy when we assured him she indeed was a girl and would remain so. I don't think he quite believed us.
   Today I was reflecting on that day in June. It was so much fun. I loved being pregnant. We were so excited about the baby (girl or boy). It's crazy how much joy the news of being a mom brings. It was such a happy time for us. Now, I cherish all the ultrasound pictures as those were the last we have of her alive. I do not want thoughts of Lydia to be surrounded with sadness. I want to celebrate her life and remember the joy of her presence as well as the pain of losing her.
These are pictures of the television screen during the ultrasound.
Not as clear as the ones printed by the ultrasound tech, but easier to post.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Already October?

  I feel like I am waking up and realizing it is already October. Mid-October now. Where did the time go? Save the first few days of August, I remember nothing from August or September. I know we celebrated my youngest brother's birthday in September. Days just passed. I remember asking my husband at various times the day of the week and trying to remember what I had even done or eaten the day before (often unsuccessful without his reminders). Today is 3 weeks until what was Lydia's due date.
   Checking out of the hospital on August 1st some part of me was certain I was checking out of my life. Surely, when I was pushed out of the hospital in a wheelchair, my life would be done. Out the hospital doors and into heaven or at least somewhere other than where I had previously lived. Or into the life I had known before everything was shattered; I would be pregnant with Lydia and everything that had happened would be a terrible dream. Instead it was out the hospital doors into the oppressive heat of a Texas evening, trying to figure out the plans for our daughter's funeral. I guess I was going into a different life. A different or new 'normal'.
   We had so much support and care that first week. Most of our family are still very supportive. I have a wonderful sister-in-law, always ready to listen to me talk. Then there is the support from M.E.N.D. and new friendships I am forming. Old friends are mostly a different story. I won't speak for my husband, but I feel more abandoned by friends.  One friend whom I considered a close friend told me about a month after we lost Lydia that she wanted to be there for me during this time, to walk with me through my grief....I have not seen nor talked to her since that day six weeks ago (and not for lack of trying to reach her on my part). It feels like a very isolated time in my life. Sometimes that's good, sometimes it's not.
   Thankfully, God is not like us.  I've had days I've prayed almost constantly, days my prayers were only tears, days I could not pray at all. I've questioned and been angry. Yet God is faithful. I am so thankful it is not contingent on my own attitude or behaviors. I certainly have not always felt His presence, but He is there.

"The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit."
Psalm 34:18

Monday, October 4, 2010

Walk to Remember

It's difficult to see, but our M.E.N.D. shirts have
"Remembering Lydia Grace" embroidered on them

   M.E.N.D. (Mommies Enduring Neonatal Death) has been an organization I have joined since we lost Lydia. Outside of family, I have received the most support from this Christian organization. Drew and I have both attended meetings and have found it to helpful and comforting. I enjoy talking with other mothers and not having the need to explain everything and how I feel. It's nice (in a strange sense) to hear other mothers talk about how life is a year...four years...eight years after the loss of their baby. No where have I felt as much support and understanding in a community. (Church should probably top the list here, but having been in church all my life, I have to say that I have not experienced the solidarity, support, shared experience, etc. with church members that I have felt with the women at M.E.N.D.).
   Every year M.E.N.D. has a special event, a Walk to Remember. It was on Saturday, October 2nd. Over 500 participated in this event.  Our family joined us to remember and celebrate our sweet baby. At the event, Rememberance tables were set out and I included Lydia's picture, her scrapbook, and her lamb.

my youngest brother and I 
The Walk is not an athletic event. From the church, we walked down to an area outside by the M.E.N.D. with chairs set up for the service.

The service was very nice: prayer, songs, a message, recognition of the babies, and a balloon release. Every couple who had lost a baby were given an ornament. During the service, the name of each baby already in heaven was called. As the name was called the family came forward and hung their baby's ornament on the M.E.N.D. tree. I loved how every single baby was named by name. I feel like there cannot be enough remembering  my little girl. 
Lydia's daddy hanging up her ornament 
Lydia's ornament on the M.E.N.D. tree
   The service was concluded with a balloon release. every one received a balloon for each baby they had lost: pink for girls, blue for boys, white for miscarriages when the sex of the baby was unknown. We wrote on the balloons, then sang "Jesus Loves Me", tears preventing me to sing. Then we released our balloons. 

Balloons representing too many babies