Tag Archives: loss and hope

Little Things, Never to Forget

I want to memorize the length between the lower curve of your plump bun and the back of your knee.  It can’t be more than 3 1/2 inches and then another to your pudgy bare foot.  One little lovable chunk of you that will too soon be long and lean like your sister’s.  Your voice is elf-like, high pitched, sing-song, curious and amazed at most things you speak to these days.  Unless it’s a command to “ho-d you me” “cuddew me” or a sweet whispered “wove you mama.”  Then your voice is deep and a bit raspy, possibly a glimpse of you at 12 or 24.  Or it’s a scream that accompanies a temper tantrum, full of life, fierce for that one thing you are wanting to have or do with your little strong body that I can barely redirect anymore with any sort of ease.  You have more passion and persistence than I have yet to witness in a child and I thank God you are my 4th, 3rd to make it to age 2, because I have far more experience, patience and tolerance for this age of big frustrations for you.  I get you though, I see your heart and know how badly you want to live by it and I adore that about you.  I pray regularly for the ability to encourage your full fledged self and help you harness your wildness in ways that will serve you well in life.  I can be exasperated and at the end of my rope with you and in the very same moment look into your tear filled fierce full brown eyes and be so overwhelmed with love for this full of life child I get to call mine.  You’re 2 1/2- delightfully, frustratingly, preciously, lovingly 2 1/2 and I don’t ever want to forget any bit or piece of this time with you.

“Mama, I feel like I haven’t had much time with just you and me lately.  Will you read my Pippi Longstocking book with me?” came the invitation from my girl who reads long chapter books within a few hours, has completed the Laura Ingalls Wilder series a few times over now and would choose to cozy up with a book over kicking a ball outside with her little brother any day.  Feeling lucky you would ask, I left the chore of the moment, looked past the end of day messes to be tackled, and joined you on the couch where it was quiet, away from a little brother and sister who were upstairs getting ready for bed with Papa, a rare brief moment with just you.  I pulled a blanket over us and your head leaned into mine as I started to read where you left off on page 103.  When a sound or my trailing tired thoughts cause me to pause, you put a finger to the word I stopped on and I am tempted to ask if you want to be the one to continue.  But I can tell you are 3 again, in preschool when you were the last kid to want to leave the reading circle while your teacher read the story of the day.  You’re 5, in kindergarten refusing to try and learn to read because it’s far more enjoyable to listen to the story than struggle to sound out syllables.  Now you’re 8 and it has come so fast, consuming more literature on your own than we ever have together in our sacred nightly ritual of bedtime stories before prayers and cuddles.  There is so much within your mind and world that I am not privy to any longer and I know that will only increase, naturally, as it should, but still I feel a bit left out not knowing so much of your thoughts and stories no matter how much I try to be intentional and ask.  So I am feeling nothing less than lucky to be invited into your most favorite past time, a world nearly as magical as this moment with you.

You’re 6 my son, and growing so quickly that your naturally athletic, amazingly coordinated body is a bit clumsier than usual.  You bump into corners and misjudge stairs and your tears are the same as when you were 4, so sad and so hurt.  I go to comfort you, hold you awkwardly on my 8 months pregnant belly and kiss your hurt places.  How much longer will I get to do that and it will help?  I appeal to your growing intellect as well with empathic words about your body changing and therefore you naturally get awkward for a while.  I am dealing with that too, I say smiling with my big belly, it’s not easy at first when our bodies grow but then we get used to them again.  You smile back at me and run off again full speed.  Later you take a break from your full-of-energy play and join me in the kitchen on a stool next to the counter where I am doing dishes.

“Mama, is it hard work being a mama by yourself when you have a baby in your belly?”  This is the season when your papa works long days, or is gone away for weeks at a time and you are ever the perceptive one. I have been tired, but conscientious about taking time for fun and for rest and building a rhythm that honors all of our growing bodies.

“Sometimes it is, but it is my favorite work I get to do,” I respond emphatically. I put down the dish I am scrubbing and turn to you perched on the barstool across the counter from me “Why do you ask?” I say, fearing I may have made you feel like a burden in some way.

You look out the window, and off into your mind say, “I am just thinking about the kind of dad I want to be someday.”   After a few moments you turn back to me “like making breakfasts like papa does when he’s home and you need some extra sleep.  I want to do things like that.”

Really, at six you’re thinking about this?  My perceptive, empathic child.

I get a big hug from you around my big belly, and a knowing look of love and gratitude for the baby brother you’ve been longing for all these years too, and off you go again outside to your adventures.

You would be 3 1/2 my sweet boy.  I have no pictures of these days and years I would have had with you.  No memories to try to cherish and hold onto.  Just 9 months in my belly and that one day, when you lay peaceful and breathless in my arms, when I could hardly breath.  I would give anything to have you now, even to have that one day when I got to hold and memorize you, terrible and exquisite as that day was.  My heart still aches beyond measure to know you my love.

Who would you be now?  Quiet and kind-hearted as your big sister?  Energetic and empathic as your big brother?  Wild and delightful as your little sister?  I can only daydream of who you would be, knowing full well you’d be something all your own entirely.  Oh and that hurts, so deeply, to not know and to wonder.  To have conceived and formed and grown you to fullness, to empty my womb when emptying is meant to bring life, only to tell you goodbye, still, always, leaves me hurting and longing.

 

My love is so big and full for you, even as I grasp to remember the details of you, details that are nothing to the joy it would be to hold you breathing in my arms, run and play a game of chase with you, read stories that delight your mind and talk with you about who you dream to become.  Our family is big and growing, but always incomplete without you.  I yearn for heaven to know you.

Kiss my son for me dear Jesus, play and run and talk and be with him, delight in him and cherish him, and please tell him he is loved beyond measure, each and every day until I am able to say it with you.

Thank you, for each of them my Lord.


A Time to Treasure

We are on a little working Spring Break trip to our summer business home in Canada.  The weather is cold, the cabin is cozy and we are breathing a sigh of relief as we relax in for a few days, despite the ongoing to-do’s.  It is just a bit easier getting things done when we are outside of our everyday lives, and nice to balance it out with some down time with our kids and each other.  It has been a busy season with three careers between us, a hand full of volunteer roles and a major home remodel in the works.  We are thankful to be able to spend so much time with our kids, but the reality is that we can be multi-taskers with an electronic device almost always within reach – a necessity I rather loathe and often in fact ignore (which you know if you have ever waited for me to respond to an email).  Or we can be side by side at night catching up on work when “normal people” (do those exist?) settle in for some TV or reading time to relax before bed.  I am always trying to get better at watching TV, a funny goal some might think, but it would do me some good.

So we needed some family time, and some down time.  For this morning, my indulgence on this remote little island is to have a moment to write while my husband takes the kids for a hike on the north shore.  With a warm cup of tea in hand, a fire crackling, an expansive view of the ocean out my window and a silent house, I am breathing easier and feeling quite content.  There has been some news I have been wanting to share and this is the week.  The fourteenth week.  Fourteen has always been my favorite number, and although 12 is said to be the safe time to share, I needed a buffer this time around.  We were so naively expectant last year sharing our pregnancy news so early before our miscarriage, and many of you know of our full term loss of our son 3 years ago.  So this time I really needed to make sure, and sharing too early felt like I might burst the fragile bubble.  But all is well, I am showing, and I am ready to share.

With absolute awe, excitement, a bit of fear, huge hope and more emotion than I can describe, I announce the upcoming arrival of the 5th Sund baby!!  The 4th we hope to bring home to join our family on earth.  We always wanted four!  From our college dating days, when we were unaware of the work of children, we talked excitedly about how great four would be.  We each came from a set of two and loved the idea of a house-full.  So this season feels like the realization of a long-held dream. It has been a windy road, not in the order or spacing we’d tried to plan for…is it ever?  It is hard to explain what it feels like to be culminating my childbearing years.  I am sure I will be writing about that.  Above all, it is a time I hope to treasure.

My last pregnancy, sacred in it’s own right, was a blur of numb coping.  I was still in the early days of grieving and the only way to get through another pregnancy was to not hope too much, nor fear too much, just breath and live each moment only by the strength of God.  In past pregnancies I had kept detailed journals for my babies in the making, writing letters about their unique traits, prayers for health and well-being and my own guidance, and professing my undying love.  It was a whole other layer of loss to have poured words into a life that would never receive them.  It was like I was standing at the edge of a treacherous cliff watching helplessly as my lifeless baby floated away from me, my arms outstretched with his gifts – the journals, the soft clothes, the warm blankets – when all I wanted was him in those futilely full empty arms.

But his time around, and not without reverence for the baby I will always ache for, my joy has returned.  I feel the full measure of life that is within me and the hope for it to come.  I love being pregnant!  I find the whole thing so amazing and am one who feels especially good and healthy, mostly migraine free, while pregnant. I winced at the sight of it for a time and that made me so sad.  I was too aware of all that could go wrong and desperate to warn those blissful faced bellies of their possible torture ahead.  But I am thankful that reaction has passed.  Hopeful expectation has returned, without naiveté of whatever may be, but I know full well God will be with me whatever may be and it is too much fun to miss out on the joy of this last season of expectation.

So with all that in mind, three kids to care for, and all the to-do’s I described above, I don’t want this time to pass in a blink.  I want to cherish it.  I want to be able to remember it.  I want to treasure it.  I would love your ideas for how to do that well – please share them!  I would be so grateful!

I hope you have moments to pause and treasure your season of life too!  Blessings!


I’m Published!

Someday I will get into a good rhythm with this blog (having my pc fixed will help!). In the meantime, I wanted to share the good news that I have published my first official article! I am pretty excited. It was quite a thrill to pour myself into something heartfelt and then see it arrive in my mailbox in print.

I just discovered I can point you to the online version, so until I have my pc all to myself again to do some more blogging (I keep stealing my hard working husband’s whenever I can) here is the link to some other writing I have been doing. Once you get there click on the Spring 2011 Newsletter and scroll to page 11. My article was given the title “From Happiness to Grief and Back Again” (my original title was “A Case for the Range” which was obviously a bit out there to make sense to the masses – I’ll take the edited title:). Or you can go to http://www.wamft.org and click on the newsletter tab to get there.

If you take the time to find and read it I would love to hear your thoughts. It would not only mean something to me personally but professionally it will inform my work as a therapist too. If you have a story to share of when you have felt affirmed, and therefore cared for, when you were not at your best and it made you better, I would love to post those too.

I definitely feel encouraged to get some more inspired thoughts out there as soon as I can!

Hope you feel encouraged in whatever emotional state you are in today (you’ll see what I mean:).


Goodness abounds

I will soon tell the more detailed story of what I have been through the past couple of days in having this miscarriage. I have also been writing the story in my mind that will need to be shared of this little one’s happy story, of 8 short weeks of believing in this miracle of life and all the wonder and love of those days, before the story fades into facts and figures and a passing acknowledgment that I am a 3 time member of a club I wish I did not belong to.

But before I get to that, I have to share of just one beautiful moment that makes all this hard stuff fade into the background, like the bits of dark cloud that give the slightest contrast to a glorious spray of color and light of a summer evening’s sunset. Without those clouds, the colors would not seem so bright, so brilliant, so warm. They just wouldn’t.

It was a good day. They are getting better one by one as real life creeps back in, and I begin to forget, for brief periods, that just a week ago I was living a completely different reality, basing every move and life plan on the new life that was to join us; the home we chose to live in, the places she would go and fill and fit in our lives. I had already begun making room for her as she was making room in my body. (My belly had grown so large, so fast, and so quickly it is gone, just gone).

Tonight I began to worry again about normal stuff of life (I remember the shock of “real life” creeping back in after huge loss, and how counterintuitive it felt to how we should really live Philippians 4:5, Matthew 6:21- 34)- And as the worry seeped back in as fog slowly moves in seemingly unnoticed until I realize I’ve lost some vision and the world appears more gray. Loss is sad and hard and starkly painful, but the hovering gray of to-do’s and unimportant tasks is a far worse on a life.

Too tired to do any of it, I snuck into my kids’ rooms to do that thing we mother’s do, check that they are still breathing and give one last kiss and prayer before going off to bed. With my littlest, my baby girl who walks and knows words and puts shoes and a coat on when she decides she is ready for an outing, is still so very little. (Even though the spacing of my second set of children would have been the exact same as my first – I loved the symmetry of that – I would look at my 16 month old girl and think I was crazy to have another baby, as she is still just a little baby herself). Next to her crib I stepped up onto the foot rest that allows me to heave myself up and over the railing enough to get my face close up to hers and give her a big, warm, silent kiss on the cheek. Her sweet baby smell, her fluffy wisps of hair, the velvety softness of her skin was more than intoxicating. My senses were overwhelmed and consumed by her and there was no doubt in my mind, in that moment that is always there to be had, that there is so much goodness in this life. So much, so good.


The Most Awful Silence Part I

Pregnancy does me well.  I relish the idea of creating life and all that goes on in these miraculous months, from the formation of first cells to an entirely put together human being.  When I got my period at thirteen I was in utter awe of the whole situation.  I came out to the living room, plopped myself down by my mom on the couch and staring out in a daze said, “I can’t believe my body did that!”

“Did what?” she asked.

“Released an egg!” I said.

When I met my husband, I had a similar sense of wonder and excitement. I knew I wanted to spend my life with this man and I regularly feared the day I might lose him.  Since early childhood I have been inclined to fear the death of a loved one with a fair bit of anxiety.  I wasn’t sure how I could cope with such a fate.  Scott was, and is, the man of my dreams, love of my life, everything I ever hoped for in a life partner.

When we were brand-new newlyweds we moved from the safe suburbs of Spokane to the big unknown suburbs of Los Angeles for me to attend graduate school and begin our lives as a Mr. and Mrs.  We often enjoyed late night movies in those early years, even on mid-week work nights, which feels like a big luxury now that we are homebound by early evening for young children’s bedtimes.  In the land of entertainment, we could hit a movie as late as 1:00 a.m., streets still buzzing with energy and life. If ever there was a theme of death in a movie, which it seemed there always was at least some reference, I would end the night in tears.  I would bury my face in Scott’s chest sobbing, lamenting death altogether, upset with God whom I very much loved and believed in but just could not grasp why this horrible thing would be our inevitable state.  Cuddling into bed with no kids between us, I would testify to my undying love for him and plead with God to never take this man away from me. I feared I wouldn’t survive such a loss.

Then came the babies.  Oh those amazing, precious, fragile babies!  Rumor was they could suddenly stop breathing for no apparent reason in the middle of the night as they peacefully slept. I still sneak in their rooms before I retire to bed each night to listen to my children breath, give them a kiss and whisper one more I love you into their dreams.  Well beyond any risk of SIDS, it gives me peace to hear their breath and kiss their warm skin so full of life.  I sleep better. The thought of losing these little ones was unthinkable.

My third pregnancy was especially blissful.  With three behind me, the first ended in an early miscarriage, I knew by now it would be exhausting so I took my maternity leave 3 months into gestation.  I wanted to relish this time and nurture my baby’s growth as much as possible in this full season of life as a family.  With some scares in my previous pregnancy that put me on bed-rest I intentionally took a step back to give this baby life.  I felt calm, at ease, nothing to fear or worry about this time around.  My little guy in there was an energetic delight, similar to my 2 year old son, the boys were already full of energy in-utero.  I’d had one calm, serene, girl when my 2nd born little guy turned life upside down with his first top-of-his-lungs “vroom-vroom!”  It warmed my heart to think of my boys taking over the world, destroying it, and figuring out how to put it all back together again.  Inseparable buddies they were destined to be.

Six days after my due date I went in for my routine obstetric exam and to discuss birth options.  I always went overdue, 4 days with my daughter, 11 with my son.  My nurse and OB, who knew me well by now after nearly 5 years of routine appointments, and I laughed about that.  This was my normal.  Everything looked good that day but it was routine for an over due mom to have a non-stress test that checked the baby’s heart rate and my contractions, just to be safe. It was just a routine.

We were the last appointment of the day and it was starting to snow in Seattle.  Scott needed to return some books to his University library before it closed for Christmas break.  He asked how I felt about him running this errand and with absolute certainty gave him my blessing that this would be a great use of his time while I sat with monitors on my belly for the standard 20 minute check.

“No big deal” I said so casually, so naively confident, “Go get that done and we’ll grab a coffee together afterwards.”

Looking forward to our mini-date – precious stolen time together with two little ones at home – I waddled my way alone down the hall into my own curtain enclosed chamber to join the room full of expectant parents.  I had gone through this routine many times in my last pregnancy with my now 2 year old son.  I had early bleeding and contractions that warned us he might come too soon, so often I was sent for these tests to make sure he was okay and wouldn’t come early.  He was born 11 days late, at a hefty 9 pound 12 ounces.  It had all worked out in the end.

I huffed my big pregnant body onto the hospital bed with mint green and white polka dot sheets. The non-stress test nurse was a tall, serious faced woman with long dark hair who didn’t have much of the usual joy and excitement of the other OB nurses I’d come to know at the office.  Without much more than a simple hello, she got to business, slathering me with goo and hooking up the monitors, roaming around for the best spot to pick up Fisher’s signs of life.  She kept roaming.  And roaming, and roaming.  And roaming.


Loss and Hope

Writing has been a healing outlet for me.  Hearing other’s stories have been healing as well.  It would be such a privilegde if you would like to share your story or writing about loss and hope here too.  I envision my blog being a place where others can come and read stories that are similar or even very different but be able to resonate with the duality of pain and goodness that is life.