'But God said to me, “My GRACE is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9'

Saturday, 31 December 2011

4 month birthday

Hannah, on Thursday you would have been 4 months old. I'm sure you would be so big by now, and still so cute! I wonder if at this stage you would look more like me, or your Daddy? I wonder what developmental stage you would be going through? And how well you would sleep at night? Hopefully you would have kept up the wonderful sleeping routines that you had in your first week! I was looking through some of your summer clothes the other day, and found a couple of really cute dresses your Grandma and I had bought for you a few months before you were born (we didn't know at that stage that you were a girl, but they were too cute to resist, so we bought them just in case!). You would have looked so gorgeous in them. Maybe one day you will have a little sister who can wear them - I'm sure you won't mind sharing your clothes ;) I often get sad thinking about all these things that we miss out on with you Hannah. There are so many things we should be doing with you right now, but how differently things turned out. Not how we had planned, or how we ever could have imagined.


Your Daddy and I went for a day trip on Thursday, to a beach further North, and we wrote your name in stones for your 4 month birthday.



  


Happy 4 month birthday to our beautiful girl xxx

Christmas Legacy

If you have been reading my blog recently, you will know that we asked people to do something for Hannah for Christmas – donate a gift to a baby in need, or donate towards an organisation that helps needy Mothers and babies (such as buying a Tear Fund Gift for Life). And we asked you to send us something telling us what you have done, so that we could be encouraged by the legacy Hannah is leaving. Thank you SO much to those of you who did this! We printed off the messages you sent us, and wrote out little cards to represent each of the Gift for Life presents that were bought (as we couldn’t print these out easily).

We put them all in Hannah’s stocking, then opened it on Christmas morning and read them. It was nice to know that although Hannah couldn’t be with us for Christmas, that her life was in some way blessing lots of others – that her life is continuing to have an impact.

This shows what was in her stocking (minus a few messages that were sent last minute that we didn’t have time to print!)…

 
These (below) are the Gifts for Life – 11 that we know of so far :) These will provide medical care and Bibles for families in third world countries.


And these represent some of the other donations that were made… including a donation to Right for Life (a prolife organisation), a donation to the City Mission, some blankets and teddy bears delivered to the special care unit at a hospital, some baby items donated to an charity called Birth Choice, and some gifts put under wishing trees for a child who otherwise wouldn’t get anything.


Below are a few of the gifts Hannah got for Christmas – a beautiful pink windmill from her Daddy (either for her grave, or to put in our garden in memory of her - I haven't decided yet), and a pretty photo frame from her Aunty Catherine (her photo will look gorgeous in this!).



Jeremy and I also got a card and gift from Hannah for Christmas (thanks to help from her Grandma). The card thanked us for being such good parents to her – it was very sweet. And a pretty pink lantern, with candles to go in it. It is pink and has butterflies on it; so appropriate! I love it.


Thank you to everyone who took some time out from their busy schedule to give a gift to someone more needy this Christmas. It seems appropriate, doesn’t it, seeing as that’s what God did that very first Christmas – in giving his one and only Son, Jesus.

Christmas was even harder than I expected, but it was also a time to thank the Lord for the precious gift He gave us of Hannah. Thanks to all those who remembered her this Christmas; participating in the above, or including her in our Christmas cards and letters, or talking about her with us, or putting decorations for her on your trees etc. We are truly grateful.

Monday, 26 December 2011

Merry Christmas

To our precious daughter, Hannah Grace, Merry Christmas sweet girl xxx

How special that you get to celebrate Jesus' birth with Him this year! Up in heaven, I'm sure there are Christmas celebrations ;) Although we definitely missed you down here at our Christmas parties. When it is a time where everyone else is happy, and enjoying family time, it kind of highlights our pain. Our Christmas day had a combination of smiles, laughs, and tears. But as we remember the reason for the season, we are reminded that our faith gives us the hope and assurance that we will one day be reunited with you in heaven.


It feels so wrong that our Christmas family photo just has your picture in a frame, and not you in our arms. (What a gorgeous photo it is though!) But you are still just as important to our family. You always will be. And you remain in our thoughts and in our hearts.


We lit some Christmas candles, in memory of you Hannah. It seems like an appropriate tribute. You continue to shine God's light and love, precious girl. Even though you are now with Him in heaven, your life is still having an impact here on earth.



Hannah Grace you were very much included in our family Christmas! In the next few days I will post on here some more details of how, and some photos. In the mean time, know that lots of people were thinking of you! We love you, and miss you extra much this Christmas xxx

 

Merry Christmas from Heaven...

I still hear the songs
I still see the lights
I still feel your love
On cold wintry nights

I still share your hopes
And all of your cares
I’ll even remind you
To please say your prayers

I just want to tell you
You still make me proud
You stand head and shoulders
Above all the crowd

Keep trying each moment
To stay in His grace
I came here before you
To help set your place

You don’t have to be
Perfect all of the time
He forgives you the slip
If you continue the climb

To my family and friends
Please be thankful today
I’m still close beside you
In a new special way

I love you all dearly
Now don’t shed a tear
Because I’m spending Christmas
With Jesus this year

(Author unknown) 


Saturday, 24 December 2011

Christmas Eve

Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who has donated a gift in memory of Hannah Grace this Christmas, or brought a Tear Fund Gift for Life or similar, or made a donation to an appropriate organisation. Or done something kind for someone as they thought of her. We really appreciate those of you who have told us what you did for Hannah too, or written a message to her – they are all going in her Christmas stocking for us to open tomorrow. THANK YOU!!

We spent this morning, Christmas Eve, at Hannah’s grave site. Wow, it feels so wrong to say that. Unfortunately her headstone still hasn’t been finished yet, but she has a lovely white cross in the meantime. We wanted to decorate her cross for Christmas – I’m sure she would appreciate that. We picked out the most colourful tinsel we could find (plus it had pink in it, so I just had to buy it!), and bought a decoration of a silver angel in a heart. It seemed appropriate. 





 
I couldn’t contain my tears at her grave today. Ok so that might be a bit of an understatement; I cried a lot. We should have a 4 month old baby with us this Christmas. We should be celebrating with her, buying her gifts, and dressing her up in a cute Christmas outfit. I just gave birth a few months ago – how can she no longer be here in my arms? How can we instead be visiting our daughter’s grave? How could this happen to us? I can hardly believe that I had a baby, then a week later had to watch her die. How am I meant to go on with life without my daughter, and with a broken heart? Life is so hard without Hannah being here. And Christmas time just reinforces that even more.



But as I think about the Christmas story, I remember that Mary also had to watch her oldest child die. She was privileged to be the Mother of Jesus Christ, but she only had Him here with her for a time, then she had to watch Him die a painful death on the cross. I understand her pain that much more now. Did Mary know when she gave birth to Him that this is what would happen? Did she have an element of sadness mixed in with her joy? Either way, she was entrusted with Jesus’ care for a time, then she had to release Him to do the Lord’s work. Then say goodbye and watch him suffer and die. Even having lost a baby, I still can’t imagine how painful that must have been for Mary.

God’s plan is so much bigger than we can ever understand or comprehend.  I don’t know why God allowed Hannah Grace to die. I will probably never know. But I will forever be thankful for the short time we did have with her. And because of Jesus, I have the assurance that I will see her again one day. He came as a baby at Christmas, and died on the cross for us at Easter; and because of this I can have forgiveness and a relationship with Him here on earth. One which will continue for eternity –  an eternity spent with Him (and Hannah!) in heaven once I die. 

Thank you God for the gift of your Son, and for the gift of our precious daughter Hannah Grace Frances.

Isaiah 9:6-7
For to us a child is born,
   to us a son is given,
   and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
   Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
   Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7
Of the greatness of his government and peace
   there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
   and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
   with justice and righteousness
   from that time on and forever.


Monday, 19 December 2011

Christmas gifts for Hannah

Hi all, so I'm going to get straight to the point in this blog post! This Christmas is extremely hard for us. We miss Hannah Grace a lot. And we want her legacy to continue this Christmas. So I'd like to request a favour.

That very first Christmas, over 2000 years ago, God gave the ultimate gift in giving us His Son Jesus Christ. He did that for each one of us - so that in Jesus dying on the cross to forgive us of our sins, we could have a relationship with Him. He blessed us with the ultimate gift (of eternal life with Him!), but we are often so selfish and just think about what gifts we want ourselves. So how about following God's lead, and blessing someone else this Christmas?!

If you would have liked to buy Hannah Grace a gift this Christmas, we would love you to still do so. I know, I know, she isn't here to enjoy it. I don't have to be reminded of that. But our idea is that we would love people to buy a gift that Hannah would have enjoyed this Christmas (ie. something suitable for a little baby girl), and donate it to a baby in need. You could donate it to an organisation that gives gifts to children who wouldn't otherwise get any, or you could give it to a family that you know who are struggling this Christmas. This is a tradition that our family is going to continue... every Christmas we are going to buy a gift that Hannah would have enjoyed that year, and donate it for a girl who is the same age as her. We think this will be a fun way for Hannah's younger siblings to remember her and include her in Christmas too :) And we would be honoured if other people would participate in this with us.

The other option we would love people to consider, is buying a Tear Fund Gift for Life - especially the 'Nurture a Newborn' gift. By purchasing this gift, you are providing the essential medical care and education for a birthing mother and their new baby. We received such wonderful medical care for Hannah, but in so many countries this care simply isn't available. How amazing if because of Hannah's legacy, another baby could be given a chance at life; and another family could be spared the horrible pain of losing a child. When you buy this gift you get a card to give to someone which details the gift you have brought them, and the gift itself goes to a needy family in a third world country.

If you are unable to do either of these things, maybe you can at least do something kind for someone in the next week. Be a blessing to someone. Do something to encourage someone. And think of Hannah as you do it. Remember how she was lively, courageous, and encouraging?

Ok, so here is the last part of the favour. If you are able to donate a present or buy a 'gift for life', or do any other act of kindness in memory of Hannah Grace this Christmas, we would love to hear about it. Could you please email me to let me know what you have done? Or maybe you could send or email me a note for Hannah? It would be really special to be able to print these off and put them in her Christmas stocking, so we can read them on Christmas day. We want to include Hannah in our Christmas - and to know her life is continuing to have an impact and help others means so much.

Thanks everyone, we hope to hear some stories from some of you before Christmas!


Friday, 16 December 2011

Christmas time

So it’s now only just over a week until Christmas. We are having a busy week – in 5 days we have 5 Christmas parties, a birthday party, and a funeral. I feel like I have been on the go this whole week – and although I have been thinking about Hannah a lot, I haven’t had much time to process. I find it hard when it goes a few days and I don’t have time to focus my attention on my little girl.

We have finally put up our Christmas tree and decorated our house. We have been playing Christmas music, and eating Christmas food. But somehow I still cannot comprehend that Christmas is actually almost here. I think it’s because Christmas is not how it’s meant to be this year – we are meant to have our almost 4 month old baby with us. It is supposed to be a family time – but a huge part of our family is missing. We are meant to be focusing on Jesus birth, but every time I hear the Christmas story about ‘baby’ Jesus, my eyes fill with tears – because it’s another reminder of my baby. We are meant to be excited and celebrating – but how do I do that when my heart is broken into pieces and all I feel like doing is crying.

This afternoon I just sat beside our Christmas tree and cried. I cried for what has happened, in that we have been separated from Hannah Grace; and for what is happening as we have to live life without her. I miss her so much.. It hit me all over again that she won’t be here with us this Christmas. Instead of having her in our arms, we will visit her grave. This will be her first Christmas, but she will be spending it in heaven rather than here on earth with us. I’m sure she will be celebrating up there, but we are not so fortunate – we still live in this world of pain. I cried because every Christmas from now on, we will miss her.

It is really important to Jeremy and I that Hannah Grace is still a part of our Christmas this year. We want to include her in every way possible, because she is still part of our family! So we really appreciate some of the thoughtful gifts that friends have given us to remember Hannah by – thank you SO MUCH to everyone who has acknowledged her in our Christmas cards, and given us gifts for her and that include her.

Here are a few pictures of some of our special Christmas gifts and decorations:

Our Christmas stockings – one for each member of our family:
 

A beautiful butterfly, handmade by our friend Chloe especially for Hannah!


Thank you Sharon – this gift is a sweet reminder that Hannah is with the angels and the Lord. Sharon also made us little key rings with photos of Hannah in them.

A beautiful Christmas decoration from a lady who sadly passed away herself this week.


3 angels in memory of 3 babies who have gone to heaven in the past 4 months. Hannah Grace, Sebastian, and Grace.


The decoration at the top of our Christmas tree:

Special Christmas decorations (again thanks to Sharon!):
These decorations and gifts mean a lot to us this year, as we try to celebrate Christmas without Hannah in our arms. Or at least get through Christmas, anyway. Actually to be totally honest I am praying that the Lord would carry me through, as I know I can’t cope on my own! Please be patient with us as we deal with all the emotions that come with Christmas this year. We are so thankful for God’s gift of Jesus Christ, and are trying to focus our minds on this true meaning of Christmas; but it’s harder to do this year. But without His son, Jesus, we wouldn’t be able to have our sins forgiven and be reconciled into relationship with God. And without this, I don’t know how I could cope with anything. It is only God, my relationship with Him, and the hope that He gives me, which has given me the strength to go on this year.

Please, if you are writing to us this Christmas, please please include Hannah Grace. She is still part of our family, even though she is celebrating Christmas in heaven. This Christmas, I miss her more than ever. This isn’t how things are meant to be. Our family no longer just consists of Jeremy and I. So we love it when our daughter is acknowledged.

Watch this space for some ideas of how you can encourage us and help to continue Hannah's legacy this Christmas...

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Things I miss 3 months on

Today marks 3 months since I held you, precious girl. Since I had to watch you deteriorate as you lay in my arms. Since you left us to be with the Lord. Since our lives changed forever.

Every moment of every day, I miss having you with me. But I also miss the simpler things that I can’t do now– like buying cute outfits and dressing you in them, taking photos of you, wrapping you up nice and warm in a blanket, changing your nappy, bathing you, feeding you, and taking you for walks in the pram. Instead I am looking back at photos from our short time with you, putting your clothes and blankets and keepsakes into a memory box, designing your headstone, and visiting your grave. This isn’t what a Mum should be doing 3 months after her baby is born!  I’m sad I didn’t get to bring you home and show you off to people – I know lots of our friends wish they got to hold you and cuddle you and see your beautiful eyes gazing up at them. Instead of people looking at me because they think my baby is cute, and coming up to me to meet you, they keep their distance and just look at me with expressions of pity. How different things would be if you were physically still here with us now. Every time I see another baby, it all comes flashing back – I see all the experiences that other parents get, that we are missing out on with you; and all the memories we will never get the chance to create. And inside, my heart breaks all over again.

 
Lord, I pray that you would hold Hannah Grace extra close today. Thank you for the precious gift that she is to us. Please remind her that her Mummy and Daddy love her so much. And please continue to give us the strength that we need to go on with life here on earth without her.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Happy 3 month birthday

Happy 1/4 year birthday beautiful girl! We wish you were celebrating today here on earth with us, rather than in heaven. I can hardly believe it has been 3 months today since I went in to the hospital to have you, and since we got to meet you for the first time. Daddy and I were so excited when we were first told that we had a daughter, and we proudly announced your name! I still remember the first thing I heard one of the doctors say when you were born - she told one of the other theatre staff that you were sooo beautiful! And she was so right about that! We had such a hard, but joyful, week with you Hannah; but it will never feel like enough. It wasn't enough. But as it is all we had, we will continue to treasure every moment of it. We can't wait to spend more time with you once we get to heaven - and I'm sure you will show us around and introduce us to all your friends up there ;)

I hope you know that as your Mummy and Daddy, we love you so much; and that you are still our precious first child. Jeremy and I are still parents, and we still have a daughter. It's just that the Lord is babysitting you for us until the day when we can hold you again ;) You will always be an important part of our family.

I received a gift in the mail the other day, just in time for your 3 month birthday. It is a beautiful bracelet, with your initials on it. So now I wear your footprints on a necklace, and your initials on a bracelet! It is a priviledge to be your Mum and to carry these reminders of you around on me. The bracelet is beautiful, and was such a thoughtful and encouraging gift!


The card that came along with this gift read that God is using your life for such a big impact. It said that your life has given me as a Mum the opportunity to minister to the lost and to help others to heal from their pain. That God has allowed us to be on this path, and that He will see us through to the end. That He catches every tear that we shed. And that He is never far away.

The card concluded with a verse from Isaiah 43 that I love - "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you. And when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire you will not be burned, and the flames will not set you ablaze"

God has, and is, and will continue to, be with us through this journey. He sustained us through the pregnancy and through our week after you were born Hannah, and He will continue to give us the strength we need as we grieve and miss you desperately. It is so painful and hard, but God is faithful.

Happy 3 month birthday Hannah Grace. I love you.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Hi from Dad

Hi everyone,
This is Hannah’s Daddy writing. I haven’t made any posts on Hannah Grace’s blog yet, but have helped and encouraged her mummy as she set it up. I wanted to write to give a bit of a Dad’s perspective on grief, and to brag a bit about my beautiful daughter!

Hannah was (as is) the most wonderful, beautiful, inspiring and encouraging daughter any Dad could ask for! This shouldn’t have come as a surprise, given the characteristics of her Mum! I was surprised what a close bond she had with us at such a young age, and how differently she responded to us, compared with others. This was particularly obvious to us given our situation, as her heart and breathing monitors showed us numerically how much calmer she was while we were around. I suppose I knew this would be the case for Rebecca, but it touched me to see the connection Hannah had with me as well, looking into my eyes and responding to my voice. I love her and miss her so much!


It will be 11 weeks tomorrow since she left us to spend her days in a place much better than here. A place of peace, with none of the pain or hurt or rubbish that goes on in this world. Never have I longed for that place so much as I have over the past few months. I now understand what Paul meant when he said that compared with earth, being with Christ is “better by far”. When my days finally come to an end, I will be waiting to give her a big hug, and to let her know that Daddy missed her and loves her so much.     

Grief is a strange thing. Having never experienced any pain that even comes close to losing my daughter, it feels like walking down a very unfamiliar road. While some days I feel Rebecca and I walk the same road together; some days each of us seem to be walking different roads. Occasionally we meet, which is nice and hard at the same time. But as the weeks and months go on, it seems like our grief journeys are more and more different.

As a man I feel I can often get so consumed by my work, or general daily life, that I can forget about Hannah for periods. Or maybe not forget, but manage to bury her into a deeper part of me. This often makes me feel guilty, as Rebecca’s grief is still so raw and at the surface. It seems that Hannah pervades every part of everything she is doing, whereas my thoughts of her come in intense, focused waves. Seeing Rebecca so distraught has hurt me almost as much as the pain of losing Hannah. It takes not being able to ‘fix it’ to a whole new level! Sometimes I don’t even feel I can cry with her, as my surface level grief has been so expended that there doesn’t appear to be anything left.  

As we journey together we have wept, grown, given, received, and wept some more. It feels like our relationship is building stronger through the loss of Hannah; but I am more and more aware that we have only taken the first few steps on a journey that has no obvious route or destination. I pray every day that God will guide us, and comfort us, and build us along the way, that we might help others on similar or different journeys, and ultimately come to know Him even more. 

God Bless and talk to you again soon.   
Jeremy 

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

When a baby dies

This is just a short post, to share a YouTube video I came across. It is a powerful story of a Mum sharing how she feels after losing her baby. It very accurately depicts the feelings and emotions that follow the loss of a precious child; emotions that cannot be fully understood unless you have been in that same situation. But I think this video gives a little glimpse of what life is like.

When A Baby Dies
http://youtu.be/btHzZFUMPDY

I love you and miss you Hannah Grace. Life will never be the same again. I heard the quote that after the death of a baby, as a Mum you don't 'move on' but you do learn to 'move forward'. Hannah you have inspired me to go on and make a difference in this world, to continue your legacy. You have made me a stronger, more courageous, more loving, more understanding, person. And I thank you for that. Your life is continuing to have a huge impact xxx

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

My pair of shoes

Below is a poem I found, that I thought describes well what it is like being a Mum who has lost her child. It is a painful journey to walk. And one that cannot fully be understood unless you have experienced it yourself. But the poem describes it better than I can...

My pair of shoes

I am wearing a pair of shoes.

They are ugly shoes, uncomfortable shoes.
I hate my shoes.

Each day I wear them, and each day I wish I had another pair.
Some days my shoes hurt so bad that I do not think I can take another step.
Yet, I continue to wear them.

I get funny looks wearing these shoes, they are looks of sympathy.
I can tell in others eyes that they are glad they are my shoes and not theirs.
They never talk about my shoes.

To learn how awful my shoes are might make them uncomfortable.
To truly understand these shoes you must walk in them.
But, once you put them on, you can never take them off.

I now realize that I am not the only one who wears these shoes.
There are many pairs in this world.
Some women are like me and ache daily as they try and walk in them.
Some have learned how to walk in them so they don't hurt quite as much.
Some have worn the shoes so long that days will go by before they think about how much they hurt.

No woman deserves to wear these shoes.
Yet, because of these shoes I am a stronger woman.
These shoes have given me the strength to face anything.
They have made me who I am.

I will forever walk in the shoes of a woman who has lost a child.

(Author unknown)

I wear these 'shoes'. But I wouldn't trade them for any other pair, if it meant not having Hannah Grace. There is pain, but there is also joy. Our time with her had a huge impact on me, and from now on it will always affect who I am as a person.