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

Friday, 25 May 2012

Rainbow baby!

Jeremy and I are excited to announce that we are expecting our second child!! Hannah’s little brother or sister is due at the start of November, and we are really looking forward to welcoming this baby into our world :) We are so thankful to the Lord for this new little life He has gifted us with, and pray every day that God would protect it and keep it healthy. We are already totally in love with our new little bubs!

I am 16 weeks pregnant now, and finally starting to feel a little less nauseous and regain a little energy. It’s nice not throwing up every day any more! I had really bad morning sickness when I was pregnant with Hannah too, and although I was holding on to the fact that each pregnancy is different, this bubs hasn’t been causing me any less sickness. However while I may complain sometimes about feeling so ill, I do not take this baby for granted. I want to make that clear. I would sacrifice anything to have a baby in my arms again. 

We desperately hope we will be able to bring this baby home with us in November; something we never got to do with Hannah. After having her, we left the hospital with empty arms. It would be so nice to have a baby here on earth to love and parent again.

We’re fortunate that Hannah’s health problems weren’t genetic or hereditary, so there is no increased risk for us in subsequent pregnancies. In saying that though, we know there are so many different things that can go wrong during a pregnancy, and we are even more aware of this after our own loss. Also after meeting other parents who have lost babies for all different reasons. It is hard not to worry, but we are trying to trust God in this. We are taking one day at a time and appreciating each and every day that I am blessed with carrying this child. So far everything has been going well, and this baby is growing and developing just as it should :) God willing, things remain that way.

In the baby-loss community, a baby born after the loss of a child is called a ‘Rainbow baby’. If you are wondering what that means, this might help explain it. You'll see me use this term sometimes when i refer to our new little one.

On that note, just thought I'd share this - it's the first gift we have been given for our new baby – a sweet friend had it made for us. I love it!

I want to clarify a few things, and set straight some wrong assumptions that people might come to. The fact that we are pregnant again does not mean that we are ‘over our loss’ of Hannah Grace. It doesn’t all of a sudden bring healing to our broken hearts. Nor is this baby a replacement for the baby we lost. This is our second child, not our first. Contrary to what many might assume, at the moment being pregnant again is actually making me miss Hannah more not less. 

We are so joyful about this pregnancy, but it does not take away from the pain we feel as we grieve Hannah. Somehow both emotions co-exist – we feel extreme joy, and also extreme pain. I don't think I could have understood this before last year. We appreciate this baby even more because we have lost a child, but we also feel so much pain that Hannah isn’t here to share in this journey with us. Please don’t make assumptions or judgements about our emotions as we process this new stage.  It is not something you can ever understand unless you have walked this road yourself. 

A friend asked me a few weeks ago if I thought she was ‘too excited’ about this new baby. I assured her that the only way she could be too excited would be if her excitement caused her to forget about Hannah Grace. Her response was so sweet, as she looked shocked and exclaimed how could anyone ever forget about Hannah when she is your first child?!  I’m so thankful for supportive friends like this. We want people to celebrate this pregnancy with us. We are certainly celebrating! But we don’t want their joy to get in the way of still acknowledging Hannah too. If she was still here people wouldn’t start ignoring her just because we are pregnant again, and I don’t see why it should be any different just because she is in heaven.

If you are following my blog, and especially if you have lost a baby yourself, I just want to clarify that this blog will still mainly be about my journey with Hannah. While that now includes our rainbow baby, please don't be scared away by thinking this will turn into a 'new baby' blog. I still want this to be place where grieving Mums can be encouraged and can share their thoughts and pain as we walk this road together.

We would greatly appreciate your prayers for baby and I through this pregnancy! Prayers for safety and health for both of us. And prayers for Jeremy and I as we deal with all the emotions that this new journey brings. Pray that we would have the strength to trust God with all of our fears and anxieties. 
And praise Him with us for the incredible gift of this new life!!

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Mothers Day

Today is Mothers Day - a day I feel like we have been leading up to for a long time now. I have been thinking about this day since we lost Hannah, and dreading having to face it without her. I've missed her extra much today.

I debated in my mind whether or not I should go to church this morning, as they always do a big special Mothers Day service; and I knew that would bring up so many emotions for me. In the end I decided to go - I guess I felt like I should. I didn't want to feel like I was hiding from it, and 'avoiding reality'. 

It was as hard as I expected. 

A big deal is made in many churches about how important a Mothers role is. And all the jobs that Mums do and practical roles that Mums play. How tiring it is running around after your kids, feeding them, clothing them, and tending to their every need. Which is very valid - I'm not denying that at all.

But hearing all this is painful for me. I don't get to do those things for my daughter.

I know that I am a Mum, but to be honest, I felt so out of place today. 

What if your role as a Mum involved sitting holding your baby in the NICU, instead of in a rocking chair in their nursery? Monitoring oxygen levels and heartrates, instead of how much they are growing by the day? Getting up early to be there for the doctors meeting about your baby, instead of to feed them? Making life or death decisions about medical treatments, instead of about what time to put them down for a nap? Picking clothes to bury your child in, instead of outfits for them to wear to church? That is my experience of Motherhood.

I know that most Mums have 'normal' roles to play for their baby, and I know it is very tiring and challenging. But there are some of us Mums who have played very different roles in our babies lives. And there are some of us who have done the hardest thing a Mum could ever have to do - say goodbye to their precious child. Mothers Day is very hard for us.

It's not that I don't appreciate that parenting is hard, or that Mums face so many challenges. I know that's the case, and I agree that they deserve to be recognised for their love and commitment. 

It's just that what is often portrayed is a rather one-sided view of Motherhood, and it can be really hard for those of us whose experiences are different. And painful. I guess I wish that other women were acknowledged too. What about the women who is single, and although she isn't a Mum she helps mother and nurture her neighbours kids? Or the women who has faced an abortion in her past, and she never even got to meet her baby? What about the wife who desperately longs to have a baby, but has tried for years and hasn't been able to get pregnant? What about the women who has lost numerous babies to miscarriage? Or the Mum whose relationship with her child has been damaged, and she is no longer able to play that role in their child's life?

I want Mums to be appreciated, but I also wish that more people acknowledged that Mothers Day is hard for a lot of people. I know many women who avoid church on Mothers Day, and I wish that didn't have to be the case. Churches should be the place where we are able to recognise the pain that many women feel on this day - if women can't be real there, then where can they be? It doesn't need to take away from appreciating the 'normal Mum' - can't we do both??

Ok, rant over lol! I just want to share about the special Mothers Day dinner that our family had tonight :)

My husband was AMAZING today. He was so supportive and loving, treasuring and appreciating me as a Mum; but also acknowledging my pain. He honoured me and encouraged me, and held me as I cried. We spent the afternoon at Hannah's grave... which was hard, but good.

And, he cooked an amazing Masterchef quality dinner! Not only for me, but also for my Mum and my Gran. And my Dad made a delicious dessert for us :)

 The table all set for our asian style dinner

 Sweet and Sour Pork, and Thai green curry

 Nicely garnished rice

Pavlova Dad made - with an 'M' for Mum, and the initials of each of us Mums on it

He also gave me a beautiful card, and had written it so thoughtfully. Here is the card itself (I'm not sharing his own words here on the internet though!)

I love being a Mum. I wish my mothering experience looked different, and I wish Hannah Grace was here in my arms, but I am so thankful that God has given me the gift of Motherhood.

I just want to finish by encouraging you to recognise ALL of the Mothers around you. Those that have children in their arms, and those that have children waiting for them in heaven. Let's also appreciate those that nurture children, and would love to be Mums themselves, but aren't able to be for whatever the reason.

Every year there are so many Mums hurting on Mothers Day, and what a blessing it would be if we could meet them where they are at and acknowledge their pain.


Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Happy heavenly birthday Caleb

This post is dedicated to a very special little boy, Caleb, who is having his first heavenly birthday today. I have met his Mum since I lost Hannah, and it has been such a blessing to have a friend to process this baby-loss road with; someone who understands all the emotions that come with this painful journey. I know the one year anniversary of your baby entering heaven is really hard - so if you are reading this, please say a prayer for this amazing Mum and her family today.

Caleb, we hope you are celebrating up in heaven on your birthday today! I like to picture you and Hannah Grace being friends up there; keeping each other company along with all the other babies gone too soon, until us parents can be reunited with you. You are very loved and missed sweet boy.


Friday, 4 May 2012

8 months since we said goodbye

Dear Hannah Grace,

Today marks 8 months since you left our arms for those of our Lord. We miss you desperately. On most days I am able to focus on the joy that you brought into our lives, but today my mind has been plagued by traumatic memories from your last 12 hours with us. 

I will never forget your last few minutes before you entered heaven; your grandparents and aunty had left the room for a little bit, to give your Daddy and I some time alone with you. We stood by the window, looking out over the park on a warm sunny Spring day. Fathers Day. You were in my arms, and I held you up close so that your face was against mine. I kissed you over and over and told you how much I loved you. Your Daddy stood beside, his arms around both of us. He told me that God was calling you home and I had to let you go to Him – and as the tears streamed down my cheeks and I whispered ‘ok’, you took your last breath. I had been fighting to keep you, and you had been fighting so hard to stay with us; but in that moment, you seemed to know that I was finally releasing you to our Lord. As I gave you the permission to go, you left our world and entered the glory of heaven. 

Amazingly, you died right at the same moment that our whole church were praying for us; and I think that's why your final passing was so peaceful. 

We called our family in, and all stood together hugging each other as we wept. And in the hours that followed, I just held you close and cried. I had no idea what we were meant to do next – all I knew was that I didn’t want to let you go. 

Our pastors came in to be with us, as did my midwife. When I got overwhelmed by the emotion of holding you, each of your grandparents held you for one final time. So did your Daddy. Your two grandmothers gave you a bath and dressed you in a beautiful pink dress and cardigan. The funeral director was called, and he came up to the hospital to meet us and talk us through a few things; although I don’t think I heard much. Handing you over to him, having to say goodbye to you, and watching him walk away, was harder than I ever could have imagined. It tore me to pieces. That was the last time we would see you this side of heaven.  

An hour later we walked out of the hospital with empty arms and broken hearts. 

Hannah Grace, I hope you know that you are so loved. We think about you and talk about you all the time, and we miss you every single day. You are so precious to us, and I desperately long to see you again. I don’t think 8 months passing has lessened the pain that we feel. Some days I don’t cry, other days I cry over and over again. But the pain is always real.

There will always be a gap in our family because you, our oldest child, are in heaven. 

I love you, sweet girl.