Should have been your day...

My Sweet Isaiah,

Today is supposed to be your due date. I am so sad that instead of eagerly anticipating your arrival, I am still treading in the ocean of grief from your loss.

I want you to know how much you touched my life. In the days I was pregnant, you filled my life with so much joy and so much hope. I just couldn't wait to meet you. I still remember at your 20 week ultrasound, you hid your face, just like your daddy does for pictures. That made me laugh so hard. I knew you were going to be a lot like him and that's a wonderful thing. Your daddy is such an amazing man and he loves you and me more than we will ever know.

I am so sad that I had to say goodbye to you so soon. How I long to hold you and love on you and hear you cry, but even still in your passing you touched my life and the lives of so many around you. You have taught me to embrace life and to cherish relationships with your daddy, family, and the amazing friends in our life. You have taught me that my heart is capable of more love than I ever knew possible. And you have deepened our faith in God so much. My sweet boy, you left a powerful legacy!

I am so jealous that you got to meet Jesus face-to-face before me. I know heaven is so much more glorious than I could ever imagine, and I love that you are there. I love thinking that you are not sad there. Compassionate for us I am sure, but not sad. There are no tears in heaven. Isaiah, please pray for your mommy and daddy. We want to stay strong in our faith and honor the God that you see face-to-face so that one day we can join you in the fields of heaven.

So yes, today should have been your day. And you know what it still is - maybe not in the way I had hoped, but I am going to treasure the way you touched my heart and life. I am going to celebrate your little life!

I love you so very much!



Celebrate the Milestones

"Why are you so downcast O my soul?"

The Psalms struck a chord with me again today. I am having a hard day. I am not sure what specifically triggered my "funk," but I feel a bit like Eore and I swear, a little rain cloud seems to be following me around despite the beautiful sun in the sky. I know in general why I am sad. I am still grieving my boy and grief has a way of ebbing and flowing in our souls. In the past I have found that the toughest days seem to be particular markers - one month, 6 weeks, 1st day back to work, etc... but not today. Today I am just in a funk. I know there will be days like this. I just wish knowing about them would make them any easier.

I have had some great milestones in my week though. Its interesting how when tragedy strikes you, your world feels flipped upside down and you have to relearn how to do just about everything. I have learned that I will just have to accept that things that used to feel so familiar - like riding the train to work or sitting at my desk or being in a group setting - will feel so foreign and I have to give myself time and space to learn to feel comfortable again. I am actually learning to celebrate facing some of these. Who knew riding to work by myself on the el could feel like a milestone, but it did. I made it and survived, and I am going to celebrate it!

I survived my first visit back to the gym too. I know that doesn't sound like such a great feat, but I knew that was the one place where a lot of people don't know what happened. As, I feared a couple people came up to me and said, "Oh you had your baby! How is everything?" I rehearsed in my head what I was going to say in these situations but those rehearsals didn't really work. I basically mumbled something like, "Yes, I did have my baby but unfortunately he didn't make it." There is nothing like watching a person's face go from joyful excitement to awkward, tearful sympathy in a moment. Fortunately the gym was fairly slow at the time I went, so I didn't have to bear that conversation too many times. I know there will be more, but somehow getting through the first few makes me confident that I can make it.

Also, I had my first Wednesday off this week. This too doesn't sound like a huge milestone, but it marked the first day I am choosing to do something for myself and that's big for me. I had planned to work a flex schedule after the baby came, but obviously things didn't work out like I planned. In the end, I decided if I could take time of to be with my baby, I can also take time for me. I am taking off every other Wednesday. I know that's not a ton of time off, but its just enough to not add to my stress at work and give me a bit of a break and time to pursue friendships that formed in the wake of the loss of Isaiah. This past Wednesday, I was able to get together with a sweet high school friend and a neighbor and have some time to myself. That was a good day.

My favorite milestone of the week had to be laughing so hard I couldn't catch my breath when I was out with my friend Alissa on Friday. I can't even remember exactly what we were laughing about. That may have had something to do with the Margarita I had - boy an I am lightweight now! But I specifically remember laughing and when I have spent most of my days in sadness and tears lately, laughter is such a welcome gift. I am so thankful for my evening out with her. She has been such an amazing friend to me for years and has stuck so close to my side in this tough time. She truly is a gift to me!

These are just a few of the milestones I have had this week. So while today is hard, I don't want to lose sight of all of the blessings in my life right now. If Isaiah would want anything for me, it would not be to spend the rest of my days drowning in sorrow. He would want me to be thankful for each day and every blessing in my life. I want to honor my son and the legacy I know he wanted to leave, so in the midst of tough days, I choose to celebrate the milestones!


There's a box?

Matt and I recently discovered this amazing book, Drops like Stars, by Rob Bell. The book is his thoughts on suffering - I know this sounds quite depressing, but I am finding a lot of comfort and hope in the pages of this beautiful book.

In one part of the book he discusses the phrase, "Out of the Box." I don't know about you but through school and work and many areas of my life, I have always been encouraged to think "out of the box." I was taught that meant to think openly and creatively about issues, but in the book he makes an excellent point. Thinking "out of the box" implies that the box is still our reference.

That really hit me. In my desire for control, I like all of life's issues and experiences to fit into nice neat boxes that can easily be labeled. I am fine with thinking "out of the box" because that still means that the box is my point of reference.

But as Rob Bell points out in the book, there are some really tough moments in life that literally shatter our boxes.

Losing Isaiah shattered my box.

While I was pregnant with Isaiah, Matt and I made plans for our lives and our son. Everything seemed to fit neatly into organized boxes of future hopes and dreams and plans. The moment we found out our son no longer had a heartbeat, all those plans, all those neatly packaged boxes were shattered in a million pieces. To quote Rob bell, we had "no other option but to imagine a totally new tomorrow."

Life, void of the boxes, has been tough. I no longer have a point of reference, and I never know what to expect from one moment to the next, let alone one day to the next. Some moments I am actually doing pretty well - in fact, I haven't even cried yet today, but I never know when I will be slammed by the waves of intense grief and anxiety. I miss my boy and I miss knowing what the next five minutes will bring.

In a way, that's freeing though. I can't help but slow down and appreciate each moment because its too hard to imagine what the next moment will bring. Also, I now realize how easy it is to make "control" and "our neat little boxes" an idol. They become a point of reference for our lives on which its so easy to base our hopes and plans and desires. But the truth remains that there is only one constant in our lives that will bring true hope and peace, and that is GOD. He is one immovable point of reference I will joyfully set my eyes on.


Margaritas, Tears, and Tombstones

I survived my first week of work, and thankfully it was much better than I thought - save a few stupid comments. (A word to the wise: don't say, "Are you sure there isn't something wrong with you?" when trying to comfort a newly grieving mom.)

Thanks to all of you who were so supportive of me. I love how deeply you showed your concern for me and really wanted to know how I was doing. Honestly even the stupid comments have shown me how much you care. Your love and comforting words are like a balm to my soul.

I am so glad I went back to work on a Wednesday too. I have learned that grief is exhausting. Even though I didn't do much actual work this week between catching up with wonderfully supportive coworkers and cleaning out my inbox, I found myself completely drained of energy. Thankfully the weekend came quickly.

Unfortunately, I am still having a lot of trouble sleeping. Though, I was given a prescription for sleeping pills, I try not to take them every night. I tried to forgo them last night since I was confident that I had a weekend ahead to rest, but I ended up enduring a frustratingly sleepless night.

I found myself in quite a exhausted, depressed mood this morning. Thankfully Matt is so intuitive at figuring out just how to support me in these moments and he brewed a fresh pot of coffee, made me breakfast, and turned on some encouraging music. With a refreshed spirit, we spent a wonderfully lazy morning together, sipping coffee, talking and laughing together, and catching up via phone with his parents in MN.

We finally took showers and washed the breakfast dishes 1:00 and Matt had the great idea of going to our favorite Mexican restaurant for margaritas and quesadillas. We had such a great time, and though we spoke several times of Isaiah, we did not find ourselves filled with sadness. Rather we found ourselves reveling in God's goodness and talking about the amazing people he has recently bonded us with.

After lunch, and a quick visit to the bookstore, we headed home to work on the finishing touches of Isaiah's tombstone - what a surreal task. As we scoured the Internet to find the perfect verse or phrase for his epitaph, the tears flowed. Were we really spending our Saturday designing a grave marker for our son? Saturdays used to be such carefree days for us. What happened to those days? I suppose this is all part of our "new normal."

Which has me thinking...lately I have found a new home in the Psalms. I identify so well with David. One second he is praising God, the next he is wailing in despair, yet no matter what he trusts in the unfailing love of the LORD. It isn't lost on me that our sons middle name is David.


My Favorite Part?

Today was my first day back to work and honestly, I was terrified, sad, overwhelmed and a whole heap of other emotions. Though I am glad that life moves forward despite loss and pain, there is a piece of my heart that just desires for time to stand still. It has been 6 weeks since I delivered our precious son, yet my heart still aches like it was yesterday. My world has stopped and a piece of me wishes the rest of the world would just stop with me. Yet, it does not, and heading back to the office was but another milestone of treading wearily into the future.

Despite my trepidation, my day wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be. I had this deep seeded anxiety over seeing people that didn't know what happened, yet the Lord sheltered me from this pain. I was able to hide in the comforting familiarity of my own desk. A few wonderful people stopped by, and though it was hard to watch them fight the tears I could see lurking in their eyes, they genuinely wanted to know how I was doing and made me feel so loved and cared for.

During lunch, there was a meeting of our weekly prayer group. I love being a part of this group, yet I was dreading this time as I couldn't help but remember that Isaiah was born as this group met on that fateful day. I mustered up the courage to attend and it was amazing. It was so encouraging to share our needs with each other. There was a new woman in the group, who thankfully already knew my story, and she so boldly prayed and declared the Word of God over us. Tears poured from my eyes, but I found that they were tears of sadness mixed with great comfort and restoration. There is something so healing about sobbing with a group of amazing women as you lay yourself before the throne of God. The time was so sweet that I realized 11:39a on Wednesday came and went and for the first time in 6 weeks I didn't even realize it. That in itself is a huge milestone.

The rest of the day passed rather quickly. I talked with several more sweet people and though I didn't accomplish much of anything, I decided just being able to stay in that office until 5 was a huge accomplishment in itself. Towards the end of the day, I could feel that pit-of-my-stomach emptiness and anxiety creep in. I reached out to my dear friend Kristen who has so lovingly walked with me through each step of this uncharted journey. After chatting for a moment she said something that changed my whole outlook. She told me how proud she was that I made it through the day and asked me what my favorite part was. My favorite part? How could I have a favorite part on this day that I had built up to be so overwhelmingly awful? But you know what, right in that moment I realized I had more than one favorite moment. That beautiful time of prayer and those moments of talking with my friends and coworkers that have helped to carry through the past 6 weeks were such sweet moments. I went from feeling like I merely survived the day to realizing how blessed a day it truly was!


It's Just Not Fair

Early Thursday morning (very, very early thanks to the red-eye flight), Matt and I returned home from an amazing week away in Wine Country, CA. Matt and I love to travel together. Some of our greatest memories are from past trips - meandering through the streets of Florence, exploring the ruins of Rome, reveling in the spectacular natural beauty of Rio and soaking in the grandeur of Paris. After we found out that Isaiah had passed away it felt like the world as we knew it ended. It literally felt like the life was sucked out of us and we were left a hollow, devastated shell. But Isaiah taught us that we were not intended to live as only a shell of ourselves. Jesus said that HE came to give us life, life abundant (John 10:10). So we decided to cancel our "pity-party" and take time to heal our shattered hearts, treasure each other, and create new memories.

So many of you encouraged us to take this trip. We could so tangibly feel your prayers for restoration and peace. Our trip to California was better than we could have ever hoped. Every view we saw was absolutely stunning. It was a relief to be surrounded by such beauty and life. We rented a car and spent hours driving through the winding narrow mountain roads, the miles of vineyards, and the majestic Pacific coast. Matt and I kept commenting about how there was such a spiritual quality to the trip. Every moment seemed to scream of the beauty and majesty of God.

One evening as Matt and I were enjoying dinner in San Francisco, our conversation turned again to the loss of Isaiah. Our thoughts clouded and we couldn't stop from declaring how unfair life is. How could we lose the son that we were so excited to welcome? Why do we have to look out our living room window and see the teen parents strolling their beautiful, healthy children in front of the Chicago Public High School across the street? This is clearly unfair. As these despairing, angry thoughts darkened our conversation, I was reminded that in our fallen world, life is not fair. Unfairness strikes every second of every day in all reaches of our broken world. Even yesterday I learned that a dear family member of mine is going through a terribly difficult time in her family. That too is just not fair and it breaks my heart. My only rest is knowing that unfairness is not of God and that it breaks HIS heart too.

As we sat in that restaurant on Washington Square in San Francisco, it dawned on us that "unfairness" is not just about the difficult, shattered parts of our lives, but also about the unmerited grace and blessings. We do not deserve the good pieces of our lives any more than we deserve the despair and pain. It's unfair that we lost our son Isaiah. But, its also "unfair" that GOD has given us so many dear friends to love on us. It's unfair that we had to buy a burial plot and watch our son be placed in the dark hollow of a cold grave. But, it's also "unfair" that the Lord has richly provided jobs, a home, and the resources to travel to California for restoration.

How many times have I screamed "it's unfair!" in difficult times... and been so silent in blessed times?

No matter the circumstances of life, I will choose to praise God. No matter how much turmoil or abundance comes my way, I will rest in the truth that one day God will bring me to my true home where I will rejoice in God's UNBROKEN world.

There was a sign that Matt and I passed each morning as we left our hotel in the Sonoma Valley. It was written for us (and for you).

"In this world you will have trouble.
But take heart! I have overcome the world."

- Jesus (John 16:33)


I'll Love You Forever

Has it really already been a month since I held sweet Isaiah in my arms? In some ways it feels like it was just yeserday and in others in feels like eons ago. Though my body still bears some physical reminders, I can hardly remember the days of my carefree pregnancy. It feels like a distant, whimsical dream.

Today has been a bittersweet day for me. Yesterday, I bought some spray roses to take to Isaiah's property. (We "borrowed" that term from another blog I read because I agree that sounds so much better than grave.) I also planned to take a small metal cross to the cemetary since his property will not have a marker until spring. This morning I woke up and headed into the kitchen to find something to eat for breakfast, but the roses and cross just glared back at me. Though beautiful, they just served as painful reminders that my son really is dead - that I am a 27 year old woman who has to plan what to take out to her son's "property." My appetite immediately left me and once again I sank down into the depths of sadness. The tears flowed and flowed and I physically felt this anguish in the pit of my stomach. Though, over the past weeks, I keep vascilating between the surrealness and the reality of our loss, this morning it was just real. This is not a dream that I will wake up from in a few hours no matter how much I wish I will.

Yet in the midst of my saddness, I couldn't help but think of all of the wonderful moments I spent with Isaiah. I still remember the first time Matt and I saw him on our early ultrasound. He looked just like a kidney bean, but he was our little miracle kidney bean. It was love at first sight. Then I remember the first time we heard his heartbeat on the doppler. It was so fast. Matt kept saying how it sounded like a little train. I remember the first time I felt him move. It was so magical. Little did I know he would be quite the mover. He used to be so active that I remember commenting to my mom that it felt like he was trying to back his way out of my belly button. I just loved being pregnant with Isaiah.

While I was pregnant I remember reading the book Love You Forever. My mom gave me this book when I graduated high school and on the inside cover she wrote me a note...


Always rember....

I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always,
As long as I'm living,
My baby you'll be.


I treasure these words and I know from the bottom of my heart that they are so true. No matter what curveballs life has thrown at she and I, I always know that she loves me. I am blessed to call her mom.

I wanted to share the same love with my son. I honestly didn't know what kind of parent I would be. I am sure I would have made plenty of mistakes. I am sure Isaiah would have rolled his eyes at me just like I used to do to my mom, but no matter what, I wanted to make sure he knew he was loved.

Isaiah may never hear me say the words, "I love you," but I hope he knows he is loved. As the months, and years go by, he will never be forgotten or replaced. Just as mom so lovingly wrote me -

Isaiah -

Always remember...

I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always,
As long as I'm living,
My baby you'll be