constant reminders

i just finished reading this article on the recent loss of the duggar family. i personally support their choice to let the number of children they have be left “up to God” & do not judge them for their decision to bring lives so willingly into existence. some people try & try & try to conceive & do everything imaginable without success for only God knows why & others, like the duggars, seem to be able to create life after life. so many people knock them for this & talk about how ridiculous, or make their jokes…but let me ask this – do you care why or how you came into existence? maybe you were a happy accident, maybe you were planned, maybe you were the result of “letting God be God” – aren’t you just thankful for the opportunity to experience life?

so i take this opportunity, this reminder, to pray for the duggar family in their loss & to pray for every mother, father, family suffering loss…having to set aside or give up on the plans they were already making for the little life created.

i also take this time as a chance to remember my heaven baby.

i’m thankful for you, baby, & i know we shall meet you someday. until then, give Jesus a hug & kiss from us all & ask Him to whisper in Avey’s ear to stop distributing dog food all over the house so i can enjoy my time with your sisters that much more.

this is a good article & testimony. we serve a loving & gracious Father. He does work all things for our good & He cares for us. you can also read a little of {our story} here.

Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar continue to grieve following the news that the reality TV mom miscarried her 20th child last week.
The “19 Kids and Counting” couple told People that they plan to hold a memorial service on Wednesday for the baby they named Jubilee Shalom Duggar.

“We have had many tears today,” Jim Bob told the mag. “This is life, and I understand that we are going [through] something that many others have. You think about the what-ifs, but God gives us strength to go on. We won’t be able to see this child’s life and the phases that we’ve seen for our other children, but we know we will see this child in heaven one day. We are thankful for each child, and we are blessed to have the children we have here and the ones we will meet someday in heaven.”

Jim Bob thanked their fans for the outpouring of love they received following their heartbreaking news.
“We would like to thank everyone for their prayers, emails and outpouring of love,” he wrote in a letter he shared with the mag. “As our whole family is grieving, we also know that God promises to work all things for good in our lives. Our prayer is that Jubilee’s passing will help us all realize that this life is short, and our relationship with Jesus is the most important thing. He gives us a peace in our hearts as He guides us through whatever we might face.”

This was Michelle’s second miscarriage. She previously lost a baby during her second pregnancy, when she was reportedly taking oral birth control. According to the mag, this incident caused the couple to let the number of children they have be left “up to God.”

link to the {original article} in its entirety.

a mother’s love letter…

dear isla rae,

let me tell you a story.

once upon a time, there was a mommy and a daddy. they had broken hearts. a baby the mommy had inside her belly was taken to heaven, and it made them very sad. the mommy cried and cried. the daddy held her tightly and told her everything would be okay. that was late august of 2010.

months passed and skies were gray for the mommy. in october, for the mommy’s birthday, God gave her a miracle. on her birthday, her 29th birthday, the mommy found out that God had given her and the daddy another baby. this healed their broken hearts.

the mommy was very careful and watched over this new baby for a long time. it took 41 weeks for this beautiful baby to grow inside of her belly. she ate lots of healthy foods. she especially loved blueberries, which were very good for the baby too.

on wednesday, july 6th, 2011, at 11:12am, the mommy gave birth to her little miracle. the miracle’s name is isla rae.

she was perfect and healthy, just like her beautiful sister, ava lee. her name means “bright and shining one,” and it couldn’t be more fitting, because her sweet eyes sparkle like sunshine.

the mommy and daddy took isla rae home. she made their lives more complete.

the mommy and daddy still love their “heaven baby” and will hold him/her someday when they go to heaven, but they are so very, very thankful that God turned something sad into something beautiful. He took the mommy and daddy’s hurt away and gave them sweet Isla to have and love for all the days of their lives.

we love you forever, isla rae. we thank God for you, sweet baby.

i journal for my babies.
one day, i won’t be here, but i can still share with them a bedtime story…
try it. i promise, you won’t regret it.

you are my sunshine, my little sunshine.
you make me happy when skies are gray.
i hope you know dear how much i love you.
you’re my sweet, little isla rae…

i think it’s time…

as you’ve probably read from time to time already…i have three children. i have been blessed with ava bean, the joy of my life, my isla rae, who is coming soon, soon, soon, & my “heaven baby,” baby “ej.” we lost baby “ej” in august of last year, & based upon some recent events in some very sweet friends’ lives, i think it’s time to open my box & let you in on my experience & what i believe God has tried to show me through our tragedy…hopefully, it will help someone.

i remember the morning i discovered i was pregnant again very clearly. i took the test; it was positive; i was shocked – panicked really. ava was only 7 mos old at the time & money’s always tight, you know. we were just getting our bearings it seemed. i wasn’t quite sure how the hubby would react. so i did what any chicken-livered preggo would do & i put a big bow on the test & left it next to the coffee pot (it was very early). then i sat & waited… “shut up! shut up! seriously?!” was the response that came shortly after. imagine my hubby sounding like a high school valley girl – ha! w/out the high-pitched tone of course. he was also shocked, but totally calm & happy, not the reaction i was expecting, but all was well w/the world.

fast forward almost 2 mos. everything goes downhill… it was a friday. we see the baby’s heart beat via early ultrasound. (having nursed, my body never regained “normalcy,” so we weren’t sure just how far along things were…) 6 weeks. heart beating fast & steady. baby fluttering around like a little mexican jumping bean w/limbs. beautiful. life. six quick days later…it’s thursday…the beginning of the end. i’ll never forget lying in the er ultrasound room, the tech doing her thing, & hubby standing behind her. his face was all i watched. he stood stiff, staring at the monitor (which i couldn’t see), hand on his mouth in serious concentration, never shifting. he looked at me once. his expression didn’t change. i knew what he was telling me before she did. no heart beat. i still wonder sometimes what he saw while he stared. he just said it didn’t look the same. six days was actually one day. our baby died just one day after we watched him/her bounce around like the happiest little being on the planet. no reason. no explanation. just over. when she left us in the room alone to have a minute, a sound came from my being that i never even imagine existed. i wailed. from the innermost parts of my heart i wailed. it’s a horrible sound.

they wanted me to have a d&c the very next morning, but i refused, b/c honestly i still hadn’t accepted it yet. i was scared, in denial, numb…all kinds of things. i wanted to do things privately, alone w/my unborn child & husband. i bought myself until monday morning. 9pm sunday night, it happened…labor. i know this, b/c i labored once already. contractions & all. it hit hard & there i was alone w/my husband, my body trying to expel our child while our little girl slept in the next room. by midnight it was over. that was hell. i still had to have the procedure for reasons i won’t go into, but i share this b/c i didn’t realize that you actually give birth. yes, i knew it would be painful. yes, i figured it wouldn’t be easy, but labor? then it hit me that so many women have to experience this form of labor as their first time. i had been blessed w/a previous healthy pregnancy & a labor that was hard, but followed by such joy it was worth it. but this? this was labor w/out victory. this was pain w/out the blessing. this was just cruel.

over the course of the days & weeks to come, my husband & i came to a place of closeness through this experience that i believe would not have been attained otherwise. i have come to learn that tragedy can either destroy you or make you stronger. i chose to use the brokenness & adversity to make me stronger & to help me cling harder to God.

i never blamed God for this. i know God is love & all things pure & just & good. a loving God does not kill a baby. we are fallen. we are flawed. we are imperfect. we have an enemy. our enemy comes to steal, kill & destroy. these are the reasons why i lost our baby. i knew this, but i still needed help w/the emotions. you love your baby before you ever know them – this is true. i loved that baby from the second that line turned pink. we had baby books already started, ultrasound pics on the fridge & smattered on facebook. this baby was already expected & plans were being made daily in preparation for our expanding family. we even had names. so, i needed help letting go of those thoughts & emotions in a healthy way… i was led to a book called “I’ll Hold You in Heaven” by jack hayford. i had been searching & searching for someone to speak some wisdom & comfort into my soul again in a way that i could receive it, & this book did just that. it ministered to me. the Holy Spirit ministered to my heart through it. if you’re looking for a short book to help spark a miracle in your heart, please invest in this one. it will help.

mr. hayford confirmed for me through the Word that my baby is in heaven. my baby is real, fully formed, healthy & very much alive. upon my arrival in heaven, my child will know me & i him/her, as if not a single moment of life was missed between us. that’s the miracle of heaven. “for now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. now I know in part; then i shall know fully, even as i am fully known.” ~1 corinthians 13:12. i got the response a lot, “there must have been something wrong with the baby,” & “this is God’s/nature’s way of taking care of things…” well, first of all, please stay away from saying those things to a woman experiencing the loss of a child. i know those comments come w/pure intentions, but the best response is often a genuine hug & an “i’m sorry you had to experience this.” at least it was for me. second, it doesn’t matter if something was wrong, b/c my baby is perfect now. God’s blueprint for my child has been executed & my baby is just as God intended him/her to be…perfection. (psalm 139) my body may have failed us both, but it’s just a body. it’s going to fail. all the more reason to depend on God & long for heaven.

not only did baby “ej” bring my marriage healing in a very real way, but he/she also opened the door for me to talk to so many women & friends who had endured this kind of experience as well. there are so many of us. not just speaking of miscarriages now, but the loss of a child. the loss of a miracle. the loss of “what should have been.” there are so, so many of us. while i wanted to clam up & deny my thoughts & pains some days, there was some serious therapy taking place when i connected w/other friends who knew what i was going through. there is a time & place for every discussion & discernement & wisdom need to lead the way, but trust me, it may do your heart good to open up & talk about what you’re going through.

i know i’ve written a novel here & blogs are meant to be succinct, but i’ll finish w/just a couple things i believe God has spoken to my heart regarding this ordeal…

1 – your child is in fact a real, living person…still…right now. it’s ok to grieve them. it’s ok to miss them. it’s ok to acknowledge their existence. currently, i have an earth baby, a womb baby & a heaven baby. period. weird? that’s ok. while mourning the loss of my baby, i got the idea to create a box for him/her. i went to michael’s, bought a little wooden box w/a glass top, painted it, decorated it & filled it w/all of the momentos i had gathered during the pregnancy…even the hospital bracelets. these are the baby’s things. they are meaningful, & this way, they can remain w/me in honor of the life that was created in love & the little person we will meet one day. i won’t get the opportunity to pour myself into “ej’s” life, but this was a something of “ej’s” i could pour myself into on his/her behalf instead.

2 – i could be a mom of 2 right now, but i am blessed to be a mom to 3 babies. i haven’t lost a child; i’ve gained a child. isla would not even exist at this moment if circumstances had been different. God has a purpose for isla on this earth. for a long time, i was emotionally hardened in this pregnancy. hemorrhaging twice, pains, sickness…i was anticipating another defeat, but she’s still here kicking & bouncing around in this very pregnant belly. she’s an additional life that would not have been. God is good & kind & He has brought restoration to this faltering body through her. i am that much more thankful for my children thanks to ej.

3 – the name. “ej.” for those of you that know me, you may know how intense i get about names. i would’ve fit right in w/those old testament parents in name-giving business… i struggled a lot w/this baby’s lack of name. i didn’t even know the sex. i asked my husband repeatedly, “what will we do w/the next baby? how can we reuse name choices?” it just didn’t feel right to me. God knew. i believe He speaks to me in my dreams from time to time…probably b/c my mind & mouth are never quiet enough at the same time to hear Him elsewhere…but weeks after & still struggling w/this issue, i dreamt of a little girl, & in the dream He gave me a name that starts w/j. it is a name that i think is beautiful, but it never crossed our minds when trying to think of names. this name was new & i believe from God. i woke up & told my hubby about this dream. he then blurted out a boy’s name that began w/the letter e. it was like lightening struck. why? the original names we had picked out also started w/the letters e & j. the only difference was they were switched. the girl’s was an e & the boy’s was a j. God had taken the burden away & given our child a name – “ej.” doesn’t matter if we have a son or daughter – ej suits each. finally, peace. point to that story? take it to God in prayer. whatever it is you are struggling w/He wants to help. He wants to lift the burden off of you & restore peace to your heart & mind. i still have rough days & moments, but He sees me through…

well, i’m not a writer, so forgive my long story, but it’s my testimony to God’s love & faithfulness. hope deferred does make the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life. He is able to fulfill our longings & He really can turn sorrow into joy, despair into faith. He’s the best shoulder to cry on & if you need an extra shoulder, there are so many of us who know just what you’re going through. don’t be afraid to be transparent sometimes…

“…when my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than i. for you have been a shelter for me, & a strong tower from the enemy.” ~psalm 61

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follow-up post can be found here

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