Monday, February 16, 2015

Brody's first birthday

This time last year I had already been pushing for several hours and laboring most of the day.  There was some beautiful snow on the ground that night as well. As we drove to the hospital on the 15th it was a bright sunny day and the snow was sparkling brilliantly. We were on our way to say hello and goodbye to Brody. I remember feeling like I was out of my own body watching it all unfold from afar. Then Brody would give me a swift kick in the rib and I came reeling back!

As the epidural wore off and the pain of Brody’s face up position started to drain the last of my energy I remember hearing voices. I couldn’t even keep my eyes open. Jeremiah kept encouraging me and even found ways to make everyone laugh now and then. I remember once hearing Juli whisper, “you are so strong… you can do this”. I heard instruction from the nurses and Dr. Towards the end of every pushing session everyone would say, “There he is! This is it!” And then as soon as the last push stopped, nothing. Then there was whispering between the staff as I rested for a minute, and then boom, right back at it. I could hear Haley here and there as she captured precious moments on camera and helped encourage my mom as she struggled watching her daughter in so much pain and took turns helping to hold my legs.

There were so many moments where I wanted to say, “No more! I can’t do this anymore! He’s not coming and you just have to cut him out! I am going to die as I watch my son die.”

By some miracle he finally came at 1:28 am, a Monday morning, February 17th.

It was relatively quiet.

Brody didn’t cry. The Dr. and nurses went about their business quickly taking care of me with their swift skills. I heard the clicks of Haley’s camera. Miah was saying how beautiful he was.
I think I made the most noise as I was still in such pain. Even my arms were so weak that I needed pillows to prop them up as I held my boy for the first time. I knew he was already gone. Suddenly the nurse was there with a stethoscope to check for his heartbeat. She silently shook her head at Miah and I said, “I don’t care.”

I was finally holding my baby. Bonding with him as only a mother knows. Feeling his weight in my arms rather than on my hips! Holding his little hands and stroking his (hairy!) skin I marveled at this gift from God. Yes I was upset. Yes I immediately questioned – why God did you take him from us?! Why couldn’t he have lived for even just a few moments?! But at the same time I felt peace. I knew my Brody was at peace. He did not feel any pain. He did not know heartache. He never felt lonely, betrayed, rejected, inadequate, nervous, frightened, or even this sorrow that we remember now and still feel on his birthday. He went straight from my arms to Jesus’s arms.

We have learned so much this past year and God continues to graciously teach us through our weakness. Tomorrow on Brody’s birthday we will not put a candle in a cupcake and watch him smear icing all over his face. We will however celebrate.

We celebrate a life that was not an accident but perfectly created for God’s perfect purpose.
My plan is to release nine balloons for the nine months he was with us in the womb. I understand however that the cold will likely thwart our plans… science. (Google helium and cold)
The reason behind a balloon release though is more important than if we actually get to see them float away. We are given many gifts from God. All things though belong to God. He lets us take care of them and enjoy them, but we must hold all things with an open hand. This open hand acknowledges that what we are holding is truly God’s and He is free to do with it as he pleases. Whether it’s a job, a house, a loved one… do we hold them with open hands and say, “Your will be done in my life.”?

To some that may sound cruel. He controls everything? He doesn’t let us have anything?

No, He gives us gifts and the responsibility to care for things and the free will to choose as we please. But really it’s a relief to know that He is sovereign and ultimately holds all things. This can open a whole discuss on the sovereignty of God, free will, and the problem of evil… But back to balloons…
My friend Mandy, who has walked a similar road, explained it to me. If we hold onto things as tightly as possible, it will really hurt if it has to be pried from our fingers. But if we hold with an open hand, we can say, “you give and take away, but blessed be the name of the Lord.”

And so we will once again open our hands as we release balloons and choose once again to give Brody back to our Lord. His plan was different than ours, but His ways are higher and one day we will get to see the full extent of how He used Brody’s life. Possibly even to save another life.

We open our hands to You Lord and give you our lives. Do with them as you see fit.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Plans change... or do they?

Plans change. Or at least ours do.

If you're like me, you like to make a plan, and see it fulfilled.
I don't have to make the plan, but I like to know what it is. 
Sometimes plans are made, and then they change. Most of the time - it's not a big deal. You just go with it. Sometimes though, it seems as though there is just no way that this change of plan can work out.

We asked God for a child and he gave us one. When we became pregnant with Brody it was very apparent that God planned to make us a family.  When that plan changed drastically, I was confused... but God this was your perfect, beautiful plan! Why would you change it?! What I had to remember though was that for Him it was not a change. That was His plan. Some say, oh you were so strong... but really, we didn't have a choice. It was His plan.

I bet Mary didn't see Jesus in her plan. I wonder what all went through her head when she first heard the news. Do I have a choice? What about Joseph... will I lose my fiancé for this? Will my friends and family forsake me? Wasn't your plan for us something different? But this was God's plan.

We can see God's plans as difficult, unexpected, and confusing at times... but we have to remember who He is. He created us, He laid out the very foundations of the earth. He knew us before He knit us together in our Mother's womb. He was, He is, and He will be the one true sovereign God. He sees the whole picture!
"For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known." I Corinthians 13:12

While at first this plan for a savior to be born to her, a young unmarried virgin, must have been scary, overwhelming, and maybe even disappointing... It proved to be the most perfect plan of all. Was not the author of this plan also the author of mine? Did not the same God who breathed life into mankind, who sent His son to die for OUR sins, also give life, though brief, to our Brody? Does he not know the ultimate purpose for Brody's story as He knew the purpose of Mary's?

Our plans may change, but His do not.
Oh God, help me this Christmas to TRUST in your sovereign plans. To not only know in my head but also in my heart that your plans for our lives are indeed perfect.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A moment to remember from May 5th, 2014

Another old Facebook post:

God never ceases to amaze me. You all have seen me post cute little things about the Walton's youngest son Caeson that I get to watch a few days a week. For today's #BrodyBits #Memory Monday I have to tell you how God has ministered to my heart through a three year old. 

I've had the opportunity to watch him since he was 7 or 8 weeks old. After we received Brody's diagnosis, and that again after Brody was born, I feared that it would be difficult to watch Caeson while I grieved. His parents did too and were very gracious in giving us time. God took my fears though and redeemed them to actually comfort and heal my broken heart. While other situations with kids such as Awana and sometimes my piano lessons have been difficult to face, rarely has this been difficult.

It's been interesting to watch the innocence of a three year old through this whole journey. I've been able to talk to him about God, heaven, and the value of life. We talked to Brody in the womb, about knowing and trusting God, about how Jesus died on the cross for us and rose again, about how in doing so He made a way for us to go to heaven... where Brody is now waiting for us. We've talked about how we have to trust Jesus and give Him our heart... so many great things that I pray have planted seeds in Caeson's little heart and mind. 

Today while playing with toys Caeson was singing "Jesus love me". I stopped what I was doing and just smiled and listened. Then Caeson said to himself, "I'm singing for Brody, he will like that. I miss him." Aww! How sweet! Earlier this morning I had to clarify that Brody was a person - not a puppy. To help him understand who Brody is we talked about how Brody grew in my belly just like he did in him mommy's, and just like cousin Lincoln with Aunt Haley, and cousin Owen with Aunt Holly. I could tell it clicked. Perhaps Brody's short life will be remembered someday when Caeson is older and he considers whether to give his life to Christ or not. Perhaps that little seed will sprout and grow and Brody will inspire him, and YOU, to give your life to Jesus, trust Him, follow Him, serve Him, and most of all - love Him.

thoughts from April 8th

from a Facebook post back in April:

So I was doing great the past few days... then Sunday night our families were talking about Easter plans and I just went downhill. It occurred to me how hard that day will be as we watch our nieces and nephews hunt for eggs, take pics in their cute outfits, etc and then I'll really miss Brody and wish he was there to pass around to the family. Anyway, so Monday was rough, and of course gray and rainy too! But then John and LouAnn Mohler saved the day! :) They had my parents and Jeremiah over for dinner and "slime licker". Great food, conversation, and laughs which pulled me out of my funk. I know its ok to have seasons of grief, unexpected ups and downs. Thankful that our God is always the same faithful God in spite of my ever changing feelings!

Been too long...

Silence speaks.

Sometimes its hard to speak, write, reflect. My silence on here lately could make you think a variety of things - and many may be true. It's true that sometimes I'm so upset, mad even, that I can't share. Sometimes life is simply too busy. Sometimes I worry people will tire of my talking about Brody. Sometimes I'm fine and full of hope for the future - but worry it will seem as though I've "moved on".

I have made some posts on Facebook some of which I called #BrodyBits and #MemoryMonday.

Here's one from just 6 weeks postpartum:

6 weeks ago I met my son and kissed him goodbye. Sometimes it doesn't feel real. He was only here for 40 weeks and 2 days. People ask how I'm doing and I say "ok", but part of me is gone. I miss you so much Brody! Having a hard time going to bed tonight. I am "ok" though... and ultimately grateful for Brody, my perfect son, a beautiful gift. I just wish I could hold him tonight... and share pics of his first this or that... and complain about sleepless nights or endless poopy diapers. :) At least I know my boy is safe and happy in Jesus' arms and that he has impacted me and countless others for good. 
Ok, to bed I go. Mommy loves you Brody Micah! 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day

Remembering Brody today on this National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.

Although I certainly don't need a special day - I think of him EVERY day! Every time I see his pics around the house, feel the stretch marks on my skin, touch my necklace with his name, walk past the baby department at the store, see other peoples babies and wonder - how old are they? would Brody have been that size by now?
Every time I see that look in Jeremiah's eyes, hear the name Brody called by another parent to their son, teach a child to play piano or see children grow and learn, hear certain songs on the radio... on and on.

I say all this with some pain yes, but moreover with gratitude. I wouldn't trade all the heart ache for the simple fact that I got to hold another life in mine. That God chose us to be his parents. Chose us to carry a burden perhaps, but a blessing in the end.

Thank you God for giving us Brody! It has been an exhausting, heart wrenching journey, but it changed our lives in so many ways - for the better. We will now try to wait patiently until we get to see you again - knowing you are safe in our Heavenly Father's arms, and perhaps playing with so many other sweet babies who didn't stay here long.

And while we wait... we also pray... that God might grant us a brother or sister (or both!) whether biological, adopted, fostered.... we pray!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Day of Hope... Not fear

Today, August 19th, is International Day of Hope - breaking the silence about pregnancy/infant/child loss. One of the goals is to raise awareness of the many Neural Tube Defects that can be fatal (like Brody's). Another is to make those who have experienced a loss or are anticipating one, and perhaps been afraid to share, aware of the many resources out there. I would say - be courageous and share your experience! It is healing and you don't know how it might help someone else. 
My own goal in all this is to encourage all who have walked this road of loss, to not live in fear. When you lose a child your world suddenly gets opened to all the devastating possibilities that COULD happen if you try again. You meet people who've had various diagnoses that lead to loss and it CAN consume you with fear. Fear that you'll lose another, or fear that you'll never conceive again. I have to battle this every day.
I must re-read various verses like:
1 John 4:18 "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." 
Isaiah 41:10, 13 "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand... For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you."
2 Timothy 1:7 "for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control."
And so many others. 
Share, be vulnerable, relate with one another, and move forward in love, not mastered by fear.