Monday, May 13, 2013

Another Mother's Day

Dear Maddox,

Today is 13th. It's hard to believe it's been 17 months since you were born. Mommy and Daddy wonder what you would be doing all the time, and it makes us sad to think of everything we've been missing out on since God called you to heaven. We miss you today and every day.

The words don't come easily lately, but my lack of writing doesn't mean I'm thinking of you any less. Mommy's heart just hurts. She misses you and she misses Daddy.

Mommy loves you, Maddox. </3

Sunday, May 5, 2013

International Bereaved Mother's Day

Learn more about International Bereaved Mother's Day and the history of Mother's Day at CarlyMarie Project Heal.

I welcome every opportunity to share about the life of my little man Maddox, and I welcome another special way to honor his memory and bring awareness to stillbirth, miscarriage and infant and child loss.

Thank you to the following mommas for raising awareness for those of us in the loss community and our children in heaven.

Carrie @ 20-Something Homemaker
Sarah @ Life and Grace
CarlyMarie @ CarlyMarie Project Heal
Larissa @ Love is Deeper Still

Sunday, December 30, 2012

First Birthday & A New Year

Dear Maddox,

Even though you couldn't be with us, we still celebrated you on what would have been your first birthday on the 13th. Nanny, Pop-pop and Uncle JT sent you light blue balloon and a homemade birthday card that had Batman stickers all over its envelope! Aunt Meghan and Uncle Sam sent you a card all the way from their new home in Alaska! They couldn't have picked a cooler card for you - it has Batman, Superman, Flash and Green Lantern on it! Here's the front of your card:

Birthday Card from Aunt & Uncle Curtis

On your birthday, Nanny, Pop-pop, Glammy and Uncle JT went to visit you in Gold Hill. They brought you your own birthday cake and balloon to celebrate! They even brought you a Santa Claus, Christmas tree and sock monkey, and Glammy brought a picture of you and her together on the morning you were born.

Happy 1st Birthday, Maddox!

Mommy and Daddy wanted to visit you in Gold Hill on your birthday too, but we're still living in Delaware. It was hard not being able to be close to you on your special day. We did our best to celebrate and remember you here. We took off work so we could be together. We slept in and when we woke up, the first thing I did was cry for you while Daddy held me close. He's such a good daddy, Maddox. He loves you and me very much. To make the day special, we booked a couples massage and went to dinner at The Melting Pot. It wasn't the typical party for a 1-year-old, but sharing the day together on your special day meant a lot to both of us. You give us so much to celebrate!

For your birthday, Aunt Meghan sent me a very special gift. As soon as I opened it, I knew it was perfect. All year she had been writing to you... just like Mommy! She put her letters to you (and some to me) in a beautiful photo book using photos she'd taken in Gold Hill. 

Aunt Meghan's Dear Maddox book is amazing. It is filled with so many personal touches and so much heart - I can't begin to describe how lovely it is. I read it cover to cover the moment I got it, and I cried for you. I sobbed for you (poor Scooter and Thermometer didn't know what was wrong!). And I thanked God for you and the unbelievable friend I have in Meghan.

As soon as we lost you, Meghan told me she would carry this burden with me, that I would never be alone. She told me, in the words of Martina McBride, she was gonna love me through it. She sure has. I can't even write any of this without crying. From the minute I called her with the news that you had gone on to heaven to this minute now, Meghan has carried the grief of losing you with me, and I have never felt alone, not for one second.

I've got pause right here to tell you baby, you are so loved. Not just by your Momma and Daddy, but by your Aunt Meghan and Uncle Sam, your Nanny and Pop-pop, Glammy, Opa, all of your aunts and uncles and the friends you still have here. You are loved!

The week after your birthday, while we were home for Christmas, we got to go visit you in Gold Hill. Your Great-Momaw Girley, Great-Popaw Lindsey and Great-Aunt Stacey came, too! It was a wonderful visit, and I'm so glad we all got to go see you together.

Great-Popaw Lindsey & Great-Momaw Girley
They brought you a pretty Christmas tree!

Daddy, Mommy, Great-Momaw Girley, Great-Popaw Lindsey,
Great-Aunt Stacey, Wade & Pop-pop (Nanny was taking the
picture!) came for a big visit the week of Christmas!

And here we are, winding down 2012...

I remember so clearly December 14, 2011, the morning I woke up and realized it was no longer your birth day. Then came January 1, 2012, and it was no longer your birth year. As December 2012 comes to an end, all of what would have been your firsts have passed, and soon it won't be last December that we lost you, but the December before last. And the time will continue to pass by as it has since the beginning of time, before you or Mommy or Daddy were ever born, although God had written all of our days in His book by then.

Some days drag on while we wait to meet up with you in heaven. Other days fly by. King David says in Psalm 144:4 that, "Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow." When I think of our time on earth being like a breath or a passing shadow, that quick, I wonder if you wonder what all our fuss is about down here. For all I know, for you the time we've spent apart so far has passed as quickly as a few seconds, less time than it's taken me to form this sentence and type it out. Even a few seconds seems too long a time for us to be separated.

Mommy and Daddy miss you so much, Mad. We talk about you every day. It's still so strange to us that you're not growing up with us. We're hopeful that one day soon, maybe in 2013, your baby brother or sister will join us. Even though no one will replace you - ever - we look forward to seeing bits of what you would be like in him or her. We know you'll be a great big brother!

I love you, Maddox!


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Last Day

A year ago today was the last day my heart was whole.

A year ago today was Sunday, and like so many Sundays before our move to Delaware, our good friends Molly and Lee came over for breakfast and the live stream of our church's worship service (aka Hickory Grove - Salisbury Campus). We had French toast, bacon and fruit, like always, and watched the sermon and chatted about the excitement of the "any day now" arrival of our little boy. That evening, Andrew and I watched Miracle on 34th Street, and I sat in our living room floor with my huge prego gut and finished the last of our gift wrapping for Christmas.

A year ago tomorrow, I woke up to signs that it's-really-happening labor would begin soon. My husband and I rode to work together for what I was sure would be my last day at work before meeting my baby boy. It wasn't until that afternoon at our 39-week prenatal appointment that Andrew and I would hear the most devastating news of our lives.

I can't find the heartbeat. (Read: We Lost Maddox)

A year ago tomorrow, a part of my heart left for heaven for Maddox to keep with him. God has held me in His arms, Andrew has walked beside me, and our faithful friends and family encouraged us to keep going as we've survived our first year of grief. I am overwhelmed when I think of how I have been carried through this year with the truly awesome support from my Savior Jesus Christ, my soulmate and better friends and family than I could have asked for. God's presence has been real in my life, His sovereignty beyond sufficient. I am amazed that I've made it this far, but I know He has plans for me.

My heart will not be whole again on this side of heaven, and I can live with that. Besides salvation and my husband, Maddox is the greatest gift God has ever given me, and I wouldn't trade my time with him to spare myself this grief. I love him very much and I miss him every day, and I am so thankful to be his mommy.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Divine Appointments

Maddox’s would-be first birthday is only a week away. I’m having a hard time missing him tonight, so I'm here to share.

I believe in God’s sovereignty, that He is all-knowing and that He is all-powerful. I believe that God wrote all of my days and every moment in them in His book before the beginning of time (Psalm 139:16). I cling to these beliefs and they have helped see me through this trying year. Because I believe in God’s omniscience (His infinite knowledge) and omnipresence (that He is everywhere all at once), I don’t believe in coincidence. I believe He is in every moment. God is with me now and has walked before me to meet me in my future, no matter what tomorrow brings. All that said, I do believe in divine appointments, and I’d like to share three one of them from the past couple of weeks (I ran out of time to share the other two tonight).

Last Monday (or the Monday before?) at work, I had to reach out to a service provider for the company I work for to get assistance installing software on my computer. It’s Monday morning, right? To give you an idea of my mood at the time, let’s put it this way: I’m sad the weekend’s over, I’m busy ‘cause it’s Monday and the last thing I want to do is spend an hour on the phone talking to an IT person about getting this software to work. God sure showed me. By chance, the person who was supposed to help me wasn’t available and had one of her colleagues call me instead – and he was the nicest guy! We made small talk while we worked through the software problem I was having.

When you find out that someone’s around your age and married like you, the follow-up question is always, “Do you have any kids?” Always. Guaranteed. 100% of the time!

Something I committed to in the earliest days after giving birth to Maddox is sharing him with every opportunity I get. I quickly realized how common stillbirth is, but that so few people were open about their losses. Andrew and I agreed that we would recognize Maddox as one of our children for as long as we live. When people ask us if we have kids we say that our son Maddox is in heaven. When we have more children someday and we’re asked how many kids we have, our answer won’t only include our living children; we’ll always have +1, Maddox in heaven.

And that’s always a perfect segue to talking about God and how even through the unimaginable nightmare of losing a child, He is worthy of our praise!

That Monday morning, God took a phone call that I didn’t want to have and turned it into one of the best conversations I’ve had about Him and Maddox in months. I love to share Maddox with new people, even when it’s hard sometimes, and Shane was genuinely interested in hearing about him, learning how to respond to others who have lost a child through miscarriage or stillbirth, and – the best part – praising God for the divine appointment He’d orchestrated thousands of years ago. Talk about a good Monday!

My conversation with Shane and sharing this now reminds me of a blog post my greatest friend, Meghan, shared with me a couple weeks after Maddox was born. I dug through my email tonight to find the link – The Nonconformist Mom. At that time, it was too hard for me to read most of Jennifer’s posts about her dear friend’s loss (and subsequent loss), but one thing I did have the strength to read has stuck with me all year.

In a post titled “God’s Grace in Zion”, Jennifer says:
Think, had Zion [her friend’s stillborn son] lived here on earth, the most that would have happened is that people would bring over buckets of KFC for a week…maybe buy a pack of diapers. Things would go on as normal.

But now…people are praying. All over the world…as far away as Israel and maybe further…people are searching. People are begging for peace and mercy. God is being praised. God is being glorified. Faith is being increased. It’s a beautiful thing.
A beautiful thing indeed! It would have been a lot of fun to be able to answer Shane’s question by telling him about our 11-month-old boy who gets into everything and leaves me exhausted. But Jennifer is right when she says about Zion earlier in the same post, "Without opening his eyes, he preaches. Without speaking a word, he testifies to the grace and sovereignty of God." The same is true of Maddox. His life and death has caused prayers to be prayed and God to be praised. All year people have prayed. All year people have praised Him. From the moment we learned that Maddox had gone on to heaven to this very second, his life and our shared story has pointed straight to God. I’m humbled that God would use Andrew, Maddox and me in this way.

I would never ask for this. In fact, I have asked God to take this cup from me a hundred times. I wish Maddox was here every second of every day, but praise God for the life that Maddox had and praise God for this journey that has brought us closer to Him!

Thank you, Lord, for our little boy and that the first time he opened his eyes it was Jesus' face he saw.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

This is still hard.

Dear Maddox,

It's been a while since I've sat down to write about how much I miss you, but you know that I have thought of you every moment of every day since then. This is still hard, living life without you with us. For a few weeks in late summer, I started to feel normal again. I even stopped taking my antidepressants last month. But the hard days still come, the days I want to do nothing but lay in bed while Daddy holds me and I cry for you and what we're missing. I still can't believe you're not with us. How can it be true?

You would be 11 months old now. I don't even know what an 11-month-old baby does. One of the babies from Sunday school who would be your friend is already saying "mama". Another baby you might know is walking already. What would you look like now? What would your words sound like? Would you cling more to Mommy or to Daddy? Or would you be independent and nosy and getting into whatever you could get your hands on?

My grief for you is getting hard again as we get into the holidays. Halloween has passed. What would you have dressed up as? As what would be your first Thanksgiving approaches, I can't help but imagine what it would be like with you with us at Nanny and Pop-pop's table. (Nanny just texted me to ask if we have any special food requests while we're visiting... I said rice krispie treats. What would be your favorite?) One of my favorite pictures of my pregnancy with you was taken with Pop-pop last Thanksgiving. I'm so sad that you won't be with us this year.

Maddox, Mommy + Pop-pop
Thanksgiving 2011

And what would be your first birthday is just a few weeks away. How would we celebrate together? Mommy has asked Daddy to take off work for your birthday and go somewhere special with her to remember you. We don't know where we'll go yet, and even though we'll enjoy some time together, nothing can compare to how fun life would be if you were still with us.

Maddox, Mommy and Daddy miss you so much. The tears are streaming down my face as I write this. There is so much love in my heart for you that it hurts that I can give it to you. Instead it just aches.

I've had a hard time missing you lately, not that it's ever been easy. I decided, to help me cope, to memorize Isaiah 43:2. It's been a couple of weeks and I still don't get it right every time, but the verse is so special to me. I can't even explain it to anyone without choking on the words. At your funeral, your friend Ethan sang a song he'd written in memory of his grandmother based on Isaiah 43:2. The verse is a promise made by the Lord to always walk with His followers, and I cling to it with all my strength when I am feeling weak.

"When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you; and through the rivers,
they shall not overwhelm you; when you
walk through fire, you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you."

Image credit: The Spirit Orchard

Isn't that amazing, baby? Even when I feel my worst, God hasn't left my side. He is with me, and He's with you, too. I'm sure He's told you something about this truth since you've been with Him in heaven. What makes this special verse even better is what surrounds it. Just before it, God says, "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine" (Isaiah 43:1b). And just after it, He says, "For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior" (Isaiah 43:3a). I am almost overwhelmed by the magnitude of those verses. God is with me and He has called me and I am His. He is the Lord my God, the Holy One of Israel, my Savior. I will not be burned! I will not be consumed!

Maddox, still some days Mommy doesn't know how she's going to make it through losing you. I love you so much and miss you every day. But I know you are with God in heaven. Psalm 139:16 tells us both that God saw us when we were in our mothers wombs and that even before then, our days were written in His book. God has known since before the beginning that I would be born and that I would lose you, He even knew the exact day it would happen. He knew when you would be conceived and the life you would have in my womb, and He knew that your life's purpose would be accomplished without you taking a single breath on this earth. I think it's pretty amazing that you did that, even if I don't understand why it had to happen that way and even though I wish every day that you were with me. 

Either He is God or He isn't. Everything I've experienced tells me that He is, and I will continue to live my life believing it is so.

I keep having dreams that I'm pregnant with your baby brother or sister. Last night, the baby was moving around so much, and I loved every second of it. Maddox, your movements were my favorite thing about being pregnant with you. Your kicks, your rolls, your hiccups. No baby will ever replace you, but I do look forward to having another baby someday, and I can't wait to tell him or her about you, too!

I love you, Maddy Waddy Mad Max Maddox. I always will.

Love, Mommy

Thursday, October 18, 2012

"Our First Pregnancy" Photo Book

I'm happy to announce that the Shutterfly photo book I started during my pregnancy with Maddox is finally complete! I spent many hours during my pregnancy tweaking each page to perfection (no easy task considering my Type A personality!). It was emotionally difficult for me to revist this project after losing Maddox. The story of our first pregnancy didn't have the happy ending we imagined it would, but my heart is filled to be able to share the wonderful memories we made with Maddox.

"This is not where we planned to be
when we started this journey,
but this is how it is, and our God is in control."
-Stephen Curtis Chapman

Click here to view this photo book larger 
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