Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year

This has been the hardest year of my life. But in so many ways, it has been the most beautiful.

Many of my friends who have lost their children this year have expressed that they are ready for this year to be over. They are ready for the next year to start because the pain of this year is too much, that maybe next year will be better. And I can totally see why they feel that way and I understand that completely. This is horrible, this pain.

For me though, this isn't the case. In some ways, I am ready for the next year. I am ready to take on the challenges of 2012. I am ready to welcome our second son into the world, and hopefully he comes out alive; breathing and crying. I am ready to see what the Lord has planned for us for this coming year. There are lots of things that God has laid on my heart for the future and I will be interested to see if any of those things start this year.
However, part of me doesn't want 2011 to end. This has been the most pivotal year of our life. And if 2012 comes, then that means the year Gideon was born will be over. I feel as though we are leaving him behind. Which I know is impossible, but his year is done. This is a year he was alive, the year I got to feel him move inside of me, the year we got to know him,  the year we got to hold him, the year where I got to see his beautiful face. This year is gone. Never to return. The finality of it is painful. It feels as if it is another door that is closing on the life of my son.

The first part of 2011 was beautiful. In Feb we found out we were expecting a little boy and we gave him his name. Also in Feb, I felt Gideon move for the first time. In March, Todd felt him move for the first time.  Todd and I were ecstatic. The last day of March was the first time I could see him move, I looked down at my belly and watched as he kicked. We took him many different places and wanted him to experience life. We brought him to the rodeo and to the zoo. I ate all different foods to see which ones he liked most (he loved it when I ate Italian food and he always loved when I drank Icees).We played music for him and I sang to him. In April, we celebrated my birthday with him. Also in April, he jumped around in my womb as the Gospel was being shared at my grandma's funeral. In May, we got to celebrate my first real mother's day with him. And as Todd and I sat in an Italian restaurant that we love, Gideon moved all around inside of me. That was one week before he died. Also in May, the day before he died, we had his baby shower. We loved him more than our own lives. Todd and I have never been happier than when we had Gideon with us.

However, the second part of the year, the days following May 15th, the day we were told he died, have been the hardest of my life. You cannot imagine the struggle and pain, unless you have walked this road. More tears have been shed in the past 7 months than in the rest of my life combined. More sleepless nights than I can count. More body wracking sobs than I can even tell you about. More pain in this year because a huge part of my heart is missing.

But I am so thankful for this year, thankful that I got to hold in my body and in my arms one of the most precious and beautiful creatures every created. That I got to kiss the face of a wonderfully made child of the Lord; a person who is a little me, and a little Todd. I am so thankful that we got to love that sweet boy. I am so thankful for who he has made us. I am thankful that he lived. And I am thankful that he still lives. Immense amounts of love filled this one year, and that is truly beautiful.

Gideon, I don't want to start a new year without you. I don't want to be further away from where you were. I don't want life to move forward because I want to be where you are. I want to be back with you when you were alive, here on earth. Mommy wants both her boys with her so much, but I know I cannot have you both with me on this earth. I recognize that time has to move forward. My little love, I hate that I have to walk through this next year without you here. However, I know I must, and I know that you would want us to live our lives with the joy that God grants and to serve Him every day. So, each day I will strive to follow the Lord and do what He wants. I will tap into the joy of my salvation and rest in knowing that you are safe with Him. I know that you are filled with an inexplicable and glorious joy. And that fills my heart with peace.

This coming year and every year after this, I will be a the best mommy I can to this little boy I am carrying and I will continue to be a great mommy to Gideon by honoring his memory. I will be a loving and giving wife to Todd and I will love Jesus more than ever. Every day I will love the Lord more and more. Gideon makes me want to be a better mommy, wife and a better child of the Lord. And this year, I will be all of those things.

2011 is the year I got to understand the depth of my love for our first born son. And I get to love him every year after this and every year this love will deepen and grow. And that is beautiful.

I am in awe of the Lord because of His works this year. He is good. And His love endures forever. Even when our hearts are completely and utterly broken, He will and is making something beautiful from this pain. I am so thankful that I can see Him working through and in the agony. Working good in the midst of affliction and suffering. He is so good. He will make beauty from ashes and give us a garment of praise and the oil of joy.

This is my prayer for our life for this year and for every single year of our lives. This grief will never fade, but I ask that the Lord will "...bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord  for the display of His splendor" Isaiah 61:3

Saturday, December 24, 2011

First Christmas without you

This is our first Christmas without you.

Oh my sweet Gideon. I know you are experiencing the most breathtaking Christmas today. I know it is as amazingly indescribable, like every other day you have experienced in heaven the past 7 months and like every day you will have for eternity. But mommy and daddy miss you so much. This day is not complete with out you. No day will ever be complete because you have part of our hearts with you in heaven. I want so much for you to be here with me and your daddy and your little brother. I miss you every second. I love you, my Gideon. More than my own life. 

Tears cover my cheeks and flow openly from my eyes as I miss you. I miss everything about you. I wish I could see your smile today. I wish I could kiss your chubby cheeks and tell you "I love you." I wish I could see you staring in awe at the Christmas tree lights twinkling. I wish we could hear your giggle as you tear open the paper on a gift, because the paper is more interesting to a 7 month old than the actual gift itself. I wish I could give you your first pieces of divinity and chocolate pie. I wish I could see you crawling around the house trying to keep up with your cousins. I wish your daddy and I could wake you up in the morning and say "Merry Christmas, Gideon." I wish I could watch as your daddy holds you and tell you about the birth of our Savior. I wish your stocking was filled with more than just dreams of what could have been.

Today I will watch your cousins open their presents and smile and laugh with joy. I close my eyes and picture your beautiful face smiling and laughing with joy in the presence of the Lord. As I listen to the bible being read this year and hear the story of Jesus as a baby in a manger. I know you are walking down the streets in heaven with that same baby as a man. As I sing songs of worship to the Lord at church tonight, I stand in the presence of God and I know that you are standing in His presence too. And that makes me feel closer to you, my precious son.

Today I will try to imagine what your face would look like. Today I will cry and I will laugh, but all day, like every day, you will be on my heart. Today I will close my eyes and think of the precious moments when you were in my body kicking me. Today I will think of the even more precious moments when you were in my arms. Today I will think of last year, the only Christmas we had with you and I will smile because that was the most beautiful, perfect Christmas I have ever had because you were with me. Today I will ask God to give me just a little glimpse of Heaven, so I can see you.

We are missing one little boy this year, and every year from now on. One little boy from every single picture will be missing. We are missing one present under the tree for this little boy. One little boy's laughter, one little boy's cries will be missing from the cacophony of sounds that rise from our home. However, we will not be missing the love we have for this little boy. 

My heart is torn to pieces today, but I will not let that take away the peace from the Lord. I ask that the Lord gives me and Todd His peace, which defies all logic. As I ask the Lord for His peace and for His presence to surround us, I am brought to my knees as I am reminded of why we celebrate today. We celebrate the miraculous birth of our Lord, Jesus. He came to this world, this horrible and broken world, to give us hope, peace and joy. In John 10:10, Jesus says "I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." Not just a life where we barely make it through each day, but an abundant life! What an amazing promise! And He came to this world to give us the chance to have an eternity with Him. He came so that we might live. He gave up His life to give us eternal life. Because of that, I rejoice with all of my heart! And because of the promise He gives us, I know He is walking beside us today. And every day.

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 
 1 John 4:8-10

Thank you, Lord, for giving us the gift of our first son. Thank you for giving me hope and a promise that we will be with You for eternity and that we will get to be with Gideon again.

Happy first Christmas in heaven, my son. Know that our hearts are with you today. We love you, Gideon. Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Baby brother or sister?

We found out the gender of the new baby!!!!

Gideon is having BROTHER!!!! Todd and I knew it! We knew in our hearts that we were having a second boy. And I think that for me, the Lord prepared me for that. It is much harder emotionally to have a subsequent boy when your first son died. It just is. But since I knew it in my spirit beforehand, it gave me a chance to think about and prepare for it. So, at the moment when I saw his penis, and knew he was a boy, I would be excited about the idea of having 2 sons, and not saddened by it. And I am not sad. I am excited and happy that he is a boy!!! I am so excited to get to be the mom of 2 boys. One here on earth and one in heaven. Todd and I love our sons so much!

 It is truly amazing how much your heart grows as a parent. I have these places in my heart dedicated to each of my children. And it is like my heart has grown to fit them (like the Grinch's heart!). I love them differently and yet the same and with a fierceness that can only be described as a "mother's love." Both of my sons, unique individuals, and I love them as such. They both own a part of me, as does their daddy. The three men in my life have my heart intertwined to their hearts. I love my boys. More than my own life.

This baby, our second son, is totally healthy. We got to see every inch of his precious body. The ultrasound was about an hour long and saw his little feet, his hands, his legs, his spine, his beautiful heart beating 156 beats a minute. We saw his kidneys, ribs and his brain. We could even see the vessels in his brain!! They looked at the placenta and umbilical cord. Gideon had an undetected problem with the placement of his umbilical cord into the placenta, which eventually caused him to pass. But at this point, this baby doesn't have the same problem with the cord. We are so very thankful for that. My doctor and the specialist I am going to are going to continue keep an extremely close eye on this baby and on me.

This child is so beautiful. If I may say so myself, Todd and I make cute kids! We were able to get some 4D pictures of his face. It was so incredible to get to see so much detail on his face, even at 18 weeks and 4 days old. It was pretty funny because apparently he had his face squished into the placenta, so it took them a long time to get a good picture of his face. When she told us that his face was in the placenta, my initial reaction was, "oh my gosh, he cant breathe!" and then I immediately thought "no you dummy, babies dont get oxygen through their noses." Ah, the crazy mind of a mommy who has had a child die.

 This baby, at this point, looks so much like his older brother. Todd and I saw it immediately.  When I showed these pictures to our best friends, that was what they thought too. It is so much fun to me that my boys may look similar. I love it when siblings look alike. Now, by the time this baby comes out, they may not look as much alike, but in this ultrasound picture he looks like his big brother.
Here is our precious Gideon so you can see how much they look alike.

I keep thinking about this verse " I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well." Psalm 139:14. I think of that verse every time I look at my pictures of Gideon and every time I think of his beautiful face and body. Now, when I look at these pictures of our second son, I think the same thing. Both of my boys, fearfully and wonderfully made.

I wish with all my heart that Gideon was here with us. I want to be able to raise both of our sons together on this earth. I want to be able to have all of their arms around me, I want to snuggle both of them and read them both bedtime stories and tuck them into bed. I want to see them wrestle on the floor with their daddy and hear their laughter. I want to see them at church worshiping together and praying before meals.  I want to be able to see them together, who they would be together, their relationship as brothers. I will have to wait for that for when we get to eternity. But when we all get there, what a glorious day that will be.

We are so very thankful for the prayers from our friends and family. I am thankful that we get to be parents to 2 boys! And thankful that this baby, today, is healthy and alive. I pray that we get to bring this child home with us, where he will stay. I pray that this child grows into a strong man of God. That he follows the Lord all the days of his life. And I selfishly, pray that that is a long, long time. Mostly, I pray "Lord, I trust You." Because no matter what happens, I know He will never leave us.

Now we just have to name this little guy....and make it through the next 20 weeks!

"For You created my inmost being, You knit me together in my mother's womb." Psalm 139:13

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


I am thankful.

In the midst of this horrific pain, I am thankful.

I am thankful for the love from the God of creation, I am thankful for the promise of Eternity. I am thankful that Jesus is the Savior and has provided a way for us to be with Him until the end of time. I am thankful that He loves us and wants a relationship with us. I am thankful that we do not walk alone through this world. He is with us every step of the way. I am so thankful that He is constant. I am thankful for Him. Father, I love you, and I want to know You more each day. I cannot survive without You. You are the Rock, the Anchor in my life.

I am thankful that I am Gideon's mommy; that I get to love him and that he is and will always be part of our family. I am thankful that I got to have him on earth for 33 weeks and that we got to hold him, kiss him and snuggle him. I am thankful that I got to see the love on my husbands face as he held our son.  Gideon has been in heaven for more than 6 months now. I miss him more today than I did the day we had to say goodbye to him. My heart aches to kiss him again and the desire of my heart is to see his smile and hear his laugh. But I won't see that on this earth, and yet, I am still thankful. I am thankful that the Lord decided to create his life. I am thankful that I get to love him, and that I spent 33 weeks loving on him. I am thankful for every single time he kicked and moved within me, and for the times when his daddy got to feel him move. I am thankful that he looks like me and his daddy. I am thankful for the people that his life has touched. I am thankful that he is, and has been for over 6 months, in the presence of the Lord, experiencing perfect joy. I am thankful that he knew how much he was loved. I love you, Gideon, with all my heart, and I am so thankful for you. More than I can express.

I am thankful for Todd , the father of my children, because he loves with all his heart and is such a strong man of faith. I am so thankful for the man he is and for the father he has become. I get to experience selfless love from him every single day. It blows me away that I get to be married to a man who has tremendous faith and a giving heart. I am honored to be his wife. I am thankful that the Lord brought us together to walk through this life. I am thankful that he is truly my best friend, that we can laugh and cry together. I am thankful that I can be totally open and vulnerable with him. I am thankful that he prays for me and that he loves God first. I am thankful that he loves our children. I am thankful when I get to see him smile (and his dimples!). I am thankful for every moment I have with him. I am thankful that I get to love him. Todd, I love you, you still take my breath away, you are the most beautiful and courageous person I know. You have my heart.

I am thankful for this new addition to our family who is growing strongly. I am thankful that this baby has been brought to our life to add to our family. I am thankful that we love this child so much already. No matter what happens, I am thankful that for today this child is alive and kicking in my womb. I am thankful that I can feel him/her moving around in there, right now. I cannot explain how incredible it feels to be the mother of our children. That Todd and I are parents to such amazing miracles. I am thankful that God has a plan for this child. I am thankful for the hope that this child has given us. I am thankful that we get to love this baby. I am thankful that this baby was created by the Lord. I am thankful that I may get a chance to see this child grow up. And even if I don't, I will be thankful for the time I have with this child.  Precious one, you own part of my heart, I love you and can't wait to meet you.

I am thankful for the family that I was born into.  Through my whole life and especially through the past 6 months they have given me more support and love than I deserve. I am thankful that they make me laugh through my tears. I am thankful that I can be myself around them with no facade, no pretending. I am thankful that they allow me to fully grieve our son and that they grieve along side us. That they want to talk about Gideon. I cannot tell you how thankful it makes me that they talk about him, and want to look at his pictures and want to remember him. I am thankful for the hugs I get from my nieces and nephews. I am thankful that when my heart is aching, they make me smile and can make me crack up laughing. I am thankful that my nieces and nephews love their cousin, even though none of them got to hold him or see him, only pictures. I am thankful for my family. To you, my family, thank you for loving me always and for always making me laugh. I love you.

I am thankful for my friends who are like family to me. I cannot even explain how amazing it is to have friends in your life that are just like family. I am thankful that these friends encourage me, and my faith. I am thankful that these friends have walked beside us through this time, and will continue to do so. I am thankful that they love Gideon and that they miss him too. I am thankful that they pray for us. To have people in your life that lift you up, and love you, and encourage you is a huge blessing from the Lord. I am thankful that they let us process our grief how we need to and that they remember our son and think of him often. I am also thankful for the friends I have made because of Gideon, those who have lost a child. I am thankful that God has brought these friends to my life. Mommies and daddies truly understand our hurt. We hold each others hands as we walk the same journey of grief. To all of my dear friends, you are more amazing than you know. I love you.

I am thankful to be a child of the Lord, a wife, a mommy, a daughter, sister, aunt, cousin, niece and a friend.

My heart is broken, but I am thankful. Thank you Lord for pouring out Your love on us each second of the day. Thank you for each blessing in my life, they are a gift from You.

And I am just thankful for the Lord. Because He is.

 "But as for me, afflicted and in pain; may your salvation, God, protect me. I will praise God's name in song, and glorify him with thanksgiving." Psalm 69:29-30

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Big Brother

Gideon is going to be a big brother!

Yes, Todd and I are pregnant!

Pretty shocking, huh? It was a huge surprise to us too! It took us 41 months to get pregnant with Gideon and so when we found out we were pregnant again quickly, we were shocked! It took us totally off guard. Its crazy what God does sometimes. But this child, like Gideon, is a miracle from him. Especially considering Todd and I have infertility issues.

We are so excited to be blessed with this child!

I have been to the doctor already 4 times and I have had 2 ultrasounds. And so far, so good. Everything looks great with this little one. Every time at the doctor we have seen or heard this baby's heartbeat and it has been strong and fast. Gideon's was the same way at this point. When I was 15 weeks pregnant with him, everything was perfect. I have been able to feel this baby moving for a while now. Since I was about 11 weeks or so. I felt Gideon move for the first time at 19 weeks. It is wonderful and exciting to feel this little one move all around! I loved getting to know Gideon through his kicks inside of me, and I will love getting to know this little one too.

This baby is due on May 3rd! I am hoping to be induced a little early. For many reasons, one being that Gideon's first birthday will be on May 17th. I am not sure how I feel about them having the same birth month. And then, as we get closer to my due date, I can imagine, and from what I have heard from others, it is very stressful. So, I am hoping to have this baby a little early for my mental state, and because part of me doesnt want both of my children to have the same birth month. I dont know if I can handle that, honestly. But we shall see how I feel come April. I might change my mind.

My belly is huge already. I mean, take a look at that big ole' belly in the picture! Hahah. Like I said before, I am 15 weeks with this baby and my belly is as big as it was with Gideon at like 20-21 weeks. It is because I have already had a baby and my stomach muscles are all relaxed and since this baby and Gideon are so close together, it usually means that you start showing sooner.

I go in to have another ultrasound in about a week. I am using the same doctor I had with Gideon because I trust him and he is a very cautious doctor. And he is a Believer and so we hold the same views on life. He is always careful with his patients, but he is being even more so with me.  There is nothing wrong with me that would cause another stillbirth, but he is being extra safe anyway. He is also having me go and see an Internal Fetal Medicine doctor, just to be on the safe side, so she can check me out too.

Still, I am terrified. I know the Lord is not a God of fear, but I am afraid that this child may die too. 

 What if we have to say goodbye to this child, too? Am I strong enough for that? Can we survive more grief? What if this baby dies? Can I handle picking out another headstone?...The thing is, people will say "well, lighting doesnt strike in the same place twice" or "nothing will happen this time" or something of that nature. And the reality is, there are no guarantees. Job had everything taken from him. His children, his livestock, his health. Everything. For him, lightning struck more than twice in the same place. I know a beautiful woman who has had 5 miscarriages, a stillbirth and a son who passed away after spending his precious, short life in the nicu. I know another woman who has had 3 stillbirths. Her first 2 losses were caused by the same medical reason and her last loss was from something completely different. Another woman I have met, had a daughter pass away at a week old, and then had a son at 15 weeks, and after the birth of 2 living children, has had 2 more miscarriages.
So many people I know with so much loss. So many babies who have gone to heaven. I know all too well that there really are no guarantees. Just because I am out of my first trimester doesnt mean I am "safe" now. Gideon died at 33 weeks, if he had been born alive, he could have lived. So there is no "safe."
I am fine with people telling me "I really feel like this baby is going to live" or if God Himself gives you a revelation, then by all means, please tell me. But I know; I know the true pain of loving and getting to know your child and then them dying and being left with empty arms.

The truth is: this baby might die too. This baby might die before I want him/her to. However, I am trusting the Lord. We are trusting Him through this. Trusting; not that this child won't die, but trusting in the promise of Eternity and the Resurrection and the coming of the New Heaven and New Earth. In Him, is where my trust rests. Not in what may or may not happen. On Him, not on my circumstance.

Having a baby doesn't change this grief that we are carrying. It doesnt make it "ok." It doesnt make us "all better" or "over it." Because that is impossible. I will never be ok with Gideon not being here, I will never be better or over my son's death. So know, that we are still hurting deeply. We still ache with all our hearts. I constantly feel pain, no matter what I am doing because of the space that Gideon left. We still miss Gideon with everything that is in us. He has a completely special place in our hearts that cannot be replaced.  Every single moment, I wish Gideon was still here. Every single breath, my heart aches for him. Every single heartbeat, I crave to have him in my arms. I still weep every single day. Just the other day, I got out Gideon clothes and held them tightly to my chest and wept on the floor of my closet. I kissed the inside of his hat because his skin touched it. I looked at his foot prints and sobbed. I still feel a great emptiness where Gideon should be. I just miss him.

Please do not think that this child is a replacement of Gideon, because it is impossible to replace one child with another. Because each of our children are in our hearts. Each has their own unique place there. Whether we have living children or children in heaven,  each one of our kids is special to us in their own way.  I was told by someone that maybe I am having twins; a boy and a girl, because that would mean God would replace Gideon with a new boy. And I told this person "well, I do not believe it works that way and we know there is only one baby in there." And tt doesn't work like that. You cannot replace one child with another. To think that one person can replace another is just crazy.  Say, your mom died and your dad remarried, would your new step-mom be a replacement for your mother. Of course not. Or what if, you had a brother that died and your parents had a new baby and that baby was a boy; would your newest brother replace your other brother. No, not at all. Just know that each of our children are special to us. Our first child, who was miscarried; our first born child, Gideon and this little one are all special to us.

Its a very strange feeling to be grieving one child and hopeful about another child.

Just know how much we love this little one. Since I knew about his/her life, I was in love. The day we found out I was pregnant, Todd said "I love you, I love you too" and I was like "huh?" and he said "I was talking to you and the baby." So sweet. Daddy loves all of his kiddos. I sing to this baby, like I did Gideon. I rub my belly. We talk about names we like. I always tell Todd, when I feel movement, "your baby is moving!!" We all wish that the older brother was here as we plan our future, but we still plan. I know that my loving this child take nothing away from my love of Gideon. I am friends with this beautiful, Godly woman and after I told her we were expecting, she said something that was so encouraging and true. She said this; " Gideon is your first child. That will never change! He loves his mommie and his mommie loves him! That will never change! Can I encourage you to never doubt your love for Gideon or even for a second, or think that your second child will ever diminish Gideon's memory in any way. The thought of allowing yourself to fully, fully, fully embrace your second child and at the same time cherish everything about Gideon hopefully do not feel like a conflict for you."  And what she said is so true. And it doesn't feel like a conflict, it feels like a compliment to each other. As, my love for Gideon has intensified, my love for this child grows every day. Its like, Gideon taught me how to love SO strongly, more than I can even express, because of him I am able to love this child with the same strength. This child is so special. And this child has a special plan for him or her that God has set for them. This newest addition to our family has a purpose in this world. Just like Gideon, just like me and just like you. We love this baby so much.

I just wish we could have both this child, and Gideon with us.

So as we grieve our first born child, we are hopeful and excited about hopefully bringing this child home to raise. This child will know of his or her older brother and will carry Gideon in his/her heart, like we do. We are so thankful for this baby. For this life that God has gifted us. We are so thankful that God decided to perform another miracle and give us this child. I am thankful for this baby. Even if I only have him or her for today, I am thankful for today. I am thankful that right now, our baby is living and healthy. I am thankful that I get to love Gideon and this child. I am thankful that Todd is an amazing daddy to our children. I am thankful that I get to experience a mommy's love. I am thankful for what I have been given when God gave us this child and thankful for what we were given when we were given Gideon. 

I picture Gideon in heaven, being so excited about his new sibling. That he is in heaven cheering us on and laughing and smiling at the idea that he has a new brother or sister coming. I think he is ecstatic that he is a big brother. I can picture him being extremely happy for our family. And I know he is awaiting the day when we can all be together in eternity. And I am waiting for that day too.

I have this verse on a picture frame that I have of Gideon and it is true for him and it is true for this newest addition to our family.
"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well."  Psalm 139:13-14

Here is a picture of our newest miracle:

This is from our 10 week ultrasound on October 6th.  Its so cool that even at 10 weeks along you can see the baby's arms. Look, you can even tell that the baby had his/her legs crossed! Its so cool to think about what the baby looks like now, at 15 weeks!! The next ultrasound will be in about a week and we will get to see how much this baby has grown in 6 weeks! :)

And because I am a proud mommy, here is a picture of our Gideon. He is so beautiful. I miss him.

 Both of our children, beautiful creations of the Lord, both fearfully and wonderfully made.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

21 Weeks

Today has been 21 weeks since Gideon was born.

Wow. 21 weeks. Some people have said, "Its already been that long? I can't believe it." Yes. It has been 21 weeks. I have felt every second of those 21 weeks. It has not gone by fast nor has there been a time when the days just glide by me. For most people their daily activities are simple and they do them without thinking. Every second of it is a choice for me; breathe in, breathe out, cry, go eat, go to sleep, go read a book, go make a cake, dont forget to breathe, cry, take a shower, go to the doctor, do laundry, breathe in, breathe out.

I have said this before and I will say it a million more times. I miss Gideon. I love him so much. We miss him with every beat our hearts take. Every beat is one beat closer to being with Him and with Gideon. (I am so excited about seeing Jesus one day!). I see pictures on facebook of my friend's sons and they have begun rolling over and sitting up and saying dada. It reminds me, not that I really need the reminder, of all that I have lost. Of all the moments we will never get with Gideon. I will not see him change or grow up or smile or laugh. It hurts every day that I have no idea what my son would look like today if he was alive. If Gideon had been born alive, he would be almost 5 months old. I can't picture what he would look like. All I can see is the tiny, sweet, beautiful boy I held in my arms 21 weeks ago. Thankfully, I can also, because of the image the Lord gave me, picture Gideon as a grown man. But all of the places in between, I cant see. I wish I could, just for a second, see what he would look like today.

21 weeks ago right now, I was kissing my son's face. I was watching Todd kiss him and hold him. 21 weeks ago.

As the 21 week mark approached, I started thinking about my 21st week of pregnancy. As each week passes, I think about the corresponding week in my pregnancy. The 21st week was a big one for us. Two days before I turned 21 weeks we went to the doctor for the anatomy scan ultrasound. That is the BIG one. Thats the ultrasound where they show you all the baby's body parts and check to make sure if the baby is healthy. And you get to find out the gender! We were so excited. I wanted to know if we were having a boy or a girl!!! Todd and I didnt care either way, we just wanted to know! I remember being so anxious and happy and excited going to my doctors appointment that day. Todd, of course, came with me. So did my mom and dad. They all came into the ultrasound room, and watched as we saw our baby's body. It was miraculous. Todd held my hand the entire time we were getting the ultrasound. The ultrasound tech scanned the baby to make sure all of the parts were there. The baby's arms, and legs and head and body. All good. We got to see Gideon's heart and all 4 chambers! It was, at the time, the most amazing thing I had ever seen. It still ranks pretty high up there. Amazing. We got to see both hemispheres of his brain and his internal organs! How incredible is that! After we found out that the baby was totally healthy, we were completely relieved. Everything looked good!  Todd had tears in his eyes and was smiling so big. He was so happy the baby was doing so wonderfully.
The ultrasound tech then told us "Its a boy" and showed us his penis. I was shocked! I remember saying "OH!" and my breath got caught in my throat. I was so ecstatic and surprised. I honestly thought we were having a girl. Like I said before, it didnt matter to me which gender our child was, but I thought he was going to be a girl! We were so excited to get to have a boy!!! Todd and I were almost jumping we were so happy.
I sent my sisters text messages telling them the baby was a boy! Every one of them was so excited too. The first person I called was my grandma. I promised her I would call her first and I did. She was very, very happy the baby was doing well and that we were having a boy!
The next day, I went to visit one of my best friends at work so I could show her the ultrasound pictures and tell her the gender of the baby. She was very happy, though she was secretly hoping for a girl because girl clothes are cuter than boy clothes. haha.

I loved being able to say "my son" or "our son." Knowing that we were having a son was incredibly special to us. We knew our son would make an impact on this world.

At 21 weeks, we finalized his name. We knew his first name would be Gideon. The Lord truly led us to that name. And Gideon is my absolute favorite name for a boy. Todd and I both loved his first name.  We decided to go with my maiden name as his middle name. I got the idea from my dad. His middle name is his mom's maiden name. I wanted to name Gideon after my dad, but I am not crazy about my dads first and middle names. So we went with my dad's last name. Which worked out perfectly. So his first and middle name was decided. Our son would be Gideon Zeller Mitchell. How cool is it to have a Z as your middle initial!!!

At 21 weeks, I had really gotten to know Gideon's patterns. I had been able to feel him move for a couple weeks and I had figured out  some of what he liked and didn't like. He liked Italian food. A lot. Over the next 3 months I got to know my son so well.

We began praying for our son, not just our child but prayers specific to a having boy.

At 21 weeks exactly, we went and bought Gideon's first outfit. It was a set of footsie pajamas. It had animals all over it and the feet were in the shape of a lion's head! So cute! Todd and I loved those pajamas. We had them sitting out so I could look at them every day. I loved imagining him in those pjs. Dont you just love them!! I have those in his box. Those are HIS clothes. After he died, when I was ready, I packed up the nursery. I packed away all the baby clothes and toys and items I had gotten as gifts and that I had bought. Most of those things I was comfortable handing down, in the future, to Gideon's baby brothers. But not this outfit. This is his. Only his. I also have the clothes he actually wore at the hospital put away safely, those are only his.

So today, I am remembering 21 weeks. I am remembering the times that Todd and I got to call Gideon by his name for the first times. I am remembering the feeling of never being that happy before. I am remembering thinking about what my role as a mom to a boy was going to be. I am remembering all the dreams I had for him. I am remembering that soon after 21 weeks Todd started saying "Hey Gideon" to our son in a sweet singsong voice.I am remembering my baby bump. I am remembering seeing him grow and move inside of me every day. I am remembering my cravings. I am remembering Gideon's love for Italian food and his live for music. I am remembering so much about 21 weeks pregnant.

I am also remembering 21 weeks ago. The most beautiful and amazing day of my life and the most heartbreaking pain I have ever felt.  This picture is of one of the last times I held my son's hand. I will not hold his hand, that looked so much like mine, again in this life. I will not hold his warm hand after a baseball game, or hold it as he learns how to walk, or give it a kiss when he smashes his finger in the door. But I did hold and caress his cool hand and tell him how much I love him. Compared to a whole life of memories, I have but a few moments, however every one of them is etched into my heart and into my mind, where they will stay.

Thank you Lord for the 21st week of my pregnancy, and for every second that we had with Gideon. Thank you for giving me Yourself, and thank you for gifting us with our son. I do not know what the next 21 weeks will hold, I can barely imagine them. I do know that God will hold us in the palm of his hand as we wander, with Jesus at our side, through this desert.

"As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother's womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things" Ecclesiastes 11:5

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Walk to Remember

What does the word remember mean to you?

I think what that word means to me has changed completely over the past 20 weeks. (I can barely believe it has been 20 weeks since my son has been in my arms. I miss him so much.).

This past Saturday I was honored to go to the MEND Walk to Remember. MEND is a support group I go to for pregnancy and infant loss. The walk is a ceremony for families who have been touched by miscarriage, stillbirth and infant death. The name "Walk to Remember" got me thinking about the word remember and all of its different uses and definitions.

As I thought about the meaning of the word remember, I was saddened. When I would normally use the word remember, it was in the context of oh yeah, i just remembered that!" or "I had forgotten about it, but I remembered in time." I thought that if you had to remember something, then that means you had forgotten. " The idea that my son had to be remembered because he had been forgotten was such a terrible thought to me. If the process of remembering included forgetting, then I don't want any part of that kind of remembering.

However, that is not what remember truly means to me anymore.

I began to think God and Him remembering us. God remembers us in our pain and in our joy. He never forgets us. He never leaves us. He will work on our behalf when we suffer. He doesn't forget us. Ever.

A woman I know from college has a brother who was stillborn. I spoke with her mom through email and she told me their story of their precious son. It has been over 20 years and she still thinks of her son. She is a beautiful woman with such a heart for all of her kids; her earthly children and her child in heaven. This woman told me a story that has truly stuck with me. She met a woman and this woman's grandmother-in-law was very ill and could not remember her life. She was mentally slipping away. This elderly woman could not remember any of her 6 living children. and could not remember their names. However, she would talk about seeing her son, David, in heaven. Her son was stillborn and he was her first child. After all those years, when her mind was going and she couldn't remember the children she saw every day of her life, she could remember her precious son, who she probably held for moments. Talk about remembering! Not even illness and senility could take the memory of her child who died away from her!

Remember is defined in many different ways in the dictionary. One of the definitions is "to retain in the  memory" and another is "to keep someone in mind as worthy of consideration or recognition." I absolutely love these definitions. This is what we, as parents of children in heaven, do when we remember our children. We retain them always in our memories because they are worthy of consideration and recognition. My Gideon is worthy of always being in my mind and heart and will always be given recognition in our life and in our family.

These definitions of remember is what the MEND Walk to Remember is about.

The day of the Walk to Remember was a gorgeous sunny, somewhat not-hot day. As Todd and I walked to the area where the walk is held, we were anxious and excited to be there to remember Gideon and all of these other precious children. I signed us in, and went in to put Gideon's picture on the memory table.
This table is one of the most beautiful things I have seen. Everyone brings a remembrance item or picture of their child, for some people it is a stuffed animal, some parents bring a picture or an ultrasound picture, some bring their child's blanket or a shadowbox. This table took my breath away. Looking at all the pictures of these beautiful babies brought my heart joy. I could see the love in each one of the items the parents brought. I love how the parents feel completely free and that it is a safe place to put out any picture of their child. It is one of the few places where some parents can openly have out a picture of their child, outside their own home, without judgment or without anyone feeling uncomfortable. I love looking at pictures of my friend's children. Wen I see the pictures of all of the children in heaven now, I can see such beauty in them, not the sadness, not the fact that they may be passed away at that point, I just see a baby. A beautiful child of the Lord. They were each knitted together by the God of Creation. That is what I see.

After I put Gideon's picture on the table, I went outside and waited for my family and friends to arrive. And one by one, they came. I am so very thankful for each person who was there to remember Gideon and to remember all of the children gone to heaven before we wanted. As they arrived, my heart swelled; 2 friends from college and one of their moms, a lady from my church, a friend, my mom and dad, my niece, my best friend. Each one of those people loves us and loves Gideon. It means more to me that each of them were there than they know.

We had shirts made for the walk. Each one of us wore them. They were white with orange writing. I love the color orange for boys and I always thought of orange as Gideon's color. I actually really hoped that Gideon had Todd's skin tone so he would look good in orange (cause if he got my skin tone, and I put him in orange, that would have not looked so good!! haha). So I chose orange for the shirts.  The shirts, as you see in the picture, say Gideon Mitchell, our warrior, and have his birth date, May 17 2011. Those are blown up versions of his actual foot prints. On the front, we had his footprints in very close to actual size. The front of my shirt said "Gideon's mommy" and Todd's said "Gideon's daddy" and for my mom and dad they had "Gideon's nana" and "Gideon's granddaddy" and for my niece, she had "Gideon's cousin".  Each family member was represented.

So, after everyone arrived and we chatted for a while, I picked up my ornament, which was a beautiful angel ornament and had a ribbon on it with Gideon's first, middle and last name and his birth date.
We walked into the room where the ceremony was being held and we sat in our seats. The woman who runs our MEND group said some beautiful words about our children, Todd and I listened with tears in our eyes. A woman who sang the song "Blessings" by Laura Story. One line of that song that sticks out to me, every time I hear it is, "We know that pain reminds this heart, that this is not, this is not our home."
After that, they read each name out loud of each child. After your child or children's names are read, you go up and hang the ornament you received on a tree. Every parent and every family member got to hear the precious name of their child. We sat, and cried as each name was read. Finally, we heard the name of our son. His first, middle and last name. "Gideon Zeller Mitchell"  Todd and I walked up to the front, to the tree and I hung up his ornament on a branch. I stood there for a second and looked at my sweet son's name.

Hearing Gideon's name read out loud is truly music to my ears. I will never hear his name called at his college graduation, I will never hear his name called during the lineup at his baseball game, his name will never be called in roll in class,  but every year, his name will be called at the Walk to Remember.  After we hung Gideon's ornament, I looked at Todd and we began to walk away, I looked over and saw my beautiful friend with tears in her eyes. And she and I embraced. It was one of the sweetest hugs I have been given. Two moms, both missing their little boys, wrapping their arms around each other with love and agony in their hearts.

Todd and I walked back to our seats with tears in our eyes and I laid on his shoulder and he hugged me as we thought about our son.

After all of the children's names were read, we had a speaker, named Rebecca Mutz tell her story. She has 4 children in heaven. Her first child died 7 days after she was born, her second child was born at 15 weeks after passing away in her womb, and she has 2 little ones who were miscarried. She has 2 living children, twin girls. She told of her journey and how God is true and constant, even in our world of pain and loss.
When she was done speaking and after another song, they invited all the brothers and sisters of the children in heaven to come up. They sand "Jesus Loves Me". I bawled. That was one of my most favorite parts of the ceremony. Hearing the soft voices of these children sing about the love from Jesus was amazing because as they sang those words, their brothers and sisters are experiencing Jesus' love firsthand.

We then all went outside and go our balloons for a balloon release. I brought a pen to write on my balloon a message to Gideon. Todd also wrote on his balloon. Todd simply wrote "Love ya buddy." And I wrote "Gideon, mommy loves you so much and I miss you with every breath I take. Give Jesus a hug from me and daddy. We will be with you soon. -Mommy"

We all walked to the place where we were releasing our balloons. I thought about our son. I spent some time remembering him. About how much his life means to me. About the mommy he has made me. About the way he has transformed my love for his daddy. About how much we love him, differently than we do anyone else. I thought about the lives that he has touched and how, because of Gideon, my relationship with the Father is closer than it has ever been. Because of my son, I depend on the Lord more, I believe in Him more, I understand pain and joy more, I believe in God's promises more. I put my trust in the Lord more than I ever have. Thank you for that gift, Gideon.

As we reached the place to let go of our balloon. I had a short spasm of fear. I didn't want to let the balloon go! I wanted to hold onto it for longer! But quickly, the Lord gave me peace and my hand released the balloon. And I smiled. As our balloons got mixed in with all the other balloons, our friend Cathy said the children in heaven are so excited right now! And I could see it! I could just imagine Gideon looking at us, laughing with pure joy with all the other children. I could see every single one of them in heaven, laughing and smiling and jumping and dancing and singing!

The Walk to Remember was beautiful, painful, joyful, sorrowful, heart-breaking and heart-mending.

Thank you Lord for always remembering us. Thank you Lord that I will always remember my child. Thank you that I will be able to see You face to face. Thank you that I will be able to wrap my arms around my son one day, soon.

What does remember mean to you? To me, it mean to constantly have someone in your heart.

"He remembered us in our weakness. His love endures forever." Psalm 136:23

I love you, Gideon. So much.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Letting Go?

"We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us" --E.M. Forester

This quote puts perfectly into words exactly what God has been speaking into my heart. I have to let go of the life I planned for us with Gideon to receive the life that God has for us now that he is gone. Letting go of the plans I had for our life is not the same as letting go of Gideon. I cannot and will not ever let go of Gideon. He is and will always be our first born child. He will always be our oldest. He will always be our son. Gideon will always be part of our family and part of our hearts. But, the plans I dreamed for our life with Gideon are not the plans God has for our lives. So I must be willing to let go of the plans I made for the ones God has for us. Even though I know what my reality is, that Gideon is not alive and that he is in eternity, it is insanely difficult to let go of the life I planned for us and all of the dreams I have.
I have been so afraid that in letting go of the  life I planned, that I might accidentally let go of Gideon. I have been afraid that if I let go of the grasp I have on him, somehow he might go away from me. Which I know is ridiculous and impossible. Gideon will never go away from me. His life, our memories, his place in my heart will always exist. But, instead of simply holding onto him, and holding onto our memories and holding onto who he is in our life; I was clinging with all I might to him. Trying every moment of the day to remember every little thing about him, trying with all my heart and soul to recall every second I spent with him, trying with all my being to focus on him.
One day, through the words of my sweet husband, God showed me that if I just let Gideon live in his extremely special place in my heart then all of those memories would remain in my heart and in my mind, without me having to force them. And as I went from clinging to my memories to simply holding them, I noticed that I could remember more about him and I could recall more memories of him.
 I can now recall how he smelled. I couldn't remember that before. I, for the life of me, couldn't remember his smell. And now I can! It is wonderful. He smelled sweet, but it was a very mild sweet smell. His scent was different than any other bouquet that has touched my nose. It was a very subtle smell, like a wisp of baby powder mixed with a gentle scent of freshness combined with the fragrance of clean, wet skin. Gideon's scent was the absolute most fragrant and pure aroma I have ever inhaled. I am so thankful that I can remember his scent perfectly!

In loosening my grip, I can actually hold more.

If you have a handful of sand and you grasp it tightly, most of the sand in your hand will fall out onto the ground. However, if you cup your hand and hold the sand lightly, you can hold more sand and it will not escape from your palm. That is what is happening to me. I can actually hold more of Gideon without holding him so tightly. It is my nature to want to cling to him and my memories with all my might, but if I cup my hand and let them rest in my palm, then I will be able to hold more of him in my heart.

I am not successful at this every day. (Honestly, sometimes it is an minute by minute choice.) This is a daily thing, a choice I have to make. Each day, sometimes each moment, I have to release what I wanted for my life in exchange for what God wants for my life. This submission to the Lord is a choice I make because even though it crushes my heart to not have Gideon, I know that God truly loves me and that he wants to give us a hope and a future. And as much as it hurts, I honestly do want God's future for my life. Not my own.

There are so many moments where I weep and groan because I want him back! I know that will never change, I will always want him back in our house, back in our arms.  But, I have to remind myself that God, though not done with Gideon and Gideon's story, has written this story for us. Gideon is still very much a part of our life. He will always be. Gideon's story has shaped and changed us in ways I can see and in ways I have yet to see. But Gideon's life on this earth is done and I have to fully realize that so that I can receive the life that God has set for us. We must submit to the Lord's will. And we submit to Him and what He wants to work in our life through his pain. We submit to His plan for us. This plan God has for us does include Gideon, but it doesn't include it with him with us physically. Gideon's life and death and the work God is doing through him is shaping me and Todd, shaping our marriage and family and shaping the life we have and the life we will have.

I am not going to lie, today I want to lay in bed and cry. I want to just hold Gideon's blanket and imagine he is wrapped up in it. I want to stare at his pictures. No, I really want to stare into his face and hold his little hands. Today I want to lay in bed and go back to the moments when I kissed his face. I want to have the power to travel back to where he was. I desperately want to be where he is. I am crying quietly while I type these words because today, and every day, my heart is broken.

Do I want to let go of this life I have planned? No.

Am I going to anyway, and submit to what God has for us? Yes.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs: 3:5-6

Monday, August 22, 2011

Moving Out

Todd and I are moving out of our apartment next week.

The apartment where Gideon lived his whole life.

The apartment where he left his body and went to heaven.

This apartment is where Gideon was conceived (I know, that's probably TMI, but thats how I am sometimes...oh ok, a lot of the times. hah.). I actually know the exact date.

The night before I took the pregnancy test, I had my suspicions that I was pregnant so I laid in bed and thought about the possibility of being pregnant.. First off, I just "felt" pregnant. And I could smell everything!! A few days before I took the test, I was driving with my windows down on 610. It was a cool day in October. Someone had run off the road and as I was driving past their car at like 50mph, I could smell the turned up dirt like it was right next to me! It was crazy how intense that smell was to me! So, the night before I took the test, I thought about that happening. I laid in my bed the night before I imagined what it would be like if I were pregnant, how I would feel, what Todd would do & say, how happy he would be. I imagined telling my family and my best friends. It was perfect timing too, because 2 of my best friends were getting married the next day and Todd and I were in the wedding party. So I imagined, while laying in bed what it would be like to tell them. My parents would be in town for the wedding too, and I imagined their faces. I was laying in bed hoping. Hoping and so excited. All those thoughts happened while I was laying in bed, in this apartment.

In our bathroom is where I took the pregnancy test that Saturday morning on October 23rd. I peed on the stick and looked at the test and immediately saw 2 lines pop up. But I didn't want to get ahead of myself and so I sat on our bed. I remember exactly where I sat on our bed. My heart was racing and I was so anxious. Todd was too, but he is so much more calm that I am. In my heart, I knew I was pregnant. After the 5 minutes were up, I stood and walked into the bathroom with my heart pounding loudly in my chest. I saw that the test was positive!! I said with a shaky voice and tears in my eyes, "Todd come look at this." He burst into the bathroom, looked at the test and I said "I'm pregnant." He looked so happy. And we hugged for such a long time and cried so many happy tears. That happened in this apartment.

In our bedroom is where I sent a text message with a picture of my pregnancy test to all my sisters and brother. And this is where I got each one of their very excited responses.

Todd couldn't go to my first ultrasound because he had to work, I called him right after the appointment, of course and told him that our baby had a strong heartbeat and that I could even see the baby's arms on the 8 week ultrasound!. When I got home with the picture, I showed Todd. The first time he saw a picture of our son, we were in this apartment.

In our office, near thanksgiving, was where I shared with the whole world that we were having a baby. I waited until after I went to the doctor to have my first ultrasound to tell everyone. I remember typing the words, and announcing to everyone our wonderful news. Right now, I am sitting in the same spot, in the same chair as I did that day.

This past Christmas, Todd and I decorated our tree in our apartment . I told Todd "This is our first year to decorate our tree with the baby, next year the baby will be with us and we can decorate it all together!" That will be our only Christmas with Gideon. The only Christmas where he will be with us on this earth. The only Christmas he would be here with us to decorate the tree. That happened in this apartment.

When I was 19 weeks pregnant to the day, I was on our couch. Todd was on the left of me, I was laying down and Todd put his hand on my belly. He used to do this all the time. He would constantly touch my belly to be closer to our child and to let the baby know they were loved. That day, it was a Friday, Todd's hand was resting on my belly and I felt Gideon move for the first time! It felt like a bubble popping. I didn't feel him again until the next day. We were sitting in the same places on our couch in the living room. Todd again had his hand on my belly and Gideon moved again! Three times in a row that time. This time it felt like a popping and fluttering feeling. And then later that day, same thing, Gideon moved while Todd's hand was resting on my belly. Gideon liked it when his daddy was close to him. All of that happened while in our living room in this apartment.

On St. Patrick's day of this year, Todd and I were in our bedroom, laughing and talking. I was laying sideways across our bed, across the pillows and Todd had his head on my belly. The next thing I know Gideon starts moving and kicks Todd in the head 3 times in a row! That was the first time Todd had ever felt Gideon move! Todd said "I felt that!" Todd was so excited to get to feel his child moving. Gideon kicked hard too. It was so funny that the baby kicked his daddy in the head! Then Todd rested his ear on my belly to see if he could hear Gideon. And he actually did. He could hear him moving around. I told Todd, "maybe that's just my digestive system" and he said "no, I know what your normal stomach sounds like, this sounds different, its like a sloshing." Todd was the only person in the whole world who heard Gideon moving inside of me. Todd felt and heard his son for the first time in this apartment.

I have a special memory of me and Gideon in this living room. In late March, Todd had gone out with some friends and I had a whole night planned for myself. I got some delicious take-out food and I sat at home on the couch and watched the concert version of my favorite musical, Les Miserables. I couldn't wait to introduce Gideon to theatre. So, I figured a little in utereo brain-washing would be in order. Ah, I love Les Miserables. As I watched, Gideon jumped up and down. Apparently he either really liked, or really hated to hear mommy sing along. I watched, listened, sang, cried and felt my son move within me. I remember exactly where I sat and exactly how I felt. I did that with Gideon. That happened in this apartment.

 I spent my birthday with Gideon in this apartment. We welcomed my 29th year of life in this apartment, just me, Gideon and Todd.  We spent time together as a family and just relaxed. In this apartment.

I saw Gideon move a lot of times while I was pregnant with him. The first time I could see him moving from the outside didn't happen here. But lots of the other times it did. Todd could see him move too. The first time Todd saw him moving was in this apartment. One time I had my arms on the top of my belly while holding a book and reading. Gideon started moving all around and so my arms were bouncing up and down and I started laughing and just watched my belly. I wanted to see every movement my son made. He was moving so much it had made my book move all around! I remember exactly where I was when that happened. That happened while I was on my couch, in this apartment.

I spent my first Mother's Day with Gideon in this apartment. We went out to eat that day to have a celebratory lunch. My first Mother's Day to really celebrate. After we got home. We just lounged around and watched some movies and television. I spent time with my 2 favorite boys, Gideon and Todd.

I spent many nights in this apartment, awake late, because I had a crazy sleeping pattern while I was pregnant. Gideon liked the nighttime. Both Todd and I like to stay up late (I usually stay up much later than Todd). Some nights, Todd would go to bed and I would stay up and Gideon would move around while I read a book, or watched tv. I loved feeling him move within me. I miss him.  Gideon and I spent a lot of time together late at night in this apartment. Some nights, we would lay in bed, me and Todd and Gideon. I would rub my belly and Todd would rub my belly. And I would drift off to sleep thinking about all the things I wanted for my family after Gideon was born.

My doctor had me start kick counts about 2 weeks before Gideon was born. Basically you count how many times the baby moves in 2 hours and if they haven't moved 10 times, then you are supposed to call the doctor or the hospital because something might be wrong. I loved doing my kick counts. I would lay on my left side on my couch and count his movements. It was such a beautiful time, just to lay and concentrate on my son. To really focus on his moving inside of me. I loved every second of that. Feeling his kicks and punches and rolls and jabs. It was one of the most beautiful things to happen to me. Actually Gideon was one of the most beautiful things to have happened to us. It was so much fun that I could get to know what Gideon liked and didn't like just by feeling his movements. He always passed his kick counts with flying colors. Except for one time. That was the day we went to the hospital. That happened in this apartment.

The last night of Gideon's life was spent in this apartment. I came home on Saturday evening after my baby shower and put all of Gideon's new, wonderful, fun things into the nursery. We spent some time that night together as a family; mommy, daddy and baby. A family.We made plans to go through all Gideon's things the next day.We were so excited about getting his nursery set up and ready for him to come home. I had no idea that time would be some of the last minutes my son would be alive. Those moments were some of his last on this earth, inside my body. I wish I could go back and stop time so I could memorize every second and every moment of my precious son. Todd and I went to bed that night with our son alive. I believe that Gideon passed away that night while I was asleep. That happened while I was in our bed, in this apartment.

While our family was together, in this apartment, our Gideon died.

Honestly, I am so sick of living in this apartment . I am over a lot of things about this specific apartment (lots of leaking pipes all the time, neighbors who play loud music, etc)  and I am so over this complex and the way it is managed. So as far as that aspect of moving, we are happy! And Its not like we were planning on living here forever.We weren't. Before Gideon died, we were planning on moving in December. Its not like we planned to raise him here his whole life. But the memories of his life, tie me to this place in a way that I have never been tied to a home.

Even though I no longer want to live here, it is hard to leave it. I am sitting here weeping as I relive all of these memories. My heart physically hurts because I wish Gideon was still here. Hurts more than I can express. With all of my heart, I wish we could continue to make more memories with him. But that will never happen. The memories we have are the only ones we will ever have.So, it is so hard to say goodbye to all of the beautiful and wonderful memories of Gideon's life. All the times that Todd walked through the door home from work, to give me a kiss and rub my stomach. All the times when Todd would lean over and say "I love you, Gideon" or jokingly scold him for making mommy's back hurt. All the times that Todd and I played dominoes on the floor in our living room; me playing a game with my boys. All the times, Todd and I sat on our couch or laid in bed making plans for our life with Gideon. Its difficult to move away from all the good times, the place where my son lived.

However, Its not hard to say goodbye to all of the horrible memories, the memories of this apartment after he died; of me crying myself to sleep, of me weeping on the floor in a ball, of Todd holding me so I wouldn't lose control, of Todd crying out in pain, of me breaking down while and getting physically weak because I got overwhelmed with emotion, of seeing the would-be nursery everyday, of being physically ill because of grief, those horrible first 10 weeks or so after he was born. So much deep anguish, so much intense pain.  I know it is the right time for us to move. Not that these emotions and all of the hurt will stop when we move, because it won't. We will still cry and our hearts will still be broken. Our hearts are still feel deep and wretched anguish.. There are still many times when I curl in a ball and weep in agony and don't want to get out of bed. There are days when Todd and I cry and cling to each other. Those things won't be changing anytime soon. I will still weep every single day. I will still look at Gideon's pictures daily and sometimes hold his clothes in my arms. But a change of pace will be good for us. A different place, a change of scenery, will help us.

Gideon lived inside of me and I inside this apartment. And wherever I go, no matter where we live, I will remember that is where he lived, in my womb. Whenever I see my stretch marks on my belly, or feel that my stomach is softer than it used to be, I will remember that is where he lived.

For some people I know, it would be impossible for them to move from the place where they lived while their child was alive. And I truly understand that. For us, though it will be hard, we can do it because we are truly learning that everything in this life is temporary. I know that nothing on this earth is permanent. The Lord is showing us that this place is truly is not our home.
This building will break and this apartment will crumble and someday will no longer exist. But God will never break or crumble. He is permanent. The beginning and the end. And Todd and I, one day, will live with Him in His house with Gideon. Forever. And from His house we will never have to leave. Gideon has been living there since he passed from my womb. And where he lives now, that is way better than an apartment in Houston. Where he is now is better than a mansion in Hawaii. Gideon is in the Father's House in the arms of Jesus being loved beyond measure. Forever.

So we say goodbye to this apartment, but not goodbye to the memories, because those are always with us. As is our son, who is in our hearts wherever we go. Love is what really binds us together. Because of Him and because of the love that comes from Him, Gideon is bound to my heart. No matter where we live.

 "My Father's house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you may also be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going."-John 14:2-4

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Letter to My Son

To My sweet Gideon,

Do you know how much you have changed me and your daddy? From the moment you were conceived  you changed us. You changed our hearts in so many ways, more ways than I can even explain. Your daddy and I have never known love like this before. I have the ability to love more deeply because of you. From the moment I knew about you, my heart opened up more and more as I loved you more each day. You gave me the ability to love more fiercely and purely.
The day you were born changed us even more. Looking into your face, holding you, kissing you, becoming a family. Seeing you, laying eyes on you.  I miss every moment of that. I can remember exactly the way it felt to hold you, to have your hand in mine, to kiss you. I was so afraid I was going to forget how it felt, but I haven't, I remember exactly, and I never will forget. You are a part of me. It has been 3 months since I held you, 3 months today, and we miss you more than ever.

Gideon, your daddy said when he held you it was like holding all his sorrow and all his joy at the same time.

He was so right on that. Gideon, you were the joy in our lives, you still are. You know that you brought more joy to us than any other person on earth? You still are our joy. And yet, holding you, after you had passed away was the most sorrow we had experienced. Our hearts were broken because you were gone from us. I also think holding you was like holding all of our love in our arms.We love you so much. We love you more today than yesterday. My love for you will grow every day of my life.

Mommy and daddy miss you so much, every moment of the day. Every minute of the day you are with me in my heart. I take you with me wherever I go. I think about you all the time. I thought about you as we traveled to Niagara Falls while your daddy and I held hands watching the water flow powerfully. I wanted you to see the beauty of that moment with us. I think about you while I watch your cousins play, there will always be one cousin missing. I think about you while I am at the grocery store wondering what food you would have liked. I think about you when I look into your daddy's face because your face looked so much like his. I think about what you are doing right now, in the presence of the Lord. I  wonder, what exactly are you doing, my little love? Are you dancing, singing, eating, talking, playing baseball? What are you doing? Oh Gideon, how I wish I knew what you were doing right in this moment and how I long to be with you.

My sweet Gideon, Saying your name is precious to me. Having your name cross my lips is as sweet as drinking cold iced tea on a hot day. It is as sweet as a soft kiss. It hurts every single day that I dont get to say your name while looking into your face. So I look at your pictures and tell you "I love you, Gideon" every day. I want to whisper your name to you while I tell you goodnight. I want to be able to yell your name at you when you have gotten into the candy jar and its 10 minutes until dinner. I want to say your name and you look at me and smile. Your name is so precious to me. But, you know what Gideon, since losing you, the name of the Lord has become more precious to me. His name is above all other names. You, your life, your earthly death and your eternal life has made me love Jesus more.You did that for me. Jesus is more precious to me than ever. So thank you, my son, for giving your mommy that gift.

I look at your pictures every day. I long to feel you and kiss you again. I long to have you back in my arms. It has been 3 months since I delivered you. In some ways it feels longer, but mostly it feels like just yesterday. I am sad every day that I miss out on the things we would be doing together. I wanted to make your Halloween costume this year (you were going to be a little golfer, since your daddy loves golf so much. I was even going to make you a golf bag with golf clubs in it!). We were looking forward to every thanksgiving and Christmas. Buying you gifts and writing your name on the presents. I was so looking forward to the day when I heard you pray out loud for the first time. I wanted to teach you about Jesus and who He is. Daddy and I bought you a book about 2 weeks before you were born. I was so looking forward to reading to you. It is called "What is God Like?" I was excited to get to share with you who God is. But, you know what God is like better than I do now. You are right there with Him, and you have been every second for the last 3 months. Instead of me teaching you what God is like, because of you, I am learning more about God is like than I ever did before.

Thank you, Gideon, for changing my life. Because of you, I love Jesus more. You have changed so many peoples lives. Did you know that? Your life has brought people closer to the Lord. I am so proud of you. I am so proud to be your mommy. You have given me a drive that I have never had before, a drive for your life to be remembered and more importantly a drive to see people getting closer to God. That is the way it should be, my son. We are all supposed to be living for the Lord. And that is what I truly want to do.

Honestly, I would rather have you here, in my arms. But that cannot be. I would rather be changing a dirty diaper than sitting here writing you a letter. But I look forward to the day when we can be together again.  I am so looking forward to when the new heaven and earth are created, and the old has passed away. My whole family worshiping the Lord together. As much as I want you back, I believe that Jesus has a purpose in all of this. And as much as I want to hold you, I would never take you away from Eternity because I know you are completely happy, completely in peace and have complete joy. What kind of mother would I be to want to take you away from that?

My sweet boy, you are loved beyond measure by me and your daddy and your whole family. I cannot say enough to you. No amount of words would be enough. There will always be more that I want to tell you. But I will say this now. I love you, Gideon. I love you for being the most precious gift God has given us. I love you for being you.We love you in a way we have never loved before. I love you. I miss you so much.


See I will create a new heaven and a new earth, the former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.  Isaiah 65:17

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Gideon's place

Gideon's place....sounds like an old 1970's tv show.

That is what I have been calling Gideon's burial plot. His "place." I dont know, it just sounds nice to me. Better than saying his "grave". I dont like that at all. I had been trying to come up with what to call his place. And I just started saying "Gideon's place." So that is what stuck for me. Todd has been calling it his "Houston address." Thats pretty funny.

Gideon's memorial marker (headstones are called a memorial marker nowadays) was installed last week and we went and visited his place on Monday. It is the first time Todd and I have gone out there alone together. The past times we have been, other people have been with us. We wanted time, as mommy and daddy to sit where our son's body rests. Todd and I like the cemetery where Gideon is buried (if you ever can really like the place your child is buried), it is truly a peaceful place. Quiet and beautiful. After we parked our car, we slowly walked to Gideon's place, it doesn't need to be marked for me to know where it was, I know the location exactly. As we walk across the grass, past other plots, other baby plots, I spot the newest memorial marker. I take a sharp breath in and a long breath out. We approach in silence. Our eyes fall upon his marker, and we both break down into tears.

It was so hard to walk up to this piece of granite and see "Gideon Mitchell" engraved in it. Permanently. Etched in there forever. So harsh, so beautiful, so much pain. Our son's name in granite. Something I never wanted to see. I never wanted my child to die before me, but it is something I am glad is there now. I am glad we have a space to mark where he is. But it shatters my heart. Seeing his name made his death seem even more final. It made it even more real to us that he truly will not return to us. Just another thing to remind us that we will not be with our son again on this earth....Our son, lying in a casket, feet under the ground, with a place to mark where his body is. Its was too much. We sat with tears streaming down our face and looked at his name and his date for a long time. Todd cried and said "There is no dash, Its so hard. He doesn't get a dash."

I know Gideon isn't actually there, but it was so nice for us to be near where his body lays. To be in close proximity to his shell. I pushed my hand into the dry soil so I could be even closer to him. Even if it was only millimeters closer. I wanted to be as close to my son as possible. I ran my fingers over his name on his headstone, and felt each one of the letters. Todd and I sat right next to his place and we wept.

We miss him so much.

We put some flowers in Gideon's vase and sat next to him. I love these flowers, the colors of them. I wanted them to be exactly what I liked since those were the first flowers that we placed at our son's memorial. I didnt want them to look too girly. But Todd told me that all flowers are girly. Ok Todd, you are right, that's true. But we both agree, that they are beautiful and look gorgeous in our son's vase.

We chose the phrase "our little warrior" to go on his marker for many reasons, the first and the most simple is that Gideon means "warrior." In the Bible, the person Gideon was basically a war general and was in command of his troops. His army of just a few hundred beat the opposing army of thousands and thousands. He was faithful to God, believed in Him, was obedient to Him and fought for Him. There is a lot more to that story though, it is in Judges chapter 6 through 8. We named our Gideon after the biblical Gideon. Another reason we put "our little warrior" was because God spoke to us to tell us that our child would bring many to Him. We prayed that our Gideon would be a warrior for the Lord throughout his life. And that is precisely what Gideon has done and what he is doing.

As Todd and I sat next to Gideon's place, the tears flowed and they flowed heavily. My heart was breaking all over again. I replayed the moments when I held him in my arms just 12 weeks ago. I wanted so badly to be under the ground with Gideon, just so I could be close to him. My sobs came out loudly and Todd silently wept as we grieved the son we love so much. I wanted to kiss him again. I wanted him to be back with us so badly. I started to feel frantic. Like I was teetering on the edge of insanity. My arms were aching to hold him and my spirit was growing weak. Amazingly in that moment, I began to have peace fall over me. I didn't even ask for it, and yet God brought his peace like a soft breeze sweeping through my heart. I did not feel any less sad, but His peace came. I was able to be more calm and we were able to sit, with our hearts bleeding, but sit in silence and bask in God's peace and remember our sweet little boy Gideon.

Gideon's name is written in that granite until time on this earth ends, however there is another place where my son's name is written permanently, and in that place, his name is truly permanent; it cannot be broken and cannot crumble like his headstone will. My son's name is in the Book of Life. No one can erase that. I realize that the Book of Life is a metaphorical book, not a literal book one can look through. But it means that God knows who belongs to Him and who doesn't. And I know that my son is His. For eternity.

"All who are victorious will be clothed in white. I will never erase their names from the Book of Life, but I will announce before my Father and his angels that they are Mine."--Revelation 3:5

Friday, August 5, 2011


It is crazy the things that knock you down while you are grieving.

A friend of mine said something about their baby boy being held by his great-grandmother. Right then, I thought "yeah, my son is probably being held by his great-grandmother too" I burst into tears.

That knocked the wind out of me because my grandma passed away 3 weeks before Gideon died. She always said she would live to see my brother get married (which he did, over a year ago), and me have a baby. Well, when she died, I was upset because I really wanted her to get to see Gideon. I wanted her to get to hold him. But she probably got to hold him before I did. I thought that since that was her goal, to see me have a baby, that when she died, that meant that Gideon would be fine...I was wrong.

The night that Gideon passed away I had a dream about him. In my dream, I had to deliver him early and I was scared. They had to do an emergency c-section and he was so small when he came out (similar to the size he was in real life). I walked outside to tell everyone that he was ok and as I opened the door. I see my grandpa (who passed away when I was 16) sitting in a garden and my grandma walks up and I tell them "You will get to see Gideon soon" and I walked back through the door to go back inside.

Strange huh?...My grandparents did get to see Gideon that night. They got to see him before I did.  I don't believe that most of my dreams mean anything. But for some reason I think this one did. I have had just a few dreams before that have come true, I have had 2 dreams about the same friend on 2 different occasions that she was pregnant, and when I told her about the dream, she told me she really was pregnant. I believe this was one of those dreams. When I got up, I didn't think anything about it really. I told Todd about my dream and I was freaked out by it because in my dream Gideon was born early. And I was like "ah, well, my dreams are crazy."

I didn't think about that dream again until that night after the nurse told us Gideon had died. I thought, "grandma and grandpa do get to see him, right now."And I wept.

I was joking with Todd one day that when Gideon got to heaven, Grandma was probably hanging out with my Grandpa and her sister Stella, and looks up and sees Gideon and she is like "Gideon, what in the world are you doing here?" And then I can see her getting annoyed about it. Like "um, this wasn't part of the deal, Lord."...Wait, can you get annoyed in heaven? OK, probably not. But it makes me laugh to think about...maybe that isn't really funny, but I think so....

I have had nightmares since Gideon was born and I don't usually have nightmares.

I actually had a nightmare the other night and in that dream Todd died. It was terrible, in my dream no one would tell me anything, the nurses and doctors at the hospital kept saying they didn't know anything. As I was walking down the hall, I kept saying "My son just died, my husband cant be gone too. No, this cant be. My son just died, I cant live without both of them." Finally a nurse brought me into a room, and she was going to show me Todd's body and it was behind this curtain. Well, luckily I can sometimes control my dreams so real-life me realized what was about to happen, and I told myself to wake up. I did. Luckily Todd was at home and not at work that day and he held me while I cried. I do think that I cling to Todd tighter than before because I am so afraid to lose him too. I would be desperately lonely if I lost him. But I also know that God is teaching me that no one in my life actually belongs to me. They are His. Not mine. I do not have claim on anyone, not even myself really. I belong to Him, Todd belongs to Him, my nieces & nephews, sisters and brothers, parents, friends all belong to Him. He may do with all of us what He wills, even if that means he is done with them on this earth.. I am trying to truly submit myself to that fact. Not just say I submit to it, but really do it.

About a week after Gideon's funeral I had a dream I was holding his body. He was limp in my arms. But as I was looking at him, he started to move and breathe! Oh my gosh! He was alive! In my dream I thought, "it is so beautiful to get to see him move!" And I ran to tell Todd and my family that he was alive; it was all a mistake! Right before I got to Todd, Gideon was, once again, limp in my arms. It was horrible. Horrible because that had been my reality. Even at night I cannot get relief from the pain. Every night, in every single dream, I either mention Gideon or he is in my dream.

This is one of the most vivid dreams I have ever had. We were in a public place and there was a huge staircase and I had Gideon in my arms. He was about 2 and a half months old (the age he would be if he had been born alive) and we were all shocked that he was alive and growing because he had been gone, but God brought him back to us. Someone in my family was worried he would have brain damage, and I said "I dont care, he is alive!"  We were holding his warm pudgy body. We started taking a ton of pictures in my dream of him, pictures of him changing. He got bigger and fatter and got cuter. I held him on my right hip, like a pro. In my dream, Todd made him laugh. It was a sweet, sweet sound. A daddy smiling and playing with his son, and the son cracking up. I wish I could hear that every single day. We got to see him smile, a cute toothless smile. We got to feed him and take care of him. It was wonderful. We sang a worship song to the Lord, the song that was sang at his funeral....But I had to wake up. I didnt want to. I wanted to stay like that forever. I wanted to stay with my husband and my son. Happy and whole. When I awoke, I started bawling because this dream will never be. I would not call this a nightmare, because it was wonderful. It was one of the best dreams I have ever had, while I was dreaming, I was happy. But the horrible part, the part that breaks my heart is that we will not get to see any of these things. We will not see our son grow and change. I will not hold him on my hip as he squrims around. We will not see his smile. Todd will not make Gideon laugh.  Not in this world.

I had another dream last night about my sweet son. He was about 8 months old and was walking around. He had chubby little hands and strawberry blond hair, but was pretty slender. He was heavy to carry around, but was so soft and warm and sweet. He liked being held, but he liked to explore and was interested in everything. He would walk away from me just so he could see what was going on around the corner. He just wanted to experience life and touch and see and smell everything. We saw a dog and Gideon kept saying "dog, dog, dog" and he loved that little dog. It was seriously so cute. While I was dreaming, the real-life me, thought "I wonder if Gideon would really have been like this." And honestly, I think so. I think maybe God is giving me these dreams to show me who Gideon would have been if he had still been here, just glimpses of who he would have been on earth. And glimpses of who he is now. Gideon gets to touch and see and taste everything right now! The interesting thing is, I didn't cry when I woke up. I was happy. Happy that God gave that to me. Happy that these dreams remind me that my son, whether right now in heaven he is a child or an adult, that he is whole....but oh, it still hurts constantly because we have to live without our sweet boy.

These dreams will never come true. Not exactly. I may never hold my son as a baby again. Like I said before, I have no idea how it actually works in eternity, but I am assuming that I will never get to teach him crawl or see him learn to walk, or feed him or teach him how to say "dog". I hate that I will never experience those things but, the amazing thing is this, it doesn't matter because Gideon is alive! I know he is alive! Gideon is more alive than he has ever been. More alive than I am, more alive than Todd. Because of Jesus, because of my Savior...Gideon's Savior, my son is alive. He is whole and joyful and has complete peace. One day, we will see him alive. I may not get to change his diaper or rock him to sleep but I will get to see my son alive again! And that is good! I believe I will get to wrap my arms around him and talk with him and laugh with him. Gideon is alive today because Jesus is alive!!!

"For as in Adam all die, so as in Christ all will be made alive." -1 Corinthians 1:20