Monday, March 29, 2010

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

There is a picture in my memory of a beautiful baby boy that I will never forget.  Dark curly hair...his daddy's nose...big yet tiny feet...a dimple on his chin...little fists all curled (perhaps to box his older brothers with)...the most precious forehead (so kissable)...tiny little ears (the ones he heard his mama and daddy say I love you with)...the face of an angel.  All of these things are forever etched in my mind.  I dream of them. 
While I carried Eli in my belly, I dreamed of what he would look like.  Even then I knew that I wanted never to forget any part of him.  Yes, we prayed for God to leave him with us...we begged Him to spare his life. God's plans were different.
 I remember the day I contacted Mrs. Baranco from Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep about being at Eli's birth to take pictures for us.  I felt like I had betrayed Eli.  He was kicking and squirming in my belly as I composed an email to ask for her help.  I will never forget the guilt I felt when I clicked the send button. I expressed this feeling to this sweet lady in my email.  I also will never forget her response back to me. 

"I KNOW you are not giving up! No MOTHER ever does!

In the event that Elijah beats the odds then you will have some beautiful newborn images. If not, you will always be able to remember his sweet little face, even for the brief time you shared with him. And, professional photography and processing will give you beautiful memories."

Well it just so happened that Eli decided to came while this one particular photographer was out of town.  There was a back up scheduled just in case and she was out of town also.  This is one of the million things my adorable, precious sister was working on that day.  When Rachel learned that they were out of town, she immediatly thought of a friend Lisa, who is an amazing photographer.  She called Lisa only to discover that the NILMDTS organization was something she had felt led to work with and was going to shadow Mrs. Baranco when given the opportunity.  God was at work.  Lisa put aside what she was doing, grabbed a friend of ours (Heather) and headed to Montgomery.  Lisa and a wonderful gentleman named Darren came in and began taking pictures.  It was just so natural to them.  They really ministered to my heart that night.  I never knew when they slipped out. I feel like God used them in amazing ways.  Tomorrow, Jamie and I will get to see those pictures for the first time and we are just beside ourselves with excitement.  Although I have pictures in my mind of our Eli that I will never forget, those that Lisa and Darren took are so very precious to me.  They are treasures beyond any words.
God has blessed Lisa and Darren with such a gift.  They are so talented...and that they would use this talent to minister to us during this time in our lives means so much. 
Matthew 25:14-30 

14For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.
15And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.
16Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents.
17And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.
18But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money.
19After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.
20And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.
21His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
22He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them.
23His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
If you are not familiar with the Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep organization, check out the link I have posted on my blog. What they do is truly a wonderful ministry.
Thank you Lisa and Darren! Our time with Eli was brief, but because of you we will forever be reminded...He was here...He was beautiful. You were both part of such a miracle!
Looking forward to sharing pictures with you all soon....

Much love,

Sunday, March 21, 2010

His Shield About Us

Psalm 55:22
22 Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.

It has been one month today.  One month of tears, love, realization of a miracle, joy, pain, sorrow, longing, and many more emotions. It has also been a month of casting our burdens upon the Lord and trusting that he will sustain us.  Really we did this back on November 30th when we found out that Eli's kidneys were not functioning. We knew that in order to give God all of the glory for Eli, we had to.  I do give God the glory for bringing us to the point we are today.  Without Him we would be emotionally destitute.  We would have no hope for a future with Eli.  I do not mean an earthly future.  I mean a Heavenly future.  I hold on to the hope that I WILL meet my son again and hold to him. My earthly future with Eli consists of amazing of a miracle...a place in my heart reserved for him.  Although my heart seems to be in many, many pieces at the present, it is nonetheless full of love.
This past month, I have seen the hand of my Lord in everything.  He has worked in wonderous ways.  He is carrying us through a storm unlike any other. Through this storm, His provisions have left me speechless.  I have experienced amazing grace, amazing love, amazing friendship and so many more things.

The amazing grace I speak of is in every aspect of my life.  God is ever present.  Even when I do not have the words to tell him what I need to, He knows.  He hears my groanings and knows my heart.  He intercedes for me.
Romans 8:26
    26Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

God has provided such amazing love during this valley.  He has shown unconditional love, but also has given me a wonderful family that has done the same.  The love they have so freely given astounds me.  I am so thankful for each and every one of them. 

I have affirmed friendships and made new friendships this past month.  The compassion of people has been such a blessing in my life.  God has truely blessed me with such amazing friends.  It seems that God has sent one friend or another at just the right moment so many times.  God knows when I have been in need of a shoulder, an uplifting word, a bright face, or just someone to cry with. He has provided every time. 

This past month has been full without a doubt. We are in the midst of a storm. Our Heavenly Father has placed his arms around us and continues to shield us. 
Ephesians 6:16-17 

16Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
17And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:


Saturday, March 20, 2010

I won't break, I promise!

I have to say that for the most part, through this journey, people have been amazing and supportive...just wonderful in general.  We have tried so hard to glorify God through everything we do.  I will be honest, I have not gone out in public very much because I just am not emotionally stable enough to handle it.  It is hard to have a conversation with anyone with out crying.  I think about Eli ALL of the time.  He just consumes my thoughts right now, and I do not know how long that will be the case...maybe forever...who knows.  I do have some normal moments. I even laugh from time to time. That is not to say that I don't feel a certain level of guilt about laughing when I do.  I do not want to feel guilty, I just do.
When I have had the chance to go out and talk to people, they have been so kind.  I realize it is hard for people to know what to say to us right now.  I want people to know that if I talk to you and I cry, it is not because of anything that you did, did not do, or said.  It is just where I am right now.  Although, I strongly feel Gods presence in my life right now, I am still sad and grieving.  I still hurt, all the time, not just when people ask me how I am.  I just wanted to share with anyone who might be feeling uncomfortable around us some things you might want to say or not to say. Before I do that I wanted to share a poem I ran across that addresses this very topic.

The Elephant in the Room
 by Terry Kettering

There's an elephant in the room.
It is large and squatting, so it is hard to get around it.
Yet we squeeze by with, "How are you?" and "I'm fine," and a thousand other
forms of trivial chatter. We talk about the weather. We talk about work.
We talk about everything else, except the elephant in the room.

There's an elephant in the room.
We all know it's there. We are thinking about the elephant as we talk together.
It is constantly on our minds. For, you see, it is a very large elephant.
It has hurt us all.
But we don't talk about the elephant in the room.

Oh, please say Eli's name.
Oh, please say his name again.
Oh, please, let's talk about the elephant in the room.
For if we talk about Eli's death, perhaps we can talk about his life.
Can I say his name to you and not have you look away?

For if I cannot, then you are leaving me....
in a room....
with an elephant.

Please do not avoid us right now.  I know that it is easier just to turn around and walk the other way...but we see you when you do that.  And that hurts as bad as saying the wrong thing. 

  • Instead, hug me or shake my hand.  Even if you do not say anything, I know you care.
  • Tell me you are praying for me.  This means more than anything. 
  • Tell me you are sure I loved Eli well.
  • Tell me you have been thinking about us.
  • Talk about Eli.  I love to share him!
  • Share a bible verse you came across.
  • Share an uplifting thought or quote.
  • Share a poem
  • Share the name of a book, blog, or such that might help.
  • Call to check on us.  We might need to talk at that very moment.
  • Send us a message on facebook.  We read and appreciate everyone.

Please do not ask us if we are relieved that it is "over".
Please do not suggested that another child might take Eli's place. A hundred more children would never take Eli's place.
Please do not suggest that we can move on with life as usual now that our horrible situation is "over".
Please do not tell us that we will get over it in time. 
Please do not tell us to let the pain go, it is not that simple.

I have not suggested these things to be hurtful.  I have suggested them with the hopes of helping people know what would be a blessing to us at this time.  I need you my friends. I won't break, I promise!

Much love,

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Precious Memories

There is nothing more beautiful and heartbreaking than to watch a father bathe the body of his newborn son after he has gone home to Jesus.
 Eli's birth was surrounded by hurry and almost a sense of controlled chaos.   Everything just happened so fast...  After everyone left the hospital that night, Jamie and I began our vigil over Eli's body.  I did not want to take my eyes off of him for one second.  I wanted to memorize everything about him.  We unwrapped him and explored his toes and feet, his hands, his unruly hair...we discovered a dimple on his chin (Jamie has dimples). 
Jamie and I both wanted to make this time special.  We both knew that we would not sleep.  I wanted time to stand still for a little while.  There was a storm raging outside and in my heart as well.  I was playing tug of war with God this night.  I did not want to give up my little boy.  I was holding as tightly as I could to what was left...his little body.  I know God already had him safely in his arms.  I was just not ready and never would have been.
In our effort to make our time with Eli memorable, we knew there were things we wanted to do. It was important for us to do the things for him that we were able to do for our other children.  Things you take for granted like changing diapers and bathing them.  We asked the nurse to bring us the things we would need to do this.  She was wonderful and thought of everything.  She brought the things that we would need in and quietly left us.  Jamie had decided that he wanted to give Eli his one and only bath and it was the most beautiful thing I have ever witnessed.  He was so gentle with his little body and talked to him the entire time he bathed him. Once he was bathed his daddy lotioned him down really good, put a fresh diaper on him, then dressed him. Oh, I can smell him now.  Jamie and I took turns holding on to Eli that night.  The only other time either one of us let him go was when the nurse came in to cut a lock of his hair, measure him and do things like this.  She was so gentle with him when she did these things.  I think we were both just clinging on for a little while longer at this point.  It was so hard to let go.  At some point between 3:00 and 4:00 the next morning, Jamie and I decided that we couldn't hold on anymore and that it would never get easier to let him go.  The funeral home came around 4:10 to pick him up.  I do not think there is anything harder for a mother or father to do than to hand the body of your baby over to someone to prepare them for burial.  I said my goodbyes and kissed his little angel face, then gave him to Jamie.  Jamie did the same and handed him to John from the funeral home.  As long as I live, I will never forget him carefully and oh so gently placing his little body in the moses basket then pulling the blanket up to cover him. I can not even begin to describe how I felt when he left the room with him.  I do remember Elysa, Eli's nurse, quoting scripture to us the entire time this was going on.  I could not tell you what she was quoting for sure, I think maybe Psalms 23.  My mind was in another place right then.
I do not know why God chose to make Eli's time here so brief.  I know that there is purpose in everything He does. I wrestle with this it seems constantly.  I am selfish and I want my child.  This was not in the plans I had for my family. I was not supposed to have to watch my husband give his little boy his first and last bath.  Or was I... God's plans for us do not always match the plans we have for ourselves.   

Jeremiah 29:11-14
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me and I will hearken unto you.
And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.
And I will be found of you saith the Lord: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the Lord, and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.

This is one of those blog posts that I had to walk away from and come back to.  My emotions are all over the place lately.  These are memories that are forever etched in my mind.  The NIV version for verse 11 of this passage says For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  In His own way, God did prosper us with Eli.  He has given us precious memories of a miracle. 

The composer J.B.F. Wright said it best

Precious mem'ries, unseen angels

Sent from somewhere to my soul
How they linger, ever near me
And the sacred past unfold.

Precious mem'ries, how they linger
How they ever flood my soul
In the stillness of the midnight
Precious, sacred scenes unfold.

Precious father, loving mother
Fly across the lonely years
And old home scenes of my childhood
In fond memory appear.

In the stillness of the midnight
Echoes from the past I hear
Old-time singing, gladness bringing
From that lovely land somewhere.

I remember mother praying
Father, too, on bended knee
Sun is sinking, shadows falling
But their pray'rs still follow me.

As I travel on life's pathway
Know not what the years may hold
As I ponder, hope grows fonder
Precious mem'ries flood my soul.

Much Love and many tears tonight,

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Through the Storm

God keeps bringing me back to this verse:
John 14:27
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

We had a guest preacher at church last Sunday and this was one of his reference verses for his message and this verse keeps going through my head.  I know that God has given me peace about Eli. Not the peace of the world, but His peace. I know Eli is with Him and his little body is healed.  I know he knows no pain. I just miss him terribly!  I am not troubled and guess what, I am not afraid.  I looked back at a blog I posted the Friday before Eli was born.  In this blog was an entire list of fears I had and looking back...well, all of those fears came to be just two short days after that post.

I get so anxious when Eli does not move for a while. There is a 30 - 40 percent chance that Eli will have a cord incedent due to the absence of fluid and also just cherish his activity so very much.
  • Eli had a cord incedent.  As you read in my last blog, God protected him from that cord. He didn't move much at all that day, but he did move enough for me to know he was alive. 
I get scared and sometimes downright panicky when I think about how fast time is going by. It has been 12 weeks since we found out about Eli and it seems like yesterday. I only have about six weeks left to carry him.
  • Who knew that less than two days after I wrote this that I would give birth to Eli?  Only God! He took the panic and fear of six more weeks from me.  I have had a certain amount of anxiety since, but it is different and I know God will provide there as well. 
I am so scared of how my children will react to Eli's birthday.
  • My children were beside themselves with excitement the day Eli was born.  I am told stories of them standing at the nursery window watching the medical staff work on him and wanting to see him up close and hold him.  The moment they got to see him, he had already gone home to Jesus, but they still could not get enough of him.  Jay, my tender heart, had quite a few moments where he just cried and it broke my heart. Cooper just wanted to be near him and Lucie Rose just wanted to kiss him.  She still kisses my belly and that just stops me cold.  She is too young to understand.  God is working with them just like me.  He gives them the comfort their young minds need!  
I am scared of having a c-section. Eli is transverse breech with his feet presenting first and is not expected to move due to the absence of amniotic fluid.
  • Well probably one of by biggest fears here... I was so afraid that if I had a c-section I would not get to spend any time with Eli.  I was afraid that he would go home before I could hold him.  I had an emergency c-section and even had to be put to sleep.  My sweet baby waited on me... He went home from my arms.  I know that God provided me this.  Eli's doctor and nurses worked with him diligently to keep him here.  I have such gratitude for everything, everyone of them did in that nursery. 
I am scared of not being able to be a mommy to Eli. Eli's kidneys have no function and I never really realized how important fluid is for babies en utero. Eli is my fourth child and I have learned so much this time due to Eli's condition. Not only does the fluid act as a cushion for babies and make room for them. It also is ingested by babies to facilitate lung development. The fluid passes through the baby's body and the kidneys act as a sponge. The fluid is then passed back into the sack to make room for growth and development. It is a continuous cycle unless the baby's kidneys do not work. Which is the case with Eli.
  • This was another really big deal for me.  I still struggle with this one, but God has shown me that no matter whether Eli is here in my arms or in Heaven with him, I will always, always, always be his mommy.  He will always be my little boy and I will hold him again.  My heart breaks and my arms ache, but I am blessed beyond measure to have given birth to such a miracle. Despite his condition, he was a beautiful little fighter.  
I am scared of possibly having only a short time to say everything it should take a lifetime to say to Eli. Really a lifetime is not long enough sometimes is it?
  • I only had a few short minutes with him but, I believe he knows what I want to tell him. I talk to him.  Even if he does not hear me, I know God tells him.  I so look forward to an eternity to talk to him face to face.  A lifetime is not long enough, but eternity surely is!
I am scared of empty arms...
  • My arms ache from the emptiness of not having Eli to hold.  This is something that I will always feel.  It is not a fear anymore,  it is just reality.

I faced the reality of all these fears swaddled in the arms of God.  I continue to face reality swaddled in His arms and love.  Without Him in my life, I would not make it day to day.  I would surely give up, because this is too difficult to face alone.  Not only does God carry me daily, He has provided a tremendous amount of support through family, friends, and even complete strangers.  I have such gratitude and give such thanks!

Last night was the first storm we have had since the night Eli was born.  While my children were afraid and Jamie and I had to comfort and calm them, I was comforted and thought of Eli the entire time.  So did Jamie.  He commented that we would never see a storm the same again, and he is right.

 Because of the storm last night and the fear Lucie Rose and Cooper had, I am reminded of my fear as a child and how God has turned that fear into comfort.  This reminds me of when Jesus walked on water in the bible.  If you read in Matthew 14:22-33, it tells of Jesus' disciples being on a ship during a storm.  Jesus had gone up to the mountain to pray.  There was such a storm out on the sea and Jesus went to his disciples walking on that stormy sea.  The disciples were afraid until Jesus spoke and told them not to be afraid. At this point Peter spoke and said if it really is you Lord make me walk on water, and as long as Peter had faith he did.  When his fear over came his faith, he began to sink.  Even when he had little faith, God stretched forth his hand and caught Peter.  He took him back to the ship and calmed the wind.

Even when my fear over comes my faith, Jesus extends his hand to me.  He has been so good...
Much love,

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Two Hearts Beating as One

Bear with me tonight.  This post might be all over the place.  I have so many things going through my head...
There are several things that I want to share tonight that are all part of "our" miracle. 

Maybe this is completely insignificant, maybe not.  I can't find much about it, but when Jamie and I got to the ER the day Eli was born, one of the first things they did was doplar my belly to find Eli's heartbeat.  It took them a while to find his because my heartrate was in the 140's and so was his. They were not sure if what they were hearing was my heart or Eli's. They did this several times there at the ER and on the way to Montgomery.  Each time our hearts were beating in, if not exact rhythm, very close.  That is why Dr. Kouri was surprised to find Eli's heart beating on the ultrasound.  To me that is special.

I have never really heard of a cord prolapse before my experience with it.  It is basically when the cervix dialates and the cord slips into the birth canal ahead of the baby.  This is a rare occurance and is often fatal to the baby if not treated quickly.  Eli was breech, with his feet down, and when my cervix dialated it allowed this cord to become prolapsed.  I had no idea my cervix was dialated because I had no real signs of labor.  When we got to the ER and the doctor examined me, he told me what I had found was Eli's cord.  I was pretty much "put on my head" at that point and arrangements were very promptly made to transport me to Jackson's were I would deliver my little man.  I remember in the ambulance I had to go to the potty so badly.  I expressed this several times, and the doctor and EMT on board finally told me just to go, that it would be alright.  I just couldn't due to "stagefright".  I could not make myself, so I just held it, bumps, turns, stops and starts, and all.  While doing research of my own on this, I came across several sites that give suggestions to cushion the baby from the cord being compressed and thus cutting off the oxygen supply to the baby, in the event of a prolapsed cord.  Several sites suggested that a cath be inserted and anywhere between 500ml and 700ml of fluid to be pushed into the mother's bladder. This was not done to me but I was given IV fluids. When I finally got to Jackson's and told my nurse of my dire need to go to the bathroom, she cathed me to relieve my bladder and found 1500ml of fluid present.  She was astounded and even showed Dr. Kouri what she had gotten from my bladder.  I fully believe that God allowed my bladder to become so full to cushion my little Eli's cord.  It was just another part of the miracle God gave us that day. 

One last part of our miracle that I wanted to share tonight is so precious to me. 
1Kings 18: 41-46
41 And Elijah said unto Ahab, Get thee up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of abundance of rain.
42 So Ahab went up to eat and to drink.  And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he cast himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees,
43 And said to his servant, Go up now, look toward the sea.  And he went up, and looked, and said, There is nothing. And he said, Go again seven times.
44 And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man's hand.  And he said, Go up, say unto Ahab, Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down, that the rain stop thee not.
45 And it came to pass in the meanwhile, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain.  And Ahab rode, and went to Jezreel.
46 And the hand of the Lord was on Elijah; and he girded up his loins, and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel. 
In 1 Kings 17 Elijah predicted that God would bring a drought upon the people due to their idolatry.  This rain was the end of this three year drought which brought famine to the people.
As Jamie and I sat in the hospital that night, after Eli went home to be with Jesus, spending our last little bit of time with his precious tiny body, we noticed lightning outsided of our window.  Shortly thereafter, the heavens opened up and a storm came from them. We thought of this passage and Jamie went and got his bible.  I have read this passage over again several times since then and take comfort in it.  I believe that God makes himself known in many ways and this was one of them.

I know the the Lord's hand was on Elijah Griffin Hill and he ran before us to the entrance of Heaven...

Much love,