Journal Entry: December 9, 2007

I don't have anything imparticular that I feel I just have to get out tonight, but I wanted to detail the events of Friday night before I forgot. This is't a sad or mournful post tonight, just one to make sure I get it all down. The reason being is that I feel like the Lord's hand has been in this situation from the beginning, even to the night of her first anniversary. I need to write this out, so I never forget and for those that have followed can remember as well.

I have had a year to prepare myself for this night. A year to write something that would eloquently express my feelings. A year to think about the exact words I wanted to say to everyone that came to let them know how much they mean to me and how much their support has helped me. But nothing would come. I couldn't even muster up something cutesy to say. Nothing trite; nothing at all. This was the first indication that something wasn't going to happen.

So then Friday comes and I have my feelings all over the place. I was a little sad, a lot stressed and considered more than once to call the whole thing off. I felt like maybe I should, but equally felt like I HAVE to do this. I know that I can't go on like this forever, at every holiday mentioning her or holding onto every detail for the rest of my life. I know that she will never leave me, but I also felt like geez... how long is this going to go on? And I really felt like the people around me were/are thinking the same thing. I was cooking and cleaning and stressing out all morning. I was trying to have everthing prepared so when the time came I could "enjoy" the evening as much as possible. In the middle of finishing up the chocolate dipped marshmallows, I turned around and had the thought "I'm getting ready for a party that is not goig to happen. I'm getting ready for a gathering with no Guest of Honor." I then thought "It will only be a short while 'till I see her again. She's okay and is well taken care of and loved very much. It's as though she is on a trip away from me but someday I WILL see her again. It's ok for me to celebrate her even though she's not here, it's like she is having a going home party, kinda...maybe..." I was so comforted in that.

I'd once read somewhere a story from a bereaved mom. It was about a baby being with the babysitter and walking past the mom on the street. The babysitter was checking the mail a few yards away and the Mother watched her child with the sitter. The story was something like the Mother knowing that the baby was safe and going to return after a while. For some reason that has set in my heart with Charlotte. Like she's just gone yonder, but one day we'll be together again and I can rest in knowing she is okay. It probably doesn't make much sense, but I know what it means in my heart. Anyway, back to the night...

I fininshed the desserts and set the table. Brian walked in and commented on how nice things looked. That meant a lot to me. So we were going to get ready to go buy a real Christmas tree (which we were going to have to borrow money for...another topic altogether) and I went into the bathroom with Zach. I wanted to show him how to wipe down around the toilet (eeww...little boys!) and he starts screwing around in the bath tub. I barked at him to get out of it and just then...splat! He tripped and slipped and fell face first onto the bottom of the tub. I seriously thought he busted out his front teeth (which would have been much easier to deal with) but instead he split his chin open and had to get stitches put in.

Normally, in a situation like this, I would have gotten super mad and highly irritated. But I remained calm, strapped a towel to his chin and called Brian in. He, on the other hand was really upset. He went out to the front porch and sat with his head down. When I looked at him I could see frustration on his frame as well as sadness in knowing that the night was lost. At least that's what it looked like. We both knew we weren't going to be able to get a tree and even thought we weren't going to be here for the whole party. So off we go to the ER and found out it was going to be a 4 hour process at least.
When I checked the phone for the time, I saw that it was only 6:20pm and realized that the clinic was probably still open. I called the 800 # for the doctors office and explained the situation to the operator. She insisted that they would tell me to stay at the ER. I asked her to please check to see if maybe, just maybe we could get in. She put me on hold and as I waited, I prayed that the Lord would release a time for us to get in and see a doctor. The Operator came back on the line and said "I don't believe this. We have one appt available at 7pm." Of course you do.

While we were away, we had left Airenne with Mathias and called Auntie and Grandma to come over early to help her. Almost everything was set up, just a few details left. They assembled the remaining ornaments, took out the trash and hung the lights up. Before I had left, I took out the box of Charlotte's things and put them on my bed, intending to put a few things out on the table. I was *mentally* going over what was in the box and what I wanted to display for weeks. But as I was doleing out directions over the phone, I didn't have it in me to care what was set out. I asked my mom and sister to fininsh it up and just told them to put out whatever. My only true request was the blanket I had that matched the nightgown Charlotte was buried in. Otherthan that, I told them to do whatever.

Zach did great, took 4 stitches to the chin. We arrived back at home around 8pm. As we walked in, everyone looked to be enjoying themselves, yet not really knowing what was going to happen. Honestly, I didn't know what was going to happen either. I was completely embarrassed at how I looked. I had a house full of people (about 25-30) and was still in my sweats and tee shirt from earlier in the day. Hair a mess and no makeup on. I was planning to get ready after we got the tree, but alas, it never happened. So I high tailed it to my bedroom and Airenne followed. She had done such a fabulous job in hosting and greeting everyone. She was a real trooper. A few times that I had called to check on her, she was getting more and more nervous about us not being home and having to "host" in our absence. But she was fantastic.

I rushed to get dressed and she pulled lots of things out of the closet for me. Nothing seemed appropriate. I just couldn't decide what to put on, and it seemed like it was taking forever to find something. I turned my back to her and asked her how things were going and if she talked to Amy (who was sitting on the couch). She was on the other side of the room, near the closet and muttered "Yes, and I had a wee bit of a meltdown." My back was still to her and I said "To Amy?" When I turned around, I saw the most beautiful thing. Airenne was bawling and had her head bowed. I asked her to tell me why she was so upset, because I didn't want to assume anything. I let her know that I really care about what's bothering her, but she needs to tell me what's wrong. She just looked up with tear filled eyes and said "It's all just hitting me and I'm a little stressed." I was completely taken off guard. Airenne hasn't ever wanted to talk to me about what happened and quite frankly, I had been worried more than once that she was either internalizing all of it or it just wasn't important to her. When I've brought it up to her before she flat out told me that she didn't want to talk about it and that she just doesn't *get it*. It hurts me to hear that because it was a huge thing for our family to go through. But I never wanted to make it a big deal to her if she didn't feel that way. She's not the type of girl that opens up easily and if you question her or try to console her, she tends to walk away or pull back.

But that night, she made a hard walk to me and grabbed me and cried. She cried like I haven't seen her cry since she left the hospital when Charlotte was born. I held her and loved on her. I prayed and thanked God for allowing me to be her mom. I thanked Him for preparing her heart to become the woman He wants Her to be and for the sweetness she has. I cried with her so hard. Then it was done. She broke through. And I was there for it. Not for me to witness it, but as her mom who could love her through it.

The rest of the evening was weird. I felt totally out of place in my own home. I tried to make conversation with everyone, but couldn't really hold a thought. I knew I wanted everyone to sign our guest book (we use it for *special* gatherings at our house) but couldn't find it. Oh well. The rest was kind of a blur. I asked Brian to make an announcement to everyone, thanking them for coming and to say a prayer for our friends. He was visibly uncomfortable in doing this. There was a time when he wouldn't have been, but that night, he looked scared. We then passed out the ornaments I had made with Charlottes' feet in a clear bulb. Everyone seemed to like it and shortly after, people started leaving.

Later, my mom called to see how I was doing and told me that when she and my sister were getting the things out of Charlotte's box, my sister also had a melt down. My mom said it was pretty bad. I had considered that it may be difficult to look at those things (while I was in the ER) but dismissed it being a problem. I wasn't there and I wanted it set out. I didn't have a choice but to ask them to do it for me.

When my mom said my sister really broke down. I felt bad, but also felt like the Lord had used the night to heal a lot of hearts other than my own. I really thought/expected it to be about "me", but it wasn't. This is why things weren't working out the way "I" wanted them to. It wasn't about me at all. It never really was. He even removed me from the whole "party" so I wouldn't muddle things up and so He could do His work. Realizing this was the most emotional part of the whole night. He cares for all of us and is healing our broken hearts.
In the process of cleaning up, I have decided to pack away some of the things that have been around our home. There was a picture of her in my bedroom and one of me & Brian in the living room that was taken as we were leaving the cemetery. I also have a sleeping baby cuddled in Angel wings sitting on my end table in the living room that I will be putting in the flower bed in the backyard and I even put her book on the shelf. I'm going to go thru my computer and put all of her pictures in one folder, as right now they are all over the place on my hard drive.
All weekend I have felt like I am ok. This is behind me. We visited our old church today and saw many of our friends whom were tuned into all that had happened. One woman especially was a big support and encouragement and we spent the evening talking about it all. I didn't cry. I didn't feel bad for not crying. I actually turned the conversation to the future. I let her know I would like to one day have another baby. Hopefully a girl again. Not of course to replace Charlotte, but she was a different girl altogether. I am hopeful that this will happen. But it is all in God's time.

Journal Entry: December 7th...Happy Anniversary

Birthday vs. Anniversary. For some reason I feel like anniversary is more appropriate. More memorable sounding.

So in the aftermath of todays events, I ahve much to write. But feeling somewhat like I did a year ago, I have much to say, but the thoughts are fleeting. There is still a mess in the dining area. Cake and coffee on the tables. Everyone gone. Me, alone again staring at the computer. Pounding headache. Hum, just like last year. even tonight, I finally felt a calm, peace had washed over me. Just like I did after Charlotte was born and taken out of the room for the last time. I feel like it's over. A little relieved about it, also feeling a little guilty about .

I've noticed twice that (no, wait; three times...) a time during the day when I felt peaceful and remembered what was happening last year at the same time. Tonight it was around 11:30pm after the last person left the party. I felt strong. ready to move on. Like I could take a deep breath and let it out. Last year was the same thing. Physically, I could take a breath and let it out and feel a huge relief simply from not being pregnant any more. But mentally too, I felt a burden lifting. It is over. She is gone. I have my answer.

But tonight is different. I've never experienced the feeling of closure before, but I think that's what I'm feeling now. My very dear friend asked me tonight "Now what. What's next?" I wasn't sure what she meant at first and I think she was a little nervous to ask. ((Bless her heart)). But what she was getting at was this: How much more is there gonna be? Maybe that's why I was grieving so hard the last few days, because I know this can't go on forever. I didn't want to let go of my grief. It was my last tie to Charlotte. I've been thinking about that too... what now? I sort of want to fold everything up and put it back in the closet. Take down the pictures and let it go. I'm looking at a beautiful card I received from my sister tonight. She had a woman hand make it for me and it is so pretty. It really captures the essence of Charlotte. The last line of the card reads "Until we meet again." I think that sums it up perfectly. We WILL meet again. And for now, she is such a lucky girl.

I'm so exhausted right now. I will have to come back and update with all of the crazy antics that happenend tonight. The hospital visit, the sutures, etc. But for now, I'm off to bed.

Journal entry: December 2, 2007 The day after...

Yesterday was so emotional. I was about to write bittersweet, but I hope that will be a better choice of words for Friday. Bitter and Sweet.

The day started with me knowing the date before I even opened my eyes. I wasn't sure if I was really stewing in some sadness or if it was just happening out of my control. But nevertheless, it was a day filled with tears.

I had comitted to taking the boys to a birthday party a few weeks back, when I thought the day wouldn't be too hard to deal with. It proved to be much harder than I imagined it could be. I was sad and agitated and stressed and just feeling lousey in general. I felt fat and ugly and lonely without my baby. All this past year I had thought of this day, and yet it seems like so much has happened in one year's time. Then, as the morning opened up, it all seemed to have happened so fast.

As I was getting ready for the party, I practiced over and over how I might say that I was doing ok, should anyone ask. I looked at myself through stained eyeballs and re-applied my waterproof mascara. I had snot all over my face and my nose was raw. I snapped at everyone, I felt nauseous. I almost didn't go to the party, but couldn't let the boys down. It was their first big boy birthday party and I thought it might do me some good to force myself to get out.

Brian's mom called and I couldn't bear the thought of talking to her. I din't want to hear her voice asking me if I was ok or hearing words of sympathy she had to say. Not for anything personal, I just didn't want to talk about it. I reminded me of the day we buried Charlotte and I tried to get into the van after everyone else was loaded up in their own cars. She caught me and walked across the street to give me a hug. I remember looking down the whole time, trying not to make eye contact with her, not wanting her to touch me or hug me. Isn't that wierd? The only person I wanted to touch me or talk to me was her son. My husband. Charlotte's daddy.

The irony of it all was that I had vowed not to bring it up to anyone at the party because I din't want to jump in the spotlight. It wasn't my day or my party and quite frankly it was anybody's business. I dried up my tears for a good while and no one could tell the wiser, I think so anyways. But there was a man there, the Birthday Boy's grandpa, that talked with me for a while. He was telling me a story about a woman and her children in an airport in North Carolina. Yep, you guessed Charlotte, N.C. He must've said that name 3-4 times and each time I grinned a little inside.

After the party I got in the van and bawled. Maybe it was the warmth of the van's interior that made me feel safe, but man! I let it rip! After I got gas, picked up a vest I went home. I just wanted to be quiet. The boys had a great time and began to drift off in the car. Solitude.Or maybe moreso a sugar drop. When I got home, all I wanted to do was hug Brian. I needed to smell him and feel his strong arms. Even though he doesn't say much, sometimes all I need is a shoulder. His shoulders.

We had a minor altercation with A in the afternoon and she was pretty upset. I don't think she even knew why I was crying all day, not remembering what the day was. Then I wondered if she did know and how was she feeling? She's so tough to read. Part of it is her age, but she keeps things inside quite often. But I never talked about it with her. I didn't want to focus on it if it wasn't bothering her at all, but maybe I should have asked anyways.

Brian ended up making us dinner. We ate by candelight. He drank wine. How fancy-schmantzy. We never drink wine, but it was a nice touch. We hardly spoke of Charlotte. A while later a girl came by to pick up some stuff from Freecycle... Do you ever get the impression God is blowing you a kiss from heaven? Like He gives you a little bit of sweetness at the exact time you need encouragement? He did that for me again last night.

The girl came up to ge the stuff and I happened to be outside. Coco ran out to greet her and we spoke momentarily about her. Then the girl asks if I had recently had a baby. I said yes, but she died and she said "Me, too." I told her how sorry I was and we chatted for a bit more. I was slack jawed when she said it was one year ago, last night, that her baby boy was also Stillborn. We both cried for a minute and talked more. She ended up hanging out for over an hour with me and Brian on our front porch. The best part was that she is also a Christian and may start attenimg our MOPS meetings. I don't know why, but I felt so much better after she left.

The wekend after thanksgiving my grandmother said that I need to let this go. I was so annoyed with her. How can she possily know what this feels like. And if I'm not mistaken, doesn't she still cry for her husband? Whatever. But I do get the distinct impression some people think I need to "move it along". Oh well. I can't worry aout what other people might think. Hopefully they will nver have to loose a child.

A note from a dear friend...Nov 6, 2007

I just got this email tonight. Bawled my eyes out. Gosh, I love her....

Hi Christine…Here is the note I wrote at the worship meeting Friday night. I can’t even enjoy worship for myself, God always gets me thinking about Charlotte. Hahaha! Here it goes….

About Charlotte,
She was yours, in your womb, but I think God gave her to all of us. Some have her memory tucked away in a safe place, our little miracle that reminds us that God is faithful. Sometimes our life seems too painful to remember that God does what he say’s he is going to. But Charlotte does that, reminds us. Christine, try to remember that your friends may not be able to talk about her because it is too painful for them. They may not have the ability to let her memory stay with them. They love you, but it hurts too much to remember her. It seems as though they have moved on, I am sorry about that. I’m sure it is just too hard for them….
Other’s like me think of her every day and have no problems talking about her. I can’t help it, I just do. God has made a place in my heart and life for Charlotte and your whole family. I will NEVER forget. You can always talk to me. That does not make me better than any of your other friends, it just means God wants me to remember so you have someone to talk to. I am honored. I love you and I am always here for you.

Journal Entry: Nov. 5, 2007 Just thinking

So my tests came back normal. I was really relieved. No pomp and circumstance. Just a quick note in the mail:
"Test results are normal. Good news" signed Dr. Padero.

Uh, thanks; but did you know that you told me I could have a brian tumor!? A little stressed 'round here. Hopefully now things can get back to "normal", whatever that is. I've been feeling unusually weirded out lately. Not sure why. But I don't like it. I feel like I'm alsmost back to square one, just not crying as much. Maybe it's because things are unsettled at home. I've been arguing somethin' fierce with Airenne, Brian's work is crappy, the boys are all over the place. Am I loosing it?

I posted this on a grief support website. I got responses that I wasn't expecting. I had felt so alone. But apparently, I'm not.
I'm just sitting her thinking about how much I'm on SG. I've moved to posting on the other boards, but I respond here sometimes and read eveything. It sucks to see the new girls here -all who have had a child die.I just feel like I'm not wanting to remember her. Not all the time, but I feel exhausted in the head over thinking about her. Sometimes I just want it to stop. So I fill my time with nothing, posting here and there about my other kids. Sometimes I actually feel like I WANT to forget. About her, about what happened. I want to pick up and move on with my life. Everything fell apart a little over a year ago when we found out that she was "sick". I'm just done with it. I didn't want to be in this club. I didn't want my baby to die.

My husband isn't the same. Sheesh, I'm not the same either. But we have nothing to show for what we went thru and I'm just ready to get back to the way things were. But they will never be that way again. His faith has been shaken, now he can't seem to get on solid footing with the Lord again. I haven't struggled with the "whys" or "it's not fair". Just the "this sucks".

I'm not angry at God or confused. I've grown spiritually by leaps and bounds because of this. But I'm watching DH go backwards and there is nothing I can do about it . When I think about having more children I think of the years that would be between my youngest son and a new baby. Not Charlotte in between. I've caught myself doing this twice. I feel like crap about it. She wasn't just a failed pregnancy, or an early loss. It's more than "the thought" of losing a promise. All of the what if's and never will be's.

I know a loss is a loss, in that we all suffer together, but she was a fully grown BABY. Ready to come home to a family that waited for her. That prayed for her. Now we have nothing. I guess tonight I am just pissed about it. I don't know what set me off. Sorry for the rant.

I've thought about this a lot. I feel so confused about things. Not where I stand with God, or why it happened, just that He's allowing me to sit in the pit for a while. I feel like I'm in quicksand.

If I don't move, maybe I can sneak my way out of it.

I want things to go back to the way they were before.

Then I finally opened my Bible to read a bit. I've been putting it on the back of my desk. I'd sit on the computer (more than I'd like to admit) and take my Bible out to church. That's been about it for a few weeks. So I'd had enough, and I was pointed to this:

The end of a thing is better than it's beginning; the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. Do not hasten your spirit to be angry. For anger rests in the bosom of fools. Do not say "Why were the former days better than these?" For you do not inquire wisely concerning this. Ecc. 7:8

Ok. So He's put me in my place. I guess I'll get off now and read some more. *sigh*.

Journal Entry: October 27, 2007 Here we go again!

In case some of you were wondering how long my roller coaster of a life was going to sit idle...strap in and come along for the ride (again) with me PLEASE!

I need your prayers. This year has been such a trial for me I almost have no strength left to start this again. And I really hope that I don't have to...Last year was a very difficult time in my life and so many of you held my hand (sometimes literally) and lifted me up to God thru prayers.

I found out during my pregnancy that there may have been problems with the baby, and I have to say that the 5 months of waiting was the longest ever of my life. And although we looked at her normally formed body, she was still called home to Jesus. Now, I have to wait for a couple of more weeks to find out some additional results from a doctors appointment today for myself.

Let me give you a bit of background, in that, I have never had any questionable mestrual history and all of my pregnancies have been uneventful, except for this last one with Charlotte. Anyway, for the past few months, my cycles were wierd. I haven't had a period since August, and even then it was really late. Anyway, I'm not pregnant and after a bunch of bloodwork, I was sent to the Endocrinologist (today). They checked all of my hormone levels and even for diabetes and all but one came back ok. The one that came back abnormal is cause for concern because from what I thought I'd read on line, I could be going thru early menopause. I'm only 32, so of course I was worried.

But after meeting with the doc today, she told me that it could be one of two things:
1.) would be that the labs were wrong. (My reading was in the negatives and should be way higher)
2.) there could be a brain tumor. Huh? Did you say tumor... in my brain???

I have to have more blood/urine testing done and if the levels are really low again, it may indicate a tumor near or on the Pituitary. She will then order a scan to see how large and what kind of tumor it is. If it is compressing or secreting, it will have to be removed. If not, then it will be monitored. Oh, I forgot to mention, on my dad's side both his sister and his grandfather had brain tumors, which they died from. I don't know which kind or where at exactly, but it still is freaking me out.

I don't know what to think. I'm actually feeling quite queasy about this, like I wanna puke.

I've learned that nothing is too big for God to handle and He tells me to leave my worries on the cross. But here I am again, asking for your prayers. I don't even know what to ask for other than a better reading, but I turn to you guys first. I think I'm gonna take a nap. ugh.

Forever grateful,

Journal Entry: October 19th, 2007 Addictions can be a beautiful distraction

So at what point does an addict, realizing their addiction, become responsible for change? What if that person really enjoys their vice, thinks it to be harmless. recreational. A way to settle oneself down?

I've become an addict. I've got the gene tendencies for addictions already. I've got a reason to have one, something devastating has happened, and I've developed an addiction.

And although it's not to drugs or alcohol (sometimes I wish it were that easy to administer) it's still an embarrassing confession. How long have I known? Do I care? Is it something that is only affecting me?

I've turned this "thing" into a source of comfort. entertainment. joy. I get wrapped up in it's beauty of ananomity. It's charm of hope. But it is dead and it's taking me away from my family. So no, it isn't ONLY affecting me. It turns my attentions away from my children. It drives a wedge between me and my friends, it changes my attitude towards my husband. It consumes my day...for that matter, my night as well. It keeps me company. It fills in a gap.

Now I can think about what the true response to this should be. Turn to God. Cast my cares upon Him. Don't look in vanity for something to make me feel/or not feel in this world. Don't WANT to be DISTRACTED!

I realized last night of my need for distraction. It came on subtley, my desire to be distrated. I almost didn't even notice it. But then, driving home after a meeting about the teen mom thing, it hit me like a ton of bricks! I've been piling stuff ontop of myself to stay busy. Two full fledged Bible studies, the teen mom thing, the volunteering thing, the MOPS stuff. Not to mention forming my addiction in the process. Brian actually even noticed how "busy" I am. The house is a wreck, I feel lousey. I'm running out of steam. I need to let some things go.

It's really far out there, because my addiction is in direct relation to the problem of which I am trying to be distracted from, so I don't have to think about it. Almost doesn't make sense. I don't want to think about Charlotte all the time, so I am constantly busy, buit in the middle of finding things to be busy with, I (almost) obsess about Charlotte. SHE is not my addiction. She is the "problem". I couldn't believe that just 2 nights ago I had almost forgotten about her. Do you know how humiliating that is as a mother? How could I? It was only for a split second. But it hurt my heart!

I was sittingon the couch thinking about these health isssues I've been having and then I thought about how many years are between the boys. I've always said that I was pregnant 3 times in 4 years. That's a lot. But the other night, I was more thinking..well, Zach and Ty are a year and a half apart. So if we ever have another they will be more than a year and a half between them and Ty. How can that be? Wait, let me do the math...Oh crap! There was another. There was Charlotte.

This makes me feel like I've moved on. I've left her behind. Then up in my face is this health problem. I may now be pre-menopausal or infertile. Huh? I don't get it. So it snaps me right between the eyes with thinking about the children I do have. Did I or DO I want more? I asked God to take this desire out of my heart if I wasn't ever going to have another daughter. So now is He taking out of me physically? I wanted to make the decision. But I guess it's not up to me anyway. What was I thinking?

So now that it's out there, I have to make a choice. Is this worth holding onto? No. But I don't think I can let it go just yet. If I do, then I'm afraid all of the sadness and emotion will flood back over me. It's almost been like a lifeboat. I fell like I'll drown without it. Brian jokes, teases. But it is a real problem for me. I'm alone in this, I suppose. Like everything else, I have to go it alone, with out Brian. Can't even go there right now. I'd better sign off....

Journal Entry: September 16, 2007

So I wander only so far, then I'm right back to these lonely nights. Maybe what set me off tonight is having the TV on National Geographic. Tonight's episode is going over the human body during pregnancy and the first 10 years of life. It's amazing. But it makes my mind wander. Will I ever be able to do that again?

There are times when I would do anything to have that "full of life" feeling again. Then I think about it and get confused with my emotions. Brian and I were briefly talking about another baby the other night. Sometimes I'll set up the conversation, sometimes I will bluntly ask if we are ever "going to" again. This conversation was unexpected. Sometimes he'll say something that my heart hangs on and I'll think about it for days. This time we were laying in bed, playing with Coco and he says "if we ever have another baby and she's a girl, she would be the Queen, huh? What would her name be? What would we name her?" When I suggested having her middle name Christine, he laughed. The name Charlotte was the closest I'll ever get, I suppose. And as lame as it sounds, sometimes I wish that we could name another daughter Nicole. I just love that name.

Well now my desk is wet. I hate nights like tonight. Maybe I should shift the focus to what I've been doing over the past month. There is light there.

What I haven't really elaborated on this blog is what I am doing with some teen moms in this area. After Charlotte's passing, I'd decided that I would give her things to a teen who needed them. I wanted to "give back" I guess. So I made a few phone calls and found out that there is more than one or two girls in high school that are pregnant. (Boy was that a surprise!) The school district has a program in place already for these girl to finish up in high school, but no other programs available to them. Nothing concrete anyway.

So I talked to a woman about starting a mentoring program for these girls and she was all for it. So that's what I'm doing. I am going to start another blog just for that purpose, but wanted to jot it down here just for reference. I volunteer once a week and am working towards building relationships with these girls. It's great to see God's hand in this as there are many "God things" that are happening with the start of this program. Too many to write about tonight.

Anyway, that's it for now. I don't think I can handle too much more right now. Oh, but I did decide to have a "party" for lack of a better word for Charlotte's first birthday. December 7th will be the day we buy and decorate our family Christmas tree. This first year, we'll invite our family and friends to come help us decorate our Christmas tree and ask them to bring a special ornament in rememberance of her. Nothing too killjoy. Just a simple way to acknowledge this past year. In reality though, I'd much rather have to wipe pink frosting off of two chubby cheeks. *sigh*

Journal Entry: One year ago...

You know how this can be... the work up to it is always worse than what it actually is... but today has been one year. Not one year since Charlottes' death, or birth, I guess in that order... but one year since my life has been forever changed.

One year since I took the last breath of my own that has been replaced instead by God breathing in me and through me. One year since I've felt the strong- yet gentle -arms of Jesus carrying me. One year since I was drawn so close to God that I had no room to wiggle out... nor did I want to.

It's been one year since the doctors confirmed that something was wrong with my baby. A year ago yesterday I was happily pregnant, reviling in the joy of finding out I was having a baby girl. And I must say, in all honesty, it's changed for the better. I miss my baby so much, and not a day has gone by since last year that she is not on my mind. I am able to breathe again, but this time with the help of the Holy Spirit giving me the knowledge and sweetness of loving my life here on earth, but being totally willing to let it go, to be with my Savior, and my baby.

I am a better person for what I've learned. I'm a stronger person and more gentle too. I have been able to reach out to my community in a way that is God glorifying and just busy enough to keep my mind off of what isn't. The list of "firsts" is getting shorter and shorter. It's just a weird sort of day.

Journal Entry: July 22, 2007 We have another little girl in the house!

We got a puppy!

She is officially my dog, but I am willing to share her with the family. I've named her Coco in honor of Lil Miss. My dad mentioned that maybe I should change the name, just in case something happens to her, it may be too hard to deal with. But I really enjoy saying that name out loud. It's what I would have called Charlotte.

So Miss Coco is tiny. Just about 7 weeks old and fits in the palm of my hand. She snuggles with me, lets me wrap her in a blanket and even lays on her back so I can hold her like a baby, cradled in the crook of my arm. I know it may sound lame, but I really am enjoying the baby-ness of something small and warm. The other night I was letting her gnaw on my finger...very sharp teeth, by the way... and she began to suckle on my finger. It surprised me because I'd never felt a dog do that, but it was really cute.

Her breeder mom sent her home with us with a receiving blanket and a stuffed giraffe. She cuddles up to the giraffe in her crate at bedtime and lets me swaddle her in the blanket while I sit watching tv. I was able to go into the closet and get out a couple of blankets that were Charlotte's and used those to line the bottom of her pen... Bittersweet.

I am so surprised at how much I love this little dog already. My heartache has lessened tremendously. I wish I would have gotten her (or another dog) about 6 months ago when I really needed it. I haven't had the *almost* obsessive thoughts of Charlotte like I was and I feel like all can be (at least) ok in the world again. I had started to get a bit scared about things latey and since she's been here I guess I'm just more distracted maybe?? But she definitely makes me feel beter. When I say scared, I don't really mean like paranoid, but I could work myself up to feeling like everything was falling apart. All of the sudden I feel happy, without guilt.

On the way home from getting her, I began to cry. Brian asked if my tears were because I was so happy to get a puppy, but they weren't. I was crying because I now had a dog in my hands, rather than a baby in my arms. It was a sad realization of the loss of Charlotte again.

But on a lighter note...she is so darn cute!

Journal Entry: July 2, 2007

Don't know why, but a wave of sadness has enveloped me tonight. Must be because of the silence in the house. God, I miss Charlotte.

I don't even know what to write about, but I guess that writing for me keeps me closer to her. I know that she's gone and I don't believe that her spirit is 'watching over me' or any thing like that, but sometimes I wish I believed otherwise. My comfort has to be soley from Jesus, and I know that. I had wondered why He allows us to go through these trials and tests. Why He allows these thorns. But they are here to keep us drawn close to Him. But they hurt so bad. I know that He is our Great High Priest that completely sympathizes with our pain, but still, I sit here crying for a daughter I'll never know. She knew me and my every emotion. But I didn't know hers. All I knew is that she liked me talking and singing to her ...and shrimp.

I've been thinking a lot about the final few days I had with her, before she died. And after her heart stopped, how quickly those six days passed. There is a woman that contacted me who's daughter was not expected to live and they opted for a C-section at 37 weeks so they could have a chance to see their baby alive. Her story is that the baby was delivered and had multiple problems and passed away four days later. I am so thankful that I did't have a C-section, for selfish reasons..I'm a big 'ol chicken, but now I wonder what it would have been like to get to hold a live baby. Oh how I wanted a baby to bring home!

I'm glad to archive these days online, so I can go back and see where I was in my emotions at a particular time. The only thing that a computer screen doesn't show is the real tear drops on the page. That's good though, this page would be soaked.

So I found some loose pages of journaling that I found while clearing out my books the other day. I'll have to save those entries for another night. I'd probably be up all night reading those pages.

But I suppose I should write down what the geneticist said to me before too much time passes. She called the day of Charlotte's burial and said that the lab would be able to salvage enough of the placenta to do a partial panel analysis of the chromosomes to zero in on T18, but wanted to know if Brian and I wanted that testing done. She said that she knew how much we DIDN'T want testing done while I was pregnant and said she would hate to have it done and the results come up unexpectedly at a later appointment. I appreciated her efforts to put us first, but she did say that she would like to know...or something along those lines. I asked her to give me a bit to talk to Brian about it, she said ok, but we needed to decide right away because a few days had already passed. When I asked Brian if he wanted to have it tested he said no. That was good enough for me. I never called her back.

But in that conversation with her, I told her how the appointment with Charlotte's cardiologist was cancelled the day before (Thursday) and the day before that, everything was fine (Wednesday). I told her how scared I was to go see the heart doc on Thursday but I didn't know why. I also told her about the kind nurses at the hospital where I delivered. One nuse inparticular asked what I would need from her upon our arrival, emotionally speaking. I told her that all I needed was for her to treat our baby with dignity and respect, no matter what she was like when she came out. And she did. My last vision of Charlotte was of the nurse holding her like a baby, close to her and nuzzling her and walking out of the room, wrapped and ready to go. That's a beautiful thing for me to have seen. She was treated like a baby.

The geneticist said that it was awesome for me to have had that moment because if I had seen the Cardiologist that day (Thursday) and if she were to have seen anything troubling or struggling with Charlotte's heart, she would have ordered an emergency cecarean on the spot. Can you imagine... oh heck no! I am so thankful that didn't happen. The Lord was merciful even in that He didn't make me choose what to do. She also said that after Charlotte was taken from my body that all efforts would have been made to sustain her, because she would be an individual patient, with independent rights, and that what I probably would have seen is my baby being taken away in haste and transferred to another hospital. I cried so hard when she said that because I knew that would have meant Charlotte being poked and prodded and pumped. At least she passed away with out any pain. She was comfortable the whole time. She never struggled. There was no frantic movements or anything. Just a quiet passing into His arms.

See, writing this has help shore up the tears. I suppose I'll write more later.

Journal Entry: June 21, 2007 What should I tell him?

All while Charlotte was in my belly, I tried to be honest with the kids as to what was going on. But the more information that came, the harder it was to break it down to Zach. I wanted him to know what was going on, but also wanted to protect him. TyTy really has no "visible" concept of what is still going on, but he can tell you the name of "the baby in the pictures". But really, I don't know what goes on in his little mind.

So when Charlotte died, she stayed in my belly for 6 more days. During that time, I didn't say anything to Zach. He knew that "Char-wit" had "owies" in her heart. We prayed all the time for her. But she didn't come back to us. My nieces knew what was going on, even to the point of knowing that she died. After we came home from the hospital, I was terrified that the girls would say something to Zach about dying/death/dead. We never explained it that way to Zach. All we said was that Charlotte went to be with Jesus. She is such a lucky little girl, yada yada. We made a big deal out of the positives of where she is, but not how she got there. I never said that Jesus took her because I was afraid that might scare him, that maybe he would get "taken" too.

Then one day about 3 months ago, I was talking with Zach, not remembering really what was going on at that time, and I told him that Charlotte died. I said the "D" word for the first time. He looked at me, half startled. Then I freaked (internally) and moved the subject along.

While driving around recently, I had all four kids in the car (the boys and my 2 nieces) and as we passed by a cemetery. Zach asked what that place was and Dominique replied by saying.."That's where Charlotte is at"... This has happened twice. I just kind of quickly told Nique that no, that's not the same place where Charlotte is (she's at a different cemetery than where we passed), and Zach quickly adds "Char-wit's with Jesus." Now I feel like I need to say more to him, but I have no idea what to really say. How much can a 4 year old understand of the separation of body and spirit? There is so much that I can say, how can I be gentle and not scary? I just fear that I may have made things worse in the confusion.

I was sitting at the computer yesterday, going over the pictures that Larry sent from DeVaul, the ones from the cemetery, and Zach walked up. I tried to put it off screen, but he wanted to know what I was looking at. It happened to be the one of the casket. Prior to my tweeking them and putting them on the blog, this particular picture had people in the background. I hesitated in showing it to him, but then I thought maybe I should. So I pulled it on screen, and sat quietly for a moment. Then he asked "what's that?" and I answered him "That's Charlotte."

The look in his eyes cut me so deeply. He couldn't understand where she was. He said that he didn't want her to be in that "box". "Take her out" he said. I think that scared him even more. Why was his little sister in a covered box? I tried to explain that she was waiting in there for Jesus to come back to take her body to heaven. I told him that the part of Charlotte that makes her happy and smile and love mommy and daddy and sometimes sad is the part that is with Jesus...but her bones (and I tapped his elbows and pinched his arm muscles) this is the part that is in the box. But one day, Jesus is going to come back and take her bones to heaven too. And when he does, "that's when we get to go be with Him and Charlotte. Won't that be great, we are going to go up high in the sky and be with Jesus in our castles..."

His next question was amazing to me. He asked which man in the (background) of the picture was Jesus. I was proud of him and sad for him. He knows that Jesus is a real man and is alive! But he also wanted to put a face with the person. I had to tell him that none of the men are Jesus and that He is back in heaven, waiting to come back to take us up there too. I just don't know if I should say anymore.

Journal Entry: June 19, 2007 Sometimes Chocolate Helps

Boy, have I got some nerve. After all of that complaining about my weight, here I am, sitting in front of the computer at 11 o'clock at night eating a huge chocolate brownie. And man, is it good!

Today I got the pictures DeVaul spoke of from Charlotte's burial. I was so excited to see them, to see if it was what I remembered the day to be. And it was. But it was so very sad to me too. I put them into the online album for this blog. So now it's all together. Birth to Burial. I sent out a quick email to let some people know that there were some new pictures on it. But now I have to leave everything alone. I don't think it would be right for me to keep bringing her up to people, but I can't help it. They may want to move on, or already have. I'm trying to. I've actually made progress emotionally in my conversations about her. I'm able to now speak about her with out blubbering. Even if it's only one or two sentences. Baby steps, ya know?

So Father's Day was hard, but not for Brian; well, maybe for him, but he never showed any thing. The day ended up being hard on me. I had a very long and very good conversation with my Dad. He really put me in check on a couple of things. I needed that. We talked about "Lil Miss" and he was saying that he is very concerned for me. I appreciate that. He really let me have it in regards to my state of mind in what I had chosen to believe about Charlotte's demise. It totally surprised me that he does not agree with the possible Trisomy diagnosis. I felt like I was being pulled back onto my feet after falling down. He said it looks like I may be giving up on my conviction of all that God had told me and done for me over those months of carrying Charlotte. Maybe I did. But like I said, I was surprised that he felt this way because I thought I was the only person on the planet that still cared and felt a burden for the ultimate truth to be acknowledged. And that is that God was with me in the most tender and amazing ways during that time (and still continues to be). That He had a divine plan for Charlotte and that there was nothing in this world that I could have done to change the will of the Father. And clearly, His will was for Charlotte to not be of this world, but only for a moment. He reminded me of what a privilege it was for me to be chosen by God to walk through that situation. I really needed a kick in the pants on that. I'm glad it came gently from my dad.

But I suppose I should clarify that I have not given up on my faith or in the belief that God healed Charlotte just as he said he did. People (generally) don't realize that the miracle God has/had planned wasn't contingent on Charlotte living and breathing outside of my womb. But it's so terribly lonely in holding up this torch. In our limited human minds we can not fathom that God would let a little baby die, or that he would cause me to grow a baby in my belly to never let her live. But John 9:1-3 says that these things can be, in order to bring glory to God, that His works may reveal who He is in them. But people don't seem to get it. And it's hard to "keep that up" when it feels like people just think I'm crazy. So I've laid off a bit. Publically anyways. I need to go to bed. My sleep habits have gotten all messed up. I can't bring it back to where it should be. I'll write more later.

JOurnal Entry June 3, 2007

Thinking about losing a few pounds (more like 25-30) has been on my mind a lot. Re reading my last post make me rethink the 6 pounds added (on top of my pre-pregnancy need-to-lose) because surely it must be more than that. Even my larger sized clothing is not fitting right. My gut is huge... all soft and jiggly. A goal of 25 pounds seems reasonable. I need to set a goal for myself, but I have no desire to exercise. If I could just do that, I'd be much better off.

I stopped at my friend's house the other day and as we were talking about losing weight and toning up, she mentioned how it's not like Mathias is so little that I could blame my extra chub on him anymore, and there is another woman in her group that has a 6 month old she has something to blame it on. I know that my friend wouldn't say something to me like that to hurt my feelings, that she just wasn't thinking. But that's what hurt most. She had forgotten that I too had a baby 6 months ago. I gently reminded her of that before she had her entire thought of it out of her mouth, but it's been nagging at me for five days now.

So I did make it out to see the girls this week. I was so glad I did. I went on a different day and met a girl who gave her baby up for adoption in December. She was so mature and approachable. I had a wonderful conversation with her for about an hour. I hope to be able to see her over the summer. She said that she doesn't have anyone to talk to and that her parents are not too supportive of her decision. I hope that we can become friends.

I talked with Brian's mom (DeVaul) on Friday. Just catching up on things. Eventually, the conversation turned to Charlotte and she mentioned that she took pictures of the funeral. I had no idea. On that day, if I knew, I probably would have not wanted her to, but now I am so glad she did. She said she would send me a copy of them as soon as she could. I asked her if there was a picture of the casket and she said yes. My mind flooded with the image of the casket and it's tiny handles. It was supposed to be baby pink but was so light, it looked almost white. And the dumb green tablecloth. All wrinkled and old looking. I can't help but wonder what Charlotte looked like in that tiny coffin.

Journal Entry: May 30, 2007

I can't get over how good I've been feeling! Physically, not so much...but mentally pretty darn good!

Today Airenne graduated from 8th grade. That was weird. Seeing all of those kids all ready to go to high school kinda freaked me out. I 've been coming to the realization that I only have 4 more years to go until she leaves for college. Maybe she'll want to go somewhere local, maybe not.

While taking pictures of her and then waiting in the auditorium for things to start, I bean scanning through the camera to the old pictures. There was one of TyTy sleeping and there was such a strong resemblance to Charlotte. I had the photo album in my purse and turned to the picture of Charlotte that looked the most like him. I showed my mom and sister and they couldn't believe the similarities. It was really cute actually. And I didn't cry! I had a proud mommy moment and didn't bubble over. I wondered though if the people sitting behind me could see the pictures. I kind of hoped that they did.

I talked with Brian the other day about the whole Trisomy 18 idea. He doesn't think Charlotte had it at all. He thinks that she did have a faulty heart and didn't get enough nutrients to sustain her. As much as the acceptance of a Trisomy calmed me, hearing that Daddy doesn't think so also made me feel 100X better. I don't know why, it really doesn't matter. I honestly started to feel like I was throwing in the towel by accepting the T18 explanation, but I was ok with it because it relieved a lot of heavy stuff from my shoulders. I've been able to breathe like I used to and I've been able to reflect on Charlotte with a smile. I'm thankful that I can do that now.

Tomorrow will be a long day. I'm going to try very hard to get out to the Teen Mom program as I long to be with those girls. I need to make a consorted effort to be there, but now the school year is almost over. Hopefully, I can connect with a few girls over the summer. I might also join up with the Weight Watcher girls at the park. I really need to get my weight under control. I mentioned to Brian tonight that it sucks because I usually lose weight when I'm pregnant and even more afterwards from nursing...but this time I've gained weight after Charlotte was born. I think I looked ok even at her funeral, but now I've added about 6 pounds to my frame. Not too bad, but I can really see it. Brian chides me and says that there's more to love, but I know now is the time to get it under control. Uck, now it's in writing. I guess I'm on the hook now...

Journal Entry: May 26, 2007

Well today I submitted a half hearted query to a publishing company. I sent it off with a "kiss" so to speak and asked God to put His blessing over it and if it is His will that I should write more, then I would be willing. I had prayed several times prior to the submission that if God wanted me to do it, that He open the doors necessary. And this may just be a small step through one of the doors that He's opening.

So today I was helping my mom clean out her garage and my brother's friend came over. He was with his mother and she got out of the car to chat for a while. She said to me, "You know, the last time I saw you , you were pregnant. So what did you end up having...a boy or a girl?" What surprised me was my ability to talk about Charlotte with out getting all weepy about her. I told the woman that we had a baby girl but she passed away in December. It was just like I'd rehearsed so many times in my head! The look on the woman's face was sheer heartache, but more so, embarrassment.

She apologized profusely and honestly, the most awkward moment was when I had to say..."it's ok." Because it's not OKAY. It's not ok that Charlotte's not here, but I wasn't at all upset by her comment. But what else can you say to someone? I've tried to say things like..."thank you for your concern" or "well, I'm ok", or simply "thank you"... but really, what can be said? I end up feeling like I need to comfort other person. So I tried to make the mood a little lighter by letting her know that Charlotte looked just like Mathias, who was running allover the garage, except she had curly hair. Then my mom chimed in saying how fair her skin was and that she had very dark hair. It was a sweet moment that we were able to reminisce in.

So I found out something pretty interesting. A woman I am acquainted with had a son that she lost to SIDS 20 years ago. I had no idea about it, but I felt a huge desire to open up to her. I emailed her telling her that I just found this out and that I too have suffered a loss. I was careful to not compare my loss of Charlotte and her not even being alive outside of the womb to the son she looked into the eyes of for 3 1/2 months. She was unaware of our situation so I gave her the blog address so she could check it out more for herself. After later speaking with her again in person, I felt as though we were placed in the same "circle" as to glean from each other. Actually, that's not totally right. I think God placed us nearby as to allow me to see a few things. She has written a book, which she gave me a copy of and I read yesterday. And although tonight I can't remember exactly what it was, there were a couple of spots that really had the tears flowing. Not just for the sorrow of her own personal story, but for the similarities in my own. I really felt a connection that I wasn't alone in my feelings.

So I've been thinking about a new (well, not so new) story in the Bible. I was thinking about Abraham and Isaac and how he had to take him to the mountain to sacrifice him. What struck me was how it actually ended up as a story in the Bible. Can you believe that Abraham actually was going to go through with it? I mean, I know that's the crux of the lesson..that he was willing to obey God at all or any cost. But what is amazing is the fact that he had to tell people about what had happened to them on that mountain. Can you imagine what that must have been like??? He had to confess this to his friends and family that he almost killed his son. And I'm SURE there were people that thought he was crazy!

Hush, hush, in a whisper>>>"Did you hear what Abraham did with little Isaac? Well he took him to the mountain because he said 'God told him to' and just as he laid him on the alter to slice his throat, a ram showed up! Lucky Little Isaac...he must have been terrified! What kind of father would do such a thing? That crazy old Abraham"...
Abraham was undoubtedly excited at the deliverance of his son. I can almost feel the emotion a parent would have as their child had been spared from death!; so who do you think he may have told first about his encounter on the hill top? The servant he left in the valley? His wife? His neighbors? Do you think many people were able to see past the obvious in that situation and drink in the providence of God? A ram stuck in a thicket? Like it wouldn't have been noticed otherwise? I wonder if people see things that way now in everyday life in the year 2007, or are their spiritual eyes not open?

I wonder how many times that story had been told before it was written into the Bible. (And thank goodness that it was!) What do you think people would say these days? That Abraham should have CPS called on him? That he should be put on medication for his illusions of grandure? That he was just a nutball? I just wonder...

Journal Entry: May 19, 2007

I'm feeling pretty good these past few days. Accepting the diagnosis of Trisomy 18 has actually helped me tremendously. Maybe subconsciously I was so scared to allow that to be what the problem was that I actually was making my grieving worse...maybe??

I don't know. But I do know that it still doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things. Her days were numbered by God and there is nothing more that I need to "know" about that.

So today was a blessing, but I became exhausted. Some of my friends and I did a "cooking club" type of thing and had a lot of kids underfoot. I thought about how this must have been what women used to do back in the day to get their chores done, like grinding grain and things like that. I had a really good time. At one point, 2 different people asked me how many kids I have and I answered 3. The first time, I surprised myself at how fast I said it then the second time I heard my voice crack. So I just kept right on dipping my chicken and rolling it in the Crispies, didn't look up as I felt my eyes get misty.

Then someone else asked if we were going to have more kids. It was such a normal question and I actually appreciated that someone was able to ask me and not feel weird about it. But I told them that maybe, whatever God has in store for us we're ok with.

It just feels good to get back into things. I hope this lasts for a long while.

Journal Entry-Mothers Day 5-13-07

It's so strange that I felt like I wanted to hide tomorrow. I was almost getting sick about it. I don't want to go to church as there will be baby dedications and I don't think I can handle that just yet. More so, I don't want to have to field the "I'm so sorry" things people are bound to say. That makes me cry just as hard as when I work myself up into a frenzy by thinking about her. But in a completely weird way, I want everyone to remember; but no one to mention it.

So... comfort came to me in the most unlikely place yesterday. I'd (kind of) decided to "get better" and focus on other things, good things, when I got an email from the Trisomy 18 Foundation. >>>I thought it was funny because all while I was pregnant, I didn't receive any auto emails or anything from them, but since Charlotte has died, I've gotten at least 2. And it seems like every time I make a consorted effort to not make this the center of my being, something gets brought up about it again<<<

Until yesterday I had really tried not to look at things involving Trisomy research because I didn't want to think that Charlotte had that. I don't know what I wanted to think she had. I believed that God would/had healed her from her problems, and that, like I wrote to my dear friend, all it would do is assign a name for what was to be the cause of her death. I still think that it doesn't matter what/if she had something because God is sovereign and her time with me was exactly what it was supposed to be... for the exact length of time. But I guess I felt , that if it had a name, it was bound to be true.

So instead, I stuffed it.

That's hard to admit, REALLY hard to admit, because now it's out there. I've let my secret out. I just realized while I'm typing that I was so tightly holding onto this little piece of whatever, that I was actually choking in it. I didn't want to believe that Charlotte could have something like that because God is so wonderfully beautiful (and He is...) that he wouldn't have given that to her. That was for someone else. I wanted to spiritualize every bit of everything to have meaning and significance, to show how marvelous the Lord is.. that He does create and take away, sometimes for His good pleasure, albeit without our "approval". And I do still think that. But if, in this earthly world, there needs to be a name of what happened, I guess I would probably say Trisomy 18.

The reason why I think that was not only because of the ultrasound findings, but because after looking at all of those other babies pictures and stories, there are many similarities. Birth weight is one of them and there are a couple others. But "naming it" doesn't take away her purpose or the fingerprint that she left on so many hearts. It's just naming it. Like I've said before, it's likened to how we as humans have found out what a rainbow is. A bunch of prisims that catch light. But God says a rainbow is a promise...and I still CHOOSE to believe him.

It is such a juxtaposed position that I'm in because I really believe that God had heard my prayers and answered them, because I was terrified to have a baby that was all "messed up". I know that is completely selfish. I know how harsh it sounds. And I even now, I would rather have Charlotte here with me today with a completely disfigured body than to not have her at all. Maybe that was the blessing that I got out of it. My "token" for a job well done. I was able to see and hold and kiss her and look upon her with beauty rather than fright. I doubt now if I would have even noticed any of her disfigurements if she had them...I have the eyes of a mother.

I declined an autopsy, I declined genetic testing when the Genetic Tech called said there may be enough placenta to do a partial panel test, I declined speaking with other parents that had children with a Trisomy. Then I saw this web page. I don't even know how to say about what I felt like seeing those babies. Some had very serious malformations, some looked perfect. Just like Charlotte. I didn't know what to make of it.

I was almost angry that they did look so perfect because these were "sick" babies. Why didn't they look sick? Charlotte didn't look sick either.

So today I've been pondering some more. I keep thinking of two things in particular: 1.) "If even evil men know how to give good gifts to their children, how much more then, will God give you the Holy Spirit if you ask (my paraphrasing) and 2.) Be careful of what you attribute to as blessings from God.

I'm still working thru those thoughts, mulling them over. What I think that means (of course I get it on the surface) is that not every "good" thing is from God and that I need to be mindful of that. Just because I perceive something as "good" doesn't mean that it is a blessing from God. I'm not sure how to diagram it to make sense, but that's what I've gotten so far. Like I said, I'm still working it out. ...Ok, so it's like when a begger asks for one more drink, or high, or whatever, and they score it, then say that God blessed them with it. That's not rue. So now I need to look at: what have I done in that area?

So now, tonight, I'm actually looking forward to Mother's Day. My family has come to visit and we'll be doing brunch. But I still am avoiding church tomorrow...

Journal entry: Five months already....

Before I even opened my eyes yesterday morning, I realized it has been five months. I wasn't even out of bed yet,and somehow, on the horizon of becoming conscious, I knew it had been 5 months. Maybe if I keep saying it, it won't be. But it has been. Five months.

Hard to believe because I feel somehow stuck in time, somewhere in January. But five months is a long time. I'm sure if Charlotte were with me, I would be counting down the time left of having to nurse her. I usually got bored with it around 4 or 5 months...just wanting to be "me" again. Wanting to fit back into my normal clothes and bras.

I've noticed that I'm really trying not to think about her. Weird to "think about" not thinking about something. It seems like everything else in my world has gone back to normal. It's good in a way. But kinda sucks. I wonder if people have forgotten her. I've noticed that people don't want to hear about her anymore. Or at least that's how it seems. No one has said it directly, but it's the vibe I get. So instead, I'll pour out my heart here and if people are still interested, they can look for themselves. I don't want to push us onto anyone, but we are still here. Well, I am anyways.

So generally speaking, I think I feel ok. I've had a few meltdowns in really weird ways. Not directly attributed to Charlotte, but underlying, I suppose. But they were biggies. Mostly dealing with Brian. I have never felt towards him the way that I did over the past 2 weeks. It doesn't help that sometimes he says really insensitive things to me like "aren't you happy with the 3 kids you have here?" Well of course I am. But I still have one missing. And so do you.

I was in making my bed a few days back and I just kept thinking to myself that I wouldn't care if Brian left me. Really. I felt like I wouldn't care. Go ahead, leave. Leave me alone. Take the kids. Just let me be. Then I could almost feel a tap on my shoulders telling me "No. I have blessed you with a husband and children. You will not destroy that." And really, I don't want to . I know that I love my family and have fought like hell for them, but occasionally I want to be by myself. And Brian hasn't tried to leave or said that he wants to, but I wouldn't blame him if he did.

The irony though, is that he has been so much more affectionate towards me, way more than usual. Telling me he loves me very often. I don't want to hear it sometimes. It almost feels like "too little too late". Where have you been in my hurt? Where is your hurt? I've asked him to not give up on me, even during my times of icky-ness. And when I start to feel better towards him, I'm ashamed of how I did feel because I know that we are grieving in different ways.

I am making myself get up and go, and do, and be; but that's exhausting. And when I am going and doing, I feel fine. It's when it gets still and quiet that that thoughts creep in. I found a grief support website that allows me to be me, in the moment. But I've realized that if I'm not careful, I could get sucked into all of that. I don't feel like I'm as distraught as some of the moms there, but I definitely get more support from them than from those who have never gone thru the loss of a child.

A friend of mine reminded me that this is just a part of who I am now. It doesn't have to consume me. I guess this is just a sentence in the story of Christine. I'm ready to turn the page,.

Correspondence/ Re: How're you doing?]

From: Rebecca
Date: 2007/04/12 Thu PM 02:31:48 CDT
To: Brian & Christine Curry
Subject: Re: How're you doing?

You are blessed to have no crisis of faith. Still, the waiting is hard. This whole seeing "through a glass, darkly" thing that the Bible talks about is certainly one of the most difficult things about this life. I guess I'm impatient. Waiting on God's timing and His perfect answers has always been difficult for me. I know in the Bible God says He KNOWS the plans he has for me, and that those plans are for good, and not evil. My human nature sometimes can't help but think that it might be easier on me if I KNEW his plans, too! Still, thank goodness He runs the world with His wisdom, instead of ME doing it. I'm quite certain I'd mess the whole thing up!

Sounds like God is doing a wonderful work in your Spirit. I'm certain with your attitude and focus, you will not be "stuck with this" empty part for your whole life. I know the goodness of God, and I know it's not His will for you to live your whole life with this ache, as He has said his will for us is "shalom", which translates to "nothing missing, nothing broken, perfect peace".

I'll keep you in my prayers and pray for you to allow your will to be conformed to His perfect will. I will pray for you to yield, and wait, and grow in patience. I will pray for your "shalom".



Brian & Christine Curry wrote:

How sweet your words are. Thank you for not being 'one of those people';) . Last week was hard. Probably the hardest yet. I (obviously) am not shy about what's going on in my life and I just love and trust you guys so much that I knew I needed to ask for help. I didn't know grief could be such a slippery slope, I hadn't ever had someone close to me die. And honestly, my feelings came outta nowhere. There wasn't one single thing that set my tail spinning, just everything I guess. I was just plain sad.

I have to say though, that through those days, or since Charlotte's beginning, for that matter, I have not (extensively)questioned God. I think there have been other people close to me that have asked: "Jesus, where were you?" and I just don't know what to do with that. It's weird to be trying to comfort and explain things to people who have been so touched by what's happened.But really, I haven't had confusion or anger towards God for what has happened. He so clearly spoke to my heart those months that I know I could trust Him even though I don't understand His plan...yet.

During that time of waiting, I was afraid of one thing. That is: if Charlotte were to pass, I would be "stuck" with it for the rest of my life. I wasn't fearful of loosing her, or having a child with special needs, but of the constant void she would leave. I knew this would be with me for the rest of my life. At that time, I just wasn't sure that I could continue to "run THAT race".

Then, last week I thought about Paul and his thorn. Rather, thorns in general. Why does God allow them? So we will be ever at His side. Constantly going to HIM in prayer to relieve our pain, or to guide us. And that's literally what I've had to do. It honestly can be so tiring at times. That's where my frustration (and sin) come in. I want to handle it myself >>pride<<. I don't want to have to pray and wait. I don't want to have to seek after Him. But really, what choice do I have?

I have full confidence in the sovereignty of God (which is very comforting to me)but that doesn't take away the pain completely. I feel totally blessed to have been "chosen" to carry Charlotte and all that she was meant for. And really, I had an advantage over a lot of parents who do not know that their baby will not come home with them. But it still sucks.

This week is much better. I've decided (like your friend) that I will have some good days. I've almost gotten to where I can speak about her without crying. Not that it's a bad thing to cry, but I am mindful of the joy that she brought to me. No matter how brief. And if God does everything to give Himself glory, then my little girl served Him (literally) with all of her heart! I'm so proud of that...

Anyway, I just wanted to thank you for contacting me. Hopefully we can connect soon.
XXOOXX Christine
From: Rebecca
Date: 2007/04/11 Wed PM 01:48:47 CDT
To: Christine Curry
Subject: How're you doing?

It's been just over a week since you asked the group for prayer. I was just checking in on you to see how you are doing. My friend Michelle lost sweet baby Jack seven years ago. He was perfectly healthy, but breech. She elected to try turning the baby. Somehow during the process the cord got a knot in it. He passed three days before his birth. I saw the stages of grief she went through. I saw her plow through life as usual, just trying to go forward. I saw her wail, "Why Jack? Why us?" I was glad when she and her husband decided that someone needed to watch the kids so they could get away for a quiet weekend together...after a few months of trying to get back to life as normal, she just needed to stop and admit that life was NOT normal.

She came back from the weekend at the beach/mountains (Crescent City) much changed, much calmer. She and her husband went down and ordered a pendant made from the birthstones of everyone in her family, including Jack's, and she wears it so he'll always be next to her heart (kind of like a "mother's ring", only Michelle's not a ring person).

She was pregnant again three months later, so the next year was hard as she did all the same yearly things, pregnant again, only with a different baby this time. The most important thing she did, I think, was to talk with her husband about the fact that 80% of marriages where a child is lost end in divorce. They made a promise right there, right then, that their marriage would not end in divorce. That reassurance helped her.

Why am I telling you all this? To let you know that it is possible to continue. She's still sad every time Jack's birthday comes around. She was weepy the year he would have started kindergarten. But, she does live her everyday life choosing not to be bitter. Not to waste the days she has with her children wishing for the one that isn't present. And she has admitted to me that some days that is a very difficult, conscious choice that she has to make. The pain is dulled, but still surfaces sometimes, even seven years later. Yet, she is happy and satisfied with her life. Perhaps her story can encourage you.

There is a verse in the bible that is famous for being so short. "Jesus wept." It's in John 11, I think. WHY did Jesus weep? Because his friend Lazarus had died, and Lazarus' sister Mary was weeping and grief-stricken. Her grief caused him to "groan within his spirit". Even though he knew he would bring Lazarus back to life, he was still exceedingly saddened by Mary's grief. And this, even after she accused him, "If YOU would have been here, my brother would have LIVED." So if you have had moments where, despite your faith, you have thought, "Lord, if YOU would have been here, my daughter would have LIVED.", know that He is sympathetic toward the grief of you, Christine, His daughter.

I'm so sorry that grieving takes time. I'd speed it up for you if I could, so that the pain would dull from the passage of time. I once again extend the invitation for you to e-mail or call me if you need to talk. I may not always know the right thing to say, but I don't want to be one of those people who says nothing just because I may not get it exactly right. -Rebecca

Journal entry April 28, 2007

Tonight we had to the Mathias to the ER for a couple of stitches. He bumped his head playing around with his big off we went.

After the Doctor closed him up, the nurse came in to wash his head as best as could be. He had dried blood everywhere, including on my fav white tee, but I don't care. I held him close on the way home and kissed him as gently as I could. I couldn't help but to remember the smell of Charlotte's undershirt the hospital had sent home with us. Mathias' hair smelled just like it. Uck. Hospital smell.

So the past few days have been really hard. I wonder if Hospice Staff or Grief Counselors at hospitals warn parents of the high separation rate of couples who experience the loss of a child. It's so hard because Brian and I are on such opposite ends of the spectrum. I seem to be ebbing and flowing with my grief and he is well, not doing much that I can tell. I would like to think that he is hurting a lot on the inside too, but it doesn't show very much. He told me tonight that he people at his work could give a rip about Charlotte dying and that breaks my heart. He said he only had 2 weeks to mourn her. And it seems like he's done with it. But unfortunately, I'm not. He told me yesterday that I have so much to be thankful for. I know that! But don't tell me that because I have 3 other kids that I should be ok that only one isn't here.

I was pondering on the story of Job the other night. I need to re-read it for all of the particulars, but I was wondering how long he was really going thru his trials. Months, days, years? The answer seems obvious, that it took years for him to be restored, so how long will it be for me then? I know this is brand new for me, but it's very hard. Some days I'm fine, others I'm not.

I was thinking of how the Bible says that God will only give you what you could handle. He will never "overload" you. During my pregnancy with Charlotte, I felt so anxious about what ever was going to happen that I thought each day I had reached the end of my rope. I couldn't take another minute of this agony. But then, God gave me another day. And then another. And then another. Right up until December 7th. That was the day when He said "no more". But I wonder... does He know that I might have been able to hold on for a little longer? Just to have another night with her inside me? Dead or alive. Just to be able to hold her again when she came out. To really look her over, instead of being afraid to look at her because of the condition of her skin. To soak her in...

It's strange to me to be having these thoughts and feelings. I spoke with a friend of mine yesterday and she noted that I may not have dealt with the physical loss of Charlotte yet. I think so too. I'm completely ok in the spiritual area of this loss, but physically, I'm a mess. I didn't know one could come before another in dealing with grief. It's hard to explain. I go thru my day and catch myself thinking about how this is probably the time that I would be nursing her back to sleep or my arms sure would be strong from carrying a chubby baby in a carrier from place to place. Instead, my arms are empty of Charlotte.

When I came home form the hospital, I was aware that my milk would come in and that I would be sore. What I didn't know was the literal feeling of longing and hurting to hold a baby. And not just any baby, but my baby. My arms felt like I was carrying 5 pound weights in my fingertips. Just a long, achy, heavy feeling. Nothing soothed them. The only thing that came close was holding Mathias. I think there is some kind of chemical reaction between mothers and their children and the sense of smell, maybe? It was interesting because the days following Charlotte's birth, I was around little babies. It didn't bother me to hold them, per se, but it didn't help me. The only thing that even remotely made my arms stop hurting was to hold (and sniff) Mathias. My flesh, my bones, my blood. And I seriously mean that they hurt in wanting to hold a baby... like they were bruised on the inside.

I also thought it was so unfair to have these huge breasts so full of milk and no baby to suckle it out. I craved that. But what I had to do was even worse. In the middle of December, when it was really cold outside, so much so that I had to wear 2 tee shirts and a sweat shirt and pants, I had to put huge bags of ice on my chest to lower the fever in them. It sucked that I couldn't even accept hugs from people at her memorial because I was so sore. I was careful to wrap myself tightly during the day and to take only lukewarm showers with indirect spraying on my chest. But the first time I saw milk leak out I cried thinking "what a waste". I had problems with Mathias getting enough and here I am so full with no baby. I had prayed all through my pregnancy to have abundant milk for the baby. Well, my prayers were answered.

Looking back, even while I was transferring over letters and journal entries onto this blog, I was reminded of the goodness and sweetness of God. I have not gotten mad at him for taking "my" baby. But I have wondered a lot of other things.

I skipped over many weeks of journaling, which now I wish I hadn't. Not that anything stands out in my memory to write about, but that I just didn't write period. And now when I do, my thoughts are everywhere on the page.

Another friend of mine said how lucky I was that I hadn't had a crisis in "faith". Reading back on this blog, I can see where I did have a crisis though. I truly wondered if God was doing all that I thought He said He was. I doubted more of my "interpretation" of things rather than Him, personally. And some people just plainly didn't and still don't get it. Which makes it hard to explain how I feel. They think that I was in some state of denial over what truly happened to Charlotte. I like I'm not aware that she had problems and that she's dead. Like I couldn't handle it. Some people think that I was not "ready" to let go when her heart stopped beating because of my feelings. But it wasn't EVER that. I have never before in my life been so clear thinking and understanding of things except during those few months carrying her.

I was ready. I had been ready for quite a while for this to be over. Not for her to be gone, but just to have the situation over. What I was afraid of was the hurt afterward, which is what I'm trying to deal with now. And even if I was grasping for straws, so what? I challenge anyone to go thru this and not hold onto what ever they could. But this is the difference, I believe that God had a plan for Charlotte and that whatever it is, it was for His glory. I may not understand it now. I may not like it. But that's why He is God, and I'm not.