August 29, 2013, was Koen's due date. A cesarean was scheduled for August 22 already. There are so many dates that make my heart sink. Today is one of them. Had Koen remained healthy he would have been one-year-old by today. I got up at two this morning with my Tobin and my tired body could not fall asleep because my mind was racing. I was reflecting on all the things we never got to e
We were so blessed this past Saturday as so many of our friends and family joined us to celebrate Tobin. Thank you for coming, even if you joined us in spirit, we felt the love. We have come so far and you have held us on your backs when we felt like falling on the ground. Your messages of love, outpouring of physical support in so many forms, unending prayers, and smiles, are what carried me. I am beyond grateful.
On Saturday, I looked around and all our tables were full, our road lined with cars, so many kids were running and laughing, Tobin was being passed from one set of loving arms to the next, and my heart was full. I could see and hear the love, in the flesh, that has been given to us. I tried to thank every one of you before you left, but don't know if I succeeded, but know how much we appreciate you all. I said to one dear friend, "we've made it, we've made it". We have made it, but not without casualty and heartache. There was one little boy, who would have turned one tomorrow if he had arrived on his due date, who was missing from the earthly celebration. I trust our angel was looking down on his little brother and beaming with pride.
As I am bustling around getting ready for our Thank GOD Thank YOU party this Saturday I needed to sort through a few piles. Piles that have been building and growing for quite some time. They are filled with the kind of random things that only I can sort through. Piles that have been driving Kevin crazy, but that he hasn't been able to do anything with. After May 27, 2013 time stood still for me. It froze. Today when sorting through piles over a year old, I found my planner from 2013. In May life was busy, Koen's name is written in as I planned certain days designated to him (to prepare his room or complete a sewing project). In June there is nothing. How telling. It was a tragically empty month for me. I walked through that month in a haze. Time froze.
I found another planner for 2013, a school planner. In September time began to move again. Even before I was ready, I found myself employed. I had a job I applied for when I was pregnant in May, and declined to interview for just weeks later, in June. How could I interview when I could barely get out of bed? By the grace of God the door opened again in August. It forced me get out of my head, out of my grief, and to join the world again. Could there be a better distraction than a room full of high schoolers? I think not. They brought me joy, laughter, challenges, purpose, and love. I had lost one child in 2013, and to fill that void God brought me three classrooms full of kids. They became "my kids", my big kids. Their lives and stories touched my heart and blessed my life. I was devastated when I had to leave "my kids" in February, after complications with my pregnancy with Tobin. Those big kids helped bring me back to life and they didn't even know it.
School officially starts next week for teachers. I will miss being in the classroom this year, but am beyond grateful for the opportunity to be home with my own little kids this year. But I am already looking forward and planning for a whole new crew in the 2015-2016 school year that will once again become "my kids". Time froze, but I am thankful it started to move again so quickly for me. Many are not blessed with 60 high schoolers to bring them back to life.
This quote had a profound impact on me. I am comfortable talking about Koen, but have noticed that many of those close to me are not. I don't blame them, maybe that responsibility lies at my feet. Maybe I need to give them permission to say Koen's name out loud. I understand why they don't. It's uncomfortable, you don't know how it will make me feel, there is no book of etiquette to reference in these situations, and it seems so sad. Our human nature is to stay far away from what is uncomfortable and causes us sadness. We want to forget what pains us and sweep it under the rug. I get it, I truly do. For me, Koen will never be forgotten, never swept under the rug. He is one of my three boys. So to me it is painful to have him not be acknowledged. No one would dream of ignoring Hackett or Tobin's presence in my life, and my heart doesn't want Koen ignored either.
I have been more acutely aware of the uneasiness surrounding Koen since Tobin's birth. Tobin looked so much like Koen when he was born. So much. They both had an uncanny resemblence to Hackett. Such a natural and normal thing to talk about after birth is the comparison to siblings. It was comfortable for others when I talked about Tobin's similarities to Hackett, but as soon as I compared Tobin to his other older brother it was, more often than not, too much for the person I was talking to. I could see it in their body language and read their social cues, as their eyes glossed over and the subject was changed. The conversation would move forward as if I never spoke Koen's name. He is my son, my baby, and, even though it may be difficult to comprehend, he is my miracle. God has blessed me with three babies, three sons, three miracles, and I don't want any one of them to be overlooked. It's not sad for me to hear you say Koen's name, in fact, the exact opposite. It's not inappropriate for you to talk about him or ask about him. He won't come up in conversation very often, but when he does, please give me eye contact and acknowledge his life for me, please. That's all I have of him now, is his name and my memories of him. Koen. My baby, my son, my miracle. Don't be afraid.
There is a big community who brings awareness to infant loss. It is not something that is openly discussed, so this online community provides a forum that helps many know they are not alone. Starting in less than two hours they are beginning a Day of a Hope, which is a World-Wide Remembrance Ceremony for the Bereaved Parents Community. I love what they are doing, but just wish Jesus was incorporated as a key part of healing process. I too want to shed light on infant loss and miscarriage ... if it has affected you, you are not alone. Here is a link to more information:
I went for my six week check up today by myself. I haven't gone to an appointment alone since January. These past six months I was either in need of a driver or Kevin wanted to be there for support. Today I was all alone, and as I sat on the exam table waiting for my doctor my mind started racing. In the room next to me I could hear a mother hooked up to a fetal monitor. The sounds of the constant baby's heartbeat swept me away to another time and place. While in the hospital I waited for that sweet sound three times a day and then twice a week after I came home. The reassurance of life. I became so familiar with the song Tobin's heart sang, the fast beats of my baby's heart. I heard the doctor reassure this mother that everything looked good and I could hear the nervousness in her voice. I wanted to go and hold her hand. I know those fears so intimately. I know what it's like to have a fetal monitor bring you joy and I also know it can break your heart. Every time I was monitored I was scared to have my heart broken again. Every. Single. Time.
We've made it. You have made it with us. Am I still grieving and missing Koen? Always. The intense grief that I poured out on this blog, especially in the early months, no longer weighs so heavy on my heart on a daily basis. It comes in small waves now, instead of a continual hurricane. I can speak of Koen now with a smile instead of only tears. Beauty has come from ashes. Tobin is here. By the grace of God he is healthy. He is perfect and so loved. He is a miracle. We've made it.
I mailed out Tobin's birth announcement last week and also an invitation to our Thank GOD Thank YOU Celebration party. If we missed sending you an invitation, it was no intentional. It was hard to include EVERYONE, because so many supported us in so many different ways. If you are interested in joining us we would LOVE to have you!!! Just send me a message to let me know, so we can plan to have enough food. Here are the details for the party:
Join us for our
Thank GOD Thank YOU Celebration
We thank GOD for the gift of Tobin and holding our family in His hands. We thank YOU for loving us, supporting us,
and praying for us.
We would love to thank you in person and
have you meet our little miracle.
Pop in anytime between
10am and 1pm on Saturday, August 23rd
and enjoy some breakfast and bounce house fun!
This is a party of gratitude, not a shower. Your presence is all we need!
Here is a picture of Tobin's birth announcement:
Kevin wrote this to go inside:
What is in a name? This is a question I first asked myself seven and a half years ago. As a parent it can be an honorary to someone we love, a statement of belief, a hope for how one will live life, and in this case all of the above. It is with great joy and a lightened heart that we get to share our thoughts with you again on the name Tobin Victor.
Tobin means God is good. A simple statement, but it means so much more. It is not just a statement, but a promise, a reminder, a surety. It is a promise that He is there with you always. A reminder when tragedy strikes your life with hurricane force. A surety in this world filled with uncertainty. It is the well that we have drank from time and time again over the last year.
Victor means victorious. To achieve victory can mean to overcome, to conquer, to defeat. To overcome obstacles that are laid in front of you no matter the height. To conquer the fear that has built up inside you because of this fallen world. To defeat the doubts in your mind and know that GOD IS GOOD!!
Tobin Victor is our champion, our fighter, our miracle, and our reminder that through it all we can depend on HIM to move our mountains. We welcome Tobin into this world with loving arms.
We had done something similar with Hackett's birth announcement to explain his name and who he was named after. Look at my two little sweethearts.
My arms are full, so full that I have not had time to write. My brain is tired, so tired that I don't have much energy to think and reflect. What a difference a year has made for us. Last year my arms were aching and my brain was on a nonstop loop of haunting thoughts. This morning Kevin let me sleep in and when I woke up I just laid in bed in the silence for awhile. It felt so good to have a few moments of rested quiet. As I lay there I thought about how far we have come. Not long ago I was riding in an ambulance, thinking that Tobin would arrive at 33 weeks. Not long ago we listened to a NICU doctor tell us that at 24 weeks Tobin had a 50 percent chance of surviving. Not long ago I delivered Koen's sweet little body.
I am Jackie.