Today is the first day of advent. Such a good way as a family to come together and highlight the gift that Christmas is all about. If you are interested, here is a great link that explains advent and gives scripture reading for each day:
We spent the weekend decorating our house for Christmas. Today Kevin and I worked on decorating Koen's grave. Kevin built the stand for Koen's four little Christmas trees and I made the garland and ornaments. We pour out our love to him in whatever way we can. He will be missed this Christmas. If he were here he would be a year and a half, and I am sure he would be loving the magic, wonder, and excitement of the season. I can picture his super curly blonde hair staring at our Christmas tree.
Last Thanksgiving felt like an out of body experience for me. I still felt so raw. On a day that is devoted to giving thanks, I had so much to grieve. I felt sadness mixed with immense gratitude. Our earth shattering loss opened my eyes wide. I was seeing everything through a new light and was thankful for the smallest things, thankful for the love and support that was poured out on us, and still in amazement of the very new life growing inside of me.
Something about the snow on the ground and Christmas in the air has me feeling sad. This is my favorite time of year, something I can't wait for. I thought I couldn't love Christmas any more and then it got even better when we had Hackett. This weekend I felt the familiar joy and wonder of the season approaching. Today I am in tears. I am rounding up things to decorate Koen's grave. Hackett and I picked out four tiny trees this weekend and today I bought some things for me to make decorations. I realized I am trying to make his trees look like ours. I want him to have our tree, to be in our home. I want him to open presents, smile at me with the glow of Christmas lights shining on his face, make cookies with me, color pictures, sing carols. How do I possibly create that at his grave? I have presents for Hackett and Tobin purchased already, but none for Koen. My mommy heart feels like I am betraying him. Christmas seems to now hurt my heart.
I am reminded of how empty I felt last year. Of the gaping hole in my heart. How I could not even decorate the tree. I just watched Kevin and Hackett; Hackett was filled with delight and it was all I could do holding it together for him. My pain and heartbreak was so raw last year. This year I don't feel as raw, but I am still hurting, still missing, still wanting. We have the most incredible and loved baby in our home now, but I am still missing my other baby boy.
I shared this yesterday on my Facebook page, but realized later that only some of my friends could view it because of privacy settings. It is such an amazing gift that I wanted to share with the masses.
I woke this morning and read this post. A sweet friend from our hometown who was married a few weeks ago, donated her wedding dress to http://www.nicuhelpinghands.org/angel-gowns/. This organization takes wedding dresses and transforms them into the tiniest gowns and suits for babies, who have been taken from their parents far to soon, to be used for final photos or for their burial. Kate moved me to tears when she mentioned that all the suits made from her dress would be done so in honor of our Koen. Our hospital did the best they could with a homemade hat and booties, that were too big. We had Koen buried in a newborn sleeper, which I know was far too big for his tiny 2 pound 13 ounces. I had no idea this existed, but now plan to donate my dress as well. This loss occurs far too often, one of Kevin's co-workers is at the hospital tonight delivering their baby who lost its heartbeat. Pray for them. Kate, your generosity will touch so many. Thank you.
Here is Kate's post:
Tonight, I said goodbye to my wedding dress. 17 days ago, my perfect, gorgeous dress transformed me into a bride! By the end of this week, my dress will be tornapart at the seams, cut into a million (okay maybe 20) pieces, and seamstresses will create several beautiful, tiny gowns and suits out of the gorgeous fabric! The gowns and suits are given (free of charge) to families experiencing stillbirth, neonatal death, and late term pregnancy loss. These beautiful gowns are typically used for final photos and burial services, and are crafted to fit even the tiniest of souls. While I wore that fabric on the happiest day of my life, and these families will put their child in that same fabric, on their very worst day, I hope the love placed by my heart, into that fabric, affirms the importance of the life of their child. I can think of no better use of a wedding dress…
Jackie and (another friend from our hometown who lost their daughter) I dedicated my dress in honor of your children. All suits will be made in honor of Koen, (and all gowns in honor of our friends precious girl).
I also wanted to share this story that brought me to tears and broke me heart. This could have been us. When I continued to bleed after Koen's delivery, I began to fear that something like this would happen. I am still here and I am so grateful. Pray for this dad who has lost both his wife and son.
Tobin and I awoke to the sun slowly lighting up the sky over the Pacific Ocean, just north of Monterey, in California this past Saturday. It started as just a pale blue and quickly added shades of pink. It was spectacular. Seven of my dear girlfriends were still asleep as I held Tobin and just soaked in the beauty. I see Koen in little things every day, but when I look at the sky is when I feel the closest to him.
Photo credit goes to my girlfriends, many of which know how to work their cameras!
Sometimes I am caught so off gaurd. I think of Koen every day. He is always in my heart, but does not consume my thoughts all day. I make an effort to live in the present. I feel that I can best honor his life by being a good mom to his brothers and wife to his dad. When I think of Koen on a daily basis, it is no longer the horror film reel that once played on a constant loop, consuming me. Now it just moments, filled with love and longing, but mostly love. There is a peace. It's good. But sometimes, my memories of him are triggered by something.
I went to my township building to fulfill my civic and patriotic duty by voting today. There was a man there working on fixing the ballot machine. I kept staring at him, trying to place his face. It wasn't until I left the building that occurred to me. He was the man who we met at the cemetery just days after Koen's death (Sometimes I write death and sometimes I write birth, often unsure what word to use, because for him they are one in the same). This man walked me to so many different patches of grass because I couldn't decide where I wanted to bury my baby's body. I had planned out Koen's nursery with great care, I didn't want his resting place to be chosen in haste. Mommy wanted it to be perfect. This man patiently appeased me, showing me all our options, until I was confident that, yes, in fact the very first plot would be Koen's final resting place on this earth.
I was able to leave the township building without tears, but my memories rushing quickly into my constant thoughts. I had to run a quick errand and when I went to checkout I recognized the woman in front of me. Sometimes I get blasted by more than one trigger in one day, in one hour. This woman was a nurse. A nurse who was called in to make one of the many attempts to get my IV started between my contractions when I was laboring with Koen, just minutes after learning that he was dead and that I would have to deliver his precious lifeless body. She was the nurse who discharged me from the labor and delivery floor the next day, sending us home without a baby.
Sometimes there isn't peace. Sometimes the triggers are too much. Sometimes the longing and pain outweighs all else.
I was given a gift this morning. A special moment at Hackett's school where he was practicing reading a story he wrote on stage with his classmates. Tobin in my arms and watching Hackett beam with pride, my heart was spilling over. I soaked in the many hugs Hackett gave me in front of his classmates, realizing those days are soon coming to an end. Sometimes God gives me awareness of memories to cling to knowing what the rest of the day holds for me. Sometimes my love and peace is then able to return more quickly. I know all the time, not just sometimes, my God remains.
I am Jackie.