Monday, April 27, 2015

Dear Chance,

Dear Chance,

It has been a little over three weeks since we met you and also said goodbye. I wish more than anything we could have had more time together, but I know you are now dancing around in heaven, having a blast, and are truly living out your purpose. I am so thankful you are safe and joyful and that you won't ever have to experience any of life's frustrations and sorrows. But goodness, I sure miss you. I miss you more than anything. I now have a little hole in my heart that I know, by God's grace and goodness, will heal in time, yet my heart won't ever quite be the same.

I feel blessed that we had five hours together. When I first saw you I felt a complete peace. Sadness, most definitely, but also this indescribable peace. There was just something about your face and features that read, peace. Your daddy and I would look at you, then look at each other, then look at you again and just repeat "he is so, so perfect."

You are named after my biological mom, your biological grandma, who you are now hanging out with on the streets of heaven. She has probably told you by now, but her maiden name was "Chance," thus that is how we picked your name. It just seemed to fit. The moment of your birth, when the Dr. told us you were a boy, we just knew it was the perfect name. I have so much peace and joy knowing that you and your grandma are together, living life to the fullest, along with so many others. Anytime I speak your name here on earth I have this vision of the two of you together.

I am still very sad, but it is just because I am your mommy and selfishly I just wish you were here doing life with all of us - with me, daddy, and your sisters. We have been so blessed by family and friends who are helping us keep your memory alive. We have a tree out in the backyard that we call "Chance's tree" and it has the cutest blue birdhouse hanging from the branches, the most amazing photo book of your birth and funeral service, two necklaces (given to mommy by two special friends), a journal, a keychain, a poem that was framed and will soon go on our wall, and so much more. We plan to visit your gravesite often (I have gone back several times already) and when your sisters are bigger and can understand, we will plan special family trips there on your birthday.

So many people think of you often and are also holding you close. It brings us so much comfort knowing that you live on in so many people's hearts and minds. I get messages all the time of people stating "I think of Chance often," or "I am thinking about Chance today!" You have a village of people on earth that think you are pretty special.

I love you sweet boy. More than you will ever know. I don't understand why God needed to take you to heaven first, but I just keep trusting that one day it will all make sense. I cannot wait for the day we are together again. Your passing has brought intense new meaning to the phrase "long for heaven." That longing is so very real now. God is using your little life to make a big impact on so many. And while my heart is still hurting, I am eager to see how God continues to use your life and story to further His kingdom.

Love forever and ever,

Romans 8:26 ". . . the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express."

Psalm 56:8 "You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all of my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book."

Psalm 34: 15-20 "The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry. . . When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken."

Friday, April 24, 2015

Weekend Links 4/24/15

5 Rights of the Bereaved Parent

Grief. . . Like Love - "I still have flashbacks of the moment I realized she died. Certain things can trigger me and I will see her lifeless body in my mind. I could be walking through the grocery store and suddenly the thought ‘your daughter died’ surges to the forefront of my mind. It’s a knife to my heart. In that moment I am crippled. I close my eyes tight to squeeze back the tears, smooth out the grimace on my face. Return my gaze to the apple in my hand and continue my shopping." - Replace she with he and this pretty much sums up my current emotional state and experience.  

Love his little grave marker. In 6 months, once the ground levels, 
we can choose a headstone if we so desire. 

If you saw the size of the blessing coming, you would understand the magnitude of the battle you’re fighting.  – Author Unknown

This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. For he will rescue you from deadly disease. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Psalm 91:2-4 NLT

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

"Hope & Healing" playlist

The morning after we learned Chance had passed away, I created a playlist on my iPhone that pretty much continues to run all day, everyday. I titled it "Hope & Healing." It is so interesting how a life event, such as losing a child, can bring on such a change in perspective. These past few weeks I cannot handle silence, yet I also cannot handle mindless noise such as the television. I am craving Jesus in a fresh new way in the form of constant worship. I wanted to share the songs on my playlist, in the chance that someone else is grieving, or just needs a little extra pick me up. And just be warned. . . if you play these over and over, especially in the car, tears are guaranteed. :)

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Storm

It was Friday night. I was home alone with the girls. Brandon was at a baseball game with some friends. This was the first night since we lost Chance that I would be alone for a significant amount of time. Being alone is not something that has ever bothered me, and quite frankly I tend to be rather introverted, but right now, as I am grieving the loss of my son, I crave faces and people and bodies. So I knew going into Friday night that I was putting myself in a vulnerable situation, but kept telling myself it would be good for me and all would be ok.

 Our First Family (aka small group from church) surprised us at Chance's funeral with this tree, birdhouse, and sign. A tangible, heart felt gift, and something we can look at from our kitchen window every single day. Amazing. 

I got the girls in bed at the early hour of 6:30pm, ate a quick dinner, and then decided I would write some thank you notes, read a few blogs, and just relax for a little while.

And then the storm hit. Not just a little-bit-of-rain type of storm. But a storm so large I was scrambling for flashlights (and batteries because apparently we don't think to keep working batteries in said flashlights) and candles, and I huddled in the middle of my bed with my phone and (working) flashlight and no electricity. And the storm just kept raging. Flashes of lightening were evident as they lit up the sky outside my window. Thunder raged, over and over and over. And the rain just kept coming down. Because of course. . .  it is the first night that I am alone.

In that moment, I just started to let loose the tears that were inevitable.

Chance's itty bitty casket, flowers, cross, and bear.
The cross is now nestled inside the pot in the tree above. 

Home alone, storm raging outside my window and inside my heart, and tears flowing because goodness . . . I just want to hold my son again. I want to kiss his nose and stroke his little hat and just stare at his precious face. But I can't.

Yet in that moment of deep vulnerability, I felt the Lord wrapping me up tightly, taking hold and reminding me that while right now life feels scary and sad and overwhelming, it is only time before the storm will stop and the sun will shine again.

Because it will. God has proven this time and time again in my life and in yours. God promises we will not pass through this life without seasons of darkness. And God also promises the dawn after the dark. Every time.

Our entire family gathered together to pray in the hospital delivery room. 
Chance was born shortly after. 

So I laid there, with flashlight and phone, storm raging outside, and played a few of my favorite worship songs. I let myself cry and I let myself smile because I know God is faithful and regardless of my longing to hold my son again, His promises remain true, and His ways so very good.

From the balloon release at the end of the service. Love the visual reminder and as someone said "I think the balloons made it there just in time for his heaven welcome party." 

Friday, April 17, 2015

Weekend Links 4/17/15

A few articles that have brought me a little extra comfort this week. . . 

Wounded Healer, My Friend
God Has Brought You to This Place - "After a time of purification in the wilderness, God will bring us into the place He has promised." Holding on to this reminder during these very hard days.
When Friendship Keeps Us from Drowning - "Life lived in relationships allows us to survive the deep end. We can test the waters alone, wade out a bit by ourselves, but if we must head to the deep places of life, we need friends to keep the ocean from swallowing us whole."  Amen.
My Pathway to Peace - "I live with a peace that I could only be living with now that I’m standing further down the path God pushed us down. " Praying this same prayer for me & Brandon as we continue to grieve the loss of Chance. 
Mom Cradles her stillborn baby and posts on Facebook
Four Lessons I Learned about God from My Miscarriage

Monday, April 13, 2015

Our son, Chance Michael

Our sweet baby boy, Chance Michael, was born at 4:49pm on April 4, 2015. Seeing his face for the first time is a moment I will never forget. A moment that will be etched in my mind forever. It is a very surreal feeling to give birth to, and then hold and embrace, your child who has already passed on from this earth. A feeling in fact I assumed I would never have to live through. One of those life experiences one just assumes "won't ever be me." But God apparently had a different plan for our family and our journey. I am trying so very hard to be ok with this plan.

As I stared at Chance's sweet face for several hours after his birth, every emotion possible was experienced . . . sorrow, pain, happiness, peace, love, joy, hurt, confusion, more love, more sadness, and so much more. Yet despite these ever changing feelings, I am so very thankful we were able to spend five hours with our son. Five hours was spent studying his adorable face, kissing his little head, and talking to him. . . telling him about our family and how we know he is safe with Jesus and that we will surely see him again very soon.

This picture captures so well all of the emotions described above. One can so clearly see the hurt, peace, sadness, and contentment displayed in our eyes. 

So blessed & thankful that the nurses were able to capture these prints.
Some of the cutest little feet and toes I have ever seen. 

In time I hope to write and share more about his birth, his beautiful celebration service, and our life and feelings now, as we adjust to life after infant loss. Thank you so much for the continual support, emails, texts, FB messages, love, hugs, food delivered, and most of all, prayers. Please continue to lift us up in prayer. We feel every single one. Beyond thankful to each and every one of you.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Saying goodbye

This is the hardest post I have ever had to write. . .

Some of you know that this past Wednesday, April 1st, our world came crashing down. Totally unexpected. No warning signs. No hints that this particular appointment would be any different.

We were scheduled for our 20 week anatomy scan this past Wednesday and arrived eager and thrilled to see our baby and learn if we were expecting another precious girl or an adorable little boy. The technician seemed equally as eager and after learning we had two girls at home, commented on how fun it was going to be to surprise us in a few moments with the news.

Yet right when she started the scan I knew something wasn't right. My eyes were flashing across the screen looking for the heartbeat and I couldn't find it.

Then the questions started slowly. . .

"When did you say your last ultrasound was?" At 10 weeks gestation.

"Ok, and when did you see your Dr last?" Two weeks ago, 18 weeks 3 days. Everything looked great at that appt. Heartbeat was in the 150's.

"Are you still feeling some pregnancy symptoms?" Yes.

"Ok. I'm just taking a few measurements and then am going to have the Dr come in." 

I knew my initial feeling was correct. I quickly asked if there was a heartbeat to which she replied she was not finding one, she was so sorry, and would have the Dr come in to speak with us.

And at that moment it was as if time stood still. All I could do was release my tears. It was as if I was in the midst of a nightmare, but couldn't wake up. The Dr came in and very appropriately but compassionately explained that based on the images she was seeing, there was no immediate reason or explanable cause for the death of our child (spine, brain, etc all looked just fine). She explained some potential causes for a 2nd trimester loss, the testing options that are available if we are interested in investigating the cause of death, and our options moving forward for delivery of the child. We were eventually moved into a counseling room to talk further with the Dr.

We left several hours later and I felt like I was walking in a fog. We sat in our car and cried and just didn't move. I kept telling Brandon "I don't even know what to do right now. What am I supposed to do? Do we keep sitting here? Do we go home? Is this really happening?"

 . . .

We are so overwhelmed with the love and kindness that has been shown to us over the last 48 hours. Phone calls, texts, surprise gifts and food drop offs, scripture reminders. . . everything. We certainly do feel the love and support from our family and friends.

We will be admitted to the hospital shortly to start the induction and delivery process. The Dr explained it could take 1-2 days. We are so thankful that we will be given the option of seeing and holding the baby if we so choose.

This is by far the hardest thing we have ever had to do. All we know to do is pray for strength and pray that God alone would be glorified by our experience and story. While we would not wish this experience on anyone, we am thankful for the reminder that on this Easter weekend, death does not have the final say. Not then. Not now. Not ever. In the coming hours we will hold our precious baby who is already being held in the arms of Jesus. And we will put our hope in Him alone and in the promise of seeing our little one again on the other side.

"Not For A Moment" - Vertical Band Church featuring Meredith Andrews 
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