Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Thirteen years ago today

Thirteen years ago today, September 29, 1997,
 my heart was broken when I gave birth to a baby who didn't cry.

My heart actually broke the day before, when we found out that the baby boy we had been expecting was no longer alive. The kicking and squirming within me was over. The life was gone.
I was 2 weeks from my due date. Up until this point, my pregnancy had been completely normal. We had two other children, a boy who was nearly 5 and a girl who was nearly 3. I could tell this new baby was going to be my biggest and most active. I had been to the doctor earlier in the week, and he had taken longer than usual to find a heartbeat. He eventually did find it and it seemed normal. For the next couple of days, the baby wasn't as active, but I thought it was because he was so crowded. I was also having some contractions, so it seemed like I might be close to delivering.

We had friends visiting us for the weekend and I had been very busy, but on Sunday morning I mentioned my concerns about not feeling as much movement as usual. My friend offered to go with me to get checked out at the hospital, while the husbands headed for the golf course. Byron and I weren't really too concerned, but thought it might be a good idea to go in for a heartbeat check. When my friend and I (we even had my two kids with us) got to the hospital, they couldn't find the baby's heartbeat. Someone had to call the guys at the golf course (would have been easier with cell phones) and I had to go get an ultrasound. Byron met up with me in the ultrasound room. I had seen enough ultrasounds to know that the baby didn't seem to be moving. I was so afraid, and no one was explaining anything. We were eventually told by the ultrasound doctor (our doctor was just getting back into town from a weekend away, so we met with him later) that our baby boy had died.  We were told that we might find out why after he was born, but most people never know the reason why their babies are stillborn.  After I got dressed and we were walking out of the ultrasound lab, I saw her sitting at her desk crying. Its not easy to have to tell people that they have lost a child.

We headed back to the hospital room and our doctor had arrived to meet with us. He explained that I would need to be induced and deliver the baby. I couldn't imagine that I wouldn't just have a C-section. I did NOT want to go through all the work and pain of labor and delivery, when the outcome would be so painful. Wouldn't it make everything so much easier to have a c-section? He explained that it really wouldn't be easier, since I would have to recover from surgery and grieve the loss of my baby.  We headed home to make phone calls to our family members and friends. I was scheduled to be at the hospital bright and early the next morning. I spent the next couple of hours listening to Byron call people to tell them the news. He got worse and worse at it. During the first phone calls, he calmly explained what had happened. Before long, he was just announcing the important details to the dear friends on the other end--it sounded too blunt. He had nothing left in him to help him share the news gently.

Our families drove up to our house from Missouri on Sunday evening, and friends came to be with us--offering prayers, advice, hugs, and companionship. We had friends who had lost their six-month-old baby several years before, so they were a tremendous help in thinking through the decisions that would need to be made. We had never thought about where to bury one of our children.

I could not believe that I would not be bringing home our baby. I looked at all the things gathered in the baby's room. Gifts we had already received, the clothes I had bought, the preparations I had made, and the beautiful blanket my mother-in-law had crocheted for the baby to come home from the hospital with. My other two kids had received blankets too. I mistakenly thought, "Now this blanket belongs to no one. What am I supposed to do with it?" All the baby's stuff was for no one! I felt like my plans had been stolen away from me.

The next morning we headed for the hospital early. I was given a room at the end of the hallway. It was out of the way to spare us the traffic from other families with their babies. My room had no pictures on the walls of babies. I knew that I was in the "special" room--the room designated for when things go wrong. My doctor took the first steps to induce me, but did not break my water.

 I spent most of the day waiting for labor to begin. It gave me a lot of time to pray, mentally prepare, and time to talk with Byron. I remember praying for God to be my strength, because I had none left. I knew that I was facing one of the hardest tasks of my life. I had no hope except the hope in my Lord. In my weakness, He could be strong. I was counting on it. I begged Him to carry me through this terrible trial.

At some point during the day, God worked in my heart. I realized that I was still going to have a son. Our son would be our third child and he would have a name--Justin Andrew Carson, and he would have a place in our family. I realized that my original feelings of "now this stuff I bought for a baby belongs to no one" were wrong. My plans were not the same as God's plans. I didn't understand His plan, but I felt Him speaking into my heart that He was still blessing us with a son. I would have to wait until Heaven to know him, but this son was still a child that God placed in our family. I trusted in His purpose and plan. I finally looked forward to the birth of my third child. I was ready to face it.

Late in the afternoon we decided to get more agressive and I began pitocin in my IV. I could receive lots of pain medications, because there was no concern for the baby's well being. I was grateful for the narcotics they added to my IV--it helped both physically and mentally.

Our baby boy came into the world silently. Babies aren't supposed to come into the world silently. The room was quiet and sober. The reason for his death was immediately obvious--there was a knot in his cord. We were so in awe of him, just like we were with the births of our other babies, but we were so heartbroken that we would not bring him home, parent him, and watch him  grow up. Our families were gathered outside my room, waiting. They joined us in the room to see our new family member and also say goodbye. We talked about who he looked like, looked at all his fingers and toes, cut a piece of his curly hair to save, laughed, and cried. It was so bittersweet.

The next day, I had to say goodbye to my baby. We left the hospital without him. We were taken down a back stairway, so that we didn't have to walk by the nursery. We drove home without a new baby in a carseat. It was the most devastating thing I had ever faced, but I had a beautiful family waiting for me and I was so grateful for them.

We had a memorial service a couple of days later. Our family joined friends and our church family to worship the Giver of life, who also takes life--in His perfect timing. Byron had a chance to share all the events of the previous few days, so that everyone knew what had happened. He ask them to celebrate Justin's life with us. We were surrounded by love from our Father and so many who came to support us. It was a precious time to us, and the beginning of our healing. The following months would be the most difficult I had lived, but I had a wonderful husband and two young children to care for and enjoy, support and prayers from our family and friends, and I had His Holy Word which brought me so much comfort. These would be the things that got me through the darkness and heaviness of grief.
We are so grateful for the wonderful family God has blessed us with. I had another baby boy a year later--Ryan. The due dates for the two boys were 1 year and 1 week apart. I had Meggan 20 months after Ryan. My plate got so full that I didn't have time to long for a baby, I had two to take care of. I am grateful that my arms were full, because it is the worst feeling to be a mother with empty arms. As full as our lives are now, my heart will always long for the baby that I didn't bring home. The loss of my baby changed me forever. When I lost a child, I gained a hunger for Heaven. I wanted to know about this place God prepared for us. I learned that a "strong faith" could actually be demonstrated through total weakness and reliance on God. I learned to search scripture for words of comfort and healing. I learned that I could abandon all and fall on my face at His feet, and that He would lift me a father lifts up his dear child.  Because of my loss, I could support others who were facing the loss of a child. And because of the promise of Heaven (thank you, Jesus, for your gift of eternal life!), I learned to feel joy and hope again. I learned that even if something really bad happened to me, I would be able to make it through because of Jesus. He was, and still is, the hope for my future! God did what He does best--He healed my broken heart.

My favorite verse:
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."  Romans 15:13

I pray that you will also know joy, peace, and overflowing hope!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Catching up...

Life has been getting in the way of blogging lately, but I'm ok with that. : )

Meggan started band and is playing the trumpet. She has had a lesson at the school everyday for the past two weeks. Even though I'm homeschooling Ryan and Meggan, we drive to the school for art and band. I'm glad it is only 6 minutes away, because I was there 5 times one day this week. I don't have any pictures of either of them with their instruments, because they practice in the basement with the door shut. That's where we all prefer them to practice.  I know it will get better...

The past week has been Homecoming Week for my older kids. It has been a mix of good and bad--mostly good. The parade got cancelled, because it just can't seem to quit raining here.

The kids have been dressing in strange costumes for school. This is Batman, along with Pebbles and BamBam for "celebrity" day at school. I wish they had spent as much time studying as they spent on their costumes all week.

The coronation of the king and queen candidates was very nice--the king and queen were two of Brandon's best friends.

The football game was one of the most intense games we've had in several years. We were ahead by two with about 2 minutes left. Our opponent had possession and was marching down the field in position to score and win the game. They threw a long pass and Brandon intercepted it to seal a win for us. We were so excited to win our homecoming game and very proud of Brandon. It felt great for him, because he's seen less playing time this year compared to the past five years. He often says he can't catch a football, but proved himself wrong this time!

(Thanks to my friend, I have this picture. My camera was dangling around my neck while I jumped up and down screaming my head off.) She got the shot right after he reached out and caught the ball.

Here's a picture of Ellyn, calling formations during the game. That girl loves football. 
The coach tells her a formation and then a play. 
She gives the signal to the offense on the field for the formation.
(It's so cute, because she looks really little next to the coach and players...
she's really little next to almost anyone.)

We came back to our house after the game with a dozen friends in tow. I was glad we had already planned to make homemade pizzas after the game, or I would have been scrambling to come up with food for our impromptu celebration party.

The Homecoming Dance was Saturday night, and my date didn't take me out to eat before the dance.
Should I protest?
(We were chaperones.)
Brandon's group: (Don't ask me how THREE guys got to take FIVE beauties!)

Ellyn's group:  They look like they color coordinated their clothes.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

House Remodel Update--almost finished!

The last couple of weeks have been very busy with finishing touches to our house project.

We are almost finished and are enjoying the comfort of a space that feels like a home again.
This week we had The Lighthouse Gathering for the first time this school year and the first time in the new space. Lighthouse is a meal for high school kids from all the local churches. They come eat together and then head off to their churches for youth group. We served about 20 people on Wednesday evening.
It worked so much nicer than the past two years in our smaller kitchen/dining room.

Since the goal of this remodel was more space for cooking and entertaining, we are happy that it performed well.

Here are some new pics:

Monday, September 20, 2010


Two random things I saw today:

A guy riding a bike and smoking a cigarette.

A Schwans ice cream truck parked at Dairy Queen.

I promise to have something better tomorrow. : )

Saturday, September 11, 2010


My piano is home. It makes me so happy to have it back where it belongs. I scheduled its delivery the afternoon the wood flooring was finished, and I am thankful that the moving company had an opening the very next morning.
While I pined away for my piano over the past few weeks, I realized that since I was 5 or 6 years old, I haven't lived in a home without my own piano. This one has gone to all my homes with me, including a tiny, married-housing, university apartment when I first moved out on my own. You can read more about that in another post by clicking here.

Yesterday as I dusted it and then played a little tune, I was rejoicing that it was back home! I couldn't help but think that I was behaving as if it were a long lost child who had finally returned home. And that made me think of the parable of the lost sheep:  "Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep."  Our Father in Heaven loves us more than we can imagine. (More than I love my piano! lol)  I am so grateful that there is rejoicing in Heaven over each one of us who comes to know Him. The celebration that I had over my piano returning home is nothing compared to the celebration in Heaven for a soul that will spend eternity there. And the feeling we will have as we arrive at the gates of Heaven someday will be the greatest homecoming we've ever known! I am so grateful for the promise of Heaven.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Addition/Remodel Update -- week 18

Last week our house project turned a big corner. Just when I thought I might lose my mind trying to keep up with our family's life in the middle of this construction project, suddenly all the painting got done and the flooring went in. Byron and Brandon (plus Ryan and Meggan, when necessary) spent Labor Day weekend installing wood floor. Putting wood floor over the yucky plywood made this place feel like a home again.

The dining room flooring was finished first, and we were able to move our table into it and eat a meal in the proper place. It felt great to have some space around the table, since the table has been in the middle of the kitchen for the past month (where a small island will eventually go). In the kitchen, we could only seat 5 around the table, so any extras sat at the bar. Having the table in the kitchen made it easy to serve food, since I could transfer food from stove to table without taking a single step. We could also load the dishwasher without getting out of our seats...assuming no one was sitting in the way of the dishwasher door. Having the table in the kitchen has been VERY cozy...a little too cozy...but it did help me get a feel for what size island will be appropriate.

Ellyn and I painted her bedroom while flooring was being installed in another area of the house. It was nice to paint without worry of keeping the floor protected.  Her bedroom gets wood floor as well, mostly due to the fact that we don't plan for it to be a bedroom once kids leave home. (I'm claiming it as my space for sewing, scrapbooking, digital photography, and general creativity in the long-term plan.) In the short term, the wood floor will make it easier to deal with dog hair, since Mandie sleeps with Ellyn. Her wood floor will start going in today. (note to self: 1000 sq. feet of wood floor takes more than a 3-day weekend to install)

Speaking of Ellyn's bedroom... it got new painted trim, new wall paint, and the new wood flooring. It hasn't been able to be occupied for the past 2 weeks. We moved everything out, pulled out her carpet, tried to find a place to put all of her stuff, and set up beds elsewhere. We have a friend's daughter staying with us for the foreseeable future, and all three girls have been sharing Meggan's bedroom. Like the kitchen... it's been VERY cozy. (and cluttered, and grouchy, and tiring for all the girls in this house.) In spite of this, I believe that it will be remembered as a fun time--three twin beds along one wall, just a foot of walking space in between. You gotta love it! (We are all glad it is a temporary arrangement.) Meggan has mostly slept on a couch elsewhere, since the other two girls get up early for school and 7:30 am marching band practice. It works much better to have Meggan in another room. However, don't think that one bed is left empty--Mandie gets her own twin bed. What a spoiled rotten dog!

Last night we sat in the dining room, with all 7 of us around the table, for supper and banana splits for dessert. It was the first time to be around one table together. It was wonderful and I decided that we might survive this remodel after all. I can already tell how much we are going to love the extra space it will provide. The end of the project is finally in view, and I am sleeping much better because of it.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Music to My Ears

I have been missing my piano terribly and I can't wait for its return, but there is a different "music" in my house this weekend. The sound of progress!

On Saturday morning as I stood in my kitchen making a "working man's" breakfast*, I could hear nail guns from two different areas, hammering, drilling, and the sound of sawing from two different locations. The siding is going up outside and the wood floor is going in inside.

I wish I could hear my beautiful piano, but for now, this is the music of our house. (Thankfully our ipods can fill in during the absence of the piano.)

We are definitely celebrating Labor Day weekend with LABOR. I will post a full update in a few days. Right now...back to work!

*this weekend's "working man" breakfast was oatmeal pancakes and sausage cooked in my iron skillet (I am loving my gas cook top!)
 Look for the pancake recipe in RECIPES in the Labels section along the right hand margin.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Around the House

Football games with friends:

School--getting back into the swing of a schedule, homework, and extra activities.

Church--our church's kids program D6 (named for Deuteronomy 6) starts this week, as well as the junior high and senior high ministries. We have kids in all three this year, so I'm very grateful that I have a kid who can help out with the driving.

Dance--just getting started again for the girls. One more thing to drive to several times a week. I'm glad it is right in town. A little tricky for Meggan since she can't really dance yet, due to the broken foot.

Doctor appointments--Meggan's foot is healing well. She goes Friday and will be finished wearing the surgical shoe. We expect that she will be allowed to wear a running shoe after Friday, although she can't bear the thought of not wearing flip flops. It wouldn't surprise me if she wears a flip flop on the good foot and a running shoe on the injured foot. It wouldn't be that different from what she has been doing for the past 4 weeks.

Prairie Festival (our town's annual celebration)-- Ryan ran the 5K race for the second time. He ran with a couple of friends and they hung around after the race to meet the winners. The winners are cousins from Kenya, but have lived in the U.S. for many years. They were very friendly and talked to the boys about running--which thrilled Ryan.

Meggan participates in the Prairie Fest Dog Show each year. this is the first year in the past three that she hasn't placed in any category.  I just can't resist showing you last year's winning entry for Best Costume. (It was so much cuter than this year's.)  We had a prairie girl costume that I had sewn earlier, so she sewed our dog and a friend's dog matching skirts. I sewed Mandie a bonnet to match Meggan's. She was a prairie girl with her prairie dogs for the Prairie Festiival. She won first place with the adorable pooches in their costumes.

She has shown our friend's dog Bear in the dog show for three years--first as a cheerleader, then a prairie dog in a skirt, and this year she dressed him in pajamas and bath robe. He was a sleepover girl.  I mean boy.  Poor guy! He's very forgiving and seems to love her anyway.  

Mandie is used to being humiliated and tortured with various articles of clothing: 

OK, I'm done with Mandie pictures now. That diversion was very enjoyable for me.  It helped me forget about my messy construction site upstairs. I'm pretty sure I have needed MORE diversions this summer!
These pictures make me laugh. I need to laugh more.
Can someone come over and make me laugh? 

I am proclaiming now that this fall is going to be more fun than the summer has been.  : )