Friday, August 11, 2017

remembering our angel babies

I firmly believe the Lord turns all our pain for good. Sometimes it's hard to see right away, but He is faithful to His children, and we can rest confidently knowing He's never left us, even in our darkest moments.

I'm a mama who's suffered through multiple miscarriages. I hate that I have any experience in this area, but I do. I've gone through the joys of my very first pregnancy test, and the deep loss of innocence that is saying goodbye to your first child. I've gone through the roller coaster of hormones and five months of waiting to carry another baby. I've gone through the emotions of a rainbow pregnancy (getting pregnant after a loss) - the fear, the joy, the excitement, the determination to enjoy every second. And then the devastation of losing that baby too.

I don't have any living biological children, and that's hard. Sometimes I feel like it would be easier if I could throw myself into caring for a child right now, instead of the painful, stark emptiness of a quiet home.

But something Jesus has been showing me since losing Daniella, is that I *am* still a Mama. And that it's completely normal and healthy to celebrate that. I went through two labors, both incredibly intense and painful and traumatic, I gave birth to two children, and with both pregnancies I had to wear maternity clothes and adjust my personal life to accommodate my growing little ones. I was a mama then, I'm a mama now, and I've found so much beauty in embracing my pregnancies and my stories and the lives of my children.

Since sharing about Jeremiah's life back in January, I've heard so so many of y'alls stories of loss and grief, and while I know not everyone is a blogger, or feels comfortable sharing personal details, I feel like the Lord has given me words and a platform and I want to use them to help those of y'all who are walking similar roads, and want to celebrate and remember your babies, but aren't sure how.

*note, this isn't a sponsored post, just me sharing what we've found is meaningful for us!

1. Willow Tree figurines
When I found out I was pregnant with Jeremiah, I was really nervous. I spent a lot of those seven weeks worried I was going to lose him. I held off on so many things, sort of unspokenly waiting for that all-elusive end of the first trimester before I let myself get excited. When I lost him, it shook my world, and I instantly had regrets about not celebrating his little life fully before it ended. So in the weeks following, my husband and I made a conscious effort to do things that honored the life of our baby.

We had a Willow Tree figurine from our wedding, of a husband and wife. When we were out shopping one day, not even a week after the miscarriage, we were in a boutique shop and saw a Willow Tree figurine sitting on a shelf...an angel helping a little baby walk. I started crying when I saw it...it felt like a perfect gift from Jesus to remember our little one.


The day after we lost Daniella, Josh and I hopped online to find the perfect figurine for her too, to add to our little family. We picked one of another angel holding a baby in her arms - it looked so tender and represented what I was longing to do with my precious daughter.

The Willow Tree figures are so beautiful, so poignant...I'm thankful for the tradition we inadvertently started, a tradition we'll be able to continue with any future children as well. I love our little "family" on our dresser.

 

2. Buy an Outfit

Once again, with Jeremiah, I didn't really do much while I was pregnant to celebrate him, but afterwards I learned so much. I went out to the store a couple weeks afterwards to buy him an outfit that was all his. Something that was specifically for him. Even though it was hard to go to the baby section and buy something with an empty womb, it was also healing to acknowledge the fact that I did have a baby, just not with me, and that he was real.

As SOON as I found out I was pregnant with Daniella, within a week, or so, I went to the store and bought an outfit for her as well, this time with all the joy and hope in the world of our precious rainbow baby. And, once again, even after we had to say goodbye, it was so incredibly healing to have that outfit that stood for our hope and our love for her, even before she was born.



3. Make a Shadow Box
Mine are still a work in progress, but this has been such a fun way to pull together all my little mementos for each child into one framable, hangable memory. It's also something that I could do for any future children - I love the idea of things that carry into any future pregnancies, a way to unite these first two little ones with their future siblings. A shadow box is definitely more hands on and creative, but it was fun to shop for things to decorate with, and spend time arranging each box to look different and unique.


4. Remembrance Jewelry
On Mother's Day this past year, one of the most emotional days I've walked through in the recent past, a dear friend gave me a gift at church, and it was the sweetest little necklace. A tree with a little heart - and somehow it instantly felt like that little heart stood for my heart, for Jeremiah's heart, for the heart Josh and I have for family...and I pretty much haven't taken it off since. (except for the brief weeks it got left behind in Ohio, so glad to have it returned now!)

After Daniella, we found a beautiful necklace with customizable nest and initials on etsy. I decided to go with white eggs (versus birthstone colors), to represent our angels and it turned out perfectly. Another piece of jewelry that reminds me of who I am, where my heart is, and how valuable our children's lives were, and still are.



5. Stuffed Animal(s)
I love stuffed animals, I loved collecting them as a child, I love having them around our home now. My dear friend Kaitlin makes these adorable little owls as a fundraiser for Downs Syndrome awareness, and I commissioned her to make these two for our sweet babies. My heart was to have something that was special, that "belonged" to them, and once again, something would connect them to our future children as well.

Also, little plug for KK, her website for the owls is HERE - and here's a post I did years and years ago with the first Henry owl I bought, and why they matter so much to me. It's so important to me to use the lives of my babies as a platform for advocating for the life of other children who are at risk, and so it was no-brainer to use Kaitlin's owls as part of our remembrance of our little ones.


6. Name your CHILD.
Not everyone feels comfortable with this, and I understand, but to me, it was so so important to acknowledge that our children had beating hearts, eternal souls, and purposeful lives, by giving them names. We chose names for our babies that we were actually going to name them anyway (most likely), and then used middle names that reflected the purpose we felt Jesus had laid on their lives. Here's our babies name stories, as a source of encouragement or inspiration to y'all.

Jeremiah Chayyim - Jesus gave us the name "Jeremiah" to call our baby while he was in utero...there was a night about a week before I miscarried where I was dealing with a lot of fear in regards to the baby, and Josh and I took the evening to just sit and pray and thank Jesus for the life He'd entrusted to us. Josh opened his bible to Jeremiah 1, and there's a verse that says that God called Jeremiah from the womb to be a prophet, and placed a calling on his life before he was born. It was so comforting to me, as a mama, to know that God KNEW our child, had a calling on their life, and LOVED him so much to give us a name like that to call him. Six days later, our baby was in heaven and we were comforted by knowing Jesus had given us a name for him, and that His calling was still there. Jeremiah means "the Lord exalts" or "the Lord raises"....and "Chayyim" means "LIFE" in Hebrew. The Lord Raises Life. Even though Jeremiah only lived a couple weeks, he was a gift of Life to us.

Daniella Rapha - Daniel is a family name on Josh's side, and since we were pretty sure we were having a girl, from day one, we were tweaking some of the family names to see if we could make them work for a little girl too. We actually had a pretty solid list of little girl names we were thinking about for this baby, even at ten weeks. We never talked about names with Jeremiah, but we did with this little one and I'm so glad! So Daniella was on the top of the list, and every time we jokingly called her some other name, it felt weird, and we always came back to our top pick. I have no doubt that that would've been her name at birth, so it was given when picking her name after she passed away. "Daniella" means "God is my Judge" - and when you think about how God sees us when He judges us, it's actually tear-jerkingly beautiful, this redemptive righteousness that covers us. Rapha means "HEALER" in Hebrew, and all through my pregnancy and even in the days leading up to the miscarriage, including our midnight race to the ER the night she was born, every song, every scripture, every word of encouragement from others, had something to do with healing. So we stood for it, believed it, and even after we said goodbye, we claimed God as our Healer and gave that testimony to our daughter to carry.

Also, there are testimonies from our own immediate family members who went back years later and named little ones that they lost, as a way of healing, even decades later. So if you're still dealing with pain from un-grieved little ones in your past, I encourage you to consider giving them a name. No matter what the circumstance, or what happened, they are still your children, they are still precious in the eyes of God, and they are valuable, and worthy of being remembered.


Also, I have a friend who lost her precious daughter at 40 weeks, and over the past seven years, has written her little girls name in the sand all over the place, and now so many people all over the world have been writing her name and remembering her, and Hannah collects them all and has them in a scrapbook. There IS something healing about writing your baby's name out, and then there's indescribable feeling when OTHER PEOPLE remember and love your child enough to write their name and send it to you...it's precious. 

Finally, don't be afraid to talk about your children. Use their name, or tell their story. You were pregnant, you are a mama, and there's a beauty when we as a church, as a people, remember these lives we love so dearly.

I hope this encouraged y'all as you walk through your own journeys - feel free to add your own ways you remember your children in the comments...I love hearing stories of others, and what they've done to honor their babies, and how they've walked through grief. There is strength in community, y'all! I believe it!

There so many hard days - days when I just curl up and cry and grieve my empty womb, but I'm so thankful for the freedom to still rejoice, and for the hope I have in Jesus Christ that He is close to the brokenhearted, that He carries us in our pain, and redeems our brokenness. That's ultimately how we stay grounded when our world crashes around us, and even when we can't always see how in the world He's going to heal our hearts, we can trust that He always will. The pain doesn't get easier, but our Hope gets stronger. Remember, there is no emotion, no feeling, no pain you're walking through that Abba Father didn't walk through when He lost His only Son. This is close to His heart, this IS His heart, and He is with us as we share in His suffering. He is the Healer.


2 comments:

  1. This is so so beautiful Liza! Love your willow tree family! How great a God we serve who gives us ways to heal in such beautiful even though painful ways!

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  2. Beautiful post, Liza! You've been on my heart lately. I heard a J.J. Heller song called "Who You Are" and wanted to share it with you. <3

    "I don't know, I don't know what you're doing, but I know who you are.

    You are the Father's heart, and a love that's wild,
    and you know what it's like to lose, yeah you know what
    it's like to lose, what it's like to lose a child..."

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