To have a friend….

Last night I went to my church’s fellowship night. Every couple of months our church has a meal together on a Sunday night, it gives everyone a chance to hang out together and eat. I have to admit to you if I am honest, I really don’t particularly look forward to these events. Why? It seems like a perfectly wonderful thing to do, right? Well, it reminds me of the junior high lunch room. See we are all just our junior high selves sometimes in adult bodies. Thank goodness we aren’t doing the acne and braces thing anymore, but I still feel like that awkward nerd of a preteen I was 20 years ago sometimes in social situations. You know that feeling when you walk into a room of people and have to find someplace to sit. It’s just an awkward moment. I think it’s even more awkward if your family it’s quite “normal”. I don’t think people avoid us intentionally but it can be alot to handle, our six kids two of which have special needs. I don’t think people know how to approach us. I felt upset about this fact for a while and then I remembered an old adage I heard growing up, “to have a friend you have to be a friend”. It’s still true. I can feel sorry for myself or I can get up and do something about it. I can reach out to those around me and try to make connections with people. I don’t think we are very good at this in our modern culture. Social media and cell phones have made our people skills face to face suffer. So I started thinking about ways I can change this.

1.Make Time- having friends takes time. I cannot be busy all the time and then expect to be able to maintain friendships, you have to spend time with someone to be their friend. So many people nowadays are so busy. Just going here and there and everywhere. Glenn and I have tried to keep this to a minimum and allow space in our lives for spontaneous get togethers with other people. If someone calls and asks if we have plans that day, most of the time we don’t. We try to make having extra time in our schedules a priority.

2. Be There- I have a friend who I have known since we were kids. She has a wonderful way of just showing up when I need her. She doesn’t ask me if she can come or if there is anything I need, she just comes. She was there when I met Kaki at the airport for the first time when she came home from Hong Kong. She was there when we all had the flu with chicken soup in hand. She was the first face I saw when I arrived at the hospital to give birth to Andrew, our son who had passed away. She just shows up. I want to be like that. I want to be someone who just shows up in people’s lives when they need someone most. In order to do that I have to be someone people can count on and I have to listen and read between the lines to see what people need.

3. Don’t be selfish. You know those friends you have who are always keeping score on who did what in the friendship? You always feel like you owe them something or they expect something. Or those people who are always talking about themselves and never ask how you are? We all have friends like that. One thing I am trying to really work on is not being selfish. I don’t want to keep tabs on whether I had this person over last or not, I just want to call them up and spend time with them. I don’t want to just talk about myself or my problems but ask more questions about the other person. Jesus calls us to be selfless in our relationships, that is not an easy thing to do, but people will want to be around someone who is selfless much more than they will someone is thinks only about themselves.

If you find yourself lonely, in need a friends, remember these three things. I am trying to practice them in my own life and I know in time they will pay off in my relationships.

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Hope

But now, God’s Message,
    the God who made you in the first place, Jacob,
    the One who got you started, Israel:
“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you.
    I’ve called your name. You’re mine.
When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.
    When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down.
When you’re between a rock and a hard place,
    it won’t be a dead end—
Because I am God, your personal God,
    The Holy of Israel, your Savior.
I paid a huge price for you:
    all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in!
That’s how much you mean to me!
    That’s how much I love you!
I’d sell off the whole world to get you back,
    trade the creation just for you. Isaiah 42

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Savior and my God.

My soul is downcast within me;
    therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan,
    the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep
    in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
    have swept over me.

By day the Lord directs his love,
    at night his song is with me—
    a prayer to the God of my life. Psalm 42

Hope is a word that keeps coming up in my life lately. We all have something we are going through, no one’s life is not touched with some sort of pain or hardship. Life is not easy, the older I get the more I know that. But recently as I have pondered the hardships in my own life a message keeps coming up, one of hope. We may not be the place we want to be yet, but there is hope. There is always hope. Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” If you don’t have hope, your heart is sick. I don’t want a sick heart, but I have had one a time or two. When I choose to look at my circumstances instead of the hope I have in Christ, my heart becomes sick with worry and dread. There is a song that is playing on the radio lately that I just love, it’s called I have this Hope by Tenth Avenue North. Here and some of the lyrics.

As I walk this great unknown
Questions come and questions go
Was there purpose for the pain?
Did I cry these tears in vain?

I don’t want to live in fear
I want to trust that You are near
Trust Your grace can be seen
In both triumph and tragedy

I have this hope
In the depth of my soul
In the flood or the fire
You’re with me and You won’t let go

But sometimes my faith feels thin
Like the night will never end
Will You catch every tear
Or will You just leave me here?

But I have this hope
In the depth of my soul
In the flood or the fire

So, whatever happens I will not be afraid
Cause You are closer than this breath that I take
You calm the storm when I hear You call my name
I still believe that one day I’ll see Your face

I have this hope. I have hope, if I believe in Jesus, someday I will see His face and all the tears and tragedy of this life will wash away. I have this hope. I have to cling to this hope in order to get through the trials of this life. There are times when things are going well and I forget. But when things aren’t going as I planned or tragedy strikes, I must remember I have hope. Remember today, whatever you are going through right now, it may seem dark, like the morning will never come and there is no hope, but there is hope. God is our HOPE and we must hold to him knowing the situation may not be good but He is good. We have hope. 

 

Waiting for change

But God’s not finished. He’s waiting around to be gracious to you.
    He’s gathering strength to show mercy to you.
God takes the time to do everything right—everything.
    Those who wait around for him are the lucky ones.  Isaiah 30:18

There are a few things in our lives right now we are waiting for change in. We want change right now! We want it yesterday. This waiting is not fun. I don’t know if things will ever change in these situations, but I am praying they do. I am believing for change but clearly God’s timing is not mine.

I sat down to read my Bible this morning, actually I had been trying to get a quiet moment to sit and read for a few hours now, but moms know that doesn’t always happen when we want it to. We have to be patient and wait for just the right moment when everyone is occupied and slip away quietly and hope no one notices to come find us. So, I finally got two minutes of quiet and I sat down to read. God had been calling me all morning. Just that still quiet knowing that you need to have a moment with Him but you just can’t seem to find the time. So, I sat down expecting He had something he wanted to say. I read my devotional and it feel flat, honestly. It was good stuff just not anything I really needed right this minute. So I opened my Bible and was headed to Proverbs or Psalms, I can usually find something meaningful there. I got stuck in Isaiah though. God stopped me on this passage I shared above. Israel has been walking their own way, trying to do their own thing apart from God. They are running ahead of God and making a royal mess of it, but he still says he will have mercy on them and do great things among them if they just wait on Him.

Waiting is hard! It is not what I want to do. I want change, I want answered prayers, I want things now. I can’t understand why God waits so long for things sometimes. I do know His timing is perfect, I have seen that in my life before, but I just forget and want things my own way. But God is there to remind me that He isn’t deaf. He has heard my prayers about these situations in my life and He has a plan. He will bring answers in His time. I just have to be patient and wait. So, I will wait. And I will try to have a good attitude and remember good things are coming, because I am waiting for Him to do them and not trying to do something on my own.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tomorrow

Tomorrow, March 18th, Joshua turns 7 years old. To be honest, this makes me a little sad. Birthdays are supposed to be happy, but birthdays with kids with special needs can be complicated. Last weekend we had a party for Joshua along with his two other brothers who have birthdays this month. He did not handle it well. He ended up getting very upset and throwing a fit because he was convinced he got a new blanket for his bed, something he wanted but we didn’t get for reasons I will get into later. He screamed for an hour and I could not convince him that he didn’t get a new blanket, but lots of other great things. It didn’t matter to him, he just wanted that one thing and was convinced he had gotten it and we were hiding it from him. He had gotten some new pajamas which turns out he thought was a blanket. I suspected that is what he was thinking and I tried to explain and show him they were pajamas but he was convinced I was lying to him. It was really frustrating. He had gotten lots of things he liked but he was too fixated on this one thing he didn’t get that nothing else mattered. (A life lesson we can all learn really.)  It was at that point we decided that would be his only birthday celebration this year. Typically, the kids will have a party together and then on their actual birthday we will give them a present from us and have a family dinner. We will not do that for Joshua this year though because he doesn’t know his actual birthday is tomorrow and he just can’t handle the disruption and excitement of birthday right now. That makes me sad. Christmas was equally difficult. Kids with developmental challenges just struggle with change, so when you do something like a holiday that comes with change and over stimulation it just doesn’t go well sometimes, most of the time.

This birthday is hard for me. There is a grieving that comes with raising special kids. You daily are faced with the grief of what they might have been and what they actual are. I have said for me it is more difficult to deal with this grief than it is to deal with the loss of our son last year. That was extremely difficult but it is over now and we can deal with our feelings which will always be there, but we can move forward. With our two special kids we daily face the loss of skills and dreams and must grieve but not move forward. You are stuck in grief all the time. It’s like our loss of Andrew was a grief like Niagara Falls. Big rushing and all consuming, but it was an event. A one time thing. Now we are faced with dates and triggers that bring the grief and pain back to us and that is difficult, but it becomes easier with time, it never goes away but it does get easier. With Joshua and Kaki, its like a dripping faucet. Always there, always dripping. Difficult to deal with because you cannot move forward, you have to find a way to deal with daily life and continual grief. I know that sounds horrible, but I have found that acknowledging that is helpful for me to accept where we are and deal with that reality. But just like any loss, birthdays are hard. Birthdays are a time to celebrate all that the child has accomplished that year and be excited for all that will happen the coming year. For Joshua he has made small gains this year, he is talking better and can identify all his numbers and letters. However, the difficult part is he has also digressed in some areas like his destructive behavior that is just taking over our lives right now. Not a day goes by that he doesn’t destroy something and that is just heartbreaking and frustrating. And having a child a year younger than Josh it’s hard to see the things he should be doing but isn’t, like reading. Elijah read his first book yesterday, and that was wonderful, but it reminded me that Joshua is not even close to that and that is hard.

I don’t know what the next year will hold. We are hoping that we can get Josh into a self contained class for kids like him. I know it’s the best place for him but it’s hard to give up on him getting a regular education with regular kids, it’s another grieving and letting go. We are finding our new normal with him and that takes time. If you have a special kid with challenges you didn’t expect, I feel like it is so important to recognize the feelings of grief and loss you may not even know you are experiencing. Recognizing those feelings will help you better deal with them and be a better parent to your child.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

13

Today this sweet little boy turns 13! Where has the time gone! He just can’t be 13, he was just this small like yesterday. Oh well, Happy Birthday Sam!

Toshiba Digital Camera

Dear Sam,

Today you are turning 13. I just can’t believe it. Just yesterday you were born and I was holding you in my arms. I’m going to try to not to get all sappy about this, but man it’s hard to watch your oldest become a teenager. I wanted to remind you of some things on your birthday.

First, we love you more than you will ever know. You are named Samuel because it took a while for us to get pregnant with you and I read the story of Hannah in the Bible and promised God if he would give me a baby and it was a boy I would name him Samuel, and the very next month we found out we were expecting you. I knew you would be a boy and we would name you Samuel. Samuel is a great man of God in the Bible, he listened to God and lead his people in the right way of God. You have those gifts of leadership and uprightness. You are a leader, don’t forget that. People are watching your life, not just your little siblings, but those around you. You stand out among your friends and even though you are quiet, people follow you. That is a great responsibility, so always remember people are watching and following, lead well.

You have always been a perfectionist. It’s a good trait to have. You like order and cleanliness. I am thankful I don’t have to remind you to keep things clean or take a shower. You always give 100% on everything you do. You do well in school and at work. I’m so proud of you. You are so responsible and always doing the right thing. I want you to remember though to cut yourself some slack every now and then. Sometimes things don’t go as we plan and sometimes we can’t control our circumstances, it’s okay. God is in control and He has got this. Depend on him. Be careful not to expect too much of those around you. People are just human and can’t live up to the highest standards sometimes. They will fail you, but you have to forgive and move on.

God has blessed you with a great mind. School comes easily for you especially math. Follow your dreams, you can be anything you want to. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you fail sometimes, it’s okay. Just get back up and try again. I know you will be successful in life.

Be kind. Love others. I love to see you love your little brothers and take care of your sister. You have a kind heart. Don’t let life steal that from you. You have endured some loss and difficult times this year and tender hearted people tend to shell up and not want to love again after loss. Don’t do that. Have an open heart always, even if it gets broken now and then. You will be a better person for having loved.

Keep your moral center and integrity. You have done so well at living a Godly life, I am thankful for that. You found Jesus at an early age and were baptized, don’t forget that as you grow up. There are some trying years ahead. High school and college can really test your faith. You will have to step and out from under dad and I and figure out what you believe for yourself. I pray you hold on to Jesus as you do that.

Look around you for Godly examples. God has given you so many people around you who are wonderful examples of what being a Godly man looks like. Watch them, and be like them, but most of all let them point you to Jesus. Be like Him and you will be a success.

We are always here for you, no matter what you do in life. Whether you succeed or fail, we are always here loving you and cheering you on. We are so proud of you and can’t wait to see the man you will become.

Love, Mom

 

When life is hard….

There are times in our lives that are just difficult. We go through seasons of sorrow when everything seems to go against us and troubles come at every turn. Have you ever felt like that? I have. Job has too. I was reading in Job this morning because of a comment someone made on a friends facebook post. My friend has recently had a miscarriage after going to great lengths to get pregnant. It was heartbreaking for her and of course everyone around her. We were all praying God would bless her with this child on this earth. She is a believer so she will see the child in heaven someday but that does not undo the pain of loss right now. As my friend was talking about her sorrow on facebook, someone commented that they would pray that God would restore to her all that was lost just as he did for Job. That got me thinking. So, I went to some commentaries on the last chapter of Job. In case you don’t know Job’s story, he had a lot of wealth and children and he lost it all, but then it was restored to him double what he lost. So, if he originally had 200 oxen, he then was restored 400 oxen. The exception to that was children. He lost his 7 children but God restored him just 7 children. Why is that? I have heard and I believe it is because those original children were in heaven and he would see them again one day. What I find interesting is what Job had to do to have everything he lost restored.

Job has three friends who were giving him terrible advice all through his trial of loosing everything. They were saying he must have sinned, or to curse God and die. Lots of really helpful stuff. So, at the end after Job refuses to listen to these friends and instead talks with God about it all, God tells the friends he is tired of listening to their horrible advice. He says they must go and ask Job to pray for them and then God will not punish them. So, they did, then we see what happened.

“After Job had interceded for his friends, God restored his fortune—and then doubled it!” Job 42:10

I found it very interesting that God asked Job to pray for his friends before He restored all Job had lost. At this point Job is not in a good place. He has lost everything and even is in poor health. I would imagine the last thing he wanted to do was pray for these so called friends of his who were saying awful stuff to him while he was in the midst of loosing everything. If you have been through a difficult time, have you ever had people around you say insensitive and horrible stuff to you during it? Most of the time they intend to be helpful, but it comes across as hurtful. It can really pierce your hurting heart. I have been in that place. And at that time I wanted to get as far away from that person as possible, I did not want to pray for them. But that is what God requires of Job.

I have found that when I am in a low place the best thing I can do to feel better is to help those around me who need something. That gets my mind off myself and my troubles and puts it on the things that really matter. I think this is one thing that God was trying to accomplish with Job. I’m sure Job just wanted to feel sorry for himself at this point, but God asking him to pray for his friends got him in a better mindset. It also helped him to forgive them for the terrible things they had said to him. You cannot pray for someone genuinely when you are holding a grudge against them. After Job prayed for his friends God restored everything he had lost.

Have you lost something dear to you? Is there someone who said or did something unkind to you in the midst of loss that you cannot forgive? Is there someone who is in need around you that you can help to get your mind off yourself? I am not saying that if we do these things God will always restore everything we have lost, but what will be restored is the relationships that have been severed and our emotional well being. And then we will be in a better place to accept the blessings God does bestow on us with a restored heart.

 

Joshua

For about a year now Joshua has really been struggling. This time last year he refused to go to school because he was so terrified of a fire drill they had at school. We ended up pulling him out of school for the rest of the year and beginning therapy and medication for anxiety. The summer brought other unwanted behaviors of intentionally soiling his bed and room, and also destruction of everything around him. He began tearing up his clothing and possessions. This fall we were able to go back to public school and repeat Kindergarten. We have known since he was born that he was behind in his milestones. We hoped he would catch up and did hours and hours of physical, speech and occupational therapy to help him. When he began school last year, the school did a psychological evaluation and we had one done just shortly before that over the summer. The school psychologist said his IQ was borderline, between normal and disabled. The private psychologist painted a more serious picture. He estimated his IQ at moderately disabled. We weren’t sure which was more accurate. They have a hard time getting an accurate IQ on a child until they are around age 8. So, again we hoped he would catch up, but we knew something just wasn’t right. This year as he began school he was given lots of help with a special teacher in hopes that he would catch up. He hasn’t. He has made progress but very slowly and all the while the tantrums and destructive behavior have been getting worse.

Yesterday we had an appointment with his developmental pediatrician. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s a pediatrician that deals exclusively with kids with special needs or behavioral issues. We have been seeing him with Joshua for about 5 years. I decided I needed to have the hard conversation about Joshua’s future. We have danced around this issue for far too long and we needed answers to be able to move forward. So, I asked the doctor where he thought Joshua would be long term and where we should place him next year for school. He felt that Joshua has mild to moderate intellectual disability and that he should be placed in a self contained class next year. That is a special class just for kids with intellectual disability or autism. We knew in our hearts this was what he would say, but we’d never really asked straight out. Honestly, it’s a relief to hear. We can now accept the reality of our situation and move forward. You cannot deal with what you don’t acknowledge. So, we will move forward with trying to get him placed in a special class for next year and accept that his future may not be what we had hoped for, but we will make it the best we can be.

As for the destructive behaviors which have become a huge issue at our house. The doctor did a special DNA test on Joshua which will tell him what medications will best work with his unique DNA. It is fascinating that they can do such a test. We have tried lots of different medications on Joshua to help with his ADHD and anxiety but haven’t found one that really helps. So this will tell us. Meanwhile, we will continue on as we are. We will accept that he has a need to destroy things and give him things that are appropriate to destroy. The doctor said he is on the level of a two year old right now, which is what we had been seeing at home. Again, not really what we wanted to hear, but at the same time we will have more peace in our house if we adjust our expectations of Josh to what he is capable of. We were fighting this destructiveness and it was causing lots of conflict. Now we will just try to manage it in a healthy way and give him constructive outlets for his destructiveness. And along the way we may be changing his medications as a result of this DNA test and hopefully that might help as well.

Overall, we are at peace about it. We knew this was coming for years now, just didn’t know where exactly we would end up. We will move forward and accept where we are. We will grieve for what might have been but then pick ourselves up and live in what is. That is all we can do.

 

New Years Resolution

This time of year so many people make New Years Resolutions. Usually they are to give up a bad habit or start a good habit. This year I have a different sort of resolution. First I have a confession to make. I am 36 years old and I really have never learned how to properly put on makeup and as a result I usually don’t wear any. I have been muddling through for the past twenty years or so, but never really mastered it. I feel really inadequate in this department and feel embarrassed that I don’t know what I am doing. Everyone around me seems to know and I don’t. It’s like something that a girl should just know how to do. Having grown up around a bunch of boys I just never really had the occasion to learn, well this year I am going to learn. With the help of YouTube I am teaching myself. I am not getting younger and so it’s kind of now or never. lol

I know I am not the only girl our there who feels inadequate about something like this. As women, we are flooded with images of airbrushed perfect women who have perfect clothes, hair and makeup all the time. They eat right and exercise and seem to have it all together. It makes the rest of us feel like failures. Who has it all together in real life? Not me, that’s for sure. Especially not this week taking care of four sick kids and a husband and two other kids. I am currently in yoga pants, a sweatshirt and ponytail. Thankfully I did get five minutes to shower and brush my teeth this morning, but that is the extent of it. I am not trying to look like someone in a magazine, but I do try hard to look like my best self, at least part of the time. It’s the way I have chosen to fight the ageing process. So, me and you tube are onto a new frontier of makeup. It’s very overwhelming, because there are so many choices out there, but that’s part of the fun of it.

Guilt

It’s been quite a while since I last wrote. The holidays have come and gone and frankly I am glad to see them go. They were hard this year. I knew it would be hard but I didn’t know how hard. Leading up to the holidays and just after, in the last five weeks, there have been five babies born that I personally know, including my nephew. I am over the moon happy for these mama’s, but I am sad for me. It’s hard. I should be about a month away from delivery, but I’m not. That’s hard.

On Christmas day I went to church with my family. I spent most of the service in the nursery with my youngest three kids because there wasn’t any childcare and our two year old was not about to sit for an hour in church and behave himself. Honestly, I was fine with it. I needed to get away. A new baby was being presented at church and it was better for me to just not be that close to that on that day. So, I sat in the nursery and friend came to check on me. She is another baby loss mama and I am sure she new I was having a hard time. We started talking about how hard Christmas is and feeling guilty because we don’t visit our babies graves as often as we should. I had been feeling this way for a while but not really expressed it to anyone. It was such a relief to know someone else feels guilty too. Then as I thought about it I realized that it’s crazy to feel guilty. Other people go visit their loved ones graves on a regular basis, because of that I felt guilty for not visiting Andrew’s grave much at all. I just can’t bring myself to go over there. It’s just next door at my in laws house, but to me it might as well be a million miles away. For one thing I know Andrew is not there, he’s in heaven. Other than that, I just can’t even tell you why I find it difficult to make myself go over there. But I do.

Christmas night we had a large family gathering at our house, like 40 people large. I was doing pretty well with it all, but then in the midst of everyone opening gifts I just couldn’t take it anymore. I went outside to take out the trash, but I just needed to get out. I stood out there for a while, and just soaked in the quiet. Then something drew me to walk over to Andrew’s grave. I went and sat for a while and cried. It was a good thing. It was healthy. I was able to let go of this guilt I feel for not being a good mom to him. I know that sounds absurd that I would worry about being a good mom to a baby who is not even here, but I do. I would bet if you have lost someone you love, you might feel the same way. I do believe that those who are in heaven can on some level see what goes on down here on earth and I so I think Andrew can see us here. I think he knows we love him and sees us struggle with him gone. But I also know that anything I do down here to deal with my grief, like whether or not I visit his grave weekly or not, is for myself, not for him. He is in heaven and while I think he has knowledge of us down here, I don’t think he really cares, if that makes sense. He isn’t upset if I don’t visit his grave every week, he is in a place with no more tears and so wouldn’t feel any kind of upset or pain. Don’t ask me how all that works, I don’t know. Anyway,the point is whether I go to visit his grave or whatever I do or don’t do to remember him is all for my sake, not his. That is freeing. I need to do what is best for me to feel better. If visiting him brings me peace, than I will do it. If it doesn’t then I won’t. Right now wearing a necklace that was given to me after he passed helps me feel like he is always with me and brings me comfort. So I wear it.

If you have lost someone in your life, don’t allow yourself to feel guilty for the way you grieve. You have to do what feels best to you. It’s your grieving journey and no one else’s. Even Glenn and I, though we both lost our son, are on very different grieving journeys. Glenn goes to visit Andrew much more regularly than I do, that brings him comfort. You have to do what brings you comfort and not compare yourself to other people who grieve around you.

The time we have

My Christmas tree this year is sad. I put it up, but there aren’t any ornaments on it. Only one string of lights works, so only 1/3 of the tree lights up. Really sad. I don’t really have any motivation to fix it. The rest of my house is decorated, inside and out, but the tree stands in the corner looking sad. I was thinking about why I am apathetic towards the tree this year, and I have come to the conclusion it’s a grief thing. A few weeks ago in anticipation of Christmas we bought Christmas ornaments. Each of our kids have gotten at least one ornament, usually while we are expecting them or shortly after their birth, to add to our Christmas tree. We usually buy them while we are on our family beach trip during the summer at the Christmas shop there. This past summer I was 6 weeks pregnant with Andrew. We were in the Christmas shop and looked at lots of different ornaments for him. We decided to wait to buy one until after we found out if he was a boy or a girl. As you can imagine the ornament never got purchased. So, a few weeks ago I bought him one. I also bought one for my other two babies I lost in miscarriage years ago. I had never bought ornaments for them or really done anything in their memory. As Glenn and I shopped for these ornaments, we sobbed. It was very difficult to choose an ornament for each child that represented them when we have never actually met them. It was sad but also very healing for us I think. But I can’t bring myself to put the ornaments, or any ornaments on the tree this year. I have decided that’s okay. I am not going to force myself to do something that I am not ready to do. Maybe between now and Christmas I will do it, but if you visit me at Christmas and see an tree with nothing on it you will know why.

I have learned two things about this that I want to share. One, is I have learned that we cannot take time for granted. The time we have with our loved one is precious, whether that is a loved one on this earth or one that was expected but never born. Glenn and I regret having not bought Andrew the ornament this summer while he was with us. Obviously I cannot change that now, but if we ever are pregnant again, I will do it differently. I will celebrate that child every day we are expecting him or her. Each day is precious and I don’t take that for granted now.

Secondly, when you loose a loved one, no matter how short their life, it is important to do things to remember that person. As I said earlier, I never did anything to remember my two babies I lost years ago. But with Andrew we have a memory box of things for him. We have ultrasound pictures and pictures of us holding him after his birth. We have outfits he wore and little hats and booties. We have cards people sent to us after his birth. And we have displayed in our house a plaque of his footprints with his name and birth date on it. And also a willow tree figurine that was given to us after his birth. Those things are so precious to us. I also have two necklaces that were given to me to remember him. Those things I treasure and they have helped me so much. Giving remembrance and respect to his memory has done wonders for my own healing. I still have one last big thing I want to do, which is to get a stone with his name and birth date for his grave. It’s just not something we have brought ourselves to do yet, but we will when we are ready. We also want to pretty up the area where he is buried. I will confess I can’t bring myself to go over there much right now, but I know in time I will. If you have lost a loved one, especially a baby, I highly recommend doing something to memorialize that person. Do whatever you feel is best for you. This token of memory is for you, and no one else.  It will not be easy, but I promise you won’t regret doing it.