Friday, September 25, 2015

What does grief look like?

For me,


I do not want to do anything "normal".  I do not want talk to anyone, I do not want to wear the same clothes or fix my hair the same, I do not want to cook or clean house, I do not want to talk about the weather or plan for the future, I do not want to take care of the animals or teach my kids.  I do not want to live in a world where the unimportant matters. 

My life is not over, I know that.  As I move forward, though, Caroline is left behind in September of 2015 and I am not ready to be out of her moment yet.  I know, "she will always be with me", but it is still her time and I am not ready to go back to business as usual.  How can I anyway?  I am not the same person I was a month ago.  As much as it changes you to become a mom, for the first or twentieth time, it changes you all the same when the baby doesn't come home.   

A month ago I did not know what pPROM is or what it can do to a perfectly healthy baby.  I did not know the pain of losing and burying a child.  I did not know I can not protect my children from death.  I did not know what it is like to plan a funeral.  I did not know what it is like to drive away from a hospital without the baby you just gave birth to.  I did not know what it is like to give birth without a C-section.  I did not know the name Caroline could bring so much joy and sadness at the same time.  I did not know so many things. 

I feel completely foreign in my body.  It is not my own, nor is it Caroline's anymore; I cannot fit into any of my clothes yet, nor do I want to.  My breasts are still swollen and sore from producing milk that will never be used.  The baby bump that was growing, and loved, is all but gone and yet it still takes six weeks for it all to be a normal size.  My hands and feet are still swollen from pregnancy, delivery, and medications.  My right leg is causing much pain (epidural).  The bleeding from delivery will continue for some time, and I am angry at my body for rejecting my daughter.  I feel betrayed by it.  It is both full of life and full of death.   

I do not recognize my face; it does not smile much or see makeup often, its eyes are swollen from tears and heartache, it is pimple-ridden from the change in hormones, and its lines and creases seem so much deeper.

My home is not my own.  It is full of funeral flowers, funeral ribbons, and baby stuff.  It is full of children with glazed-over eyes from too much Netflix.  It is full of half empty water bottles, dirty clothes, and toys on the floor.  It is full of people that I love who are as sad as I am but who show it in much different ways.  It is full of homeschooling books that aren't being touched.  Its yard is full of animals, whom I love, but that I have not seen or taken care of, myself, in weeks.  It, too, is full of life...and death.

Rod goes back to work tonight, the kids have to be taught starting up again on Monday, we cannot keep eating grilled cheese and ham sandwiches, and Sissy is too young to run a house indefinitely, but it's like I have forgotten how, like I'm a ghost.  It isn't fair to them, but is it fair to me?  It's only been ten days!

So this is what grief looks like for me:  PJs and hair buns, grilled cheese sandwiches and Netflix, unanswered text messages, FB messages, and phone calls, responsibilities that go unfulfilled, clinging to my husband, a spot on the sofa or my side in bed, a once an hour breakdown, an occasional anger fit, a short temper, a brain that will not function, and a soul that is crushed...and I'll live in this moment with Caroline as long as I need and then I'll start to find a new normal, one that encompasses both who I was and who I am, one that celebrates that I am the mother of four and grieves that one of those children is not here with me, one that will take much time to find.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

She came...

She came...

...Two weeks after my water broke, unexpectedly, in the middle of the night.

...After two weeks of bed rest and worry.

...In compete silence at 3:48 AM on a Tuesday morning. 

...After 14 hours of labor.

...With only a heartbeat.

...Possessing as much love as I had for any of my other children at their births.

...And stayed for only an hour before slipping into eternity.

...With the most beautiful face and tiny little hands.

...And I'll never be the same again.

Caroline Ava Joy Cox
September 15, 2015 at 3:48 AM
1lb .2oz and 11.5in

The flu-like symptoms began on Sunday night and lasted through the day on Monday.  A call to the doctor produced no results and I continued to worry about what was wrong.

At 1:00 PM Monday a backache began that was not the usual cramping I had been experiencing since my water broke two weeks before.  Again, my doctor told me it was nothing to worry about.

At 6:00 PM, in the restroom, something was definitely not right.  I thought I would deliver her, right there, in the toilet.  Later I was to find out that her foot was being delivered first and this is what I felt.

We headed to the hospital, and by the time we arrived around 7:30 PM, I was in full labor.  The plan of action was dependent on infection or not...I had an infection.  Induction was the only option and they would not intervene on her life because "viability grey zone" was (exactly) one week away.  They were not willing to compromise their expert opinion.  Caroline would be born, alive, via my first VBAC, and would not be saved.  I would watch my littlest girl pass away and there was nothing I could do about that...nothing. 

The on-call doctor. my delivery nurse, April, and the charge nurse were all amazing.  I could not have asked for better.  We got to hold and love on our girl for close to eight hours.  They bathed her, dressed her in the tiniest and cutest little dress, and took pictures for Mommy and Daddy.

When they took her away, so I could be taken into surgery for bleeding problems, a huge chunk of my heart went with her and is now buried with her.  I did not get to see or hold her again and will never, until Heaven.

Caroline was laid to rest on Saturday, September 19, 2015 at 11:00 AM in the most lovely of graveside services I have ever been to.  Her great uncle officiated, the songs "It Is Well With My Soul" and "Sweet Caroline" were played, and there were so many pink and white flowers...exactly what I wanted. 

This same day my milk came in full force and while it is adding insult to injury; the emotional and physical pain are great, I am also so privilege to get to carry Caroline's milk for a while longer.

There is a gapping hole in my heart, mind, and life without Caroline here.  There is no longer a pregnancy to nurture or a little girl to prepare for.  There are no more kicks, ultrasounds or heartbeats.  There will never be birthdays, dresses, dance lessons, baby dolls, graduations, a wedding day, crying, laughing, running, playing, holding her big brothers' hands, or playing dress up with her big sister.  There will never be anything again for my Sweet Caroline, not on this earth, and I cannot breathe at the thought.  But, though it be hard to see right now, I am thankful for the promise that she is with her Heavenly Father.  Thankful that He hasn't left me alone in this.  Thankful for each gift He gave me throughout her life (in the womb and out) and death.  And thankful that He is carrying me.

I miss you, my Sweet Caroline, with every breath I take and every beat of my heart, I miss you.  I am so sorry that my body didn't protect you.  I am so sorry that it betrayed us both.  I pray that you do not even know that forgiveness is needed, but if you do, I pray that you will.  I love you so much.  I will miss you until I see you again.

For this child I prayed; and the LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of him. 1 Samuel 1:27



Thursday, July 30, 2015

Support local farms

"Being vegan or vegetarian because of factory farming is like fighting child abuse by not having children."  Jenna Woginrich

Vote for better treatment of animals with dollars...because nothing is changed with an idea.  Buying grass-fed/pastured/humanely-raised meat, (raw) milk, cheese, eggs, honey, and local organic produce supports local agriculture, small business, and the humane treatment of livestock.  I can guarantee you that your local farmer knows where his food and livelihood come from and loves his/her animals.  He knows that uncared for animals are unhappy animals and unhappy animals are bad for business and for the world/environment.  He is one with the earth.  He could tell you things about animals that the average vegan/veggie/layperson could not begin to know.  He also knows that happy animals taste amazing.  Have you ever grilled a grass-fed beef steak that's spent its entire life doing what cows do?  HOLY MOLY!   And don't even get me started on raw milk...amazing stuff!  Local agricultural has a small footprint, works with the environment (not against it) and supports your community in ways that would blow your mind.  If you can't raise you own of God's beautiful creatures, check out farm to home systems, CSAs, farmers markets, or your next-door neighbor.  Support the raising of chickens, bees, and other small livestock in urban backyards.  Change the world with your votes and NOTHING votes louder than dollars.  Be active, not passive.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Children are a gift from the Lord.  They are a reward from Him.  Psalms 127:3

Children are a gift from the Lord. Thank you, Lord, for each of my three + two gifts. While I did not know two on this earth, I will know them one day in heaven and knowing the three I have here with me, has been more than I could imagine. I pray for more children, I truly do, every single day, but if You see fit for us to have no more than the three plus two we had the privledge of having, I praise Your name for blessing us with each of their lives, however short some have been...each precious gift will never go unnoticed. Your will be done. Amen.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Faith without action...

Two passages speak to my heart today:  James 2:16-17 and 1 Corinthians 13:11.  In the first, Paul tells us that faith without action is dead.  This is one of the more difficult requirements of faith, for me, especially when I am making a decision.  I enjoy the safe, comfortable route to life.  The route that doesn't require much faith.  Oh, don't get me wrong, I have faith, but I get really fearful when that faith is put into practice.  You see, I have very little faith in myself.  This isn’t a humbling myself before God, either.  This is an insecurity thing.  A lie from Satan.  I fear failure and I fear making a decision.  That's all well and good when I don't have anything to fear, but having faith in Christ does mean I must put my trust in him and believe that he'll see me through.  This letting go of myself is so very difficult.  That’s where the trouble lies, in my inability to trust in myself and my unwillingness to trust in Christ. 

In my most recent decision making process I have difficulty for fear of failure and of past mistakes.  Though I have been forgiven, I worry about the wrong choices I made while not placing the creator of the universe at the center of my life, and as a result, I have wanted to isolate myself from the world so that I wouldn't fall prey to bad choices.  But our God is not the author of fear and confusion and this brings me to the second passage. 

I was raised in a Christian home and we attended church nearly every time the doors were open.  The concept that God did not exist never occurred to me and until I became an adult I had no idea there were people who did not believe in Christ Jesus.  My faith was not strong enough to withstand the pull of the world.  I was suddenly thrust into a world where the possibility of no God was not only discussed, but celebrated.  I fell hard for this way and over the course of five years I had what they call a "crisis of faith."  It was during this time that I made many poor decisions and wandered aimlessly through life.  However, 1 Corinthians 13:11 says When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.  So that brings me to now.

I met Jesus.  The real Jesus.  Not the concept, but the Christ.  He revealed Himself to me and I was saved.  I met Jesus Christ and I now know the difference.  I also immediately knew my shame and where I could leave it.  There is no doubt in my mind that I have been forgiven.  There is no doubt in my mind that the God of the universe conquered my shame and death on the cross, but just to be sure I didn’t mess up again, I decided I would help God out a bit and simply protect myself.  I began isolating myself to control my surroundings.  That way I didn’t mess up again, right?  That way I can remain sin-free, right?  Does it work that way?  Nope!

So now God is calling me out, again.  He granted me sweet rest and is now asking me to trust in Him for the next step.  IT SCARES ME TO DEATH, this faith in action, but “You foolish (wo)man! Do you want proof that faith without action is useless?  Our Father Abraham offered his son Isaac on the altar.  Wasn’t he considered to be right with God because of what he did?  So you see that what he believed and what he did were working together.  What he did made his faith complete.”  James 2:20-22

And so I go forward. 

I thank you, Heavenly Father that I even have the right to make such decisions.  I thank you that I live in a country where women have a voice and have many opportunities.  I thank you for a husband that is supportive and wise.  I thank you for using me and asking of me.  I thank you for your provisions, your strength, your calling, your success and your discernment. Amen

Suppose one of you says to them, “Go.  I hope everything turns out fine for you.  Keep warm.  Eat well.” And you do nothing about what they really need.  Then what good have you done?  It is the same with faith.  If it doesn’t cause us to do something, it’s dead. James 2:16-17

Friday, March 20, 2015


I often say, when upset about something someone has done to hurt me, "I will love with everything I am, until you hurt me, and then I'm done."  This is not at all the truth, but when I am upset about something someone has said or done, this makes me feel more in control of the situation.  I feel more powerful over the hurt. 

But why would I ever persuade myself to believe that there is control in the UNforgiving?  That there is power in the anger, hurt, and bitterness?

The most powerful One in all of the universe runs His whole show on forgiveness.

I have been forgiven more than I can count, by both heavenly and earthly means.  So who am I to withhold forgiveness?

The One has forgiven sin so (earthly) big that I, in my sheltered life, could never even conceive of it and went to the cross for sin so (earthly) small that we've forgotten that it is sin at all, and I'm going to hold judgment and anger over misplaced words or actions from someone who is as broken as I?

What do I know of forgiveness, though?  I know nothing except that I am so in need of it.  I don't know how it is done.  I don't even know how to begin. 

Then Jesus says, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28. 

Isn't it such a burden to carry around this lack of forgiveness?  It sure feels like it to me.  "I will give you rest" our Lord says.  Thankfully He doesn't ask me to get my stuff together first.  He says "come to Me and I will give you rest." We simply must go to Him and He will make in us the channel of His forgiveness. Because His is the only real forgiveness there is.

And where to begin?  The God of the universe chose to work through prayer.  Why?  I have no idea, but that is where it starts. And He is faithful and He is never-ending.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

His way...

Isaiah 55:7-9
Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.  “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.  “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

""The truth, sir," I said swallowing, "is that God's viewpoint is sometimes different from ours -- so different that we could not even guess at it unless He had given us a Book which tells us such things."" Corrie Ten Boom, The Hiding Place

God's ways are not our own.  Likely the reason we have such trouble understanding why God the Father would send Christ His son to pardon us, free of charge.  His ways are not our ways.  It is also likely the reason we struggle with grace vs works, the fact that we cannot earn our way into Heaven.  His ways are not our ways.  Or when we struggle with the belief that Christ Jesus is the ONLY way.  We like choices and we don't like to step on others' toes, but again, His ways are not our ways.

Was that repetitive?  It was meant to be.  For me as much as for anyone else. 

I love getting my way.  In fact, I usually feel that it is simply a matter of life and death to get my way (ask my husband).  I become instantly childlike when things aren't going my way.  Never fear, I have become quite good at masking it, but inside my head I am no more mature than my five year old who also believes it is a matter of life and death to get his way (only he's quite vocal about it) and when I'm willing to admit it, 33 years old and I have been vocal about my way from time to time.

If God's ways are not ours then maybe He has a different plan for me than I have for myself.  The bible tells me that He is willing to do abundantly more than I can even conceive of, if I will let Him. So then why am I so reluctant to follow His way?  Likely because it isn't what I would do for myself and because I must put aside myself for the sake of His way. 

The God's glory part isn't that hard.  I want God to get all the glory of my long as He does it my way, right?  As long as He consults me on what I want, and as long as He doesn't ask me to do anything too scary or inconvenient. 

BUT what if I gave up my way for God's way?  This way that is so alien to me.  This way that goes against my flesh and fights against my selfish heart.  What if "dying to self and raising to new life in Christ" isn't just something I say, but something I live daily?  What if...