Friday, December 31, 2010

Please Pray

Over the past several weeks I have gotten together with another mom who has found herself in the position of being given a fatal prenatal diagnosis for her son. This mom's precious baby has been diagnosed with triploidy, a lethal genetic condition. She bravely chose to carry her son to term, and is scheduled to deliver him on Tuesday, January 4th, 2011.

I am grateful for the opportunity to be walking with this dear mom on this most unthinkable path; I am grateful that she would allow me into her place of pain; and I am trusting that God is using our experience with Isaac to bring some level of comfort to this family.

I am asking that you would please pray for this family... for this mom, her husband, their two young daughter, and their precious son who is about to be born. Would you please pray for comfort, for peace. Would you please pray for the staff who will be caring for them (which includes my friend, nurse Kathy, that helped deliver both Isaac and Eliana). Would you pray that their time with their son would be precious, and that somehow a lifetime of love would be squeezed into such a finite time? Would you pray for a restful night's sleep the night before for this mother and her husband? Would you pray for wisdom for them as they continue to try to explain this to their two young daughters? Would you pray for a miracle?

One of the things I love about having a blog is being able to write posts like this, and confidently knowing that others will be praying. If you desire to do so, feel free to leave your prayers in the comments below and I will forward them along to this sweet family.

Thank you for joining me in lifting them in prayer...

Monday, December 27, 2010

Joy...

Christmas day was a bit hectic with lots of running around a family to visit. Our day started like it has the past three Christmases... with a trip to the cemetery. It's a strange thing to begin Christmas there. I am not sure that I will ever get used to that; yet at the same time, it wouldn't feel right to NOT be there. We made the Baltimore "circuit" after that, with stops at my Mom's, my Dad's, and my aunt's house with all of my extended family (aunts, uncles, cousins...) on my Dad's side of the family. We were supposed to head up to Manhattan for a few days to visit Spencer's family, but decided against driving right into a blizzard and inches upon inches of snow. Enjoy taking a look at Eliana's first Christmas!!

Eliana checking out her new chair!
My Pal Violet!


Reading her new butterfly book...

With Grandma and Grandpa Jim!


Reading with Grandpa Jim

Presents!


Hangin' out with Dad by the fire...


Checkin' out Auntie Kate's new bag...


Reading with Pop-Pop!
All smiles :)
The obligatory (and fun!) annual cousin photo!


I pray that your Christmas was filled with unspeakable joy as you celebrated the birth of Jesus, the One whose presence was the greatest gift of all!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Big News!!

No, I am not pregnant. Just to put it out there :)

I am incredibly excited to share that Isaac's playground is going to be built very soon!!! The construction of our new church building was delayed due to some permit issues. However, those were resolved, and we moved into our new building this fall.

Over the past few weeks, a committee from church has been meeting to discuss Isaac's playground, select equipment, and decide on colors. The distributor we decided to go with was even having a sale on equipment that allowed us to order a structure larger than we had anticipated, which is awesome!

Below is a rendition of what the playground will look like. We are going to order a customized sign as well, and are hoping to add a few benches and maybe a couple of those springy ride-on creatures.

I know it goes without saying that I would much rather have Isaac here than have a playground built in his memory. But... we are so grateful for the generosity of so many people, including many of you readers, to be able to make the construction happen. We are grateful for the opportunity to give something back to our church, and to see it bring joy to so many children, including our precious Eliana, in the years to come. God's provision in this project has been abundant, and we are so thankful!


Saturday, December 11, 2010

So Small

This past week on the way to work, I had one of those moments. You know the ones. Maybe you've had one yourself. Those times when a perfectly timed tune renders you clown-faced because your freshly applied mascara is now smeared down your face thanks to the many tears you suddenly started to shed. This time, I have Carrie Underwood to thank.

A few years ago, I first heard her song "So Small" and used it for a lesson with my 6th grade English students at the time. I thought I had come up with this great, creative, high-interest lesson that my students would totally love. After all, who didn't love Carrie Underwood? Apparently the 6th grade boys. And my lesson flopped :)

I hadn't heard the song in quite a while. When I heard it this past week, the lyrics themselves would have been enough to trigger my response. However, this time, snippets from parents whose children were battling, or had lost their battle with, cancer were superimposed as the song was playing. I quickly realized that this radio station was holding a fundraiser for St. Jude's. So as I listened to this song, which was somewhat consoling to me after I miscarried our first baby at 13 weeks back in late 2007, I was flooded with emotions... emotions of that time as I remembered going in for an ultrasound and being told my baby no longer had a heartbeat; emotions of our time with Isaac as I listened to these parents talk about how they were praying and pleading for their child's life. And the flood gates opened.

You may not be familiar with the lyrics, and if that's the case, you can find them here. While so much of this song has to do problems that feel huge, our perseverance through them, and looking on the bright side. I will be the first to say that I truly know that some of life's struggles really are huge... that it's not necessarily just a matter of a perspective shift, but that it's a deep, deep struggle. A struggle of grief; a struggle of making sense of it all; a struggle of reconciling tragic circumstance with a God who is truly good, but yet still allowed it to happen.

What struck me differently this time was the refrain, which talks about how when you figure out that love is all that matters after all, it makes everything else seem so small. And while this was never intended to be a Christmas song, this sentiment sure reminded me of it.

Because you see, many of us, myself included, face so much stress around the holidays. Stresses of overcommitment; stresses of family gatherings and the good, bad, and ugly that can sometimes come along with that; stresses of maybe not being able to "afford Christmas" this year because of the economy, but yet not wanting to disappoint. And yet, what really matters most, particularly during this Christmas season, is love.

To borrow some of my own words from last year, "Over 2000 years ago, God began his redemptive plan for humanity... for your soul and for mine. On this night, Love came down... leaving His heavenly throne, and made his way humbly into our world as tiny baby in a manger whose name is Jesus...to walk among us sharing a story of hope and redemption, and to ultimately give up his own life for the sake of ours. "

That is love... and that is the spirit of Christmas. When we understand this, it really alters our perspective and helps the stresses of the holiday season to not occupy the space in our minds and our hearts that they don't deserve. This love makes everything else seem so small in comparison, when we truly remember what Christmas is all about.

It is my hope and prayer for your family that this time of year would be filled with great joy and a sense of wonder as you are reminded anew of God's redemptive plan not only for all of humanity, but specifically for your heart and for mine. That your time with our family and friends would be rich, but that your time with your Savior would be richer.

I need to wrap this up (no pun intended!), but I would love to hear what your favorite Christmas tradition is with your family... whether it is something from your childhood and growing up, or something that you started once you got married or had your own children. I love getting this peek into your lives, and hearing your ideas! I thought this would be a fun thing to share, and that perhaps many of us could find new ways to celebrate this Christmas!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Thanksgiving

Better late then never, as the old saying goes, right?

This year, we packed ourselves up and headed to Atlanta to visit Spencer's sister and her family. Spencer's dad, brother, and other sister flew from Manhattan and met us there as well. It was great to introduce Eliana to her aunt and uncle, as well as her cousins that she had never met. I was able to meet up with a few friends while we were there as well, one of whom I have known since she was a freshman in high school and I was her Young Life leader.

While the weather didn't fully cooperate for a lot of outdoor activities, we spent some time playing board games, going to the aquarium, and just being together. Admittedly, I was a little nervous about flying with a baby for the first time. All in all, Ellie did a great job... and even getting through security at the airport during one of the busiest travel weekends of the year proved to be pretty easy!

Enjoy a few highlights from our trip...








Thursday, November 18, 2010

Grace for the Moment

I have a book with the above title on our bookshelf, but haven't picked it up in a while. I think I need to get back to it.

I shared a few months ago about what a struggle it was to figure out whether or not to return to work full time. I had thought that the stress of a stay-at-home job that was mostly commission based would be too much for me, but little did I know that the job I already felt very competent at doing would fee even more difficult.

You see, I've always been a planner... a multi-tasker who could juggle an awful lot at one time with a fair amount of ease. Because of that, and because of such of a lack of peace about other job options for this year, I thought that after an adjustment period that all working moms experience I would be just fine. I would get into a groove, find a routine that worked fairly well, and would be able to just go with it.

The trouble is, I am still waiting for that groove... for a routine that works even moderately well. This is pretty unchartered territory for me. I look around and see so many other working moms who are able to do it, and there's a part of me that sort of feels incompetant that I don't feel like I can... at least not well, or to the level I desire.

Since returning to work, my sleep at night has gotten progressively worse, and at this point, seems to be a full-blown case of chronic insomnia. It started while I was still nursing Eliana, and so my options as far as trying to treat it were fairly limited to things like warm milk, chamomile tea, ear plugs, and an eye mask. I think the lack of sleep caused a sooner-than-desired end to my ability to continue to nurse her, and so my general doctor suggested a few over the counter remedies at that point. These, too, do not seem to work. In fact, Tylenol PM makes me antsy. The trouble isn't so much falling asleep; it's staying asleep, and being able to get back to sleep if I do wake up.

So for more nights than I can count, I have woken up a few times throughout the night. Depending on the time, I may or may not be able to get back to sleep. And for more mornings than I can count, my day has started between 2:30 and 3:30am, followed by 2 or 3 hours of laying in bed, becoming frustrated that I can't fall back asleep, feeling overwhelmed about how much I need to do that day on such a small amount of sleep. I've tried so many things in those hours to get back to sleep, and nothing seems to work.

A few nights ago, as I layed there starting to become frustrated, my mind wandered to: My grace is sufficient for you. My power is made perfect in weakness. And then to: Not by might, not by power, but by My spirit says the Lord.

I realized that it may (unfortunately) be a while until this sleep thing is figured out. The soonest the sleep center in our area could fit me in for a consultation is in late December. But, I was reminded of the fact that even though I have no idea how I could accomplish making it through a full day of work, spending time with Eliana, cooking dinner, spending time with Spencer, and completing any other household things that need to be done that day or fulfill other commitments I may have... I just don't need to know. God gently reminded me that He will grant me enough grace for each moment, and I don't need to think 5 or 10... or even 2 steps ahead, wondering how I will be able to take care of things. He will provide the grace, and the strength... and I need to trust Him at His word on that.

I would appreciate your prayers as Spencer and I, along with my doctor and the folks at the sleep center, try to get to the bottom of this. This is a huge unanticipated curve ball. While I expected to have some tired days if Eliana had a rough night (what mom of a baby doesn't?), I didn't expect this. Thank you for praying...

Monday, November 8, 2010

Long overdue...

They say better late than never, right? So while lots of other moms got their cute Halloween pictures up, we were busy fighting a vicious stomach bug in our house. Little Ellie was hit pretty hard, but thankfully is on the mend. Anyhow, a few pictures of our little bumblebee...


Despite her costume's cuteness, she wasn't a huge fan. The puffy tummy of the costume made it hard for her to sit and crawl... she just couldn't figure it out. Truthfully, her frustrated attempts were sort of cute to watch. :) Needless to say, she only wore the costume for a little over an hour as we attended a neighbor's Halloween party, but it was fun while it lasted!
Just a few days later, Eliana turned 8 months old! She's crawling like crazy, loves to pull herself up, and has started to walk while holding on to a push toy. She "talks" up a storm, and uses "dadada" and "mama" appropriately. I know the other moms out their can relate to how wonderful it is to finally hear "mama".

I just love Eliana's fun, spirited personality. She's outgoing, loves to laugh, and is so proud of herself when she accomplishes something new. She's curious... often seeing in things little details that I easily miss. She is such a treasure.
With the fun of Halloween having passed, fall tends to take a turn and begins to focus on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Admittedly, October through New Years tends to be a difficult time for me. I am sure that many who have gone through the grief of losing a loved one, particularly a child, would agree that the holidays are hard. Of course, the bittersweet dynamic of our family with having one child here and one waiting for us in Heaven is there. It's in day-to-day life sorts of things, like the fact that Eliana's pictures grace the mantle in some one's home, yet Isaac's picture is nowhere to be found.
But the holidays... it's like missing magnified. While I shop for mega blocks and a big stuffed chair for Eliana, I wonder what "Santa" would be bringing Isaac this year. While our family will sit and hold hands around the Thanksgiving table sharing what we're grateful for, I'll be holding one of my children's hands but not the other. I'll be giving thanks for Eliana's good health, and wishing the same had been true for my son.
I suppose all this is to say that many of our days, and much of each day, is filled with a lot of laughter and joy; but, the heart of a mom who is missing her son does just that: misses her son... notices his absence, and longs for him to be here.
If you are reading and have also lost a child, I am sure that rings true for you, too. And if you are reading and know someone who is doing the missing, I would encourage you to find ways to sensitively remember their child this holiday season. For me, it does my heart good to know that Isaac is talked about, remembered, and has not been forgotten.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Movin' and Groovin'

It's been quite a few weeks here in our house. Eliana has been keeping us quite busy! She is really on the move now... crawling, pulling up, and even attempting to take a step or two while holding on to something. Here's a little peek at how we found her in her crib last weekend after her nap. She is so proud of herself... it cracks me up!

video

Ellie continues to be such a joy. She loves people, is really outgoing, loves to talk and to laugh... she is just so precious. Be sure to check back in a few days for pictures from her first Halloween!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Infant and Pregnancy Loss Remembrance Day

As I have shared the past few years, and as many o fyou already know, October 15th is designated as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Last year I shared some research on some statistics related to this and found the following...

-According to emedicine, the overall miscarriage rate is 15-20%. Some physicians believe this percentage may even be higher, as miscarriage can often occur before a woman even knows she is pregnant.

- Approximately 25,000 babies are stillborn each year in the United States, and according to the March of Dimes, about 19,000 babies die within the first month of life (called neonatal death).

- SIDS claims the lives of over 7000 babies each year nationally.

One of the reasons I am so anxious (in a good way) to get the Isaac Delisle Foundation up and running is that there is clearly a huge need for additional support for bereaved parents. Many, many people are affected by miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant loss. And if you are one of those people I want you to know this: your child matters.

So, once again this year, I would like to do a few things this October 15th.

First, I would like to pray for you. If you are comfortable, please feel free to share as much of or as little of your story in a comment below. Spencer will be busy with the guys from our small group tomorrow evening, and I would like to take that time to pray. Also, I would like to invite those of you reading to pray for the people who have courageously shared their stories.

Secondly, as the http://www.october15th.com/ site has announced, you are invited to light a candle on October 15th at 7pm in your time zone to create a wave of light in remembrance of the child/children that you have lost, or in honor of someone else who has lost a child thought miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant death.

So, I will start...

My name is Stacy. In the fall of 2007, we lost baby #1 to a miscarriage due to triploidy discovered at 13 weeks. On October 7, 2008, we met our precious son Isaac at 8:33 am. He passed away due to complications from a series of congenital birth defects 16 minutes later. He is deeply, deeply missed and so incredibly loved.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Isaac's 2nd Birthday

It's a strange thing to figure out how to celebrate the second birthday of your child who is no longer here. I am not sure I will ever feel celebratory on October 7th... bittersweet seems to be more accurate. The bitter reality that Isaac is no longer here coupled with the sweetness of memories of having gotten to meet him, to have snuggled him, and to have loved him his whole life.

Families who have lost a child often struggle to figure out what feels right for them in terms of remembering their baby on his or her birthday. Some families have parties and bake cakes, some choose to barely acknowledge the day and think of it as a non-event, and others establish traditions that don't feel very birthday-like, yet are still a way to remember and honor their child as they continue to weave his or her presence into the tapestry of their family.

For us, it looked like an "I love Isaac" onesie on Eliana...


And a family picnic at the cemetery...



It looked like sending letters to heaven on the strings of blue balloons...




And a family hike at a place very special to us when I was pregnant with Isaac...
(although the hike plans got deterred because of a serious stink bug infestation!)





Thankfully, October 7th was a gorgeous day here in Maryland... the first after several days of heavy rains. And just a few short days later, God even painted us a beautiful rainbow :)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Two Years

I am amazed at how time can both simultaneously fly and crawl... how it feels like such a short time ago that I met Isaac, snuggled him, kissed his little face, and told him over and over how much I love him and how proud I am of him. Yet at the same time, it feels like forever since I last saw him. There is so much that I very clearly remember about this day two years go; and yet other details are starting to become fuzzy, despite my best effort to remember everything so sharply. Has it really been two years? Two whole years?

Dear Isaac,

I want you to know that I have not stopped thinking about you. While my head knows that you are healthy and whole, delighting in the fullness of God's glory, my heart still aches for you and longs for you to be here with us. I wish that you could be here to see your little sister and the amazingly beautiful, sweet, and fun little girl she continues to become. I wish that you were here to go to the pumpkin patch with us on Saturday, for me to pull you around in a wagon, to go down the slide on the playground. I wish we would be throwing a birthday party for you; instead, today we'll visit the cemetery and go on a hike to a place that was very special to me and daddy while you were still in my tummy. I miss you so much, Isaac. You are so precious to me and your absence is still very profound.

You have made such a difference in my life and in the lives of so many other people. You have made the world better because you were here. I am so proud of you. I am so proud to be your mommy. I love you so, so much, Isaac. I miss you...

Love,
Mommy

Click here to view the slideshow of Isaac's birthday.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Stump

It's a brisk fall morning here in Maryland. The leaves have started to turn, and evidence of fall is all around. As I wrote the date on the board in my classroom yesterday, I had a hard time with the fact that another October has arrived. All of these things, and many more, are so tightly bound to Isaac. It is a strange thing to be able to marvel at the beauty of fall, and at the same time, feel the weeping rise up within you.

As is often the case, I received a timely email from a friend yesterday... another mom who knows the pain of losing a child. In fact, she has lost two: twin boys in March of 2008. She has been a tremendous encouragement to me over the past couple of years, and this email was no different. Having been sitting in a Starbucks reading Jerry Sittser's book A Grace Disguised, she wanted to pass along an excerpt that she found particularly comforting.

"But is it possible to live this way? Is it possible to feel sorrow for the rest of our lives and yet to find joy at the same time? Is it possible to enter the darkness and still to live an ordinary, productive life? Loss requires that we live in a delicate tension....

The sorrow I feel has not disappeared but it has been integrated into my life as a painful part of a healthy whole. Initially my loss was so overwhelming to me that it was the dominant emotion - sometimes the only emotion - I had. I felt like I was staring at the stump of a huge tree that had just been cut down in my backyard. That stump, which sat all alone, kept reminding me of the beloved tree that I had lost. I could think of nothing but that tree. Every time I looked out the window, all I could see was that stump. Eventually, however, I decided to do something about it. I landscaped my backyard reclaiming it once again as my own. I decided to keep the stump there, since it was both too big and too precious to remove. Instead of getting rid of it, I worked around it. I planted shrubs, tress, flowers and grass. I laid out a brick pathway and built two benches. Then I watched everything grow. Now, three years later, the stump remains still reminding me of the beloved tree I lost. But the stump is surrounded by a beautiful garden of blooming flowers and growing trees and lush grass. Likewise, the sorrow I feel remains but I have tried to create a landscape around the loss so that what was once ugly is now an integral part of a large, lovely whole."


I've spoken before about how much I loved this book. I not only love his authenticity, but his writing is so metaphoric. He is able to so beautifully articulate things I seldom have the ability to explain. But this explains it so well; and I am confident that others of you reading who have lost a child, or have experienced a significant loss of another loved one, can relate.

Almost two years later, the sorrow of losing Isaac is still there... and it is still great. As I watch all that Ellie is doing and find so much joy in her presence, my heart weeps for the little boy who I didn't get to share similar moments with. I find myself starting to tell Ellie, "We're all here with you!" only to be painfully reminded that that statement is false; her big brother is missing.

While the sorrow may be a painful part of our lives that will always be, God continues to faithfully show us how to integrate it into a healthy whole. I think about His provision with two golf tournaments, with the establishment of the Isaac Delisle Foundation, and with the playground that is soon to be built at our church in memory of Isaac... and I can see that each of these things are part of the garden of beauty that he is creating around the stump of sorrow.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Dress Up Time!

Just because it's fun... and what else do you have to do on a rainy Wednesday evening??






Bible Giveaway Winner!

I had this great idea of having Eliana choose the winning name out of a basket. So today, I wrote all of your names on little pieces of index card cut out with my cute scissors and placed them in a basket.


So I sat it in front of her to see what she would do!



Of course, she dumped everyone's names out...



... and decided to eat the basket!



So we turned the basket back over, started to clean up the names, which just ended up getting dumped out again :)



Eventually, Eliana did pull a name, which I couldn't get a picture of her holding, because it went directly into her mouth! So while these are blurry and the paper is both crumpled and chewed on, congratulations to ADELINE!!!!



ADELINE~ Please email me at coolteacher79@yahoo.com so that I can get your contact information to send to Zondervan. Please put "Bible Giveaway Winner" in the subject line so that in the event your email gets sent to my spam folder, I won't delete it.

Thank you to all of you who left a comment with a verse or some words of wisdom. It encouraged me (and I am sure many other readers) greatly this week!