Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Your Questions, My Answers~ Round 2

As promised, here's your second installment of responses to your questions. These definitely took a bit more time to answer. For now, I have left comments open in hopes that the spirit of any comments would continue to be kind and encouraging.

From the first installment, there was a question in the comments asking more about the Evangelical Free church. So I thought I would include two links for you... one for our church, and one about the Evangelical Free church.

Mountain View Community Church
Evangelical Free Church

And now for the rest of your questions...

Do you plan on trying again to have more children? How many would you like to have?

This is something we have thought and prayed a lot about. And yes, we do. Before ever starting the journey of starting a family, we agreed on having two children, and then discussing a third. Because of having had a classical c-section with Isaac, I think how many children we'll end up having will have somewhat to do with how my body is healing from the surgery. I think at this point, if we can have two children at home with us, in addition to Isaac, we'd feel really great about that. But as the book of Proverbs tells us, "Many are the plans of a man's heart; but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails." So we'll see. We really desire to fully surrender this area of our lives to the Lord, and day by day, are trying to do just that, trusting in His plan for us in this area.

I would like to know what the doctors are saying about the chance of having this happen again with more children?

This is a great question. Basically, we have been told that what happened with Isaac was a random, unfortunate fluke... a 1 in 10,000 fluke. We have received extensive genetic counseling, and have been told that with what is known right now, there is a 2-3% chance of recurrence, simply because it has already happened, not because of there being any sort of pattern of heredity.

We were offered some additional genetic testing on Spencer and I (called a microarray) to look at micro additions or micro deletions on our genes. We were told that if anything came up positive, which both the genetic counselor and head geneticist at Children's National Medical Center didn't think was likely, that it would raise the recurrence risk to 5-7%.

Spencer and I declined the testing. While we understand that even a 7% chance is low, particularly to other inheritable genetic things which could yield a 1 in 2 or a 1 in 4 chance. Even given a 7% chance of recurrence, we'd give this another shot. But, as you can imagine, in light of finding the 1 in 10,000 odds with Isaac, even the 2% chance of recurrence feels pretty substantial at times.

So, we decided that given the fact that the testing wouldn't move the recurrence risk into a percentage that made us uncomfortable trying again, that we would rather just let it be and put our hope and trust in what the Lord has for us.

Have you thought about adopting children?

Spencer and I have talked about this, and yes, we are open to it. There is adoption on both sides of our family-- my stepbrother, and Spencer's brother and sister. While we are open to this option, I will honestly say that our passion and hopes lie in having our own biological children. I loved being pregnant. If the Lord closes the door on us having biological children, we would absolutely look more into adoption.

How do you keep your marriage Christ-centered? Do you and your husband pray together regularly?

Before I answer this, I just want to say that I hope I haven't ever given the impression that we have this marriage thing all figured out. We don't. I do think that we have a strong marriage, and I think that through the grief of losing Isaac, God has faithfully really protected our marriage. But it is far from perfect. We obviously have been living out the whole "in good times and in bad" thing over the last year or two. But we do desire and seek to keep Christ at the center and do strive to be more Christ-like both individually, and as a couple.

So, with that, I think one of the ways that we keep our marriage Christ-centered is for both of us, individually, to be Christ-centered. When we each have Christ as the focus, are spending time in His word, and understand God's design for marriage and the roles of a man and a woman withing marriage, then we're better able to come together and function as a Christ-centered couple. It has been a journey to figure this out. Neither of us grew up in Christian homes where we had strong examples of what a Christ-centered marriage looks like.

Another thing that I think really helps us is being in community with examples of others who have and desire for their marriages to be focused on God... whether that's couples in our church who are a bit older than us who we can look to as an example and go to for wise counsel, or our small group of five Christian couples (including us) with whom we can be extremely authentic, honest, and real. We can encourage one another, hold each other accountable, and pray for one another. It's too hard to do it alone... with or without having lost a child. Every marriage has their own struggles and things that need to be worked through.

As far as Spencer and I praying together... we do. We pray together at meals, and before bed, and when specific issues arise. But, we don't spend time sitting down and praying when there doesn't seem to be something pressing, and we should. That's an area of our marriage that I believe needs some attention.

I too would really love to hear about yours and Spencer's marriage. Are you doing any type of counseling either with your church or elsewhere? I know that marriage is so hard without adding the loss of a child into the mix. I know you read a lot of books. Do you read any about keeping your marriage strong and grounded?

We have been really fortunate that God has really protected our marriage through all of this. Please don't get me wrong... we are normal people who are tired, can become impatient, who at times act out of selfishness instead of selflessness... you get the picture. But through all of this, God has just really protected us. He has allowed us to communicate well, He has given us the strength to meet one another's needs as best we can, He has enabled us to uphold each other.

Great question about counseling. We met with our pastor a few times while I was still pregnant with Isaac, mostly to talk through some questions we had been wrestling with about all of this. Last July, I started going to counseling on my own. I just sort of hit this wall, and despite the tremendous support from my family, friends, and Spencer, I just needed a place where I could totally let my guard down, talk about it all... the good, the bad, and the ugly... and just process. There's a great Christian counseling group in the town in which we live. After Isaac was born, Spencer started attending counseling with me some of the times so that we could learn and be equipped to really navigate the grief of losing a child as a couple.

As far as books are concerned, we've both read several (either together or on our own), including Covenant Marriage by Gary Chapman, The Five Love Languages also by Gary Chapman, and Love that Lasts by Betsy and Gary Ricucci. I guess guys named Gary have good marriage advice? :) I am sure there have been other books but those are the three most recent. And of course, the scriptures are filled with wisdom about God's intended purposes for marriage as a visual expression of Christ's love for the church.

Also, so many times marriages seem to fall apart when a child is lost -- how did you/are you & Spencer working to keep it strong? Did you experience times when you took your anger and grief out on each other and how did you get past that?

The word that comes to mind here is grace. There have definitely been times that we have taken are anger or our grief out on each other... we're human. And so over this last year or so since we found out about Isaac's prognosis until now, I think we've both just been showing each other an added measure of grace... knowing that "it's the grief talking," so to speak, and knowing not to take things so personally or to become so easily offended. We've grown in this area a lot over the past few months, though, and taking our anger, hurt, or grief out on each other doesn't really seem to happen much anymore.

As far as keeping our marriage strong, I think I mentioned several things in my previous two responses. The one thing I do want to add is that we have been intentionally looking for ways to spend time together really enjoying life. I know that sounds like something a married couple would want to lose anyway, but it can be really hard when going through intense grief. Grief is exhausting. It takes energy to plan a day trip, or even go on one. So we have been trying to do things together that we enjoy... like out trip to Jamaica, me taking up golf, going on day trips here or there, visiting some of our favorite restaurants, etc. It would have been far too easy for us both to retreat to our own personal little "caves"and stay there... and neither of us wanted that.

Have your experiences have made you think or re-think your own personal and/or political beliefs about abortion?

I suppose this is where things could get a bit, um, dicey. And truth be known, this is the question that I wanted to take some time to really think and pray through.

My short answer to this question is no. My experience with Isaac has not at all made me re-think my personal or political stance on abortion. If anything, it has only solidified it and made me surer than ever about what I believe and my deeply-rooted pro-life convictions.

If you'd like to keep reading, here's the longer answer.

Before our experience with Isaac, I would have told you that I am pro-life. I had a deep conviction about this that was rooted in what the Bible says about life and the creation of life.

While I was pregnant, every obstetrician who provided our care at some point brought up the issue of terminating my pregnancy. I believe, in part, that this is because they may have a legal obligation to provide all the options. However, there was one doctor in particular (see my posts entitled "The Fourth" and "The Fourth, Part 2") who brought it up numerous times, despite our stance being abundantly clear.

I know that our reasons for not terminating my pregnancy have been woven throughout this blog, but just to more concisely highlight a few...

~ I believe that children, from the moment of conception, are unique, soul-ful, dignified people being created in the image of God.

~ I believe that God is the giver of life, and He is the one who takes it away.

Psalm 139:13-16 says:

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

~ More specific to Isaac's situation, I know that God is bigger than medicine. While I believe that doctors are incredibly knowledgeable individuals, God is bigger. While I believe that current technologies, like sonography and fetal MRIs are fascinating and great medical advances, I believe that they don't tell the whole story... God does. In fact, we had been told that based on a fetal MRI, that Isaac "most certainly" had about a 90 degree forward curvature in his spine... it wasn't present at birth.

~ I know that miracles happen, and quite simply thought, "Why couldn't it be Isaac?" God is capable of that, and we wanted to give Isaac every chance at life.

I am sure I may have missed a few, but these were really our convictions and reasons for not terminating.

So October 7, 2008 comes, and I get to meet the most precious little boy I have ever laid eyes on... my son. My son who was deeply wanted, deeply loved, created by the God of the universe to serve a specific purpose in this world, full of dignity, value, and worth. Giving Isaac every chance of life has been worth all of the heartache, grief, physical recovery from a c-section... you name it. He was worth it. I couldn't imagine not getting to meet that sweet little guy who gave us a thumbs up on the ultrasound, and who kicked when I drank a Zazz or in response to his daddy's voice. He has changed my life. He was worth it.

You know, I got to thinking this past week about how parents spend a lifetime making sacrifices for their children; we will, too... not in the ways we would have liked for Isaac, and they look different from the sacrifices a parent makes for their child who is living. But they are sacrifices nonetheless.

So here we sit now on the other side of it all, and I am more convinced than ever about my beliefs about abortion, both personally and politically. I shared many of my personal convictions about this topic, so politically, I will say this: someone needs to be a voice for unborn children. Unborn children can't speak for themselves and don't have a voice, which is why I believe there needs to be legislative policy to protect them.

Lastly, I will say this. I can imagine that for many, the choice to abort your child must have been gut-wrenching. I have "met" a few people who have said that they didn't feel guilty at all about their choice to abort and stand by it, but for the most part, I know that for these mothers it is a gut-wrenching choice, often surrounded by feelings of guilt and/or shame. And to those mothers, I want you to know that there is forgiveness when you place that burden at the feet of the One who intimately created you, who loves you, and who desires to be known by you. Mercy and grace, forgiveness and healing are all found at the foot of the cross... in the person of Jesus.

Again, I am happy to leave comments open on this post for now. I realize that some of this may be controversial, particularly my response to the last question. But please know that these responses were written out of honesty, love, compassion, and grace, and I would appreciate it if comments left here came from the same place. And, if you have any follow up questions, feel free to leave those as well.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Your Questions, My Answers~ Round 1

Thanks so much to those of you who posted comments in my previous post. They were fun to read! If you missed that post, you are welcome to still leave a comment/question and I will try to add it into the mix.

Some of your questions clustered around similar thoughts, like whether or not Spencer and I plan to have more children, my thoughts on adoption, my fitness routine/goals and having Spencer "borrow" my blog and share his side of things. Then there were a whole slew of other questions :)

So, I would like to respond to your questions in a couple of installments, saving the more personal responses for a few days, as I am still thinking and praying over those words. For today, I hope to answer with some of the "easier" ones :)

Do you see yourself staying in teaching?

I'm not sure. I come from a family of teachers. I married a teacher. I love having time in the summer to either work less or not work, and love that Spencer can do the same. I enjoy my job, but I don't love it like I did when I first began my career. We're in the process of setting up the Isaac Delisle Foundation, and are leaving room in the way we're constructing it for it to potentially become my full-time job down the road, if God sees it fit to grow the foundation into something that would allow me to do that. But who knows. :) For now, though, teaching works. I teach a middle school that's fairly close to home, and work with a great staff. Teaching Reading is rewarding, and working with 6th graders is really cool. It's a neat time to be an influential presence in a kid's life.

I know you said once that you really missed your old school. Will you try and go back now? Are things better at your new one?

I don't think so. In the next few years there may be some openings there, but that school is really far from home... at least 50 minutes each way. I just don't think I can do that commute. My old school is definitely a special place and I loved working there, but working closer to home has been really great as well. Things have gotten a little better at my new school. I have gotten to know the two special education teachers with whom I co-taught pretty well, and really enjoy my friendships with both of them. We'll see what this next school year brings... I feel pretty hopeful about it.

Have you thought about writing a book about your journey with Spencer and Isaac?

I absolutely have, and I would love to... I just don't know how to! If anyone knows of a literary agent or publisher that would be interested in working me on something like this, let me know! Once the Foundation is set up, I think I will have the time and energy to pour into investigating this further.

Is there an area of your house that is set aside for Isaac's keepsakes?

Well, we have some of his things and some pictures up throughout the house. Most of his things, though, are in the room upstairs that would have been his nursery. We're looking for a nice cedar chest to put his things in so that they can be stored, but also still easily accessible.

I'd love to know more about your sporting routine. I see from Twitter it's pretty intense. How do you fit it all in?

It's summer and I am not working :) Seriously, though, I used to get up and go to the gym before work. I had a workout buddy/coworker/close friend who met me at the gym 4 mornings each week. We lifted for about 45 minutes, then did cardio. I LOVED that regimen. However, us both transferring to different schools, moving, and getting pregnant with Isaac... well, that routine went down the tubes. Now, I shoot for lifting 2-3 times each week, and doing cardio 4-5 times each week, fitting it in when I can. During the school year, I usually go right after work now. But I would like to get back into my morning routine. We'll see once September rolls around!

How do you get started? What keeps you motivated? How do you go about finding events to run in? etc.

Great questions. As far as getting started goes, I have a theory. It is not based on anything I have read, any of Spencer's sports/exercise physiology... just personal experience. I call it the "three mile rule." Go out and do 3 miles. At first, you may walk the whole thing. Then you may add jogs here or there... like walk 3 minutes, jog 1 minute. A bit later, you may jog 2 minutes, walk 1 minute. Then, you may progress to only walking here and there. And finally, you'll jog the whole thing. But, commit to 3 miles. Even if you walk it at a 15 minute pace, you'll only be out for 45 minutes. Once you can jog 3 miles, then begin playing with your speed and/or your distance. For some reason, 3 miles just feels like this threshold when you first start running, and being able to get there, and then past it... a good accomplishment.

As far as motivation goes, there are a few things. First, I genuinely enjoy working out and love how I feel because of it. I worked out until 32 weeks during my pregnancy with Isaac, and I believe it's one of the reasons I felt great (physically) during my pregnancy. However, I realize not everyone genuinely enjoys exercising. And some days, I just don't feel like it. So in those circumstances, I think it has more to do with discipline. Just sheer will power to stick with it. Then, when you see results (however you choose to measure them... weight loss, a faster time, etc), it spurs you on to keep going.

With regard to finding events, I hear about them from friends, look on Active.com. Word of mouth seems to be the best method, particularly if a friend has done a certain race before and he/she enjoyed it.

I know you mentioned you were training for a half marathon, have you raced yet? If so how did it go? What are your fitness goals for the future?

I did run my half marathon... and I did okay! Finished in 2 hours... about a 9:16 pace. My goals were to finish without walking in under a 10 min/mile pace, which I did :) I did a lot better in the one I ran 5 years ago, but I actually trained for it and was in much better shape at the time. Not sure about fitness goals for the future. I sort of always see myself as someone who will sign up for a few races each year, ranging from 5Ks to 1/2 marathons. I just genuinely enjoy a healthy and active lifestyle, so my hope would be to maintain that. Although, I would love to complete a triathlon (NOT the Ironman!) someday! Here are a before and after pictures from my half marathon I did with my sister...

Have your found your running, exercise etc helped with grieving for Isaac?

Absolutely. My time running has given me the time and space to really think, pray, listen to songs that remind me of Isaac, and then inevitably cry. Nothing like seeing a crying runner :) But, the physiological aspect of running and exercise has also helped. There were many days I didn't feel like running or working out, but knew I should... whether it was because I could sense the Lord had something to say to me, or that just from a physical standpoint I knew the whole endorphin thing would be good for me. But yes... I think that exercising (mostly my running) has been really helpful in terms of my grief.

I'd enjoy reading about how you and Spencer met and began your lives together.

Spencer and I met at work. Never in a million years did I think that I would meet my husband at an elementary school, as 95% of the staff is women! Spencer was hired as a PE teacher my third year of teaching. He had worked full time as a personal trainer after graduating from college for a few years before going into teaching. Anyhow, the administrative secretary at the time told me about this great, handsome new PE teacher and how she thought I would really like him... and then proceeded to show me his resume! Too funny. So I just "happened" to be in the office the day he came in to fill out paperwork or something, took one look at him, and thought, "Oh my gosh. This guy is so good looking." From that point on, he was endearingly termed "HGT" standing for "hot gym teacher" among my friends and I. His lunch break happened to be when ours was, so he'd eat in the staff lounge with my friends and I. We got to know each other, and he asked be about a bible study in the area. I invited him to leadership for Young Life, and we started hanging out some through that. He asked me out to Six Flags on our first date (he can give you his reasoning on why this was such a brilliant idea!) and we had a blast. About 5 months later, we were engaged! We got married on December 18, 2004... about 9 months after our engagement.

What denomination are you?

I am a Christian... no particular denomination. We happen to be members of an Evangelical Free church, but we joined the church because of things like its sound theology and strong leadership, not because we were looking for an Evangelical Free church.

Do you think you could ever let God use you to speak to other women?

I hope that through this blog, God has already done just that. That is certainly one desire I have in maintaining this blog. As far as speaking to other women one-on-one in person who have suffered the loss of a child, speaking at a church women's conference... yes to all of the above. I really believe that God uses our most painful experiences to allow us to minister to others more effectively... and I definitely desire to do that.

When you indulge in fast food -- anything where you walk up to a counter, be it McD's or Panera -- what is your guilty pleasure?

I LOVE Chick-Fil-A. Yes, most often I get the grilled chicken because I feel like I "should." But, I love their signature sandwich (no pickles) with fries and coleslaw!!I also love Panera... particularly the Frontega Chicken when I splurge; or the garden salad and black bean soup when I don't :) Does Subway count as fast food? That's my most frequent choice!

If you could excel at one of the following, which would you choose: a) cooking; b) golfing; c) sewing; or d) gardening

Cooking... without a doubt.

Important person in your life who has influenced the person you are becoming.

I had to really think about this one... mostly because I am surrounded by wonderful family and an amazing group of friends. My answer on this may be a little bit of a cop-out. I am so sorry about that! So, if I had to pick one person, I would say Jesus. But, beyond that, I would say that there have been characteristics about many different people in my life who have influenced who I am becoming because they demonstrate to me different traits that are worth emulating. Here are a few thoughts...

Spencer- His work ethic and his servant's heart.

My mom- Her desire to help and to minister to people who have a need or who are hurting.

My dad- His desire of spending time with family and making family a priority.

My sister- Her tenderness and compassion.

Our small group friends- Their authenticity, intentionality, and ability to speak the truth in love

Isaac- His presence taught me so much about loving boldly, about treasuring the little things, about not being so concerned about the destination but relishing in the journey, and about the reality and hope of eternity.

Just a few thoughts about some of the key people in my life and how they have influenced me.

Something that you are scared to do but WANT to do, but are held back maybe by fear.

This is a hard one! Because usually the things I fear I do NOT want to do! :) I think if I were to be honest, my answer would be trying to have more children. We definitely desire that, but as you can imagine, there is a lot of fear surrounding that as well.

What does your laugh sound like -- are you a big belly laughter or more of a reserved laugther?

A belly laugh... often to the point of tears :) I love the whole laughing so hard it makes you cry thing! I guess I do chuckle sometimes though, too.

Thanks so much for all your questions! I hope to address your questions about whether or not we plan to have more kids, our thoughts on adoption, how all of this has impacted our marriage and how Spencer and I keep our marriage strong, as well as some of your other questions in the next "installment." Stay tuned! :)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Ask Away

I've seen other bloggers do a question and answer session with their readers. I know that I write a lot here about Isaac, our experience with him, and what the Lord is teaching us through this. Through that sharing, I am sure folks have gleaned other things about me and Spencer as well.

But there may be things you're wondering... regarding Isaac, or otherwise.

So, I thought it would be fun to open up comments (not that they weren't already) to questions from you all, my faithful readers and pray-ers (is that a word?). So go ahead... ask away... but please ask in good spirit and not judgement or condemnation. I will post again in a few days answering (some of? most of? all of?) your questions!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Walking With You~ Naming Isaac

Walking With You was created by Kelly of Sufficient Grace Ministries to help support those who have lost a child. Together we share our stories, helpful information, scriptures, encouraging words, prayer requests, and more. To join in on Walking With You please visit Kelly's blog.
Last week we were asked to share our goodbyes with our babies, and I just wasn't in a place where I could recount that. As I mentioned in a previous post, saying our final goodbye to Isaac is the greatest pain I have ever endured, and I am just not prepared to delve back into that right now. We did honor Isaac's life with both a family burial service and a memorial service; both were carefully planned, and I am confident that both Isaac's life and our Lord were honored.
This week, we've been asked to share how we named our babies and what their names mean. We had Isaac's name picked out early on, once we had learned about the complications with his development. We named him after the account of Abraham and Isaac in Genesis 22... feeling as though God was calling us to great sacrifice, and that because of Isaac's prognosis, it truly would have had to have been the Lord who would have spared his life on this side of heaven. Medically, we were told by some of the nations' top physicians, that there was nothing they would be able to do for him.
The name Isaac also means "laughter." We knew that even if Isaac wasn't healed on this side of heaven, that in heaven itself Isaac would be full and complete, not lacking in anything... and we just imagined him happy and whole... and laughing.
We chose Isaac's middle name a little later. We decided on Timothy because it means "to honor God." We wanted everything about Isaac's life, our decision to carry him to term... just everything surrounding his life and presence here to bring glory to our Father.
When we had decided on his name, Spencer made up a "naming certificate" on the computer, and we both signed it. He wanted to make it official... well, as official as possible. We shared his name with everyone, include you all here reading this blog, because we wanted our son to be able to be prayed for by name. We wanted him to be known.
Hearing Isaac's name is still such a gift...particularly in reference to our Isaac.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Isaac's Golf Tournament-- Big Announcement!

This past Sunday at church was our new member induction. I promise... this has to do with the golf tournament. Stick with me. Anyhow, Spencer and I have been attending our church for about two years now. We considered membership after several months, but had scheduling conflicts with the new member class. Long story short, it all worked out, and this past Sunday we, along with a few other folks, were called down front after the worship set and confirmed as members of the church.

After the worship set... which included some of my favorite songs that happen to just pull at my heart as the remind me so much of Isaac. We sang "Mighty to Save" and "How Deep the Father's Love for Us". You might remember that "How Deep the Father's Love for Us" was one that i played for Isaac in the mornings as I wrote to him, and it was one of the songs we had at his memorial service. We finished with "Better is One Day"... a song I have loved for years, whose truth I know for sure. But when I sing it, I find myself asking, "But God, couldn't we have had Isaac for just a while first?"

So by the time the worship set was over, I had had a few of "those moments" where the tears just rolled despite every attempt on my part to hold them back. But I was able to get myself composed enough to walk down front.

The service continued, and you wouldn't believe the content. Yup... you guessed it. Genesis 22. The Abraham and Isaac story.

Truth be known, I thought about leaving. I wasn't sure I could do it... to sit there and hear my son's name over and over again throughout the service; hearing about God sparing Abraham's Isaac on this side of heaven, but not ours. Ultimately, I know that Isaac was spared because of Christ's finishing work on the cross; but like I shared in relation to that song... I wish we could have had the chance to have him here for a while first.

We didn't leave... we stayed. And I am glad we did.

The service wrapped up, and Spencer and I headed out to the lobby to man an information table about the golf tournament. At that point, the owner of the Nissan dealership where we recently purchased my new Nissan Rogue, with whom I had been e-mailing about sponsoring a hole for the tournament, came up to talk to us.

I didn't even know we attended the same church!

So... the big announcement...

He told Spencer he would be glad to have a 2009 Nissan Altima out on a par 3 hole as a hole-in-one prize!!


It was amazing to me that on that particular Sunday, when we were called down front for new member induction... when he could put a face with a name and connect it to Isaac's Golf Tournament... the way all of those things were arranged for us to have connected.

To tell you the truth, I needed a little pick me up after how emotional the service was for me.

So there you have it! Never did I dream that we'd have a car to give away at the tournament! Dust off your 7 iron (or 8 or 9 iron) and start practicing!!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Why NOT Me?

While the title may suggest it, this post isn't going to be about how I feel sort of "left out" in the whole world of raising children. While that may be true, and while the fact that Isaac isn't here for us to raise often makes me feel like I don't quite "fit" with our many friends who do have children (not because of anything our friends say or do; they are terrific... this is merely circumstantial), this isn't the context in which I have been thinking about this question.

I think it's common and it's normal when someone has suffered a catastrophic loss, such as the loss of a child, to ask "Why me?" And truth be told, I did. I had a great line of rationalization about why losing a child shouldn't happen to me and Spencer. It went something like this:

"We're young, healthy people. We make eating right and staying in shape a priority. I did everything right during my pregnancy... ate right, exercised, abstained from harmful things. We're a strong Christian couple who desires to raise our children in the ways of the Lord. We have great jobs in which we excel... after all, I am a Nationally Board Certified Teacher. We're kind, loving, live in a safe and family-focused neighborhood that's a great place to raise children. Things like this shouldn't happen to people like us."

To be honest, I am almost embarrassed to admit this train of thought. It's certainly less than humble. But in the face of tragedy, we try to reason it. We try to make "sense" of it all.

Gently, though, the Lord brought to mind a different question, Why NOT you, Stacy?

After all, while all of those things listed in my not-so-humble rant above may be true, there is one thing significantly more true than any of them: I am a sinner, saved by grace.

Our small group is currently reading and discussing Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper. We spent some time this past Friday talking about the cross, and how it serves as a reminder of who we are, who we are not, and who we are in relation to God.

At the foot of the cross, there is no better or worse.

But so often, I think as a way of protecting ourselves from realizing that "those things" could in fact happen to us, we create this protective wall of our accomplishments and positive attributes. Through this experience, I have been realizing that a wall of protection built from my successes and favorable behaviors or traits is no stronger than the straw the three little pigs used to build their house. When the big bad wolf came, it served as no protection.

So I think the better question is... Why NOT me?

When I remember who I really am at the core, there's nothing that precludes me from experiencing the "unthinkable." Even Job, an incredibly righteous man in his time, was tormented time and time and time again. And unfortunately, as the life of Job deomnstrates, even experiencing one unthinkable tragedy doesn't preclude you from experiencing another.

The question of "Why me?" puts myself at the center; the question of "Why NOT me?" turns our eyes toward God... and He is our only sure foundation in the midst of pain, heartache, and tragedy.

Please don't get me wrong...I certainly don't miss Isaac any less. His absence is still incredibly profound and I miss him like crazy. And it has taken me a long time to get to this place... where my head and heart seem to finally be matching up on this. For a while, these truths were something my head knew, but my heart was still in so much anguish that it just hadn't caught up yet. Some of you reading may be in that place. The disconnect between the two is so hard. Continue to take it before the Lord... He will meet you there.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

9 Months

Today Isaac would have been 9 months old. And I think the thing that's especially strange about that for me is the fact that we've been without him here as long as we had him with us, even though it was time in the womb. And it's a Tuesday... Isaac was born on a Tuesday.

In many ways, my pregnancy with Isaac felt long... I wanted to live it slowly, and I didn't want it to end. Somehow, these past 9 months feel as though they passed a lot more quickly than our time with him did. It's strange how the same amount of time can feel so different.

Lately I have found myself thinking back to "this time last year." At this point last year, I could feel Isaac moving around all the time. I had to wear a maternity swimsuit at the pool. I would spend time laying on the couch, just being with Isaac. I would get up each morning, play him music, and write Isaac a letter. I was anticipating our trip to the beach so I could get to tell him all about the ocean, the waves, the seashells, the sunrise, and the seagulls. Despite Isaac's diagnosis, I was full of enjoyment because of the time I did have with him, and full of anticipation about what God could still do.

This year, while the aftermath of it all has become more predictable and more steady, it still just feels hard. Please don't misunderstand... I love summer. It is one of the greatest perks of being a teacher! But Isaac isn't here... not in the womb or here in our home. And it can be a real battle to not muddle in the "should've, would've, could've beens." While I know that some of that is normal, I also know that it's not God's desire for us to stay there and to live in that.

It appears as though this post is a little scattered, but I suppose that's just sort of my thoughts on it all. We're progressing, God continues to show us His grace and faithfulness, and we are continuing to adjust to our new normal... which doesn't feel, at nine months, so new anymore. But the limp is still there, and I have a feeling it's not going anywhere... we're just getting more used to it. I still miss Isaac a ton, and it is hard to not look at other little boys who are about the age Isaac would be and not feel sad about the fact that I'll never get to see Isaac smile, or hear him laugh, watch him roll over, or see him pull himself up. As I said in my "8 Months" post, though, there are good days, they are outnumbering the bad days, and through it all, God really does just continue to pour out his provision for us.

So today, Spencer and I will do our usual thing of visiting the cemetery (like we do every Sunday and the 7th of each month). We thought it fitting to spend a bulk of time today working on the paperwork for setting up The Isaac Delisle Foundation. It just felt like a way to somehow honor Isaac and to be doing something that allows us to feel a little closer to him.

Thanks for continuing to pray for us all these months. Some of you have been reading from the beginning, and you've really been in it for the long haul. Others of you may have found Isaac's story only recently, and we're thankful that you've gotten to know our sweet son.

I just love his sweet little face, his cute nose, his soft skin, and his fuzzy red hair :)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Walking With You~ Meeting Isaac

Walking With You was created by Kelly of Sufficient Grace Ministries to help support those who have lost a child. Together we share our stories, helpful information, scriptures, encouraging words, prayer requests, and more. To join in on Walking With You please visit Kelly's blog.
This 3rd week of Walking With You we have been asked to share about the birth of our babies and the moments we spent with our children after they were born.
I remember waking up early the morning of October 7, 2008. Needless to say, with a scheduled c-section, I hadn't slept well the night before. We were to arrive at the hospital at 5:30, and I am pretty sure I woke up at 4:00... having finally fallen asleep somewhere around 2am.
We sat in the waiting room, joined by my mom and stepdad, then my dad and stepmom. My nurse, who we had already met with ahead of time, took us back to the room that would be ours for the bulk of the day. The hospital was fabulous about getting us a private recovery room so that we could have family and friends back to meet Isaac and spend time with him without the distraction of other patients and doctors.
When we got back to that room, there was already a little birthday gift for Isaac waiting there that had been dropped off by my friend Taylor that morning. We put our (many) bags down, got settled, and I got prepped for surgery. Various family members came back to visit, and our pastors came in and prayed with us. Than I began the (not so) long walk down the hall to the OR.
Until this point, I had really put far from my mind the whole spinal thing. I was petrified of it, and just couldn't deal with being afraid of it on top of everything else. I had talked with the anesthesiologist ahead of time, and had told him that regardless of what I said in the OR, I wanted to be coherent and fully present during my time with Isaac... even if it meant enduring more physical pain. And believe me... it did.
The procedure started, with numerous medical staff in the room: two doc's from my OB office to do the delivery, the anesthesiologist, the neonatologist, a respiratory therapist, and at least two nurses that I remember. Spencer and I began reciting Psalm 121 together, something we had memorized specifically for that time. We wanted our focus to be on the Lord as Isaac was delivered, not on all the medical things that were being said among the doctors.
Isaac was delivered breech at 8:33am, and was quickly cleaned up and brought over to us. I know I am biased, but he was seriously the most beautiful baby I have ever seen. I just remember crying and thinking, "I can't believe this is my child." We could tell that he had my eyes and nose, and Spencer's ears and lips. It was absolutely amazing... and he was absolutely stunning.
Spencer held him for a little bit because it was important to me that Isaac felt what it was like to be held by his parents. Spencer then brought him over and nestled him right up next to me so I could talk to Isaac, kiss his little face, and just... be with him. I remember telling Isaac how proud I was of him and how proud I am to be his mom. I remember telling him how much I love him.
The neonatologist came over and told us that his heart had slowed to 30 beats per minute, and I knew we didn't have a ton of time left with him. Spencer and I just kept telling Isaac over and over how much we loved him and how proud we were of him. I guess when you're given such a short time with your child, you want them to hear the things that matter the most.
A few minutes later, the neonatologist came over again, and she told us that Isaac had passed away. This may sound strange, but I couldn't believe it. I think there was something in me that, even in those final moments, knew that it wasn't too late.
Eventually, the doctors finished the surgery and I was moved back to that recovery room. The doctors took Isaac for a few minutes to do what they needed to do, and then brought him back to us. Spencer and I spent a while with Isaac first giving him a bath, getting his footprints, and trimming some locks of his hair.
Our photographer from Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep came back and took photographs of the three of us, and then we eventually began to invite our family and friends back to meet Isaac. Everyone had the chance to hold him and just be with him. I was just so struck by how each of them just emanated so much love for our son... particularly knowing that they had walked into a very difficult and heart-wrenching situation.
Once many of our friends and family members left, our nurse helped us make molds of Isaac's hand and foot... two of my most favorite things from that day. We were then moved to my room on the mother-baby ward. We were given an extra large room at the end of the all to both keep us a little more out of the way, and to accommodate our many visitors.
My dad and sister-in-law helped us get Isaac's footprints on Christmas ornaments, and we took some more pictures of Isaac wrapped in the different blankets he had been given. Once everyone had left for the day, we had some more time to spend with him ourselves. Spencer and I just took turns holding him, loving on him, and beign with him.
It was difficult knowing that the time when we would have to say our final goodbye was looming... it was like I just wanted time to stop because I just wanted more time than I knew I had.
I wish I could share what it was like to say that final goodbye, but truthfully, even almost 9 months later, I can't. Suffice it to say that it was nothing short of the most excruciating physical and emotional pain that I have ever experienced... and I really need to just leave it at that.
Spencer and I are both really thankful for the 16 minutes we did have with Isaac while he was alive, for the many hours we had to hold his little body afterwards, and for the numerous family members and friends who were there that day. We're thankful that the hospital was so accommodating, and that we were able to make so many physical mementos of Isaac's presence. We're thankful for our hundreds of beautiful photographs from our photographer, and for the pictures that our nurse took in the OR so that we would have pictures of Isaac while he was still alive. Though our deepest prayer for Isaac to be healed on this side of heaven wasn't answered the way we had hoped, God's provision for us on October 7, 2008 was still abundant.