Tag Archives: Emmanuelle

Risk in Adventure

 

“The illiterate of the 21st Century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.“ 

Alvin Toffler

I finished high school and spent four years at bible college- I could argue spirituality, biblically and theologically quite well, in fact sometimes I opposed just for the fun of it. From a twenty-one year olds perspective with such little life experience, I had certain faith in a big God despite any circumstance. Then when we lost Emmanuelle I had to unlearn and relearn so much of what I thought I knew about Jesus. In most ways it was easy to accept the sovereignty of God and place our grief and loss in His hands believing it was a safe place. Yes there was hurt and confusion, but sovereignty; who can expect to fully understand that? The ending of hope and beginning of faith.

I spent months and years relearning what I knew about Jesus; to truly profess His goodness from the deepest darkness and valley. Relearning my understanding of sovereignty, faith, trust and goodness in the storm. My whole worldview, my faith and really my whole person became totally different, I changed. It has taken me years to chisel out of the cement casing of grief; a place devoid of my own identity and all joy to finally feel the light and live in the world again. But in that place I knew and trusted Jesus, so I emerged with Him as I had found Him there.

My struggle now is how much can I unlearn and relearn about Jesus…. again? I did that once before, through grief and so many questions without answers. Now, to move forward from here, I have to unlearn and relearn once again. But they are fresh wounds, some are still scabby….

In your first pregnancy your body doesn’t know what it’s doing, the uterus is stretching for the first time and it takes time. With our first I was smaller at 15weeks then I was at 7weeks with Steven (five pregnancies later). My body remembered what to do and did it.

For my pain and wounds, it is fresh, and gushing blood is what they remember how to do. I’m afraid to open those wounds and lose too much.

It was easier to unlearn about Jesus after losing Emmanuelle. Then relearn after months and months of longing and trying for another healthy child. To throw out what I used to know, keeping only the foundational truths, and spend over two years building upon those foundations with completely different perspectives and heart state. To so soon do that again, I’m afraid.

 

When Daniel and I were dating we talked and dreamed of a life that was anything but ordinary, we dreamed of an adventure. We craved travel, new things, hard things that would make us grow, children, joy, life, obedience to Jesus no matter the cost. We desired adventure.

Last week my friend shared this picture on his Facebook:

Pretty much, no matter how bad it got- broken bones, getting lost or attacked by a bear- so long as you didn’t die it could be counted as a good adventure.

I don’t know that I really want to put my life in a questions flow chart like this… I fear the questions being blunt and compartmentalized. Never what we imagined or hoped, but life has certainly been an adventure so far!

I think that is part of the struggle, once again we’ve been blindsided with pain, something contrary to our resolved belief. There is disappointment in the unexpected. Do I fear unlearning and relearning again? Do I fear adventure? Do I fear getting suffocated in the cement of grief? That cases me in a moment of time the rest of the world long leaves behind? Every new day brings so much uncertainty as I strip back what I’ve had to unlearn and relearn.

So what do I know is foundational? God is sovereign. God is love. God is faithful. God is good. God is there.

Now, deeper than ever before, those truths have to soak again.

 

What joy for those whose strength comes from the Lord…when they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of refreshing springs. The autumn rains will clothe it with blessing… When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the towering rock of safety, for you are my safe refuge, a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me. Let me live forever in your sanctuary, safe beneath the shelter of your wings…you keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle…. I waited patiently for the lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and mire. He set my feet on solid ground, and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing.

Psalm 84:5-6; 61:2-4; 56:8; 40:1-3

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Friendships 

I realise that quite often when I write about relationships in relation to our grief journey I’m often negative. People weren’t supportive in the way I needed, though I can’t tell you how they were wrong, because I don’t really know what would’ve been right. That’s tough.

The last few times we’ve visited what was home (I say that cause I don’t really know where home is now), I’ve said to some friends “if there was a time for you to stop being my friend, It’s been and gone.” We moved away nearly three years ago, we’ve had a miscarriage and lost a baby, I have changed so much as a person. If this friendship was going to fail, it would’ve happened already. 

Friendship has been such a funny thing for me, my whole life. I went to six schools, four in my five years of high school. I never really stuck around long enough to make real friends, or if I did I moved again and we were young and didn’t know how to maintain a healthy long distance friendship.

In my life now I have friends, not many who are still true ten years on (and some that are yet to reach that milestone but still just as true). This week, Thursday just gone, was Emmanuelle‘s second birthday. Every day in the week the postman came with something for Daniel and I (and there is still one to come!- joy of living in the regionals), there was more cards and gifts then I receive on my birthday!

I wrote this post, and now in reflection feel like for the first time I gave permission and articulated expectations of how to support me in grief. Remember. Acknowledge. And so many of you have done that, and we appreciate it so much.
Last year I felt so different emotionally. I felt like no one else remembered our girl; and as such all the grief, sadness and hurt I thought she deserved, it was me, and me alone, who was responsible for feeling it.

Not this year. She was remembered. Thank you. 



Friendships through grief are super tough. The griever (?).     —what’s the word for that?-–  changes so much from who they were, and in the transition have such raw and vulnerable heart, it’s tough to stick it out with us. But persevere, please. We are still here, we are just changing. It hurts so much when you don’t show you love us still, can love us through. Grief and loss, well, it reveals a trueness of our character; depth of faith, passionate and fierce love, vulnerable uniqueness. We’re survivors. Stick with us, survivors are the kind of people you want to be friends with.

Trust me, I have a few of them.

So friendships… I am blessed with the people who know and love me. I am blessed with a close circle of women who have loved me consistently and absolutely. As who I was, who I became, and who I am.


“I never understood sisterhood before walking through pain. Now, I don’t know where I’d be without it. I’m strong, yes. I try to carry others with me, yes. But without the ones carrying me it would be impossible.” 
Scribbles and crumbs 


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Names 

When Daniel and I were expecting our first, (now mr3), we didn’t find out if we were having a boy or girl… It didn’t matter and we loved the surprise. From before we were even engaged we knew what our first boy and girl would be called (and some others), so it was just a waiting game to meet them. 

When we knew Emmanuelle wasn’t likely to make it to term, Daniel suggested a name not on our list- Emmanuelle/Emmanuel- it worked for either a boy or girl and means “God with us.” 

  
After our first ultrasound when they said something wasn’t right- my mother hoped on a plane and came. Otherwise, my dad was 1500km away, and Daniels parents 13500km away in Russia. Each call we’d make to them there would be tears, not ours, the news got worse and worse. The diagnosis slowly ripping away at the hope we had. But Daniel and I always felt calm, we felt a peace, one that surpassed all understanding. 

We’d prayed for peace before in different circumstances and seasons, but never had it felt like this. It was unexplainable, an unbearable situation that we felt raw emotion but in bubble of peace and comfort. There is no words to describe the way God was with us. 

After Emmanuelle was born, and after the nurse had made sure I was safe, we were given time with our beautiful little girl. We admired the intricacies of her formation, seeing so much as her skin was still translucent. Fingernails. Lips. Ribs and organs. She was beautiful. And in those moments we prayed and thanked God for her, dedicated her life to Him. God was with us in that room. 

She was not a name we planned, not a life we dreamed for one of our children. But our Emmanuelle, while she is now with Jesus, she will always be a reminder of a time when in the midst of everything, God was with us, in a way I couldn’t even begin to explain. And while we never dreamed of Emmanuelle in our family, I would never wish she wasn’t. She’s forever ours.

I love you precious girl. 

  
** In October, for Pregnancy and Infancy Loss Awareness Month, I’m participating in #iwanttotalkaboutit #YellowRosesCQ project with daily writing prompts. 

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Bereaved Mother’s Day | it’s a thing

May 3rd. International Bereaved Mother’s Day. It’s a thing. Like an actual day, that’s not made up.

And you know what? That sucks. It’s sucks that the day exists. That each day more parents lose children; women continue to become mums of angels. That this day exists as an attempt to repair “mothers day” for all the mums it misses.

But you know what else…. While it sucks that today exists, sometimes I need other people to remember, to acknowledge, to use our babies name.

To call her Emmanuelle.

I’m in such a different place this year to last year. Last year I was full of equal parts grief and longing.

This year, I hold a nearly nine-week-old baby in my arms. You’d think maybe that would make things ok. But our baby boys birth actually was the most evident proof of my heart that Emmanuelle is always going to be, I want to say affecting me, but it doesn’t sound right and I don’t know how else to say it.

See losing her, going through labour for her to be born sleeping, even though we knew that would happen from her diagnosis…. It impacts my days. Her loss impacts my days.

At the ANAZAC day March last week I saw a little girl, she would’ve being just over one, with beautiful red hair learning to walk with her daddy. It ached my heart, a longing, and sadness, missing a childhood of a little girl I never knew except for in my dreams.

One part of me hates that this day exists… The other part of me is grateful for it. Grateful that today I feel like I can admit just how big an effect my angel baby continues to have on my life. I can mention Emmanuelle and people won’t think- ‘gosh just move on already!’ (Not that I know if anyone thinks that)

Grateful that today, my minute, half hour or hours of sadness are warranted and ok.

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So yeah… Today’s actually a thing. A day to acknowledge some of the bravest women you’ll ever meet.

Women who keep getting out of bed. Women who still love the children they have on earth. Women who keep breathing. Women who while forever changed have to fit back in a world with people where nothing is different. Women who live with a little piece less of their heart. Women who speak loudly for change. Women who feel awkward whenever you ask how many children we have, and struggle with how to say the truth. Because we have more children than you can see in our arms.

And that’s reality for us; someone is missing from our lives. Someone isn’t here feeling all the love in our heart for them. These women are mothers, brave mothers.

Bereaved Mother’s Day. It’s a thing that needs to exist. You don’t need to say anything- though you can if you want- just give that momma you know a hug.

here– is a link that answers the question “”I’m just wondering what to SAY to a Bereaved Mother on her day? Happy Mother’s Day clearly doesn’t apply. Do I say I’m sorry or I’m thinking about you? Can I ask how she’s feeling? Does she want to talk about it?””

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my sunflower

April 17.

Filled with so many ifs.

Ifs for you; for me; for your newest brother.

I don’t remember it as your birthday- that’s in October…. But I think on today with ifs.

This day draws me back into a hole that is one part dark as night and one part imaginary.

Depths of grief, empty arms and a tornado of unanswered questions.

Then I imagine headbands, purple and how your daddy and biggest brother would love a little girl.

 

I laid a sunflower at your memorial. I don’t know why I chose it. I walked into the florist and just knew that’s what I wanted. Sunflowers are said to turn to grow facing the sun.

 

I couldn’t look in any other direction; somehow Jesus was the only thing that lit my dark hole. He was the only answer to my questions; even when he didn’t really give an answer. Though I suppose that’s where faith comes in. I had to push deeper, I needed greater love; I’m thankful Jesus met my needs. Even in the darkest, even at my worst, somehow He did.

 

You did that for me Emmanuelle, made me turn and grow facing the son. I will always be thankful that I’m your mumma pretty girl. I will always be thankful you are part of our family story.

 

I love you,

mumma

 

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miracle diary | birth

a journal of our miracle journey…
an insight into how the pregnancy miracle is different after you’ve sailed through storms.

 

(if you missed it, you can read part one twothreefour, five, six)

Thirty-five weeks |

Had another trip to hospital for monitoring… all is ok. We are booked in for an ultrasound in a few days to check the levels of fluid around bub.

My husband gifted me with pampering and a maternity shoot for Christmas. This is one of my favourites.

 

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Thirty-six weeks |

An ultrasound at this point is unbelievable! Honestly… up until now our latest ultrasound was at 20 weeks with big brother. But the detail – the lady told us bub had hair, we could see a beautiful little nose and lips. I suggested to Daniel we could find out if it was a boy or girl… but we did not. I was excited on the day to see details and beauty.

The next day I was not. I woke from bad dreams.

The following day was even worse. I had prepared myself for birth being when we see the finer details of our baby; eye and nose shape, long legs and if they had mummy’s or daddy’s toes…when they were in my arms and safe. But now I knew details and had a picture to imagine that was really their face, they became a person and they were still in my womb, which for me is such an unsafe place.

Emotionally I was not ok. It was no longer an imaginary face that I was fighting to keep alive. Which also meant if there was loss, it was not an imaginary face we were losing.

 

Thirty-seven weeks |

We braced ourselves on the Friday (37.1) for Tropical Cyclone Marcia. As we hid in our walk in wardrobe, as the bathroom was on the side of the house lined with a bush land of tall gum trees; we lost power (four days) and phone service (three days)- Daniel and I are so thankful the Braxton hicks that were like no Braxton hicks I’d felt before didn’t eventuate into anything! It was worrying for a while there, especially as we physically would not have being able to get to hospital and had no way to contact anyone.

I laid there at night, at who knows what time, all the windows open with no breeze at all, a wet washer on my belly and Daniel fanning me with a piece of paper ready to have a giant pregnancy melt down! But everyone was in the same boat and there is nothing that could be done to help me. Silent tears were shed that night.

Come the Sunday lunch, recovery had started and Daniel and I were active in feeding all the emergency services. Each meal someone would ask me if baby was coming… I won’t lie, I was hoping to work baby out. No luck, but at least I kept myself busy.

 

Thirty-eight weeks |

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First full week of maternity leave; I spent it feeding the emergency workers for the cyclone. With a few hundred people getting fed each day, my wonderful husband coordinated service teams and worked very long hours! I would help for a meal or two each day.

My mum and dad arrived, to help me with big brother while Daniel was so busy helping others. I don’t have words to describe how thankful I am for my parents.

 

Thirty-eight and five |

Nothing can prepare you for birth of a rainbow baby. No matter how much you think about it and prepare your heart. A birth after loss… I don’t want to describe it to you. The last time my body did this physical act…well, our baby never took a breath.

Birth is a team effort; I’m so thankful for continuity of care as our wonderful midwife knew that there was so much more than the birth of a healthy baby happening in that room. She could not have cared more perfectly for us than how she did.

My dad capably looked after biggest brother. My mum is the perfect support person; she doesn’t interfere but just loves as she does and is there. I’m so thankful she’s been there for the birth of both our children.

But my wonderful husband, I have no words; I couldn’t have done it without him. I know everyone says that, but he was my strength. When physically, emotionally and spiritually I was spent, he held me up, he didn’t let me crumble. He is literally how I survived this birth. Plus I like that he is the one who has caught both our boys. That’s right, I’m a Mumma of two precious boys.

 

Our boy is six weeks old today.. and I thought it was time to close this diary.

I could have used a nice posed photo. But I’ve tried to be honest in this miracle diary. Thought lets face it, with the amount of genetics it takes to make a baby, all pregnancies are miracles. I’ve tried to be honest about how I felt; how I struggled, how some days were tough to believe and hope in a life even though I felt it all day long, how emotionally a baby after loss is one of the toughest things any parent will go through, how there is joy and hope but how it is different.

So my last piece of honesty- this first moment- when our baby boy, crying and breathing is placed in my arms. This picture describes what words can’t.

 

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“Rainbow Babies” is the understanding that the beauty of a rainbow does not negate the ravages of the storm. When a rainbow appears, it doesn’t mean the storm never happened or that the family is not still dealing with its aftermath. What it means is that something beautiful and full of light has appeared in the midst of the darkness and clouds. Storm clouds may still hover but the rainbow provides a counterbalance of color, energy and hope.

Author unknown

 

 

 

 

 

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grief fog

part one: grief storm

 

Noun

  1. A cloudlike mass or layer of minute water droplets or ice crystals near the surface of the earth, appreciably reducing visibility.

 

I’ve been trying to write this for a month. Trying to find words, not even flowing words, just words to explain about grief after the storm. I have perfect illustrations to describe what I mean, but I can’t write them. I’ve struggled to write anything.

After the storm of grief, you live in a fog; I’ll get to the explanation… I hope.

Living in grief means your life becomes accompanied by ‘ifs.’

You can think back to the scenario or circumstance and run the ‘ifs’ over and over in your head.

              If I’d already been on a higher dose of folic acid just because I was…

            If that sperm hadn’t met that egg…

            If I’d done this instead of this…
The ‘ifs’ roll into a ‘maybe’…and the pain in your heart when reality rushes back in hurts a lot.
And then there are the harder ‘ifs’

             If Emmanuelle were healthy, it would be her birthday this month.

            If she had lived, she would be turning one.

            If she were alive, I would never know grief like this.

            If she was here, I would not be so broken.

           If she were with me, I’d be a completely different person; I wouldn’t have lost part of my heart.

Putting ‘ifs’ into your present circumstance bring an ache for what was, to grow suddenly to fit now. This stings with impossibility.

           

No one prepares you that after the loss you will live with constant ‘ifs,’ that hit you in strange moments, and cause your mind to wander and heart to ache.

Grief is different for everyone.

For me after the grief storm it became a fog.

I could see nothing around me, I couldn’t see what way to move, I couldn’t see a future, and I couldn’t see life. I couldn’t see my life.

Everything I encountered; circumstance, friends, medicine; all were through the filter fog of grief. A situation was not joyful for me, because I observed it through dark pain. Changes of relationships, growth or loss, was all because of my grief. This fog was thick, I could not see through it and I could see nothing but it. It was so thick it was nearly tangible; the darkness, pain, and sadness were intense. No matter how hard someone might try they could not penetrate its force and interact with the ‘me’ underneath it all. I think that’s because I got lost in it and lost a part of me to it; therefore who they were looking for couldn’t be found there.

See the storm broke me, in the fog I scrambled to try and put myself back together; but I couldn’t see anything. So when I emerged, yes I’d done a bit of a dodgy job and I may still look a little broken and cracked. But you know what, when you’re surrounded by grief…. well, it’s the best I could do.

 

grief storm

* photo from yellow roses. Yellow Roses is a support network for families in the Central Queensland region who have experienced miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal death.

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