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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Wave of Light


     Today has been named Infant Loss Awareness Day. On October 15, we remember all those babies who are no longer here with us on earth. So many suffer loss in silence. But I believe with all my heart that every life matters. Please join me tonight in honoring all of the beautiful babies lost to miscarriage, stillbirth, and neonatal death. I will be lighting my candle tonight in honor of Caroline, and also in honor of my dear friend's daughter Mira, who went to heaven with Caroline on June 17. 
     I have met so many strong and beautiful women on this journey. They have not only openly shared the stories of their own losses, but they have come alongside of me in my own grief. I am so incredibly thankful for the friendships that I have made, and for the bond that we share. I have met an amazing group of women who have continued to carry or carried a baby diagnosed with Limb Body Wall Complex, which is what Caroline also had. My heart is broken for the losses we must bear, but I do know that all of our sweet babies are watching over us. 
     Tonight I am praying for all of the mom's who have had to face the tragedy of losing a baby. My heart breaks for each and every loss. But I am also praising God for the hope we have of seeing our little ones again in heaven. 
     












Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Healing Rain


Tears
For hopes not gone, nor are my dreams
the light it still shines through
and with the help of angels wings
I find my way, from here to you.
So when the tears fall in the night
and fear creeps up, I say
the angels are all guarding me
so fear.....go on your way!
Its ok to cry the tears
for they wash away the pain
They're a symbol of the love we shared
and as needed as the rain.
 
 
     I love the rain! It always makes me feel so alive! I think that it is because rain is life giving to so many things. The trees, grass, and flowers all need rain in order to live. Think about how beautiful the world looks after a good rain shower. Everything just looks more vibrant and alive. I always enjoy waking up the morning after a thunderstorm, and looking out my bedroom window. It is such a great reminder of how God provides for everything, even for the needs of the natural world around us. If he cares so much for the grass and the trees that he sends rain at just the right time, how much more must he care for his children?
     Today as I was laying on the couch, sick with a miserable cold, I could hear the gentle rain falling outside of the window. It brought a smile to my face as I thought of all the ways that God cares for me. Every moment, without a doubt, God has been ever present in my life. He knows my deepest needs and my greatest fears. He sees my weakest moments and quiet tears. But the greatest part is that he not only knows...but he also provides. He provides for my deepest needs, he calms my greatest fears, he strengthens me in my weakest moments, and holds tightly to each quiet tear that I cry.
     I cannot help but stand completely thankful for everything that I have been given. I do struggle, and I do feel intense pain and sadness each and every day. But yet I am beyond blessed in so many ways. God has given me a beautiful life, and an amazing family. I have a good job, a warm and dry house, and a couch on which to rest when I am sick. I have hot chocolate to soothe my sore throat, and a good book to enjoy! I have a husband who loves me and takes care of me, even when I look yucky and sick. I have amazing friends who have stood by my side, even when I have not been at my best. I have the love and support from so many wonderful people. I have seen the genuine kindness of so many people. As I continue to walk down this journey of grief and healing, I have found that it brings such joy to my heart when I think about the beautiful outpouring of love that has come from so many. I am truly beyond blessed!
     On nights like tonight, I love to sit and count my blessings, and take time to praise the God who has been there for me in my darkest of moments. He is the great Provider! I want to encourage anyone who is going through a difficult situation, or struggling to stay afloat amidst the waves of life, to look to the God who knows and who provides. He will provide exactly what you need, even in the worst of times. Trust me, I have been that girl who has cried out to him when I did not know what else to do. I have been that girl who has cried out  to him in anger. I have been that girl who has cried out to him in pain and hopelessness. But the beauty is that God understands. He does not turn away from us when we are angry or upset. In fact, it is when we cry out to him that I believe he draws the closest. In fact Psalm 34:17-20 says,
The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
    he delivers them from all their troubles.
 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
    and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
 The righteous person may have many troubles,
    but the Lord delivers him from them all;
 he protects all his bones,
    not one of them will be broken.
 
Lean on him, and he will never let you go.
      I am thankful for the clean, fresh air that comes in the wake of a rainy day. In the same way, when we cry out to God, and we truly open our hearts up to him, he will provide the healing that we need so desperately.

 
 
 
Healing Rain
Healing rain is coming down
It's coming nearer to this old town
Rich and poor, weak and strong
It's bringing mercy, it won't be long
 
Healing rain is coming down
It's coming closer to the lost and found
Tears of joy, and tears of shame
Are washed forever in Jesus' name
 
Healing rain, it comes with fire
So let it fall and take us higher
Healing rain, I'm not afraid
To be washed in Heaven's rain
 
Lift your heads, let us return
To the mercy seat where time began
And in your eyes, I see the pain
Come soak this dry heart with healing rain
 
And only You, the Son of man
Can take a leper and let him stand
So lift your hands, they can be held
By someone greater, the great I Am
Healing rain, it comes with fire
So let it fall and take us higher
 
  Healing rain, I'm not afraid
To be washed in Heaven's rain
To be washed in Heaven's rain...
Healing rain is falling down
Healing rain is falling down
I'm not afraid

Michael W. Smith



Sunday, October 12, 2014

Guilt



 
The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.
                                                                                                     Zephaniah 3:17

 
    
     Grief is not just a simple word. In fact, as time goes on, I have quickly realized that there are so many thoughts and feelings that accompany grief. It reaches to the very depths of your heart, mind, and body. Not only do I feel the grief mentally and emotionally, but it also affects my body physically as well. Often I find myself completely exhausted, feeling as though I have no strength left to stand. I honestly think that grief is a full time job.
     Throughout this entire journey I have been overcome by guilt. It hits me in the most unexpected moments, and yet it does not pass. I feel it moment by moment, day after day. It plays over and over in my head. The reality is so hard to admit, the pain is just too great to bear.  Yet the truth stands, I COULD NOT save my baby. I am her mom, she counted on me. It was my job to protect her, it was my job to save her. But I couldn't
     Ever since that day in November, when I found out that I was pregnant, everything that I did was for her. I was so careful about the foods that I ate, how much water I drank, that I got enough rest and sleep, and that I took my vitamins without fail. I spent hours reading about what to do when your pregnant, and what not to do when your pregnant. I wanted to do everything possible to give my baby the best start to life.
     But when we were told that our baby could not survive outside of the womb, I was left helpless. Even though I did everything that I could do to take care of her, it was not enough. They told us that she could not and would not live. But I am her mother, I wanted to save her. I wanted to protect her. I wanted to give her the best life. Yet the reality hung heavy over my head, there was nothing that I could do for her.
     The doctor told me there was nothing that I had done to cause this, that it just happens. But still I feel guilty. There must have been something that I did wrong. The doctor told me there was nothing that we could do to save her, that there is a 0% survival rate. But still I feel guilty. There must have been something, anything, that I could have done to save her. She was so tiny, so helpless, she needed me, and I could not help her.
     Last week I went to CPR training. It hit me in a way that I never would have imagined. The moment I saw those plastic baby dummies laying on the table, my mind went a hundred miles an hour. As they were talking about performing life saving CPR on an infant, the guilt hit me again. There I sat, learning about how to save the life of someone else's baby, but I could not save the life of my own baby. I got angry in that moment. I felt like the biggest failure. I was angry at myself, for not saving her. There was no amount of CPR that could have saved Caroline's life. I know that. But it still breaks my heart, just knowing that in her greatest time of need, I could not help her.
     Slowly I have found that the nightmares are going away. But for months I was plagued with the worst nightmares. I would wake up sweating and crying, feeling the guilt tightening  in my chest. I know that this is normal, that often nightmares come along with grief. Yet for so long I found myself staying awake. Keeping myself busy so I did not have to sleep. I would purposely read, write, or watch the TV just to stay awake. I did not want to have those dreams, where I was forced to watch my daughter suffering while I stood by powerless to help. It was better to be exhausted from no sleep, than to be exhausted from the intense pain and guilt that I would feel in the wake of the nightmares. I am so thankful that God is slowly bringing me into a safe place once again. I still have nights where I lay awake all night, my mind reliving memories over and over again. I still have nights when I am hit with an awful nightmare, and then another and then another. I still have nights when I toss and I turn, my arms aching and my heart heavy. I still have nights when the minutes tick by slowly, and the night seems to last forever. I know that a big part of my nightmares comes straight from the guilt that overwhelms my entire body. I just cannot live with myself some days, because I could not save her. All day those thoughts of guilt play through my head, of things I could have done, or things I wish I would have been able to do for her. Then all night those thoughts of guilt play through my dreams. It never goes away. It never gets easier.
    The guilt accompanies me in my every day life. It eats at my heart and it eats at my mind. I want it to go away. I want it to leave and never come back. I know what people say, that it is not my fault, that I did everything that I could. But still I feel guilty, because the reality is that I am her mom. When a baby is born into this world it is so tiny, and so helpless. A baby relies on adults for everything. Babies need food, and warmth, love, and lots of special care. There is nothing that they can do to help themselves. When my sweet little girl was placed gently into my arms, I immediately felt those instincts kick in. I wanted to start taking care of her right away. I wanted to shield her from the hurt and the pain. I wanted her to know that everything was okay, and that I would be there for her always. I wanted her to know that I would protect her and keep her safe. But none of those things, absolutely none of those things could I give her. I could not shield her from the reality. I could not promise that everything was okay, and that I would be there for her always. I could not protect her, and I could not keep her safe. I am her mom, but I just could not save her.  
 

    
     It is so difficult to erase the guilt. I know that it will probably always be there, just like the grief. As much as I want it to go away, I know that it is a part of my journey, a part of the healing and grieving process. I have learned that it is okay to feel, and it is okay to hurt. When I am feeling guilty, I do not have to push it away, just because it does not seem valid. I know that many people tell me that I have nothing to feel guilty about, that there is nothing I could have done to save her life. But honestly, that does not make me feel better. Because the reality is that I wanted to save her, I wanted to give her everything and more. She is my daughter and I only wanted the very best for her. I am guilty, truly guilty, because I did not do that for her. I am a failure, because I did not protect her, and most of all I could not give her life. 
     When I realize that my feelings are real, and that the guilt is very real, I know that I am powerless to change it. So therefore I have started to think about it in a different way. Instead of focusing on all of the ways that I failed her, I choose to focus on all of the good memories. I choose to remember all the hours I spent talking to her each day. I choose to remember all of the songs that I sang to her. I choose to remember the countless minutes I would loose track of the world around me as I watched and rubbed my moving belly. I choose to remember the books I read to her, and the movies we watched together. I choose to remember all of the things I taught her how to do. I choose to remember the sound of her steady beating heart. I choose to remember the joy I felt as we watched her moving around on the ultrasound screen. I choose to remember the trips we took together. I choose to remember all the nights we baked and cooked together. I choose to remember the afternoons we spent outside on the deck. I choose to remember the quiet dark evenings in bed, when she would snuggle up all warm and cozy on whichever side I was laying. I choose to remember all the new joys that came along with being pregnant. I choose to remember the peace that overwhelmed me as we left that early Tuesday morning for the hospital. I choose to remember the kindness of all the doctors and nurses. I choose to remember the hours that Josh and I sat just watching her move and hearing her heartbeat on the monitor. I choose to remember the way she was moving around just before they covered my belly with the blue sheet. I choose to remember the pure love that filled every ounce of my body as they placed her in daddy's arms. I choose to remember every tiny detail of her precious and perfect little body. I choose to remember how it felt to have her in my arms. I choose to remember those 19 miraculous minutes where time seemed to stand still. I choose to remember how everything just felt right having our family of three together. I choose to remember the joy and the sorrow that were very present throughout the day. I choose to remember those tiny little fingers and those tiny little toes. I choose to remember the smiling faces and the sad tears that just seemed so fitting. I choose to remember giving her a first and only bath. I choose to remember softly combing out her curly dark hair. I choose to remember the beauty of my daughter. I choose to remember how everything just felt so right and so complete when she was there. I choose to remember that she was a gift to us from our Almighty God. I choose to thank Him each day, for allowing us the privilege of being her parents. 
     I know that the guilt will never go away. But when it hits me, I am learning that I need to instead focus on the blessings that we were given. God gave us the precious gift of time. I am so thankful that we were able to give Caroline a lifetime of love in the short time that we were given. Even though I will always feel guilty, and I will always feel like a failure, I know that during the time she spent on earth, I did the very best that I could for her. I tried my best to give her everything that I could, with the time that I was given. And for that.. I am thankful!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Dear Caroline, I Thought About You Today...



Dear Caroline,

     I thought about you today, just like I do every minute of every day. I thought about the things we might have been doing today. I am sure that I would have rushed home from work, just to be able to hold you in my arms. I am sure I would have hugged you so tightly, and kissed your little face all over. I am sure that I would have sang to you and talked to you as I cooked dinner, and I would have smiled as I watched you gaze around in interest. I would have snuggled you, fed you, changed you, read to you, and played with you, as we watched the sun slowly fade into the darkness. But tonight Caroline, I had no reason to rush home from work. There was no smile of greeting on your face to look forward to. There was no baby soft hair to stroke, and no giggle of excitement when you saw me coming. Instead there was a silent house. A quiet that reached to my very soul.
     My dear Caroline, it never goes away. There are the constant reminders of what could have been, that are only too quickly overshadowed by the never will be. So many of the joys that I looked forward to sharing with you, are now just painful reminders of what we will never have together. Those moments when we could have been bonding like a mother and child should, will never happen for us. The 35 beautiful weeks we shared together passed so quickly, and are now just memories. My sweet girl, I pray with all my heart that during those weeks you knew, you knew that I lived each moment to prove how much I loved you. I pray that you know how much I still love you. I love you with a depth that I can never describe in words. You are my baby, my beautiful daughter. You will always be my baby, my precious miracle from above. My hope dear Caroline is that you can remember the hundreds of times each day that I told you I loved you while you were still safe and growing inside. I love you my beautiful girl. I will always and forever love you with the deepest love, a love that has only grown stronger the longer we are apart.
     On Friday I went to visit your special place. It is so hard for me to call it your grave, because it just seems so cold and final. I find comfort in calling it your special place, because as difficult as it is to visit, I find such beauty in sitting there beside you. This time it was different when I went to visit you. The headstone that we created to mark where your body now lays was placed into the ground. There in shiny gold letters, I saw your name. Your beautiful name. Caroline Joy Mulder. I cried as I ran my fingers over the cold raised letters. I always imagined seeing your name on so many things, but never on a headstone. The pain filled my heart as reality set in. This will forever be the place where your body lays. No matter how much I scream for you to cry, or to wake up, your body will never be seen again on earth. Sometimes I panic, and I think that I hear you cry. Maybe I was wrong, and you really are okay. I wish that I could just rip away the dirt, so I can pull you back safely into my arms once again. Because I would do anything, absolutely anything, to see your little face once again. But that is not reality. Instead I walk back to my car, alone and empty handed. You are not crying out for me, it is only my mind playing tricks on my sad heart. I cannot just wish you back into existence, because this is the path that God has chosen for us.
     On my way home tonight, I thought about the song that we played at your memorial service three months ago. It is a song that has always been close to your mommy's heart, but never more real than now. In the song it says " But as the thunder rolls I barely hear Your whisper through the rain "I'm with you" and as Your mercy falls I raise my hands and praise the God who gives and takes away". Caroline, your mommy praised God from the moment I knew you were alive. I was so in awe at the miracle of your existence, and the gift that you were to me. I continued to praise God throughout each of those weeks, knowing you were being formed so fearfully and wonderfully. But then he chose to take you away, and after 19 short minutes, we had to say goodbye. It is so hard to accept that you are really gone. It is so hard to accept that we will never again see you here on this earth. I admit wholeheartedly that I do not understand why God chose to take you into heaven so soon. I may never understand why he took you away from a family who wanted you and loved you so deeply. But I do know that I will continue to praise your Maker. He is still my sovereign God, and he remains in control. There are so many times when I do not know if my foot will hit solid ground, or when the next wave will sweep me under once again. But I do know that God never lets me go. He holds your mommy close, and continues to whisper "I'm with you". Even though I am walking down the darkest journey of my life, I will lift my hands and praise the God who gives and who takes away.
     Caroline as the days pass I find that it does not get easier. The reality is that I miss you more today than I did one month ago. The longer that time moves forward, the deeper the ache grows inside of my heart. Running my fingers over the smooth lettering on your headstone made me realize how much I miss seeing your name. I do not receive mail with your name on it. I do not see your name in colorful bold lettering on a wall in your bedroom. I sadly do not have many opportunities to write out your name in my day to day life. Slowly I forgot how beautiful your name looks when it is written. But now I will have one place where it will always be visible. A very special place where I can go to talk to you, sing to you, remember you, pray, and cry. I hate that it has to be this way, but I would not trade those moments for the world. The moments when it is just you and me, feeling the wind blow through my hair, and seeing the fluffy clouds form above. Watching as the butterflies dance through the green grass from flower to flower. Those moments when I truly feel like you are sitting there next to me, leaning your head on my shoulder as I talk to you. Those moments when I can feel your hand grasp mine as I sing your favorite songs. Those moments when the tears fall down my face, and I am powerless to stop them from coming. Those moments when I feel my heart beating, not just for me, but for you as well. Those moments are powerful reminders of the love that I hold for you deep inside my heart. Those moments are powerful reminders of the beautiful memories that we were able to share together. Those moments are powerful reminders of a faithful God, who loves you dear Caroline more than your mommy could ever love you. Those moments are powerful reminders that God loves me, and comforts me in the times of deepest pain and sorrow. Those moments bring me to my knees in praise of a God who gives, and who takes away.

I love you my beautiful Caroline. Until we meet again...

                           Sending you all of my love,
                                    Mommy
    
    
    

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

October Awareness








During month of October we raise awareness for infant loss. Please join me in breaking the silence. I am a proud mom of a beautiful baby girl. Her name is Caroline Joy Mulder. I was blessed to give birth to Caroline on June 17, and hold her in my arms for 19 miraculous minutes. The hardest thing I have ever had to do was say goodbye to her, and leave the hospital with empty arms. Every day since I had to say goodbye has been incredibly challenging, painful, and sad. But I keep moving forward slowly, one foot at a time. I want to live my life to the fullest, so that I can honor my daughter with every breath that I take. I will speak her name, and share her story for as long as I live. I thank God every single day for allowing me to be her mom!  I love you always and forever Caroline Joy. You will always hold a very special place in my heart.