Baby #2 gender AND name reveal!

 

I wanted to give a quick update on how this second pregnancy is going, as well as share our new baby’s gender (if you haven’t read the news on Facebook yet) and the baby’s name.

First of all, tomorrow I will be 19 weeks, and things are going perfectly normal, which is still a crazy concept for me to truly comprehend.  At our last ultrasound, 3 weeks ago, the baby’s brain structure looked normal, her profile looked normal, her heart looked normal, and there were no signs of a cleft lip.  Praise the Lord!  It’s such a foreign thing to hear actual good news at an ultrasound—with Sophia it was just visit after visit of doctors telling us our baby was going to die.  I admit, I still struggle with the fear of losing the precious one and the transferring of Sophia’s illnesses unto this baby, but it’s something I am working on.  With God’s help I hope to be able to continue to enjoy a healthy, normal pregnancy and receive it with joy instead of fear.

Anyways, on to the big news!

We’re having a little…………………..

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…girl!  (in case that wasn’t clear from this photo.)

And we’ve decided to name our precious little girl:

her name

 

Thank you to all of you who have been praying for Charlotte and myself (as well as Dave!), and please continue to pray that this pregnancy will remain healthy and normal, and that in 4 1/2 months we will be able to have our sweet girl home with us.

All about Baby #2!

Hey everyone, sorry this blog has been so quiet.  I have always had a hard time with blogging transitions: the ending of one type of regular posting (Sophia’s letters) and the beginning of another.  It seems  surreal that my last post on this blog was a letter to my dead daughter, and this post is all about our new baby.  God has been so, so good to us in the hard times and in the good and I’m happy to share about both.

For those of you who were a little shocked by the title of this post (and aren’t connected to me on Facebook) YES, we are pregnant again!  We announced it about two weeks ago, but I haven’t said much about it since, so I’ll use this post to share all the details we know so far about this precious 15 1/2 week old.

When did we find out I was pregnant? On June 26th. 

How did we find out? Well, the obvious answer is through a positive pregnancy test, but I’ll share more of that story: A few days before I took the test I had been feeling some nausea off and on, and had been feeling a bit more fatigued than normal.  Although I had that little voice in the back of my head saying “maybe you’re pregnant!” I pretty much ignored it since I had felt all these things before and not been pregnant.  Ever since Sophia passed away we knew we wanted another baby, and sometimes I wanted it so much that physical symptoms of pregnancy were manifested.  I had probably taken about 10 pregnancy tests prior to our positive one, off and on throughout the past year.  The day I got the positive result, I told myself just to go out and buy a pregnancy test so I could take it, get the negative, and shut that voice up in my head once and for all.  I didn’t want to tell Dave I was taking this test since I really thought it would be negative, and didn’t want to involve him in another heartache.  So, I told a little white lie, that I was going to get lunch (which I did get) but also went to the drugstore and purchased a pregnancy test (that part I didn’t tell him.)  I waited until he went to work, and Champ was taking a nap, and decided to take the test.  You’re supposed to wait 3 minutes from the time you pee on the stick, so I stood outside the bathroom that entire time.  At the end of the three minutes I slowly peeked my head around the door and tiptoed in, almost as if the test were an explosive device or something.  When I saw the two pink lines (which means positive) I was SHOCKED.  Shock and fear were the first emotions that went through me, not happiness.  I remember just pacing around the house saying “oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh” over and over again.  Then, I drank a big glass of water and took another test just to make sure the first one wasn’t faulty.  Sure enough, another set of pink lines.  I remember crying out to God begging him not to take this baby from us.  I was so scared because now the potential for loss was there again, the potential for all the pain we had just waded through with Sophia.  The pain of infertility and wanting a child are very strong and sharp, but in my opinion, the pain of losing a child is even greater and deeper.  Now that we had those two pink lines, the stakes had gone up dramatically and we were put back in the shooting range again with the potential to get hit.  I got the results from the second pregnancy test at 1:29, and Dave’s first class started at 1:30, so I knew there was no way I could call him and bombard him with this huge news right before starting work.  So, I had to sit with all this for four hours before he came home that afternoon.

How did I tell Dave? The day before I had started leaving little “I love you because…” notes for him, so I figured I would use those as a decoy for sharing the big news with him.  I put the two (washed) pregnancy tests in a box (the only box I had on hand was a box that held tubes of oil paints) and on top of the box put a note that said “I love you because of the wonderful, loving father that you were to Sophia…” and inside the box, on top of the tests, had another note that said “and for the wonderful father you will be to this precious new one.”  When he got home I told him that I had another note to give him, and he went into our room to read it.   At first he just read the top note and smiled a little, then he opened the box.  Now, because it was a box for paints, and the ends of the pregnancy tests were blue and pink, at first he thought I was just giving him some paints.  But he lifted up the note, saw the other end of the tests, and his head shot up.  He said in the most serious voice “No.  Are you serious?”  I started laughing and said, “Well, it’s not Champ’s pee.”  Then he actually took the time to read the note and said “Noooo, are you kidding?” (this time with a huge smile on his face) and I just said “I don’t think so.”  It was a wonderful moment!

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How did the first doctor’s visits go? About a week after getting the positive test I was able to see the doctor to confirm the pregnancy.  It had taken so long to actually get in to see the doctor that Dave had left for work, and I was alone.  I was terrified of getting bad news on my own, but thankfully my parents (who had been out of the city) were just coming back in on the train and my mom was able to make it to the appointment and go in with me.  That first visit the doctor confirmed one embryo in my uterus.  It was official, I was really pregnant!  At that visit she thought I was only 4-5 weeks along, so she told me to come back the next week to see if the baby was still growing.  We went back this next week (this time Dave was able to be there) and sure enough the little “blob” had grown.  We were officially six weeks pregnant!  We had another appointment two weeks later to listen for a heartbeat, and if that sounded ok I’d officially become a “pregnant patient.”  Up until they hear the heartbeat they don’t really consider you officially pregnant.  At eight weeks Dave and I went back, and I was extremely nervous.  Ok, I was extremely nervous for each visit, but for this one especially.  I knew that I had continued to experience pregnancy symptoms, but I still so scared to hear the bad news that there was no heartbeat.  When we finally got into the ultrasound room and the doctor pulled up the image of our baby, one of the first things she said was “the heartbeat looks stronger.”  Those words were beautiful music to my ears!  Then, we got to hear the heartbeat and it was the sweetest little washing-machine-like noise I had ever heard!

Our latest visit (which was about two weeks ago) was the one I was fearing the most.  While we had been visiting America we had told all of our friends and family about the baby.  People had given us congratulations and hugs and tears of happiness had been shed.  It all felt “real”—like we really might be able to have a healthy child—but the last ultrasound was one that could make all that happiness come crashing down.  I was about 13 1/2 weeks, which was right around the same time we learned of all of Sophia’s problems.  Although hearing this second baby’s heartbeat was a great sign, we had also heard Sophia’s heartbeat, and had not known of any problems at that time.  I knew that the baby would be big enough at 13 1/2 weeks to see any of the physical problems that Sophia had, and I was a wreck.  To make matters worse, the appointment had been scheduled for the afternoon which meant that Dave wouldn’t be able to come with me.  Thankfully, though, my awesome mom was available.  It didn’t help that we had to wait a really long time to see the doctor.  My anxiety was building, and even though I was praying for peace, I was preparing myself for the worst.  When the ultrasound wand touched my belly for the first time, the first thing I noticed was how big the baby had gotten!  In the previous ultrasounds it had just looked like a little blob, and now it looked like a baby!  I could clearly see the head and body and arms and legs.  The first image was a perfect little profile shot, one we had never been able to see with Sophia.  The doctor immediately began pointing out the different parts of the body, and when she came to the face she said “and this is the nose.”  My mom and I looked at each other and said “the NOSE!”  That was one of the features that had first raised red flags with Sophia—she had not had a nasal bone.  Just seeing that nose lifted all the anxiety away from me!  Throughout the rest of the ultrasound he/she was squirming away, waving it’s arms, putting it’s hand near it’s mouth, and generally just being the cutest thing ever.  I heard the words “healthy and normal” which were words we had NEVER heard with Sophia.  I finally got to experience what millions of other mothers get to experience—a normal ultrasound filled with normal (which means good!) news. 

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I love that in this picture our little one is waving “hi!”

Do you have a nickname for this baby? Yes, we are calling this little one “peanut.”

Will you find out the gender of this baby? Yes, next Tuesday! We can’t wait.  I’d love to have another little girl, and Dave would love to have a little boy.  However, we will both be more than happy just to have a healthy child, no matter the gender.

When is the baby due?  Our little peanut is scheduled to arrive at the end of February 2015.  Although, if this one is anything like his/her bigger sister, I wouldn’t be shocked if it decided to stay in there until March.

How have you been feeling? In some ways this pregnancy has been very similar to Sophia’s (mostly sickness in the afternoon, nausea if I let myself get hungry, fatigue).  Most of my symptoms stopped right around 10 weeks, and with Sophia they stopped around 8 weeks.  As with Sophia I have had a super sensitive gag reflex, which makes brushing my teeth a challenge, but overall I feel pretty good.  Now that I’m in my second trimester I have more energy and my biggest symptoms is headaches that come when I’m hungry.  Basically, as long as my belly is full, this baby seems happy!

How are you dealing with pregnancy after loss? As I mentioned above, fear and anxiety were some of the first emotions I experienced with this baby.  It hasn’t been until this last ultrasound that I could truly relax a little and start to get excited about this baby.  I find that I’m constantly having to choose hope and happiness instead of fear and detachment.  We know that pregnancies do not guarantee a living, healthy child.  We know that at any point in this pregnancy or delivery we could lose this baby.  But, we also realize that this is the reality with any pregnancy.  So, just as I did with Sophia, I try to chose love and I try to bond with this baby in any way that I can.

Because we have  experienced the greatest loss, the loss of a child, and because we have seen that God carried us through that, we feel that even if God chooses to take this baby away from us we will still be ok.  It is not something I hope to ever have to go through again, but we know that we will survive it—because we have before.

 

I  want to thank all of you who have prayed for us during our pregnancy with Sophia, during her life, after her death, and even now.  Please pray that this baby will remain healthy.  Please pray that we will live in fear and anxiety for the next 5 1/2 months, but will be able to truly enjoy this gift that God has blessed us with.

Lastly, I want to write to those women who are reading this, and are still waiting on their tiny miracle.  Perhaps you’ve birthed and lost a child, and are still waiting for your rainbow baby (what the grief community calls a baby born after the loss of a child.)  Perhaps you’ve had the joy of a positive pregnancy tests a few or many times, but have never been able to hold your precious little one.  Or perhaps that pregnancy test has never been positive for you, and you still wait for that day.  I want you to know that I pray for all you ladies, and I understand where you are because I have been in the shoes of all of you.  I want you to know that I struggle with posting the joy of this pregnancy because I know for many of you it just adds salt to your wounds.  I love you all and pray that God will fill your hearts with the peace that only comes from Him and that He will prepare you for the future that He has already planned for you, whether that involves children or not. Let us remember that He is Good, and He is Love, no matter our circumstances.  To Him be all the glory and all the first love in our hearts!

Looking Back and Looking Forward (52 Weeks)

My dear Sophia,

This is my 52nd letter to you, and my last in this year-long series of letters.  I know that I can write you more in the future, but it will be the last of my weekly letters to you. 

Of course that means that it’s officially been a year since you went to Heaven.  This past Tuesday marked the one year anniversary of your death.  Daddy and I spent parts of the day looking at pictures of you, and I finally watched the video that your Uncle Stephen made of your life (I hadn’t watched it since your memorial service last year).  That night your grandma, grandpa, and uncle came over and we just had a fun time laughing about nothing and generally having a good time.  At first I didn’t know if that was ok—to me laughing on the one year anniversary of your death—but the day in its entirety really summed up what this last year has been for me.  Many parts of the year were spent in sadness and spent reflecting on your short, precious life.  But there were other parts when my mom and dad (your grandparents) and your daddy helped me laugh and smile again and helped me move on from all those tears.

I think the reason I’m writing you this letter so late in the week is because I really wasn’t sure what to write to you.  Since this is the last letter I wanted to make it extra special, but the words just weren’t coming to me.

So I’ve decided that this last letter will be a reflection on the previous 51 letters I’ve written to you.  It will be a way for me to see how I’ve changed in the last year and a way for you to see my love for you stretched out over the past 365 days:


Week 1: I didn’t know that the worst part of being sad isn’t the crying, it’s the lack of crying.  At least when I cry I feel like I can let some of the hurt go, but most of the time I can’t let it go.  It just sits in me as I stare off into space.

Week 2: The day I gave birth to you you were pink, fresh, and so delicate.  And just like those roses, your life was all too short.  I wanted to keep you so much longer than I was able to.

Week 3: It was during that time that I realized my grief is a lot like those waves. It comes and goes, but it is always there.  Sometimes it comes quickly, in waves that are right on top of each other.  I feel consumed by it, like I can’t breathe, and for short moments it seems like I am drowning.

Week 4: And why me?  Why did I have to lose my first baby through miscarriage and my second baby to heart failure?  Why does God think that I am able to handle all of this?  Because I’ll be honest, right now I don’t think that I can.

Week 5: It’s hard to imagine being able to have a normal conversation with friends; one where my mind doesn’t wander off to you.  I can’t fathom that one day I will actually want to leave the house and go out and do “fun things.”

Week 6: You see, just because you’re not here doesn’t mean that I can stop parenting you—I just have to do it in a different way than the other mommies who still get to hold their babies.

Week 7: I used to think it was really strange when people would leave things untouched after a loved one died.  I thought it was weird that they would leave entire rooms exactly how they had been left the day that person passed away.  I used to think that, but now I get it.  I totally get it.

Week 8: But as quickly as I felt that goodness, it was drowned out with guilt.  I felt guilty that I was laughing and smiling again.  I felt guilty that I didn’t feel consumed by grief.

Week 9: I never thought that this would be the road my pregnancy with you would lead me. I didn’t think a year ago that the surprise of your life wouldn’t be long followed by the sorrow of your death.

Week 10: Sophia, this life after you is so strange.  It’s a strange dance between grief and relief and happiness and hurt and guilt and stress and so many more things.  It’s a life that the doe-eyed newlywed, three years ago, would never have imagined for her and her husband.  It’s a life that forces mommy to, each day, get up out of bed and try to make something of the circumstances God has given me.

Week 11: It’s in the darkness of night when the tears threaten to never end that I hold the tightest to His promises.  It’s in the moments at the store when smiling families are all around me and my empty arms, that I have to force myself to remember:  God keeps His promises.

Week 12: I truly believe that in a year I will be able to look back and marvel at the way our Loving Father carried my through all of this.  I know that eventually He will redeem these dark days and I will see more of the good than the bad.

Week 13: You, Super Girl, brought together a community of people who might never have known each other if it hadn’t been for you.  Their overwhelming love for you caused a bright light to shine in our darkest days.  You were so, so, so loved.

Week 14: I used to think about how excited you would have been to meet Jesus for the first time in Heaven, but then I corrected myself: you met Jesus long before you went to Heaven.  He was with you every second of your life here in Earth, and I believe with all my heart that you felt Him and knew He was there.

Week 15: I grieve the loss of being a mom to a living child.  I grieve the silence in the nursery.  I grieve the unused stroller and car seat and all the cute outfits that still have tags on them.  I grieve the fact that I am still childless, when all I’ve ever wanted was to have a child.

Week 16: Sophia, baby, it was such a wonderful dream.  While I was dreaming it, it was so vivid, and I felt right there in the moment.  When I woke up the next morning I didn’t remember it right away though.  It wasn’t until about an hour after being awake that the memories of the dream came flooding back to me, and I relived them with a huge smile on my face.

Week 17: No matter the time, no matter if God blesses us with other children, no matter the changes that life has in store for me…you will always have my heart and my love.  And I will never stop cherishing the moments that we got to spend together—especially the moments you spent in my arms.

Week 18: I can’t tell you how many times I had visualized carrying you out of the PICU and bringing you to a regular hospital room; one where we could be with you 24 hours a day.  That day never came, and the fact that it happened this week with another baby was surreal, wonderful, and devastating all at once.

Week 19: I’m thankful that even though I daily lose my faith and trust, He is always there gently pushing me on and reminding me of His goodness.  Sophia, He is so, so good to us all.

Week 20: Having Champ here is so bittersweet.  It’s so wonderful to have a baby to care for and a little one to hold in my arms.  But it’s heartbreaking that that baby isn’t you.  It’s hard to not question why God couldn’t have allowed you to come home from the hospital.

Week 21: Sophia, I know the exact number of people who actually got to meet you in person (besides the countless nurses and doctors).  13.  Only 13 people ever breathed the same air as you, and got to feel your soft skin.  And do you know how many people knew about your life, and prayed for you?  Thousands.

Week 22: Last Christmas I was feeling your kicks for the first time, and buying you your first outfits.  I was praying for your healing several times a day, and I was believing that this Christmas you would be home with us.

Week 23: It’s amazing to think that even though we got to see some beautiful works of God’s hand, they are nothing in comparison to the beauties you get to see every second in Heaven.

Week 24: I know there are no years or even time in Heaven and I know there was not a big 2014 celebration with the angels.  But I want you to know that even though you don’t feel the ache of each year that passes while we are separated, I do.  I feel it so deeply and heavily.

Week 25: I want to be the same mommy to Champ as I was able to be to you.  I see now that all the times people commented on how strong I was, or complimented me on my calmness, they were really just giving glory to God…because it all just came from Him.  Without Him I am so frail, and worried, and weak.  I need Him so much, Sophia, and that’s a lesson I should never forget.

Week 26: Today marks the one year anniversary of your daddy and me moving to Taiwan, and tomorrow marks 6 months since you passed away.  I thought that this week I would write about those last days with you, something I still haven’t really done…but I’m still not quite ready to go back there.

Week 27: God is going to keep redeeming my darkest moments, and I know He will keep showing me more places where His grace is.

Week 28: These numbers make me think about the endless sea of faces I pass by each week.  Statistics prove that some of those people are putting on the same mask that I did.  They are trying to appear normal while inside they are screaming.

Week 29: My brain knows that your sickness wasn’t my fault and that I did all that was humanly possible to keep you alive.  But my heart has never really let me stop believing that somehow…somehow…there was something else I could have done to help you.

Week 30: Since your death I have joined an exclusive club—the “parents of dead children” club.  It’s one that you would never wish to join, and you don’t have a choice as to whether or not you’re admitted as a member.  It’s the worst club in the world, yet at the same time there are beautiful kinships that are found there.

Week 31: Just because you died, that doesn’t mean that I have a “get out of another baby-death free card.”  And just because we struggled with infertility before you, it doesn’t mean that now another baby will come as soon as I want it to be here.  Those things just aren’t promised to me.

Week 32: So here’s to the many more adventures that I can share with you.  Here’s to the experiences that I am learning not to shy away from, but embrace, knowing that I carry you with me.

Week 33: There are little to no surprises about your life anymore.  There isn’t any fact about your health, or the events of your 47 days of life that I don’t know.  There will never be any new milestones in your life, new stories to tell, or any new photographs to share.  Except for the new stories that arise that are connected to your legacy, there will never be anything that I could learn about you that I don’t already know now.

Week 34: It still amazes me how God chose this specific little boy to come into our home.  He chose a baby that had so many similarities to you, so that we’d be able to experience some of the things we never got to do with you—even if it’s a surgery.

Week 35: I told the nurse about how we knew you would be sick before you were born, but we chose to love you anyway.  I told her that your face didn’t look “normal” either, but that you were the most beautiful baby I’d ever seen.  I told her how much we loved you, simply because you were our daughter and a gift from God.

Week 36: When you go through a big loss, like we did when we lost you, it’s easy to think that God is going to take it easy on you from then on. You want to believe that pregnancies will come easy, babies will be born healthy, and life will be smooth sailing because you’ve been through the roughest of storms and surely that was enough.  I’ve learned that isn’t the way things work.

Week 37: He is a really, really great daddy.  And it breaks my heart that he only got to be your daddy for 47 days.  It breaks my heart that you didn’t get to know him more, and that he didn’t get to live out his daddy dreams in you.  My heart breaks for the relationship that could have been that died on July 22, 2013. 

Week 38: Thank you, Sophia, for giving me a chance to experience love and gain empathy in an area of life that I might never have.  Even though you have been gone for almost 9 months you still continue to teach me lessons and shape my life.

Week 39: When I stop to reflect on all these changes I realize that I am different.  I am not the same.

Week 40: If I just keep moving, maybe grief will never catch me. But the thing is, I know that’s not healthy.  That is an unsustainable way to go through life, especially life that has been slathered in grief.  I know that I have to dig deep, sift through the pain, keep remembering the precious things, and not let Satan rob me of my hope that is found in Christ.

Week 41: I think the biggest reason why I’m so torn up about Mother’s Day is that it is so much bigger than just the loss of you—it’s a reminder of the loss and unfulfillment of my biggest wish, to be a mother.

Week 42: Living life with you would have been very, very hard, but I would still trade anything for just one chance to experience life with you outside of the hospital.

Week 43: Everything in the PICU felt as if no time had passed.  So many of the same smells, sounds, and people.  I walked past one room and heard “Wow, Sophia’s mommy!” as another one of your nurses smiled at me.  It was such a surreal moment.  Being there gave me a sense of closure to a piece of my grief journey.  It gave me a chance to feel like I was near you again.  And there are very few chances that I get to feel that.

Week 44: But God has been trying to show me that it hasn’t all been in vein.  He has been trying to show me that in my weakness His power and strength shine through.  He’s been trying to show me that His grace is all that I need.  He’s been trying to get me to understand that even if I don’t have all the desires of my heart granted, He is still good and my life is still full because He is in it.

Week 45: So I guess, Sophia, there is not more fitting way to end your birthday letter than the way we began your birthday one year ago…trusting in the Lord.  In this last year He has shown Himself to be compassionate, forgiving, comforting, grace-giving, and good.  I’m so glad that you are celebrating this first birthday with the Heavenly Father who loves you so much.

Week 46: The rain remains in the fact that I still miss you.  It remains in the fact that I still have no child to call my own.  It remains in the fact that Champ has gone through trial after trial after trial with little to no rest in between.  In this storm Christ has been my umbrella.  He has protected me from the worst of the downpour, but that doesn’t mean that there’s still not a deluge around me.

Week 47: I was a mess this past year.  I fell apart in pieces, and had to be put back together again.  Some of the pieces came back together the same way they always had, but some of them just didn’t fit like they used to.  And because of this I was forced to sort of mod-podge myself back together, trying to make the new me, the Real me, as close to the Old me as possible.  But, I look different now.  I am not as shiny and new as before, I have so many more scars and tears.  However, I like to think (now) that this new me, this Real me, can’t be ugly.  It simply is just different.  Real.

Week 48: So, Sophia, that’s what I’m choosing for this next year.  I choose joy.  I choose to find that joy in the fact that God loves me, and has my best planned for me.  I choose joy because no matter the trials and tribulations that this world throws at me, Christ has suffered more, and because of that suffering, He has allowed me to have the hope of Heaven.

Week 49: I guess I just want to look back and remember you this week, because I know that after your fourth week you started to get really sick.  I know what is coming in 19 days.  I know how the story ends.  But for now I just want to remember you before the edema and all the heart breaking news.

Week 50: I hate that I had to let you go.  But I love that I got to love you.

Week 51: After you died I locked away my grief into different rooms in my heart.  Some of the doors I could easily open and I could enter the rooms without fear.  Other rooms stayed shut for longer, and only after time was I able to go in.  Then there were the rooms that were tucked the deepest into my heart, with the strongest locks.  This week I feel God is giving me the strength to unlock the doors of the scariest rooms of my grief, and enter.


Wow, baby girl.  What a year we have had.  What changes I see in myself and the world around me. 

These letters to you have helped me to process my grief and in turn heal from it.  They have allowed me to feel connected to you and to hold on to being your mommy for another year. 

God only knows what this next year holds for me and daddy, and only God can provide the strength and grace we will need to live out each day without you.

As I’ve said hundreds of times before, I love you Sophia Faith.  The love in my heart for you will never fade, and I will never forget all that you have taught me.

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All my love, forever and ever,

Mommy

The Goodbye Place (51 Weeks)

Dearest Sophia,

After you died I locked away my grief into different rooms in my heart.  Some of the doors I could easily open and I could enter the rooms without fear.  Other rooms stayed shut for longer, and only after time was I able to go in.  Then there were the rooms that were tucked the deepest into my heart, with the strongest locks.  They were the rooms where I put the memories of the day you died, and the memories of singing our song (How He Loves) to you. 

With only two letters left to write to you, I have decided it’s finally time to enter into those rooms.  I always knew I wanted to write about your last days, even if just for a record of those memories, but I’ve never had the strength to do so.  This week I feel God is giving me the strength to unlock the doors of the scariest rooms of my grief, and enter.

So here is an account of your last days and moments on this Earth, my precious daughter.

On July 19th (day 44 of your life) we were told that your heart condition had worsened, and that you only had perhaps a week left to live.  One of the three holes in your heart had gotten bigger and there was fluid filling the space around your heart and your lungs.  I remember standing there, listening to the doctors, but barely being able to fully understand what they were saying.  I think I just stood silently for awhile, as tears fell down my face, until I was able to muster up enough words to ask if we could stay with you around the clock.  Even though they had never let another family have 24 access to the PICU before, they said we could.  So that Friday we essentially moved into the hospital.

While we were in the hospital the nurses were all very gracious and let us hold you as often and as long as we wanted.  This was quite a change from the norm, when we would go days without even being able to hold you for a few minutes.  Your dad and I took turns sitting with you throughout the night, while the other got a few hours of sleep in a family sleeping room.  When it was my turn to be with you I just held your hand, stroked your face, sang to you, and read to you from your Jesus Bible.

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Your precious body was so swollen from all the fluid.  It broke my heart to see you so uncomfortable.

On Saturday, July 20th (day 45 of your life) your daddy and I went home in the morning to take showers and change clothes.  Your grandma and grandpa had come to the hospital to be with you, so we felt comfortable leaving for an hour.  However, as soon as we got home (about 20 minutes after leaving the hospital) we got a call saying that we should get back as soon as possible.

When we got back to the hospital they said your heart was suffering from arrhythmia (irregular heart beats) and your oxygen saturation levels were falling quickly.  As soon as we got into the room I sat in a chair and they placed you in my arms.  I had wanted our song to be playing when you passed away, so we started playing it and your daddy, grandma, and grandpa all knelt around you and sobbed.  We told you how much we loved you and how proud of you we were.  I remember my eyes constantly shifting from the monitors to you.  I was watching your oxygen levels drop lower and lower, and was just waiting for the moment that you would be gone.  I felt a sense of panic as it dipped down and couldn’t stop saying that I loved you, over and over.  I was almost hyperventilating as I repeated over and over how much you meant to me.  It was not a calm moment, but one filled with fear and desperation. 

But then, by the grace of God, your heartbeat started to stabilize and your oxygen levels started to rise.  You went from being completely critical to relatively stable in the matter of 5-10 minutes.

When your levels stabilized we were all in a kind of emotional shock.  We had just gone through the motions of losing you, yet you were still here.  We had said goodbye, and still you remained.

Little did I know that we would have four more of those experiences throughout the next 48 hours.

For the rest of Saturday you remained stable, but we made the decision to discontinue most of your IV medications.  Because your body was so swollen, and you were not urinating, we didn’t want to put any more liquid in your body than we needed to.  We weren’t sure if your vital signs would crash again, so we had many of your aunties and uncles, and your grandma and grandpa Ly, Skype in to see you and to tell you how much they loved you.  Even your precious doctor came to hold you (for the first time!).

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Saturday night daddy and I took turns, again, staying up with you all night.   I remember that night was harder because you seemed even more uncomfortable.  I think it was all the edema that kept you crying.  Watching you in pain, I just told you over and over that it was ok for you to let go.  I let you know that you would be with Jesus so, so soon and that you didn’t have to fight anymore.

But you still had more fight in you.  And we would have you for 29 more hours.

Sunday (your 46th day of life) was an extremely difficult day for us, emotionally, and for you, physically.  On Sunday morning we ordered some sedation for you since we knew how uncomfortable your were.  The doctors warned us that the sedation could cause your heart to slow down, but at this point we knew that you were not going to live.  Our priorities at that point were to make the last hours of your life as painless as possible.  By this time your oxygen saturation levels never got above 85%, and would periodically dip down into the 60’s.  We knew that your fight was coming to an end.

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Throughout the day your heartbeat would drop dramatically and so would your oxygen saturation.  We (me, daddy, grandma, and grandpa) would gather around you and tell you goodbye.  But each time you would pull your heart rate up on your own and we were able to keep you for a little longer.  Saying goodbye to you, over and over, was by far the hardest thing that I have ever had to do in my life.  I remember one of the times we thought you were going I was holding you, and your body made a sharp jerking motion.  It scared me so much and I was so afraid that you were in pain, and that pain would be your last memory.  After a few times of almost losing you it felt like God was playing a cruel joke on us.  I didn’t understand why He would make it seem like He was taking you to Heaven, and then would just give you back to this Earth.  Later, it would all make sense.

Despite the fact that you had several episodes of your heart failing throughout the day, you were kept very comfortable through sedation.  You slept much of the day, always in someone’s arms, and were completely surrounded by love.  In the last 48 hours of your life we had soft worship music playing non-stop, had the lights dimmed so you might open your eyes, and had the door to your room closed with your sound machine humming all in an effort to keep you as calm and comfortable as possible.

On Sunday you had many wet diapers, which was good in that your body was free of some of the fluid, but the nurses said it was a sign that your body was shutting down.  Your oxygen saturation had been low for many hours, and your body was starting to let go.

Late Sunday night your grandma and grandpa went home to get some rest.  Daddy and I knew that this would most likely be our last night with you, so we both decided to stay up all night with you.

We had been sitting in a chair and holding your all day, but that night we both wanted just to be able to lay down next to you.  We had the nurse lay you back in your bed and daddy and I took turns snuggling with you.

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From about midnight (officially July 22nd, your 47th and last day of life) on your heartbeat and oxygen levels slowly started to decline.  This last night things were very different than they had been in the two days prior.  There were not sudden drops that sent up into a fearful panic, everything was slowly and steadily slipping away.  I know that this was a gift from God.

We knew the end was so near, yet we were given lots of time to process it in a meaningful and healthy way.

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After snuggling with you in the bed, I picked you up and held you for a few hours.  That was the last time that I would ever hold you that long.  I remember while I was holding you your face seemed to change.  You looked so incredibly peaceful and beautiful in those last few hours, which was such a contrast to the pain we had seen you in just 24 hours prior.  As I gazed at you, my precious daughter, I felt such a sense of pride in your life.  I knew that you were such an amazing, strong, fighting little girl, and I was so grateful that I had been given the privilege to carry you for 9 months and to be called your mommy for 47 days.

After I held you it was daddy’s turn to lie next to you.  He had always told me that all he ever wanted was the chance to bring you home and to be able to curl up with you on the couch.  He didn’t get to take you home, but he did get to curl up with you in your hospital bed.  It was then that we made the last video of your life, just two hours before you went to Heaven.

By 4:00 AM your heartbeat had been in the low 20’s for several hours, and your oxygen saturation levels had been holding in the 50-60%.  There was no hope for you living, and in many senses you were already gone.  We were tired, and more importantly we knew that you were tired of fighting.  We knew it was time for you to go.

We told the doctors that we didn’t want you to suffer any longer.  So at a little after 4:40 AM on July 22nd, a nurse came into your room and removed your breathing tube.   She placed you in my arms and quietly left the room.  Even though you were no longer connected to the ventilator, you managed to breathe on your own for several minutes.  You were a fighter until your last breath.

I held you and your daddy sat next to you.  This time there was no feeling of panic or anxiousness. I know now that’s why God had us say so many goodbye’s to you before.  It was so that at our final goodbye we wouldn’t have to tell you too many things—we’d just be able to savor your last seconds.  I remember calmly telling you that I loved you and that you would be seeing Jesus very soon.  We watched as the numbers on the monitors slowly fell to zero. 

Zero.  No more heart beats.  No more breaths.  You were gone.

The doctor had been watching from the window and as soon as he saw you were gone he came in and said “I’m sorry to tell you that at 4:53 AM, Sophia went to Heaven.”  The nurses then came in and unhooked you from all of your wires and cables.  We told them to take out your intubation tube so we could hold you the ways we had always wanted to.

I called grandma and grandpa and told them that you were gone, and they quickly came back to the hospital.

In the meantime daddy and I took turns holding you against our shoulder, held tight against our chests, they ways we had never been able to do before.

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Then your grandma and grandpa came and got to hold you in the ways they had never been able to before.

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A nurse came back in after we had held you for around 30 minutes, and said that they would give you a bath.  We helped her wash your precious swollen body, and then we dressed you in a beautiful pink dress that I had brought for you to wear after you died.  We held you some more and just tried to savor the last moments that we would have to spend with your physical body.

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Then, about an hour after you had passed away, I carried you for the last time.  I carried you out of the PICU walls, into an elevator, and down to the basement of the hospital where we would leave your forever. 

Looking back on your last days and moments I realize just how much I miss you.  Opening up this room of grief in my heart has completely broken it again.  Oh, how I wish we had had more time together. Oh, how I wish you had not had to die at all.  But oh, the grace of God I see in those last days and moments.  

I look back at the pictures and want to tell myself (then) that your next year is going to be your hardest yet, but you will survive.  You will be ok.  You will heal.  You will feel safe to love again, and to love deeply.

Sophia, thank you for letting my hold you in my arms when you went to Jesus.  I’m so glad that all you felt in those last moments was love and then Love.

I love you, Super girl.

Love,

Mommy

Loving and Letting Go (50 weeks)

Sophia,

Well, we have made it to 50 letters.  50 letters full of mommy’s heart and love all for you.  I hope you know how much I have enjoyed writing to you each week.  I know that you can’t read these, but I also know that one day I will be able to tell you all about them. I’ll get to tell you how these letters helped me process my grief and how they helped me fully see the importance of your life and death.  Some weeks these letters have been my lifeline to sanity, and some weeks they have just been a fun way to stay connected to you.  But they all have been a joy to write.

Yesterday Daddy and I were talking about how our lives have been so different than we expected them to be.  We talked about all that’s happened to us in the last few years, and daddy said “I feel like our life has just been full of loving things and then having to let them go.”  When he said this it really caused me to stop and reflect.

Did you know that before we moved to Taiwan we had a dog named Lily?  She was a stray dog that had been found on the street and put in a shelter.  When we saw her at the shelter we immediately fell in love with her, and took her home that day.  We helped Lily get back to a normal weight, helped her trust people, and helped her know love.  Then, when we decided to move to Taiwan we had to make the hard decision to give her up.  We knew she wouldn’t be happy in the Taiwan heat, cooped up in an apartment (she loved to run!), so we had to look for a new family for her.  Thankfully God was so good and provided the best new owner for her.  But it was still heartbreaking to have to say goodbye to her.  We loved Lily like she was our actual human daughter, so giving her away caused our hearts to hurt so bad.  The night we brought her to her new owner your daddy and I just sat in bed and cried for hours.  Lily was our first experience with loving and letting go.

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(You were in my tummy in this picture!)

Then, precious girl, we found out we were pregnant with you.  As you know, we were beyond thrilled, and couldn’t wait to meet you.  When we heard that you were going to be very sick, we had to begin preparing ourselves for your possible death, but we truly believed that God was going to heal you.  Then you were born, and you were not healed, but you were alive!  We got 47 days to fall in love you.  For those 47 days (and the nine months prior for me) we got to know each part of you.  We bonded with you, and knew the feeling and smell of your skin.  We got to grow our love for you more than we ever thought we could, and it was amazing.  But then, on July 22nd, we lost you.  We had been given a taste of the sweetest love of our lives, and then it was taken away from us.  Loved and then lost.

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(Your grandma and grandpa loved you so much, too)

Four months after you died your foster brother Champ found his way into our lives.  We took home this tiny little shell of a baby, and over the past 8 months we have watched him blossom.  We have sacrificed more time and more energy then we ever thought we would have to.  We have spent more sleepless nights and more time in the hospital than we ever thought was possible.  But through all the hardships with Champ, we have fallen in love with him. We have grown the kind of love that only comes from daily sacrifice and daily care.  He has become a part of who daddy and I are at this moment, and we truly want him to have the best life possible.  But, Sophia, Champ is not our son.  He is not ours to keep.  And one day we are going to have to put him in the arms of his forever family and we are going to have to say goodbye to him.  We are going to have to let him go just like we had to do with Lily and with you.  He will be just another on the list of those we have loved and had to let go.

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I think it’s easy to think about Lily, you, and Champ, and to get really angry.  It’s easy to feel that we have been cheated in some way, or that we have been on a never-stopping conveyor belt of pain.  It’s so easy to focus on the letting go and the loss.  It’s so easy to forget the love.

Because, Sophia, what a privilege it has been to take care of our three little babies (Lily, you, and Champ).  What a joy it has been to watch three distinct lives (one animal and two human) grow and thrive right in front of our eyes.  We have been able to see the Hand of God at work so many times in the past few years, and that is something that not everyone can say.

I hate that I had to let you go.  But I love that I got to love you.

My prayer is that one day God will give us another little one that we will not have to let go.  My heart pleads for the chance to just love, without the fear of letting go on the horizon. 

Love,

Mommy

49 Weeks

Dear Sophia,

This week I just want to take a little walk down memory lane, and think about your life last year.  This time, last year, you were just turning 4 weeks old—just 2 days shy of one month old.  Your Auntie Josephine flew all the way from Seattle to visit you, and was here to see you in your new (bigger and private) room.  I guess I just want to look back and remember you this week, because I know that after your fourth week you started to get really sick.  I know what is coming in 19 days.  I know how the story ends.  But for now I just want to remember you before the edema and all the heart breaking news.

 

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Each day of your life was  precious.  I loved you for each and everyone.  But it was these days, before the worst came, that it is easiest to remember you.  I can’t believe that I only have 3 more letters to write to you, and then it will be a year that I’ve been without you—my dearest girl.

You were so beautiful.  You were such a joy to mother.  You changed my life forever.

I love you.

Love,

Mommy

Choosing Joy (48 Weeks)

 

My dearest Sophia,

A week after you died I was full of so much emotion—sadness, disbelief, numbness, confusion—that I had to sit down and write out what I was feeling.  That became your first letter.  At that time I had no plan to weekly write you a letter, but another week passed and I had more to say, so it just kind of started.  After the fourth or fifth week I decided that I would commit to writing you a letter a week for first year after your death.  Each week God placed different things on my heart to share, and here I am writing my 48th letter to you.  Only 4 more letters left.

4 more letters until it will be a year’s worth of letters, 52 of them, and 4 more letters until it will be a year without you. 

Throughout this past year God has been there for me, He has been completely faithful.  However, I have not been faithful to Him for much of the time.  I have not trusted Him, relied on Him, and truly believed in His promises to me.  However, in the past month of so He has been transforming my heart and mind in some serious ways.  I feel like I can really feel Him and see Him clearly, and because of this I have been convicted of some major sins in my heart. 

Some of the biggest things I have struggled with this past year are lack of contentment, envy, and joylessness.  And most of those sins come straight from one act of the mind and heart: comparison.

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This quote by Theodor Roosevelt is so simple, yet so true.  I have robbed myself of so much joy this past year because of the major amount of comparison I have been doing.

After you lose a child, and then seem unable to have another one, it is such an easy thing to do.

I look at other couples and wonder why fertility is such an easy thing for them.  They are able to plan pregnancies, like planning for a vacation.  I look at couples who have healthy children, yet seem to be unappreciative, and I think “I could love them better.”  I have even found myself envying families that have lost a child, but have other children as well.  I think “at least you have other kids to fill your arms.”

It is so wrong.  It is so hurtful.  It is all a thief of joy.

There are many Bible verses on the topic of joy, and it’s very clear that God is the source of all joy.

You have given me greater joy than those who have abundant harvests of grain and new wine. Psalms 4:7

I will be filled with joy because of you.  I will sing praises to your name, O Most High.                  Psalms 9:2

You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy.   Psalms 30:11

I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!         John 15:11

 

But the verses that have been getting my attention lately—the one’s that God has been laying on my heart—are the ones that command us to be joyful in all situations.

Be joyful in all things.

Even in baby loss.  Even in infertility.  Even in heartache.  Even in fear.  Be joyful.

Philippians 4:4 tells us to “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”

It says to rejoice in the Lord always.  It doesn’t say “rejoice in the Lord when He gives you what you want.”  And it doesn’t say “rejoice in the Lord when life is going the way you think it should.”  But to rejoice always. 

These words are coming from Paul.  A man who did not, by anyone’s standards, have an easy life.  And yet he tells us to rejoice.

I think I spent so much of this last year focusing on what I had lost that I missed so much of what I had gained.   Yes, I lost my daughter.  Yes, I lost the hopes and dreams that come with a precious little baby.  Yes, I lost a lot.

But I gained so much too.  I gained a deeper understanding of God’s Sovereignty.  I more deeply realized the amazingness of the Cross, because now I understand what’s it’s like to watch your child die.  I gained a precious foster son who has taught me patience and selflessness and hope.  I have gained so much.

Unfortunately I’m just realizing all this now, because I’m just now focusing on being joyful.

Mind you, joyful is not the same as happy.  God doesn’t expect us to be  happy all the time.  But He does ask that we chose joy in all situations.

So, Sophia, that’s what I’m choosing for this next year.  I choose joy.  I choose to find that joy in the fact that God loves me, and has my best planned for me.  I choose joy because no matter the trials and tribulations that this world throws at me, Christ has suffered more, and because of that suffering, He has allowed me to have the hope of Heaven.

No matter what life throws at me, and it seems to have been hurtling things lately, I will try my hardest to live in joy.

Love you, baby girl.

Love,

Mommy

Becoming Real (47 Weeks)

Dear Sophia,

A few months ago I wrote you a letter telling you about the ways I have changed since your life and subsequent death.  Shortly after writing you that letter, your grandma wrote me an email.  She shared with me a portion of dialogue from the book The Velveteen Rabbit that had once been shared with her by a friend who had lost her husband. 

It touched me so deeply at the time, and I told your grandma how much it had meant to me.  Then, this past Sunday she handed me a belated birthday gift.  I had no idea what it was, and wasn’t able to open it till later when I got home.  I carefully peeled away at the pink and red paper and reveled a soft beige-colored book with the illustration of a small child sleeping while clutching a raggedy stuffed animal—the Velveteen Rabbit. 

I quickly opened the book and proceeded to read the whole story, from cover to cover, and realized that I had not read this story in it’s entirety for a very long time.  I came to the passage that your grandma had previously shared with me, and my eyes welled up with tears. 

"Real isn’t how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It’s a thing that happens to you.

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.

"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"

"It doesn’t happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand."

 

"Real isn’t how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It’s a thing that happens to you.

Before we found out about your diagnosis, we lived a much more simple life.  It was simpler in the literal ways (we didn’t have to spend days in the PICU or make major medical decisions) but also simpler in an emotional way.  We had never had to go through something like this before.  Then 1 1/2 years ago, we heard “there is a problem…” and all of a sudden this Realness started to transform us. 

"It doesn’t happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time.

I have gone through that life-changing process that only comes from great love and great loss, and have come out something different on the other side. 

It has taken a long time.  I was stuck in a dark space for what seemed like such a long time, and I wasn’t even aware of all the changes that were taking place in me.  Because of the darkness I felt inside of me, I wasn’t able to see the Light that was transforming me.

But I feel like I am now Real.

I feel like now, because of you, I truly “get” so many more things than I did before.  I experience life deeper and wider, and feel Realer than I ever did before. 

Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.

I was a mess this past year.  I fell apart in pieces, and had to be put back together again.  Some of the pieces came back together the same way they always had, but some of them just didn’t fit like they used to.  And because of this I was forced to sort of mod-podge myself back together, trying to make the new me, the Real me, as close to the Old me as possible.  But, I look different now.  I am not as shiny and new as before, I have so many more scars and tears.  However, I like to think (now) that this new me, this Real me, can’t be ugly.  It simply is just different.  Real.

I like to think of you as the precious boy in this book who loved the Velveteen Rabbit so much that one day he was able to become Real.  He was only able to be Real because of the love that had occurred—love that was not always the happy and good kind, but love that stood through the test of trials. 

Sophia, it was because of the love that you and I had, and the love of God, that I was able to survive this past year and not simply cease to exist.  I was able to survive, and to become Real.

I feel like I will never run out of reasons to keep thanking you for all you have given, and will continue to give to me.

I love you, my beautiful daughter.

Love,

Mommy

Waiting for the Sun (46 Weeks)

 

Precious Sophia,

For so long I’ve felt as if I’ve been in a storm.  When you died it was a hurricane—merciless, intense, and completely devastating.

Then as months passed the hurricane lessened in it’s intensity and it became a heavy thunderstorm.  The rain was constant and every so often the lightning would strike or thunder would roll and I’d be hit with another bad day. 

In the last few months I’d say that the storm has passed, but the rain hasn’t stopped pouring.  The darkness of the rain clouds hasn’t lifted completely, and I’m still left here soaking wet and shaking.

The rain remains in the fact that I still miss you.  It remains in the fact that I still have no child to call my own.  It remains in the fact that Champ has gone through trial after trial after trial with little to no rest in between.

I read once “if it never rained, then how could we ever grow?”  Well, I feel like I’ve been flooded for over a year.

Today it hit me just how tired I am of all this rain.  I’m ready for the sun to shine.

In this storm Christ has been my umbrella.  He has protected me from the worst of the downpour, but that doesn’t mean that there’s still not a deluge around me.

It’s so hard to not get mad at God in times like these.  I know that He is in control of everything, so why can’t He just take away the rain?  Why can’t He allow the sun to shine, even if it’s just for a short season?  How does it make sense for us to go through all this pain?  Each day that I go another night without sleep, or see Champ suffer through another medical problem I think, “Where is the sun? Why is the Lord hiding it from me?” 

Sophia, I know the answer to all these questions.  I know it’s to wait on Him and trust Him.  But sometimes when it seems like your prayers are going unheard and you’ve been forgotten in the midst of the squall it’s hard to do those two things.  Wait and trust.

So, here I stand—under my little rain cloud, hands clutching tight to my Savior umbrella, praying for the rain to stop. 

Waiting for the sun.

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Love,

Mommy

Happy Birthday (45 Weeks)

 

My baby Sophia,

Today is your first birthday, and you are celebrating it in Heaven. 

This week I was thinking a lot about how I wanted to treat this day.  Would I want it to be feel joyous or somber?  Would I want to pour into your photographs, or avoid them altogether? 

Today your daddy and I decided to spend the day remembering you, and honoring your life in ways that were simple yet meaningful to us.

I knew a few weeks ago that I wanted to bring some birthday treats to the staff at the PICU…or should I call them your aunties and uncles?  They spent more time with you than even daddy and I did, so it felt right that they should be a part of your birthday.  It turned out that Champ had a doctor’s appointment today, so I got to bring cookies and a note to the hospital.  The note said:

On this day, on year ago, we welcomed our beautiful daughter, Sophia, into this world. On that day we also welcomed so many of you into our lives as well. On her birthday we want to remember and celebrate her life, as well as thank those of you who cared for her. We are so grateful for you caring for our daughter when we couldn’t, and being her “family” for her 47 days of life.

I wasn’t able to actually go into the PICU to bring them the cookies, but I left them with your doctor (and Champ’s doctor now).  It seemed so fitting that exactly a year ago we met Dr. Chen and today I was spending yet another doctor’s visit with her.  You know, she is not only Champ’s doctor now, but she is my friend.  You, my precious Sophia girl, allowed us to meet and now she is one of my dearest friends in Taiwan.

This afternoon I dropped Champ off at your grandma and grandpa’s, and then I went to meet daddy.  We drove to my favorite bakery and bought you a small birthday cake.  It was actually a fruit tart, but it looked so dainty and sweet, that I knew it would be perfect for you.  We also bought three balloons, all light pink, and all representative of our love for you.

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Daddy and I came back home and released two of the three balloons from our roof top.  We watched them float high into the sky, and were able to watch one for several minutes.  I like to imagine they floated all the way up to Heaven and you got to have them at your birthday celebration there.  Then, after we released the balloons, we came back inside and had your birthday cake.  We lit a candle and sang “Happy Birthday”, but it wasn’t very pretty since daddy and I were both choking back sobs.  There is something so wrong about having to sing “Happy Birthday” to a person who isn’t there.  I think sitting there, blowing out your candle for you, was the saddest part of this day.

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Next we had plans to eat at the last restaurant we had eaten at before you were born, it was actually on my due date.  But unfortunately we got a call from your grandma and grandpa telling us that Champ’s NG tube had come out.  We were going to have to take him to the hospital to have it put back in, which meant no special dinner in your honor.

It was hard not to get mad at God in that moment. 

We had wanted just one evening away from Champ, where we could focus just on you, and we weren’t even able to have that.

As we drove him to the hospital I realized that God was putting us back in the PICU…that sacred place of your life and death…back to the same place we first met you, exactly a year ago.  I thought that maybe God wanted us back there to run into some of your old nurses, or old doctors, but actually the nurse that helped Champ was probably one of the only nurses I had never seen before. 

As we drove back home, daddy and I talked a lot about how the night had turned out, and how hard it is sometimes to live with joy in all situations.  I think we were both a little sad and angry that we had not been able to spend your birthday exactly how we had wanted to.

But then a passage from Ecclesiastes that I had thought about all week came back into my mind:

For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace.

What do people really get for all their hard work? I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.

When I read through those different seasons, I see how many of them we have been through in just this past year.  And I remember that sometimes these “seasons” last only for a few days or even hours. 

The last two verses really spoke to me.

I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. Yes, this year we have felt the weight of a thousand burdens, and we felt many of them tonight.

Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. So I wait to see the beauty in this current season, and I hold on to hope that it indeed will come.

People cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. We may never fully know why you had to die, or why even today we didn’t get to celebrate your life the way we wanted, but I have to believe the truth of this verse and trust that God is working all things together for our good.

So I guess, Sophia, there is not more fitting way to end your birthday letter than the way we began your birthday one year ago…trusting in the Lord.  In this last year He has shown Himself to be compassionate, forgiving, comforting, grace-giving, and good.  I’m so glad that you are celebrating this first birthday with the Heavenly Father who loves you so much.

Here are some pictures of you exactly one year ago, just a few hours old.

sophia first day

I loved you from your beginning, and I’ll love you till my end.

Happy birthday, baby.

Love,

Mommy