Saturday, August 24, 2013


Moving to Louisiana has been quite an adjustment as far as weather goes. It doesn't snow here, like at home, and summers are sauna-like. All day, every day. Every time someone from home asks how the weather is, my reply is always "like a sauna". It hasn't rained much this summer. There are pop-up thunder storms in the afternoons, but they are very spotty, and most of the time, it's not raining at our house. Once in a while, however, we get a really good storm. It pours and pours and pours. Thunder and lightning, power flickers on and off. Diva is trying to climb into my lap or running around and crying.

This pattern of storms is parallel to my grief at this point. It has been 9 weeks since we found out Harper was gone. I don't cry every day anymore. Sometimes I go a week or more without crying, and then the storm comes. Yesterday was a stormy day.

It started out like normal, hanging out playing with Joey. We didn't have any plans, so we were home playing trains and cars and crashing things, like boys do. Then the phone rang. It was an 800 number, so I already knew it was either a computer or someone I didn't want to talk to, but I answered anyway. It was someone calling from our insurance company's pregnancy program. She wanted to check on the birth of my baby. I felt like I had been punched in the gut. In a not so nice tone, I stated that my baby was stillborn in June. She said she was sorry for my loss, but that I needed to answer some questions about the pregnancy and birth, to ensure that they didn't call me again. I answered them all in an angry tone, just dumbfounded that they were actually really asking me these things. After 20 questions was over, she told me she was sorry for my loss and to have a good day.

I threw down the phone and the tears just flowed like Louisiana rain. I was sobbing and sobbing and didn't know if or when it would stop. I was trying to be quiet, so as not to alarm Joey, but I couldn't. Joey kept asking me what was wrong, and I told him, "Mommy is sad". He replied just like any man does, trying to fix it, pulling me by the hand and telling me to come "have fun". I just couldn't right then. I had to let it storm.

I finally managed to compose myself 20 or so minutes later, and we went on with our day. Then, Steve came home from work and told me that Harper's headstone was done and we could go see it. So, we piled in the car, and drove over to the cemetery. The whole way there, I just felt like I was in the twilight zone. Who does this? Who goes to the cemetery with their 2 year old to see the grave of their stillborn child? It's just surreal.

We knew that she was the first baby in the new section of the angel garden, but when we got there, she already had another little boy buried next to her, and there was another hole waiting for a tiny casket. There's a sense of comfort that her body is not alone, but sorrow that other families are experiencing this pain and are members of the club that no one wants to be a part of. I took a couple of pictures, ran my fingers over her name, and we left.

For those of you from Rochester, the cemetery where Harper is buried is very much like White Haven. There are not huge headstones, the markers are flush with the ground, and most of them have vases to put flowers in. After we left, we went to try and find some decorations for her grave, but having a 2 year-old with you isn't exactly conducive to shopping thoughtfully. We gave up and decided I could try again after Joey went to bed.

I went to a different store later that evening, when I could take my time, and found beautiful things that were just right. Some purple, yellow, and white flowers, a purple angel, and small wind chimes with a yellow butterfly. The girl at the checkout commented how cute everything was. I didn't tell her what they were for. I was excited that I found things that I really liked, but just so sad that I even have to do it. I should have a 2 week old newborn, and be completely sleep deprived, not shopping for things to decorate her grave.

Through it all, God is still here. He still hears my cries, He still loves me, and He still carries me when I don't have the strength to go on. I bend, but I do not break. The storms come, but they don't consume me. I am knocked down, but I get up. Praise be to God!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Dear Harper

Dear Harper,

Today is your due date. Instead of anxiously awaiting your arrival into the world, we are anxiously waiting for the pictures of you. We took your big brother to see his first movie at the movie theater today, in hopes of creating some happy memories on what is now a sad day. I am so happy that you are in heaven with Jesus, but I am so sad that I didn't get to be your mommy here for more time than I did.

When Daddy and I found out I was pregnant with you, we were a little scared. Two babies? Your big brother keeps us really busy, how would we do with adding another baby? You were very much wanted and planned, but it took us one month longer than we hoped to get pregnant. Daddy, Joey, and I all have July birthdays, and we wanted you to have one, too, but God gave you a different month. You made your presence known right away, even when you were too small for me to feel your kicks. Nausea, heartburn, and fatigue were my constant companions for the first 12 weeks or so, but I knew the end result would be worth it.

When we had our first doctor appointment, they couldn't find your heartbeat, but said it was still early to hear it with the doppler, so they sent us for a quick check with the ultrasound. Your heartbeat was perfect and strong, and you were exactly the size that you should be. From then on, we had our monthly appointments at home with the midwife. Joey always liked to help her take my blood pressure, and when it was time to listen to your heartbeat, Daddy and Joey would do a little dance to the rhythm of your beating heart. Grandma and Auntie Kay Kay also got to hear that most special sound when they came to visit.

When it was time to find out if you were a boy or a girl, I was nervous. Everyone told me they thought you were a girl, but I wasn't sure. God told me right away that your brother was a boy and that I should name him Joseph, but I hadn't heard anything from God about you. I was so used to being a mommy to Joey that I was nervous whether I would be a good mom to a girl or not. They did the 20-week ultrasound, and said you were a girl, and sent us back to the waiting room to speak with the doctor.

While we were waiting, Daddy and I talked about names. We wanted your name to honor your Nannah, and also to honor my side of the family as well. I suggested Harper Pauline. Daddy said, "That's it! I love it!" Harper was your Nannah's last name before she married your Papaw Larry. Pauline was my Grandma's first name. Paul was my Grandpa's first name and your Grandpa's middle name, so it was a way to honor all three of them.

As the weeks went on, I got excited about buying things for you. The walls in your bedroom are lime green, and I was too tired to paint them, so I decided to make that color work. We bought lavender curtains, a purple rug, and your crib bedding had a white background with lime green, purple, and lavender accents. Grandma was so excited about you, it seemed like she was always sending us packages of clothes in the mail. Aunt Shelley made you a special quilt with your name on it, and Granny Ann bought you a pretty pink dress. Auntie Kay Kay bought you an LSU dress, an essential for any little Tigers fan.

At the end of May, Daddy took Joey's crib apart so that we could use it for you. Your big brother did great switching to a big boy bed. The first night was interesting, but he has done great ever since. He is such a sweet, loving, smart boy. I knew he would love you so much and be the best big brother. He does not understand what happened yet, but I promise I will explain it to him when he is old enough to understand. He will always know that he has a little sister in heaven that can't wait to meet him.

Mommy is trying so hard to not be sad, because I know you are not sad. You never had to endure anything difficult in this life, you were safe in my tummy while you were here. I wondered if you would have curly hair like me or straight hair like Daddy and Joey. We already knew you would have blue eyes, just like the rest of us, and no booty, just like the rest of us!

I was so looking forward to having you here with us - rocking you, cuddling you, watching you sleep, seeing all of your firsts - smiles, rolling over, sitting up, crawling, walking, talking. What would your first word be? Would you be as obsessed with dolls and princesses as your brother is with trains and trucks? Would you be a tom-boy or a girly girl? Or somewhere in between? I dreamed of doing girly things together when you were older - shopping, pedicures, tea parties. Would you want to wear dresses and skirts all the time? A tutu? (Even though I had no intention of buying any).

I will never know the answer to any of these questions. What I do know is that you are in heaven, and I will see you someday. I will get to be your mommy for eternity someday. I hope you know how much you are loved. Mommy misses you every second of every day. My heart hurts and it will never go away until I can see you again. You will never be forgotten. I love you, my sweet baby girl.


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Forever changed

I am forever changed. There are many events in one's life that can be described by this statement, but none more so than losing a child. I get up everyday and do the "normal" mom stuff - making breakfast, playing with Joey, cleaning, playing, shopping, making dinner. All the while, feeling like I am in the twilight zone. Everyone is going about their day, and will never even come close to knowing what this feels like. To be happy and sad. To be laughing one minute and crying the next. To be laughing about the silly things that husbands do for their wives, and then remember the silly things we did to my dad when we were little, then to sobbing because Steve will never know what it's like. He will never know what it's like to have a tea party with his daughter, or for her to want to paint his nails, or wear funny hats, or dance with her. Yes, maybe someday we will have another daughter, but he will never have any of these memories with Harper. The only thing we have are kicks, hiccups, heartbeats.

It is difficult to not feel completely alone. Joey and I go to play dates. The kids play, the moms talk. I just feel alone. None of them can understand, and I don't want them to. I don't want anyone to be a member of this horrible, awful "club". I have been to a support group for pregnancy/infant loss, and while I know these women understand my pain, I still don't feel connected to any of them. We tell our stories, we talk about where we are now, and I walk out of the building alone.

I want to talk about my baby, about what we are doing to remember her. I want to show people her pictures, but I know they don't want to see pictures of a dead baby. I even hesitate to show them to my family. Her nose was a little smooshed on one side, and her skin was a little blotchy, just like any newborn baby's is. But it is just a shell, there is no life. Her spirit is in heaven.

I know my God is with me. I know I am not really alone, even though I feel like I am sometimes. He is still on His throne. He sees all my tears. Psalm 56:8 says, "You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book".

I know my Jesus is with me and He feels my sorrow. In John 11, Jesus came to the tomb of Lazarus, and He wept (v.35). Even though He knew He would raise Lazarus from the dead, He still felt the sorrow of death. I know I will see my baby girl again, because of the death and resurrection of Christ, and until then, she is safe in His arms.