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Peace Seeker: the Moment

I guess if I’m being honest, I kinda knew. I just did. There was no forewarning inside my head to steel myself. There was a knowing when she entered the room, I just knew. But like a turtle I pulled into my shell. Foolishly, I didn’t take the time to inwardly strengthen myself. Instead, I argued with myself.

You would know. Someone would have told you. Right?? I mean, they all know how hard this year has been, surely no one would allow you to be blindsided with this.

I looked again.

I looked away.

I tuned into the subject at hand. The “chatline” had recently had a good story. A preacher got swindled out of thousands of dollars.

The snow was still coming down outside, other subjects were discussed. I checked the score of the ongoing football game. And eventually mealtime came, then cleanup. And cleanup means ladies in the kitchen, men still discussing manly things, in another room. My mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and I chatted easily.

I hope someday to forget this specific moment. The moment I asked her about her upcoming work. The moment she casually mentioned how her morning sickness has really, REALLY caused her problems. The ball of lead in my stomach returned with a vengeance, my lungs forgot how to breathe. The wet dish towel in my hand became intertwined through my fingers.

“Morning sickness?” I stupidly ask, looking toward my mother-in-law, wishing this conversation away.

“Well, yes. I’m pregnant.” My face probably gave me away. It’s never my eyes that are windows to my soul, no, it’s my entire face. A billboard advertising my feelings and emotions. “You didn’t know?” She shrugged. “I’m due in July.”

On December 20th, it was a year since we had Liam, I wrote a long post about it. I started 3 blogs. I wrestled between anger and sadness. I am jaded and hurting, constantly asking why I had to say goodbye, yet others take the lives of their unborn (or born) out of selfish and cruel motives.

I fought and cried, wishing there would be a massive snowstorm that would prevent this trip to Wisconsin. (But magically disappear the moment Lamar relented and cancelled the trip of course.)

I had read a blog last week. How the author learned she didn’t need to say things like “I miss my child, but – ”

No. Instead she learned to replace the word but with the word and. So I tried my own experiment. Well not an experiment, just decided to do this:

Liam was my son also. So just as I talked about Alex and Callan, and heard stories of their children, I too mentioned Liam. I mentioned going to see his grave, and missing him. I talked about labor and the difficulty of losing a baby.

I still needed to endure 5 more days after Monday. I confided to a few friends the difficulty this news was. I excused myself a time or two, needing to just regroup and find my poker face. (I don’t actually know if I have one, but I tell myself I do.)

It was a good week. It was a hard week. I learned a few more Dutch words. I ate far too much food. I got mad and begged to leave early. I read a lot, 2 big books and 1 medium one. Plus a couple Young Companion publications. I didn’t sleep much, did not drink enough coffee, took my Plexus, sold some Plexus… it was a full week.

At some point, I looked around the circle of Martin wives. (One was missing) There will be more Martin babies. 3 brothers are still single. Two wives are currently pregnant, and planned (or unplanned) pregnancies are rarely discussed, especially with the mother-in-law present. (Haha) I realize this will happen again, more babies. And none from us. I remembered fondly the baby days of my boys, and I wish to turn back the clock. Even the constant outfit destroying messes from the one, the team-no-sleep-needed from the other. The formula, the diapers, the laundry, all of it. I would do it again.

This first was painful. This surprise, casual bombshell was heartless and rude. But it will probably happen again. And my reaction will be nothing short of

Congratulations! served with a smile.

– Rachelle

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Peace Seeker: Habits

Her hands deftly did what she must have spent hours doing. At first glance, the motion doesn’t make sense. Up and down, up and down.

“She’s sewing,” was whispered to me.

A lightbulb dawned. I nodded. The motions made sense.

“OH!” She begins to cry, distressed at the mistake she has made. A mistake only she can “see”, a mistake only she can cry and distress over.

And this sums up my days.

A repetitive motion, or motions rather. Crying in distress are mistakes and failures, but also heartache. Things I see, feel.

There are mistakes that are not so hidden, mistakes with my boys or that sarcastic remark that didn’t need to be made.

This post will seem like a cry for pity, it isn’t. This is possibly the last post I will make for awhile.

I keep remembering the lady, her hands. Those motions. And my heart breaks.

We make habits, right ? Is habit even the right word here? We have things, a routine that we do every day.

Wake up. Brush your teeth. Get Alex’s breakfast. Check the woodstove. Make the coffee / Heat up a mug of coffee. Pack Alex’s lunch. Spend time talking to Alex. Invest. Remember my to do list for the day. Walk outside. Wait for the bus. Come inside. Check the woodstove again. Reheat coffee / pour another mug full. Get started on the day.

With working now, I have a bit more variety. But still routine. Things I do in autopilot, with barely a second thought.

Up and down. Up and down. Up and down. Her hands, those aged and beautiful hands doing on autopilot what she did a lot, sewing and mending, creating and fixing. A peaceful smile lights up her face when you praise the work that only she can “see”, she nods and in those moments she must feel honored to be praised for what she does.

I read this quote on the page An Unexpected Family Outing and it resonated.

There lies my struggle.

I am grieving not only the loss of a son then another baby. I am grieving the expectations, the normal pregnancy that was denied me. I am grieving a hole in my family of boys.

I am parenting a son who quickly calls himself “stupid” when we draw his attention to a mistake. I am parenting a son who doesn’t understand why God answers a prayer for his toe, but said “no” to healing his baby brother.

Our routine of “normal” was shattered. And we are left, picking up pieces, replacing old routines with a new one.

Our marriage. Our friendships.

Nothing is the same. Nothing is normal.

Yet it is.

This post has been hard. Because its difficult to put into words what I personally am feeling.

I feel like I’ve been left, picking up pieces and attempting to keep normal for my boys. I’m withdrawing and making my already small circle, a bit smaller. I’m open and honest, yet lonelier and hard to be friends with. I’m withdrawing officially from many of my responsibilities, feeling officially like a hypocrite.

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Peace Seeker: in Closing

I have debated long and hard over this post. Sorting through the various thoughts and feelings.

I’m conflicted.

Having this blog has been a marvelous outlet for me. A way to share my thoughts and feelings, a place to wax eloquent over things that no one wants to hear.

I love my family but growing up I was often shut down, I was told my voice was grating. So this has been an excellent place to voice what I need to say without using my physical voice. In it’s own way, it has been a marvelous form of therapy.

But at this point, I am relying somewhat heavily on actual therapy. I am working. I am struggling hard.

My job allows me to love on a forgotten generation. To love and care for and listen to the ones who have lived their lives, who folks make time to visit but sometimes it’s not a priority. But they’re my priority, this generation. They’re full of wisdom and laughter, confusion, and hearts full of the same things mine is full of. I love almost every minute of what I do.

And today as I did the nails of a few ladies, as I shared smiles and books, as I smiled my way through the buildings, I again realized this is me moving forward.

I do not know what tomorrow holds.

Actually yes, I do. Another shift at work. And then the countdown week begins.

On Thursday it is 1 year since Liam entered our lives. On the 19th it is 1 year since I went to the doctor and no heartbeat was found.

I’d be lying if I said I was fine.

I’m not.

I’d be lying if I said I understand.

I do not.

And I am angry. I am hurting.

I cannot read the news. I cannot comprehend the fact that women in various places are pregnant and scared and not necessarily “ready” YET my prayers and wishes denied.

I do not wish to be told how to feel or what to think. I do not wish for empty “you will be fine” murmurs.

I do not post this for sympathy. Please see my heart. My broken, shattered heart.

This journey has not been one I’d wish on anyone. Ever.

It has broken me, my marriage, and caused deep wounds that I’m unsure will ever heal.

Mourning someone you love, it never ends. It’s a wound, that sometimes is painful and causes you immediate and constant pain. Sometimes it doesn’t hurt as much, a dull ache you are aware of but you also see beauty and life around you.

So for a brief time, my page will go a bit silent. This season is especially pain- filled and will require much more effort on my part.

Love,

Rachelle

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Peace Seeker: Thankfulness & Grieving

And once again, I tap this on my phone. I delivered my boys to a babysitter and am sitting to write this while sipping a delicious coffee from a favorite local shop.

So please excuse typos and spelling errors. Because there will be some of both, I am sure.

Tomorrow is a holiday, a national holiday of remembering our blessings. For work, I looked into the history of Thanksgiving, and I learned some fascinating things.

My post today will not hold quite the fascinating facts, but again, a glimpse into life after.

In October it was a year since we were plunged into the longest waiting game ever.

And on the day before Thanksgiving was when the pain started. I bent to pick up a light laundry basket, I had experienced some light discomfort earlier during the day, and all of the sudden I had sharp pain. I dropped the basket and quickly sat, holding my stomach, unable to sit up.

Just a day or so before had been a doctor appointment, another devastating and emotionally draining visit. At that appointment, hope had again been decimated and the words “no hope” had been applied to my pregnancy, to the fluttery movements of life.

As I called Lamar in tears, I was terrified. Were we going to meet our baby? What was going to happen? Could I do it? Could I say hello and goodbye?

Of all the questions I had, there was one thing I knew: I was not ready.

Lamar told me to the call the doctor and that he would come home if needed.

(I have always prided myself on being quite independent, but my pregnancy with Liam made me much more needy, much less independent.)

I called the doctor and was immediately connected with a nurse. There was no advice other than it could be labor starting. And a bit carelessly she added if I kept going, “I could get it over with” or something along those lines.

I do not love pain. Not in any sense of the word. So I began a period of rest. Because the pain wasn’t just pain. There was the physical pain, emotional pain and this big wall we were staring at.

Many people have remarked on my strength.

There was no strength in me. Anything you saw, that was God. Still is.

Because this journey has easily been one of the hardest I’ve ever walked.

So tomorrow, as I gather with family, around a feast my mother and sisters-in-law have lovingly prepared, it will be different.

There will be no physical pain to smile through. But there will be the emotional pain.

I have come to edge of myself, my will to live has been crushed twice in the last year.

And yet, here I am.

Not because of me. But because of God.

I will sit at a large stretched out table with my family. And together we will eat (so much good food), we will laugh, we will allow our children to eat too much candy and drink sodas, men will nap, maybe even a lady or two. Kids will play and enjoy time with their cousins. It has all the ingredients to be a marvelous and amazing day.

It also has all the ingredients to be a hard and awful day.

While I am grateful for this life and the many, beautiful blessings.

I am also sad. Because so many things have been lost. In the past year, in my lifetime.

And I’m not alone.

There are so many others who also feel these same type of pains as they gather with their loved ones this season.

So understand, I am thankful. I am also sad. I am heartbroken that my wish for a living child, my prayers for a miracle, my desire to be a mother again have all been met with a resounding no. A pain-filled no.

No. No. No. NO.

Two times I’ve been given healthy, amazing boys. And I am grateful for them.

So while you gather tomorrow, and the holidays are considered to have officially arrived, be a little extra kind to someone you know is grieving. Understand that their joyous season also holds great grief.

With Thanksgiving & grief,

Rachelle

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Peace Seeker: finding myself

I knew from the time I was a teen, I didn’t fit. I was loud. I laughed too much. I was too messy. I was not cool. My flaws were glaring and clear.

I tried though. Oh my, did I try. I fell in love. I trusted. I gave him my heart, and in turn he shattered it. (Thanks, man.)

I was drawn to the tomboy side of life. I needed speed, I needed music, I loved cars and trucks.

And about 2 months after the breakup with the one I loved and adored, I bought my favorite car.

I had my dream car, a job I loved, and life was relatively good. I mean sure, I was recovering from the emotional fall out of a sexual assault, I was struggling because I invested all that I was in a boyfriend who had started dating someone new.

And sure, you tell yourself that maybe he cheated or maybe his feelings weren’t real … but it doesn’t diminish what YOU felt.

But I started to meet people. I opened my eyes. I made new friends. I stopped judging. I started listening. And I realized something, there were folks who liked me for me.

And then I met my husband. He didn’t use any of my past against me. Didn’t bother him. He says he knew from the moment he saw me that I was meant for him. He made me feel safe. Still does.

And soon after being married, I quit wearing my covering.

And felt peace.

I wore jeans.

I felt peace. AND there was no loud voice of judgement or lightening bolt from Heaven.

I found me. Part of me. And then I lost her. I got lost in a world of living to please, depression, frustration, and alcohol and wrong friends.

And then we were invited to church.

And from day 1, we were loved.

We are now 4, 5 years in ? And there’s been nothing but sunshine and roses. Juat kidding. Real live humans go to my church. So we have real, live sin. We also have a real, live Savior. And grace and forgiveness.

One of the first pastors I met, I asked him what he’d do, as preacher, if a young child was assaulted by a member of church. With no hesitation, he responded: “we would call the proper authorities and care for the child.” I think he mentioned caring for the one who assaulted but I don’t remember.

(I was flabbergasted that it would be handled “right”.)

It has been a long, pain filled road to where I am today.

I have been bullied, even as an adult. I have made mistakes. I have struggled. And often I have wondered what on earth God was thinking when He chose to make me.

But on Sunday, at I listened to the sermon, I heard why.

I’m here to share.

I didn’t find myself, my title is misleading.

I was found. I was made free. I was forgiven. My sins, and the sins done to me, HE HAS REDEEMED.

I am here to share.

I am here to say His strength is why I’m here. His divine intervention is why I’m here.

He is why I am here. I attend church, I worship. Not because I must. Not because “what will people think if I don’t?”

I do it because though all the pain, through all the cruelty, through all the human failures .. He has shown Himself to me.

A still small voice. A well-timed card, text, song.

The God who created the universe has shown His love to me. For me.

My flaws are loud and evident. Bigger than what I can hide or stuff under a facade.

I have a long way to go, but I’m getting there.

I posted a blog last week, and I took it down. I posted it too hastily. It wasn’t complete.

In all I write and share, especially here, I want Him to be seen.

Love,

Rachelle

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Peace Seeker: Oceans

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep my faith will stand
And I will call upon Your Name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine
Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now

 

We used to go the  beach when I was younger. One year I misjudged a wave in my attempt to be a wave rider, and got flipped end over end under water. For a brief period of time, I was stuck under water, eating sand and swallowing water. Those seconds felt like minutes, I was sure I was going to die.

Spoiler alert: I didn’t. 

When I first heard this song, I was going through a painful season. Feeling rejected by many I had considered friends. Sleepless from nightmares, reliving trauma, and in a season of absolute pain.

Pain lasts for a season, and then suddenly it ends. I was able to see the blessing in the friend turnover, and developed other friendships. I sought help and am (mostly) nightmare free again. It was gradual, but yet one day I was able to look back and say: “Oh! That season has ended!” 

When a painful season begins, you don’t get a warning. You don’t get a text message, or a heads-up nudge. It just arrives, bluntly. And there you are, with the water closing over you, stuck in a place of pain. A choice needs to be made in those beginning moments, fight or flight.

“Your baby has Potter’s Syndrome. We cannot find a majority of organs. We are sending you to _________ for a better ultrasound. But your baby will not live. I am so sorry, Joy.” 

And so began my painful season. Again.

October 24. We had just lost a dear family friend. We were anticipating the arrival of another baby in our home, and everyone was hoping that the ultrasound would tell us to go buy alllllllllll the pink things. I sat alone in the ultrasound room, the weight of what had just been said laying squarely on me.

I think my first phone call was to Lamar, then to my Mom. A nurse called my friend who was watching my son.

I walked out of the room, pictures of babies on the walls. I stopped at the reception desk. I don’t remember the words, I just know I was to be at another appointment. I texted my best friend, I called my pastor.

My mind was spinning, yet blank. I drove to a near-by fast food place, and went inside to use the bathroom. I ordered a fruit cup, killing time until my next appointment. I went to the car and talked to Lamar. I had no idea where I was going, no desire to even get there.

My best friends dropped their responsibilities and met me at the next doctor appointment. Another ultrasound, a few more organs were found, but zero hope. A bit more information, but short of a miracle, this baby would not live. The doctor was kind, compassionate, and so sorry. He was a Christian man, I believe, and his heart was so kind. My friends walked me out, and I got to my car, at the top of the parking garage.

Briefly, the thought crossed my mind that if I were to drive off the building, the pain would stop. At this point, the dullness had worn off, the pain was sharp and excruciating. It was overwhelming. As I navigated through the city, destination home, I sobbed. I cried. I got home, because God. And collapsed. Lamar met me there, and together we went for Callan. It was now supper time, if I remember correctly. My head was pounding, light of any type hurt my eyes. I took a dish towel and ice pack, covering my eyes.

When we finally got to my mom’s house, I needed to steel myself. I couldn’t let Alex know. We knew we would need to tell him, but in that moment I needed him to be free of the pain I felt.

And that was the hardest part of this entire journey, Alex. Often my grief was put on a back burner, waiting for me to process it and feel it until after my boys were asleep. And I have no regrets, I am simply being honest.

We went for testing. Most came back inconclusive, and a part of me just knew this pregnancy wouldn’t go much longer.

Abortion was brought up, once. Never again.

Our lives were forever changed on this day one year ago. And so many emotions have been felt since.

I have used this blog to speak my heart, reveal the pain but also the beauty in these moments. I have appreciated the support, from family and church family, friends.

If I could go back, would I do it again?

There are life lessons, I do wish I hadn’t learned.

But my pregnancy with Liam? I wouldn’t undo that. As hard as this season has been, pain-filled, and life-changing, I would do it again.

A few days before this life changing appointment, I was headed to church. I was on worship team that morning and as usual, running a bit late. It was a cool morning, so I opted to take the route with less deer. As I was pulling out, I dropped something and bent over to pick it up, and Liam kicked. A sharp, hard little kick. I was so excited. And as I said, I was running late so I was speeding. And suddenly, as I came around a turn, there before me stood a big deer. I had no time, I simply prayed. And that quick, he was gone. Disappeared into the brush from where he had come out of. It seemed to be a sign, I am here and I got you. We were deep in mourning Kevin, and my fears were running a bit rampant at the time.

I have no regrets, I fought the best way I could. I prayed constantly, begging God for a miracle. I spent days in tears, days trying to keep life normal for Alex and Callan. I spent nights crying, praying. Begging for a miracle. I finally needed to start a sleep aid, it was the only way to sleep. I withdrew from many people, finding public outings harder and harder. I wanted so badly to hide my pregnancy, I did not want anyone to see my little belly and ask details. No stranger wants to be saddled with: “yes, I am pregnant but the baby will die.”

I have no regrets. The prayers we prayed were answered, just not all of them the way we wanted.

In all things, He is good. It’s taken me about a year to say it and believe it.

He is good.

And He hasn’t let me down.

Through the most challenging parts of my life, He has been there. He has carried me on the days I couldn’t do it. He has forgiven me the days I have been angry, resentful. He has given me grace to extend to the people who say things… He has given me strength, for today. He has given wisdom, and in the moments when life seemed too much, strength to go on and showed me His love.

In all things, He is good.

And today, while I mourn. I can also rejoice. Because my Liam is in the best possible place, Heaven.

With love and tears, 

Rachelle 

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Peace Seeker: to the Mom

Dear Mom,

Today your arms are empty. And they shouldn’t be. You should be smelling stinky diapers, scrubbing stained bibs, bragging about baby’s growth. You see pregnancy announcements, and complaining moms. You should be one.

should. deserve. wish.

Your eyes fill with tears, as you mourn what should be.

Your arms ache when you see those babies. but the words don’t come.

Oh mama, my heart aches with you when you read those articles about children being hurt because people are selfish.

As you survey your life, as you think over the should, and wishes of your heart, and list your good qualities on the “I deserve” card.. I am right there with you.

Dear mom, we are one and the same. Our journey to this destination may each be slightly different. Some have never had the privilege of a pregnancy that ends in a healthy baby. Some know why they can’t, some don’t.

We have all heard the word “but” followed by a crazy statement that makes your eyes roll. We have all extended grace, and smiled through the pain, knowing this pain is unique and their hearts are in a good place.

I’m sorry. On this day, Infant & Pregnancy Loss Awareness Day, I see you. I see you standing there. I see the silent tears, the emotions you hide. I see the pain you tuck away for the safety of your “spot”. I don’t know your spot, but I have one too. It’s a place we go, mentally or physically or both, to release the pain we feel. There is no time limit, this grief and pain never goes away, yet those outside this group cannot seem to grasp that. And there’s this invisible cut off date, where we realize our pain and grief isn’t welcome where we are present. So we put on these masks, we keep our emotions in check until we get to our spot.

I visit my spot less lately. I’ve been happy. I am choosing joy. But there are some hard dates coming up, and I know my spot is there, ready for me.

Today say that baby’s name. Do something for him or her. If it’s an unnamed baby, a pregnancy lost to soon, do something for that baby too.

Liam. This is for Liam and the other babies I lost too soon.

This is for all you mamas and daddies who lost a baby before you got to meet him or her. For the moms who hear the comments, feel the pain, and feel “stuck”.

I see you. I care for you.

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I wish..

I deserved..

I should have..

My days are quiet. While my oldest is at school, it’s me and Callan. I am very rarely not caught up with laundry anymore, unless I intentionally let it go for a day or two. I do the grocery shopping, I clean the kitchen. I am looking for a job even.

My days are quiet and routine. I sleep all night. Last night I was in bed by 9:30. And I am grateful for the life we have, but I can’t help but wish it were different sometimes.

BUT in all things, HE IS GOOD.

And yes, it’s very hard for me to say that. It was hard to believe it. I remember singing that song one Sunday and looking at my pastor, in tears, unable to even say the words. He is good? How so? I believed, I prayed, I trusted. He is good?

He is.

I am here. I am sharing. I am wanting you to know, you aren’t alone in your invisible cloak of grief. I see it.

I never ask this, but I am today. If you know ANYONE on your friends list who has suffered this, share it.

If you’re reading this and you have suffered a loss, I am here for you. I care for you. I feel your pain. And after I am done typing this, I cannot promise to have anything awesome or perfect to say. But I can nod as you share and say, “I get it”.

“The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” Psalms 18:2

May your spot, your place of safety include Him.

Love and hugs with a definite forecast of tears today,

Rachelle