Uncategorized

Faith.

3_facts_about_your_measure_of_faith_405540319Faith.

In addition to the wonderful church I belong to- Greenford Christian. Who was there in my hospital room after Nathan died praying over me and who was there in the waiting room with me when my newborn was being operated on. Here are some books and music that helped/continue to help me tremendously with my grief.

You’ll Get Through This- Max Lucado

An anonymous person from my church sent this book to me and I have since passed it on and bought another copy for someone else. I would suggest it to anyone who has had “knees hit the floor” life moments.

Another good read is Through The Eyes of a Lion- Levi Lusko

In addition to my church and books, music is very healing to me. KLove is my go to station for comfort.  Here are four songs that I really connect with. I included some lyrics to each song but I would highly recommend listening to each one in its entirety.

Thy Will Be Done- Hillary Scott https://youtu.be/Dp4WC_YZAuw

“I don’t wanna think

I may never understand

That my broken heart is a part of your plan

When I try to pray

All I’ve got is hurt and these four words

Thy will be done”

God Only Knows- For King & Country https://youtu.be/Q5cPQg3oq-o

“God only knows what you’ve been through

God only knows what they say about you

God only knows how it’s killing you

But there’s a kind of love that God only knows”

 

God’s Not Done with You- Tauren Wells https://youtu.be/cVHrkYBEgFM

“Right now all you see are ashes

Where there was a flame

The truth is that you’re not forgotten

‘Cause Grace knows your name

God’s not done with you

Even with your broken heart and your wounds and your scars

God’s not done with you

Even when you’re lost and it’s hard and you’re falling apart

God’s not done with you

It’s not over, it’s only begun

So don’t hide, don’t run

‘Cause God’s not done with You”

 

Scars- I Am They https://youtu.be/OqjGT9BSyJA

“’Cause my brokenness brought me to You

And these wounds are a story You’ll use

So I’m thankful for the scars

‘Cause without them I wouldn’t know Your heart

And I know they’ll always tell of who You are

So forever I am thankful for the scars”

 

Symphony- Switch https://youtu.be/QNhGnUoPZ_0

“And even in the madness, there is peace

Drowning out the voices all around me

Through all of this chaos

You were writing a symphony, a symphony”

Labels and Linings

There are three labels I feel on my forehead. One is no longer applicable but I still feel it because I lived it for ten years of my life. Infertile. From 2005 to 2015 I endured 3 rounds of clomid/IUI, 6 total rounds of injectables/IUI and 1 round of in vitro fertilization. The second label is Stillborn Mom. That one burns the brightest on my forehead. That one that punches me in the gut at least once every day even 4 years later. The last one is NICU Mom. This label gives me the most post-traumatic stress. The roller coaster of the NICU coupled with a newborn who is given a 50% survival rate will do that to you.  The question that remains is why do we put these labels on our forehead everyday just like we do our clothes, shoes and handbag? Why is it so easy to let your labels define you? Infertile. Stillborn. NICU. We are so much more than the burning labels on our foreheads! So easy to say but so hard to believe some days.

On the flip side, in my opinion there can be “silver linings” to these labels. Personally for me one lining is a deeper compassion for other human beings. You see the world differently, through a new lens. After this 12-year season of my life I got a lot better at the practice of “not sweating the small stuff”. Trivial circumstances were just that. No more stressing over normal life crap. I also feel like I can connect with people easier and the shyness that I once felt meeting new people is gone. Another lining is the amplified need and drive to help others. Not even just those who were dealt a similar hand as you- just people in general.  Lastly, I am no longer afraid to go into the “ugly” with people. I do not find it difficult to go into uncomfortable situations because that is when people need you the most. When it is uncomfortable, when there is a HUGE elephant in the room, when death and despair are looming in the air.  

Maybe you feel labels burning on your forehead too. You may not feel it right away but those labels will eventually turn into linings. I promise.

– Leslie J.

VP of Olivia’s Grace

Dirt

Triggers happen frequently. Some are intense, some are subtle, some are manageable, others are not. Sometime when I get an intense trigger and traumatic memories and thoughts start flooding my brain I get an urge, a yearning to go to the grave site and dig the dirt. Dig the dirt with my hands, see the dirt under my fingernails until I reach the white box and hold my babies again. I feel like it is a primal, motherly instinct that takes me to this place. I made it to the cemetery one time. I sat there on the ground bawled and cried out in agony. I didn’t start digging because deep down I know what remains in the white box is not want I want to see. It won’t satisfy the yearning. It would probably add more traumatizing images to my brain. I called my Dad for help that night and Lord did I need it. I didn’t call my husband because he was at home with our – at the time – grieving 6-year-old. Like a good Dad he drove right to me and sat on the cold ground and cried right beside me. I thankfully haven’t made it that far again but the urge still happens.

Speaking of cemeteries and grave sites- here’s my expectation when I go to the grave site. A beam of sunlight suddenly and magically appears from the clouds and shines down on the headstone. There is a light breeze and doves are gently circling above me. I get an overwhelming sense of peace in my heart knowing Nathan and Liam are always with me in spirit. I walk away feeling like I had a heavenly conversation with my boys. Here’s what really happens- I.feel.nothing. I go there and decorate for the season, say a short prayer and then drive away. I have felt my boys speak to me in many different ways just never at the cemetery. I used to feel guilty for this- like I wasn’t praying genuinely enough when I was there or didn’t visit often enough. I now know that is a crock of crap. My boys are so proud I am their Mama. They tell me in their own ways – perfectly designed for me.

– Leslie Johnson

Baby Showers

Baby showers… They are supposed to be a celebration of new life and the beginning of an exciting new journey. But for someone who has had a stillborn, baby showers can be painstaking torture. I feel bad I feel this way. “It’s not her fault my baby died.” “Shame on me for thinking about myself during her special time.” “What happened to me usually doesn’t happen, so her baby will probably be just fine.”
Exactly 2 weeks and 1 day after my baby shower I was told my baby had no heartbeat at 34 weeks gestation. That was after I lost his twin brother at 18 weeks gestation who remained in my womb until his brother passed 4 months later. I can still picture all the decorations- the wilderness theme, bears, moose, buffalo print. Nathan’s name in painted block letters above the fireplace, the tribute to his brother Liam where everyone put there thumbprint on a tree with the saying “There are two gifts we can give our children. One is roots and the other is wings.”  I remember giving a speech and Nathan kicking me during it, I was crying saying how the day was bittersweet because as I was trying to
celebrate one twin while also mourning the other twin. I remember the centerpieces, the moose cake pops, the food, the weather (snow), the gifts, the guests. It was a beautiful, quiet, perfect “somber celebration” if you will. Now, all my baby shower reminds me of is the forthcoming pain, death, that fateful ultrasound “Sorry there is no heartbeat” the screams, the phone calls, the crying, the wanting to die, the hospital room, the clock on the wall with the little black minute marks in between each number, the yellow flower on the picture in the room, and so on and so on. As much as I dislike showers my guilt
usually guilts me into going. I do however imagine what that voicemail would sound like if I was completely honest with the mother to be “Ummm, hi I was just calling to let you know I can’t make it to your baby shower on Sunday. I just reminds me of impending death but I hope you have wonderful time and and I’m sure your baby will be just fine, Ok Bye-e”
The first baby shower I attended after giving birth to a stillborn was extremely rough but it was for a dear friend who I love and I wanted to be there for her. When I walked into this baby shower I instantly felt like a bad luck charm. Because I’m at this shower my friend’s baby might die. Sounds ridiculous right?! Life after stillbirth is full of these ridiculous thoughts! I felt like the acquaintances I knew at the shower were super scared of me. I felt like I could hear them whispering in their heads “Gasp!!! there
she is, the woman who had a stillborn, quick!!! act like nothing ever happened and just smile and make small talk” Ugh. It was uncomfortable to say the least. I didn’t go to another baby shower for a long long time after that one. I hope the cringe of seeing as baby shower invitation goes away one day. With the Grace of God and some time under my belt I can now make it through a baby shower without feeling like there is big “S” on my forehead or having a complete emotional meltdown after. And that is progress.

Published by Olivia’s Grace contributor and Board Vice President, Leslie Johnson.