Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Day My Earth Stood Still

"Darkness and death are weighty, and our emotions, our actions, even our beliefs may bend at pressure. But our God does not."
She Reads Truth

It was a bleak, cold day in the city. The wind whipped around my body and chilled me from the tip of my nose to the end of my big toe.

"Where's your hat?" My husband asked.

Being the bright one that I am, I refused to wear my hat because I didn't want to mess up my hair.

Minutes later we were standing in front of the Holy Name Cathedral. We walked up to the building and let ourselves in. Within a matter of seconds our bodies went from numbing cold to being full with toasty warmth.

Being a Protestant, we don't put much stock in church buildings (at least that's what we tell ourselves) because the people are the church, not the church building. But there is something about walking into a Catholic church with it's high ceilings and stained glass. The rows of pews with their kneeling benches. That any given time you can walk in and see people praying. Praying for dying relatives, praying for a job, praying for mercy and forgiveness. Praying for hope for the New Year. There is a quiet hush that lingers in a dimly lit church that is incomparable to anything else.

The quiet hush was what I needed that day.

It had been almost three years, to the day, since I lost my second child, Ezraela Eaven. December 31, 2013 in the ultrasound room at the doctor's office was the day that everything changed. Once you lose a child, once you go through the agony of a miscarriage, once you deliver your dead baby, there is no going back. That day is a time marker. It is a way you remember things. The way you piece your little history together. It is the heaviness that creeps into your thoughts.

It was on that day my Earth stood still.

And every year since, that day looms in front of me, tempting to take away my holiday cheer.

This year was no different.

Ezraela was heavy on my heart that morning at the hotel as the last picture of me being pregnant with her showed up on my news feed. Looking back, at 18 weeks pregnant, there is no way I was carrying a baby that was that big, but I was oblivious, just thinking I was extremely fit. The truth is I was carrying a dead baby.

My last picture with Ezraela

As I sat in the pew at the church I felt the the weight of 2013's New Year's Eve weigh down on me. I starred at the larger than life crucifix that hung by heavy wire, appearing to hover, at the front of the church. Protestants also do not believe in crucifixes. They say that Jesus rose from the grave on the third day and that we do not believe in transubstantiation, so our crosses should be empty. But that day the crucifix was a comfort to me. As I gazed at it, I remembered that I was the reason for Christ's death on the cross. I remembered the agony that he went through. The pain and suffering. I remember when dealing with Ezraela's death I realized that God had lost a son and that he understood exactly how I felt in the grief of losing a daughter. As I sat in the church pew I looked and saw Mary's statue in the corner. I thought about what it must have been like to watch her son go through an unjust trial and have him murdered right in front of her eyes. I imagined it was much like being in labor for hours and being rewarded with a small baby that had no breath, which you could cradle in the palm of your hand. I knew my pain was nothing like what she went through, but Mary fully understood my sadness. Because to her Jesus was the Messiah, the son of God, but he was also her son. She carried him in her belly for 40 weeks and watched him take his first steps. She was there when he said his first word and watched him sleep late at night.

In the silence I felt tears begin to fall. And I could feel Mary crying with me. And all of the mothers who had ever lost a child.

But anyone who has lost a child understands that you never get over the loss.

Three years later, one would think that I would not be as affected by Ezraela's death as I am. That I would be writing about something else by now. But anyone who has lost a child understands that you never get over the loss. I can still remember vividly certain parts of Ezraela's delivery, just like I can still remember Alexandria and Leo's. However, in Ezraela's case there was a different outcome.

I re-watched the seven seasons of Gilmore Girl's recently. There is an episode during the Luke years when he and Lorelai were dating that he disappears for a day. The entire episode Lorelai was trying to figure out where Luke went on his dark day. I hadn't watched the show in years, but I knew it had something to do with his deceased father. It turns out in the end it was the day his father died. Watching it post Ezraela I could understand wanting to be alone and hide every New Year's Eve so I could quietly mourn her death. But New Year's Eve is a night to celebrate life and a new year. To be excited about the what is to come and to be grateful of the things you get to leave behind in the previous year.

I choose to celebrate life, no matter how fleeting.

I know I will never leave behind the grief of losing my precious girl and I know that I have not done all that I am intended to do as a result of her death.

One thing I do choose. I choose to celebrate life, no matter how fleeting. I choose to cherish the life that I do have. The life of my two living children. The life of my husband. The life of my dear family and sweet friends. And pray that in the end this journey will only make me stronger and fuller. That is my prayer and wish for 2017.

"Sometimes life will test you but remember this: When you walk up a mountain, your legs get stronger." Unknown

My world

Not too long after we were in the Cathedral my husband let me take this selfie of us

Me and my Rainbow Boo. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

I Can't Keep Silent: Fighting Against a Rape Culture

Everyone knows this election season has been frustrating on so many levels. Typically this time of year, every four years it is, but most will admit this time it is different. I have been hesitant to write anything myself on politics because frankly, I'm not that well versed on all of the facts and am not looking to win any debates. I have two small children, a 15 month old baby boy and a five year old little girl and I just don't have time or brain capacity to memorize a bunch of facts that may or may or may not be true (depending on which news outlet you believe). So, I've stayed silent. Avoided political debates. Have not posted anything on social media, because let's be honest, nothing you say is probably going to change the minds of anyone who reads your post. Most people have already decided how they feel about each candidate and your one or two sentence status update is not going make any difference. 

But now, something greater than just an election has come up and I cannot keep silent. Let me say a disclaimer: I am not saying you cannot vote for a certain candidate. What I am saying has nothing to do with who's name you pick on November 8, it solely has to do with how you respond to a recent controversy surrounding a presidential nominee. Let me say it again: I am not saying you cannot vote for a certain candidate. I am only trying to get you to think differently about a recent controversy in regards to one of the nominees. 

Last Friday a video was released from 2005 that Donald Trump, presidential nominee for the Republican party, was caught making lewd comments about women. Lewd is probably putting it lightly. One example was of him saying to Billy Bush, "And when you're a star, they let you do it," Trump says. "You can do anything." Bush's response was "Whatever you want." Trump goes on to say, "Grab them by the p---y. You can do anything." Since then Trump has "apologized" for his word choice by saying that he was not proud of it and it was "locker room banter." 

As a result social media has blown up. Out of my friends, the majority posting on this have spoken and agreed that this is a monstrosity against women. However, some have defended Donald Trump. I've read men saying, "I have said worse" or "It's not a big deal. It is just words." What has greatly surprised me is the women who are posting memes that make light of his words. One recent one was quoting Republican Joe Walsh, "If women are so outraged by Trump's dirty talk, then who the hell bought the 80 million copies of 'Fifty Shades of Gray?" The meme did not include his words, "Grow up." I personally did not read the books, but from what I understand the book is not about rape or just grabbing a woman without her consent, it is about consensual sex. (I won't discuss here whether I agree with the book or not. It's not pertinent to the topic at hand) 

Trump's words were not about consensual sex. They were boasting that he could just grab any woman that he wanted, without permission, and get away with it. The key word here is without permission. That there are men and women out there who are defending these words or throwing them back on women, is encouraging the rape culture we have in America. The women wanted it. The women deserved it. Or Bill Clinton did the x, y, z. By throwing the blame around, people are dismissing that Trump said these words and now is saying they were "locker room talk". Dismissing it as something all men do. It is these same people who will not stand up to fraternities who hang obscene signs up during Freshman move-in weekend, who let college students who have raped get off on a lesser offense because they are young and don't want their swim career to be ruined, who say that a girl who was roofied is at fault because she was drinking too much at a bar so she was asking for it. 

It is NOT okay. 

And it is not okay for women or men to defend statements like Trump's. Especially those in the church.

Back when Bill Clinton was impeached I went to a very conservative, right wing church. I remember hearing his name maliciously dragged through the mud from the pulpit. And even then, I knew that the Bible taught us that God is the one who sits kings on thrones and that we are to pray for those in authority over us. This was written during a time period where Christians were physically being persecuted. Not that you can't call a sin a sin, but I strongly believe in these cases it was only because he was a Democrat. I think that the recent events are showing how hypocritical the church can be. Because Trump is a Republican, some Republicans in the church are defending him, but if he were a Democrat, I guarantee they would be singing a different story. (Which I have seen election after election by both parties alike)

I have friends and family who have been molested or raped. Rape is not a game. Rape scars women (and men, because men can be raped too) for a lifetime. It is not funny. Making jokes about rape is abhorrent. It is disgusting. And no one, especially those in the church, should attempt to defend or dismiss comments like these. (If you are, you can go ahead and unfriend me on Facebook)

Women, just as men, were made in the image of God and therefore are precious. Women and men alike have to stand up together against a society who thinks it is okay to make statements like this about women. Because it's just not. 

I previously stated that I was hesitant to say anything about this issue, but a friend of mine shared a Tweet by Rachel Held Evans, who shared an article about evangelical women banding together and speaking out against this. I have never been a huge fan of Beth Moore, but when I read what she said about these comments my respect for her went through the roof. 

“I’m one among many women sexually abused, misused, stared down, heckled, talked naughty to. Like we liked it. We didn’t. We’re tired of it,” Moore said. She also had a word about evangelical leaders still supporting Trump: “Try to absorb how acceptable the disesteem and objectifying of women has been when some Christian leaders don’t think it’s that big a deal.”

I think almost every woman can identify with this statement. I know I can. And I know it has to stop. I thought of bringing up a daughter in this rape culture terrifies me (I can only imagine what the parents of the women that these comments were made about feel). The thought of raising a son in a world that thinks it's okay to talk about women this way makes me sick. It is my job to teach them differently

We have to stand up for our daughters, for our mothers, for women. We have to do better for our sons and our fathers. Because if we don't, the problem will be perpetuated. 

I can't keep silent anymore. I won't keep silent. I pray that you won't either. 

**Please remember my disclaimer and please be kind.

Disclaimer: I am not saying you cannot vote for a certain candidate. What I am saying has nothing to do with who you vote for to be president, it solely has to do with how you respond to a recent controversy surrounding a presidential nominee. Let me say it again: I am not saying you cannot vote for a certain candidate. I am only trying to get you to think differently about a recent controversy in regards to one of the nominees.

For the record, I am a moderate.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Finding Rainbows

"Aviator" Seth Thibodaux. Jeske Sculpture Park, Ferguson, MO

And I will hold up hope
And I won't let you choke
On the noose around your neck
And I'll find strength in pain
And I will mend my ways
I'll know my name as it's called again

She Reads Truth has been doing a study on the book of Ruth the past two weeks. Quite frankly, I have been slacking in the area of Bible Study the past few months. I realize it's mainly because I have been selfish with my time. I haven't had any desire or energy to give any of it to God. A lot of it is because I haven't felt like doing much of anything in this phase of my life (not an excuse, just a fact) and some of it is that my kids have needed extra attention (which may be related, who knows). My friend recently encouraged a group of us to do the Ruth study together. Knowing that I needed that encouragement and direction in my life, I decided to take the two week challenge on.

If you aren't familiar with the story, the beginning is pretty much a downer. There is this woman who is from Israel, named Naomi, who moves to Moab with her husband and two sons because there is a famine (aka no soup for you) in Israel. Once they got to Moab, Naomi's husband dies. At least she has her sons, right? Well after her sons got hitched to Moabite women and they have lived in Moab for about ten years, they also die. All Naomi has to her name, as a stranger in a foreign country, are her two daughters in law. The women insist they are going to stay with Naomi, but Naomi has other plans. She tells them that God's hand is against her and she is going to return to Israel, but that they should return to their family. One daughter in law takes her up on that deal, but the other, Ruth (probably not a shocker since they did name a whole book after her), tells her that she would stay in the most beautiful way:

"Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me."
Ruth 1:16-18

To make a long story short, Naomi and Ruth return to Israel to Bethlehem (where Jesus -much later- just happened to be born). Ruth ends up getting hitched to one of Naomi's relatives, Boaz, who is her kinsmen redeemer (It's actually a beautiful story. You can read it in it's entirety here).

Today's reading was about God blessing Ruth with a child. In this part of the story Naomi comes full circle. Earlier when she returned to Bethlehem she told the women of the town to call her Mara, because God had made her life bitter (Ruth 2:20). Now these same women are blessing her because of what God has done for her. They praise God because he has provided Boaz to redeem their family. They also pray that God will renew her life and sustain her with old age. They proclaim that Ruth has loved Naomi and is better than seven sons - which was amazing for that time considering sons were considered the bee's knees. (Ruth 4:13-15) 

As I was reading this today I couldn't help but think of my own tragedy and loss. Growing up I heard this story a million times and always judged Naomi because of how the grief affected her. I did not realize at that time, that she was doing what people naturally do when they lose everyone that is near and dear to them. I lost a daughter, but Naomi had lost two sons and a husband (not to minimize my own loss because it really sucked). She had every right to ask that they call her Mara, while she was processing and dealing with her grief. 

But as God promises, His mercies are new every morning. 

"Mjolnir" Durant Thompson. Jeske Sculpture Park, Ferguson, MO
So, God gave Naomi a grandson. But the women of the town do not call him that. They announce, "Naomi has a son." (Ruth 4:17) They say he is her son. God restored to Naomi the sons and husband that she had lost in a daughter in law, named Ruth, a new son in law, named Boaz and a grandson, who they named Obed. 

Obed was Naomi's Rainbow Baby

For all intents and purposes, Obed was Naomi's rainbow baby. After she had lost her sons and husband, this rainbow baby was the promise to her that God was faithful. That God loved her. That even in the most difficult, hardest circumstances, through the storm and through the rain, he always had a plan. She felt like he had walked away from her and she was bitter (rightly so), but now she could look down on a glorious rainbow in the face of her grandson. 

My Rainbow Baby
I don't know where you are at today in your journey with your grief and suffering. I don't pretend to know the weight you bear. I do pray that in Naomi and Ruth's story you can find hope, even in the most dismal, awful circumstances. And if you can't (because I have so been there), cling to the fact that someday, even if it takes weeks, months, or (in my case) years, you will. 

"Just as redemption was in God's plan for Naomi, so is it in God's plan for us. 

Down the bloodline from Boaz and Ruth and Obed is our Redeemer, Jesus. In Christ, there is no such thing as a story beyond redemption. There is only resurrection, restoration, and rejoicing, even in the most unlikely of  circumstances and with the most unlikely of subjects. 

If you're wondering today if the Lord has left you, and the idea of redemption at this point feels impossible, hold fast to the promise that we see in Ruth and Naomi's journey. Nothing is too much, too big, or too scary for our Savior. God has not walked away from you. He's done the opposite. He has drawn near to you through his Son, Jesus."
Andrea Lucado

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

I Will Trust in You: A Story of Postpartum Depression and Anxiety

"Humility is the mother of giants. One sees great things from the valley; only small things from the peak." GK Chesterton

Two weeks ago we celebrated my now one year old's 1st birthday. I remember when my oldest daughter, Alexandria, was a baby people told me how fast time would go when you had children. I didn't believe it, but now it seems like I blinked and I have a 5 year old little girl and a one year old little boy.

When I was pregnant with Leo I had so many worries. I thought I was going to lose him (as I did his older sister, Ezraela, at 18 weeks pregnant) and once we got past the halfway mark, I thought there was going to be something wrong with his appearance or development. I did not have to wait the full 40 weeks because he roared like a lion onto the planet three weeks early and was born on June 20, 2015. And he was perfect. Ten little fingers, ten little toes, beautiful skin and a perfectly shaped head (only because he was delivered c-section). Nurses were telling other nurses they had to come and check out this dashingly handsome baby.

Perfect, that is, until he failed his hearing test twice while in the hospital and once we got home I started having a great deal of pain while breastfeeding. That was when it all began. Over the course of several weeks we were diagnosed with a lip and tongue tie (which we had clipped, but not far enough by an ENT and had to later have it lasered by a dentist), thrush (which we ended up having twice), a circumcision that didn't take and for lack of a better term - a pee hole that was too small. Not to mention the multiple hearing tests that we had to endure post discharge. If I wasn't at the doctor's office, I was on the phone with one either making appointments or paying bills or on the phone the insurance company trying to get a clear answer on what was covered under our plan. I was doing all of this while trying to care for a newborn and my then four year old daughter.

While I was thankful that all of the things that were wrong with Leo were minor and that I was not worrying for his life, it was still a lot to take on after just giving birth to a baby via c-section. I found myself getting panicked in situations that would have normally not phased me. My entire life I have dealt with anxiety, but the anxiety I was feeling postpartum was at a new high. There were times when my heart was beating so rapidly I felt like I was having chest pains. I also wasn't able to get back to sleep at night after Leo's feedings because I was so worried about what was going to happen next with him.

It wasn't until my lactation consultant came to see me one final time after I was concerned Leo's mouth wasn't healing correctly that she told me, "You are dealing with postpartum anxiety." She went on to tell me postpartum anxiety is not really talked about in the medical community, but is something that a lot of new moms deal with as much as postpartum depression. She also told me that I could definitely be on an anti-depressant while was breastfeeding (she was abhorred by the fact that Alexandria's pediatrician told me when she was a baby that I could not) and that I should talk to my doctor about it.

Fortunately I had already been seeing a therapist my entire pregnancy, so this newfound anxiety was something I began to discuss with her.

But it wasn't like there was a band aid stuck on it and it magically went away. 

When my cycles started at when Leo was five months old, my body entered into a new level of PMS. I had never had a lot of issues with PMS mood swings before, but this time they were mood swings of epic proportion. And then there was great depression.  I was a stay at home mom with no grandparents in town, so I had no choice but to go through the motions that I needed to go through to get my kids through the day. I didn't have any joy in my new child and had little patience for my oldest. 

Leo was supposed to be my perfect rainbow baby. The baby who I had looked forward to with so much excitement and anticipation. Instead, he just constantly reminded me of my struggle and pain.

The days that followed were very dark. I felt extremely isolated and alone.

It was hard to explain to anyone how I felt. How the anxiety and depression felt like chemicals surging through my body. And even though I know that is exactly what it was, I couldn't help but feel responsible. Like I wasn't doing something right. Like I was bringing all of this on myself. Some would say that I wasn't having enough faith. That I wasn't trusting God enough. That Jesus could heal me if I would only let him. But when I was going through my worst bout I was closer to God than I had ever been. I was reading my Bible every day and praying. I was leaning heavily on him and his promises, but the anxiety didn't go away and the depression lingered. Like he told the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9, after Paul begged that God take the thorn out of his flesh, "My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness."

My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness

It was then I realized that I needed to let go of the perfect picture I had in my mind of what Leo's first year would look like. I needed to extend myself extra grace, because I was doing the best I could. That I needed to be honest with the friends in my circle that I truly trusted when I was having down days. I also needed to explain to my daughter that it had nothing to do with her. That her mama loved her so very much. I never wanted her to look back on these days and think it was her fault.

Things didn't get better from there. They actually got much worse. Each month I was plunged into a sea of darkness as my body tried to figure out what to do with all of the hormones. Quite frankly, it was doing a pretty crappy job.

The worst day was in the spring. I had a few things happen that induced my anxiety and then I ended up crying myself to sleep that night. I was only able to get out of bed to tend to Leo, but went straight back to bed only to return to my tears while Alexandria watched PBS Kids. I knew I needed help. I sent out two S.O.S. calls to friends who would know exactly what I needed. I called my mom to talk through some of my issues. One friend came over that afternoon to help with Alexandria and Leo just so I could take a nap. I ended up making lunch for her and we played a game, which was very therapeutic. I did get that nap too. The next day I met with my other friend for lunch and we had some mom therapy time. Because of these lifelines I was able to push through the dark and begin to see some light.

Pictures from a duathlon I competed in recently.

The story these pictures don't tell

Is I wasn't feeling any joy or accomplishment when I finished my race. I just felt empty.

It wasn't too long after that I was driving in my car with the kids and I heard a song on the radio.

Letting go of every single dream
I lay each one down at Your feet
Every moment of my wondering
Never changes what You see

I've tried to win this war I confess
My hands are weary I need Your rest
Mighty Warrior King of the fight
No matter what I face You're by my side

Truth is You know what tomorrow brings
There's not a day ahead You have not seen
So in all things be my life and breath
I want what You want Lord and nothing less

When You don't move the mountains
I'm needing You to move
When You don't part the waters
I wish I could walk through
When You don't give the answers
As I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust
I will trust in You
I will trust in You

You are my strength and comfort
You are my steady hand
You are my firm foundation
The Rock on which I stand
Your ways are always higher
Your plans are always good
There's not a place where I'll go
You've not already stood

Tears automatically started falling. I had prayed for God to take this mountain away from me. I had immersed myself in his word and in his promises and I was not healed. I had cried out to God and he didn't give me the answer I was looking for. All I could do was trust in him.

I wish I could say that after a year I was no longer dealing with anxiety and depression. The anxiety has definitely gotten a lot better, but I still have some very dark days. In fact, even as I write this I recall the bout I have dealt with the past two weeks. But each day I am finding that God's grace is sufficient. One day last week I heard the song again on the radio and even though I've heard it one hundred times before, the last line jumped out at me:

There's not a place where I'll go,You've not already stood.

I immediately remembered Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane praying right before Judas betrayed him. Right before he died on the cross. He asked God to take this cup away from him. And then he said, "Not my will but yours be done." (Luke 22:42) Jesus was arrested. Given an unfair trial. Beaten. Flogged. Whipped. Humiliated. Spit on. Yelled at. Betrayed. And crucified.

The amazing thing about God is he completely understands our losses and our pain. He understands our sickness and our diseases. He understands death and suffering. He did it with us. He was right there. And it was all for us.

So in my saddest days, even though it is so hard, I try to remember to trust in him. The days where I feel no joy. Where laughter doesn't touch my eyes. I try to remember to cling to him. I remind myself that I am not a failure because I have been dealt this medical condition (yes, depression and anxiety are medical conditions). That one day (even if it's not until Jesus returns and renews our bodies) I will feel genuine joy again. That I will have peace again. And until then, I will pray daily with king David, "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me...Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me."  And rest in the knowing that God is standing there right beside me, weeping with me, hugging me, encouraging me to press on.

**Please note if you are suffering from postpartum depression or anxiety please seek help. There are so many resources and support systems out there for new moms. Know it is not your fault. That you didn't do anything to bring this upon yourself. More moms than we know face it and they do not have to face it alone.

***Please also note if you have differing views on mental health, aside from them being a medical illness, please refrain from commenting. Comments like this will be deleted. This blog is created to be a safe place. If you would like to talk to someone who has the professional training to explain to you why this is a medical issue, please let me know. I have several friends in the therapy field who would be more than happy to discuss it with you. Thank you.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Dear Leonardo Eaven Inman - A Letter to My Rainbow Baby on Mother's Day

Ten and a half months ago I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, Leonardo Eaven Inman (we call him Leo). If you have been following my writing, you would know Leo's middle name, Eaven, is in honor of his big sister, Ezraela Eaven, who is waiting for us in heaven. The last two and a half years since we lost her have been some of the most challenging years of my life. This is the first Mother's Day since I lost Ezraela that I can find a deep joy in my children. All of my children. Each of their lives, no matter how long or so very short, had meaning and value. And they will all three be forever engraved on my heart. 

Dear Leonardo Eaven Inman - A Letter to My Rainbow Baby
Written on January 20, 2016

As I rock you gently tonight, holding you closely, watching your chest rise up and down as you breathe, I cannot help but think of her, my sweet boy. Your precious closed eyes and long lashes as they graze your soft skin. I wonder what she would have looked like. Would she have looked just like you and your sister? Blonde hair, sparkling blue eyes or would she have broken the mold with the fiery red hair with many curls that I longed for? I watch your hands move in the air, almost as if you are conducting a baby symphony. I wonder what music you are hearing. How your head rests on me as if I were the only hope you have in the world. And I wonder would the night be filled with her giggles right now because she was not able to fall asleep or would I be wiping her nose from a winter cold, as I did yours throughout the day.

And I squeeze you tighter.

You have two sisters, sweet boy.

One that is full of life, ready to make you laugh and smile, ready to teach you all there is to know in this world and who loves you so very fiercely.

Another who's life was so short (in fact some wouldn't even call it a life at all). Who I imagine, would be as sweet as you are right now.


But she had to go. Because you had to live.

You, Leonardo, my courageous lion, had to live.

And you fill me with unending joy, a joy I would have never known had I not lost her. I would have not known to treasure these moments because they can be so fleeting.

She had to go so that you could live.

So that you could love.

Both of your sisters love you very much, my sweet rainbow baby. A rainbow is a promise from God that shows us hope and mercy and peace. And having you is exactly that: mercy, hope and peace. To hold you close. To know your sister, Ezraela Eaven, is not far off. And to know that sometimes the rain and those storms produce something beautiful. Oh my boy, I am not talking about myself. There is so much left to be done in me. I am talking about you, my Leonardo Eaven Inman, my rainbow and my light.

Thank you, Lord, for this light. You always know exactly what I need even before I ask.

Alexandria Kathleen Inman
Me, almost 18 weeks pregnant with Ezraela Eaven Inman
Leonardo Eaven Inman

Friday, May 29, 2015

Ezraela Eaven's Would Be First Birthday

Just last week we celebrated my daughter’s fourth birthday. Every 365 days she gains another year I always marvel at how quickly the past year has gone. In our house we celebrate birthday week, which included a park play date party and also a weekend camping trip with friends. If there is anything I have learned to strive to do, it is to cherish the moments you have with your children because you never know how long they will last. You never know how many birthdays they will have.

Alexandria's First Birthday

Alexandria's Fourth Birthday

Today should have been the first birthday of my second daughter, Ezraela Eaven. Because of all of the excitement about Alexandria’s birthday and also the impending birth of my third child, May 29 snuck up on me. After we were done with Alexandria’s birthday week, I began to reflect on what this week would have looked like for Ezraela, had she made it past 18 weeks gestation. I remember bits and pieces of the preparations for Alexandria’s first birthday, where friends and family would gather to celebrate not only her life, but also the survival of mama and dada, who had also made it a year with a new baby. I found myself, on several nights, before I fell asleep, thinking about how unfair it was that I would not be doing the same with my second little girl.

If there is one thing I have learned in life, it is that nothing ever goes the way that you would expect it. And most of the time, you will never understand the “why”. It’s been a year and a half and my heart still aches for her. Even with this little guy rockin’ and rollin’ in my belly, at 34 weeks, I still feel like there is a big hole in my heart where Ezraela was. Because no child and no pregnancy can ever replace a child you have lost. It might ease the pain a bit, but it does not fill the void.

I woke up this morning feeling that void. Alexandria was sound asleep in the bed next to me and I prayed to God, telling him how thankful I was for her sweet little face. She woke up, we ate breakfast and headed to the seminary, where she attends childcare, so this mama can get some "me" time. Against my better judgment, because I'm in the middle of an IC flare and have been having a lot of back pain from the pregnancy, I went for a walk. Back at the seminary I worked on a few things and then picked her up. I told her that today would have been her baby sister's first birthday and we were going to get something to put outside to remember her. We went to eat lunch and then afterwards headed to the store. At first, my idea was a garden stone or something solemn, like a child angel, that would remind me of her, but when we got to the garden aisle I realized that wasn't appropriate. Yes, this past year and a half has been extremely difficult and sad. Yes, I would give an arm and a leg to be holding my baby girl right now. But I didn't want to remember her with sadness. I wanted to celebrate her. I wanted her big sister (and soon to be little brother) to know who she was and to love her. Alexandria's eyes immediately lit up with the colorful wind chimes, pinwheels and more festive garden stones. So, I let her pick the most sparkly, beautiful garden stone and a pinwheel to place by it so that every time I would see it I would think of Ezraela, and through my tears, smile. I would think of her smiling and laughing. Playing with her brother and sister. Getting into mischief, but more importantly, I would smile.


I would smile

Not because there is no longer any hurt. Not because I won't ever ache with longing to know the child that she was to become, but because I know I will hold her in my memory for as long as I will live and know who I have become as a result of this journey. And even though I know it isn't her real heavenly birthday (that was 12-31-2013), I wonder if they are eating cake in heaven tonight to celebrate her as well.  One can never be sure, but that is the image I will hold in my heart. I'm pretty sure Jesus is definitely a birthday cake kind of guy, so he would look for any excuse.

Ezraela Eaven 12-31-2013, Always In Our Hearts

Saturday, March 14, 2015

A Reason to Hope: Car Accidents and Gender Reveal Parties

Last week I did something stupid.  It probably lists on the top ten most asinine things that Dorothy Inman has ever done. I kid you not. Wait for it...I ran into a light pole. It was dark, rainy, I was horridly (like your entire face feels like elephants are dancing on it, can't sleep at night) sick, tired and had pregnancy brain. I wasn't even going ten miles an hour and the small hole that was in the bumper was, when you are thinking of things that could happen in an accident, one of the smallest problems you would ever worry about when you thought, "Oh my gosh, what if I got in an accident". My daughter was in the car with me and we both started crying. Not because we were hurt, but because we were scared. Mostly because even at less than 10 miles an hour apparently if you hit a light pole, your air bag will deploy. If you have never had that happen before, trust me, it is freakin' scary. It's even more scary when you are 21 weeks pregnant and you lost your last child at 18 weeks (which wasn't from a car accident, but could you blame me for being nervous?). I won't go into the details of the long evening ahead or the worries that kept me up that night. Or the stressfulness of the following day because we were told we had to go the emergency room to make sure the baby was okay instead of being able to go to the doctor's office. Because the baby was fine. By 11:00 the night of the accident, they started moving and wouldn't stop. The next morning at the hospital, the heartbeat was shown to be healthy and the nurse said they were extremely active. It was a great comfort to this mama.
In fact, I have been able to feel this child moving from 16 weeks on. This is a bond that I never felt with my first child, Alexandria, and that I never had the opportunity to feel with my second child, Ezraela. However, this child keeps reminding me, "Mama, I'm here." "Mama, I love you." "Mama I'm okay."

When the kicking and moving started, I thought there was no way that could be the baby.  To be honest, I was pretty sure it was gas (hey, we all have it), however at our 19 week ultrasound the tech confirmed what I was feeling wasn't too much Taco Bell. The days leading up to the appointment were full of self afflicted anxiety and worry. I had no reason to believe anything was wrong with this baby, however I still let doubt and my imagination run wild. I knew based on my previous pregnancy, it was expected, but I still hated those unsure feelings. The feeling of not wanting to let myself get too excited, just in case... And I wasn't even sure I was going to be able to have my appointment because we got a massive amount of snow the day before, which closed down the entire city of Louisville for a day. My sleepless night was wasted though, because my appointment was on. During the drive to the midwife's office I could feel the sadness and worry creep in. It was at my 18 week appointment with Ezraela that I discovered she didn't have a heartbeat. What would I do if I discovered at my 19 week appointment that this baby was dead too? Even though I still had nausea, which is a sign of a growing baby, and exhaustion, I let my mind get the better of me. In fact, that morning, just as we were pulling off the exit from the highway I heard the exact same song on the radio that I heard before I found out Ezraela was dead. It was as if the lyrics were haunting me.

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

I've never been a superstitious person, but I wondered then if God was trying to prepare me for something. Before I lost it and began to start sobbing, I felt a nudge to listen again.

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

I made a decision in my mind that instead of being an omen of bad tidings, that this was a promise. And that this visit would go exactly as it should. Praying all the while, I only hoped I was right.

From the time they called my name for the ultrasound to the time the tech started showing me where the heart was beating healthily, I'm pretty sure I held my breath. Although, I didn't need to see the heart beating to know I was carrying a living child in my belly because as soon as the tech started the ultrasound, the baby started moving like a mad person. And then the report: measuring exactly on schedule (my greatest fear was that they would be too small), really strong heartbeat and here are their arms and legs, belly, head, spine and such. A healthy baby.

And I breathed.

This was reason to celebrate.

22 1/2 Week Bump
Which is why we didn't find out that day what the sex of the baby was. We decided to wait and find out with our closest friends whether we would be welcoming a baby girl or boy into the world. I had decided shortly after we discovered we were pregnant that I was going to have a big party for this child.  We all deserved that.
My Village
On April 22, one of my friends let us use her house to hold the festivities. I was surrounded by (almost) every person who had journeyed with me through the dark valley of the previous year. They had shared my tears, held me up in their prayers, been my confidant and counselor. So, when I opened the present to discover a sweet baby outfit in the traditional pink or blue color, I knew everything was going to be okay.

That is until the night of the accident, when all of those previous worries began to creep back in.

But since then, my baby boy has been reassuring me that he is here.  And he is healthy and he is strong. When I lie down with my daughter and watch her sweet face drift off to sleep and feel his little feet kicking and body moving, I feel at peace. When Alexandria smothers my stomach with kisses and yells "bay-bay" in a silly voice, I cannot help but get excited to see her become a big sister (she's already told me she is going to feed him and put him to bed. I'm going to hold her to that). When she proudly tells random strangers that she is going to have a baby brother. When I sing loudly around the house and he moves, almost as if he is applauding, I cannot wait to hold him in my arms and kiss his little face.

Because I am his and he is mine.

And that's all the hope I need. 
Our Best Guess

It's a BOY!!

No, Really, It's a Boy!

Happy Dada

The Mustaches Have It