Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Danger of Bitterness

I think the loss of a child hurts so much that it is way too easy to let our emotions lash out like a wounded animal. I know it is so easy to be jealous and resentful when others become pregnant or have such problem-free pregnancies. This is so understandable in the weakness of our humanity, but it is a wrong direction we need to beware of - it will only make our situation worse. Instead, we should listen to the Word:

30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

It shakes me up to realize that this behavior grieves the Holy Spirit. I know that He is interceding for me "with groanings too deep for words." I am thankful for that, I do not need to be grieving Him.

There's more I want to write about this - I feel like this is a huge trap set for us - but there's no time today.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

A Memorial for Our Twins

In Memory of
Peter Courage and Andrew Comfort Young
Our Beloved Twins, Safe in the Arms of Jesus

Friday, June 22, 2007

Raising Your Hemoglobin After Blood Loss

Why did I give this post such a long title? Because when I was looking for information, those were the search terms I used and came up empty. All the medical sites assume that if you lose a lot of blood you have a transfusion. I believe a lot of women lose a lot of blood during miscarriages and the sometimes prolonged bleeding afterwards and they need help recovering!

I wrote about this at the beginning of my recovery process, but I wanted to give you all an update. For one thing, I'm still bleeding, two months later. It seems that my bleeding trails off to mucous, stops entirely for a few days then starts back. It's pretty frustrating, but I believe it's just because I'm overdoing it on a regular basis. I have no clue how to stop doing too much, though, homeschooling seven children and helping my husband in the midst of a business start up! It's just a busy, busy life.

The good news is that my hemoglobin seems to be recovering nicely. A week or two after the miscarriage and hemorrhage, it had recovered to 9.1. About 3 and 1/2 weeks later, it was up to 10.6 even after a weekend with several severe bleeds. I think it is because of my three pronged approach: iron (liquid is supposed to be best), and vitamin C and liquid chlorophyll with every dose of iron. I took iron three times a day at first.

I am feeling much better and my friends say my color is coming back!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Flowering Comfort

Yesterday, I went to Lowe's and bought flowers to plant around the flat stone where the twins are buried. I had a happy thought and got a flat cart and arranged the flowers on it while I shopped - this was great and really helped me to figure out what worked and what didn't. I was worried about the money, as you know, we're in a business start-up with no money out yet, but the Lord took care of that, too. When I got up to the front, the cashier told me that the petunias had been marked down to 10 cents! I got two more of a different variety and spent less than $18 for everything!

Here's what I planted: a yellow Flying Saucers coreopsis, a variegated English ivy with yellow borders, and two Blue Carpet speedwells along the back - they are all perennials. On the left and around counterclockwise are two purple calibrachoa (the purple flowers have yellow centers), two purple "Ride the Wave" trailing petunias, then two purple Ramblin' trailing petunias. It looks wonderful, very old-fashioned.

I felt like it was important to leave it looking like I would like to remember it, since we are seldom down here. When we come back to plant the trees, I'll have to change out the flowers to some that can tolerate shade, but these are just perfect for now.

Burying Miscarried Babies

I promised myself that this blog would share all the things I couldn't find information about online, even though sometimes it's really hard. This is one of those times. I really want to be open about what I can so that others will have a path to follow.

The night I passed the babies, we wrapped the placentas and all in some pretty fabric out of my sewing basket, then placed them in ziplock bags in the freezer. We knew there was no way I would be able to travel for some time after my hemorrhage, so this is the only thing we could think of to do. In retrospect, I would place the fabric-wrapped bundles in a small bag, wrap them in more fabric, and put in another bag.

For the burial, we placed them just like that in a lovely soft blanket inside a waterproof safe about 12" by 12" by 5" that I bought at Wal-mart. I did that so that if the land were ever sold and we needed to move the site, the box could easily be moved.

In case it were found many years later by our descendents, or by anyone else, Hal wrote a letter to place inside it, telling the circumstances and who we were and pointing the reader to the Lord.

Our relatives questioned what were the legalities of the situation. Here's the deal: in most states, a miscarriage before 20 weeks does not receieve a birth certificate or a stillborn or death certificate, so is not considered human remains (I know - what do they think they are??). The good thing is, this means you do not have to go through a funeral home or bury your miscarried child in a cemetary, but are free to bury them on your own property.

After 20 weeks (or a week or so either way, depending on the state) then health regulations come into play. I understand though, that some funeral homes may donate their services in such cases.

Regardless of the circumstances, I encourage you to memorialize your little ones in some way. If you had a natural miscarriage at home, then find a special place to bury them. If you had a D&C and the hospital wouldn't release the remains, or you didn't even know to ask, do remember that our Father in heaven knows exactly where every atom belonging to every person is and will bring forth His people with new bodies that are not subject to corruption! If you don't have anything to bury, you can still plant a tree, or a flowering shrub or a little garden to remember them by. Create something beautiful as a reflection of your faith in the resurrection to come when we will meet our loved ones in the air!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

A Tearful Farewell, but Not Forever!

Everything worked out and today we buried our little one's remains in one of our favorite spots on earth. When Hal and I were first married, we expected him to be sent to an active duty station as soon as he was commissioned. We had no idea a budget crunch would derail our plans, but I'm so glad they did. He was notified that he would not be called up and sent to training until over three months after his commissioning. Where would we go? What would we do? Thankfully, Hal's mother offered to let us come stay at their family's lake house. Now that sounds pretty grand, and it is, in my opinion, but probably not in most folks! It's an ancient single wide trailer with a big room that is all windows added on the front facing the lake. Very basic accomodations, until you look up. The view is incredible - As you look out the window, you see copses of sweet gum trees down on the edge of the water, the dear hammock just feet from the lapping waters on the left, a comfortable swing aged to that lovely old wood color in the center, and a dock with a single simple bench on the right. You can hear wild turkeys, see a hummingbird zip by, watch the egrets and herons daintily fishing, and see the comical little ducks following their parents in search of bugs and fish. The glassy water just calms your soul, as you look up at the beautiful green forests and islands and just wonderful peace and God's creation.

Now don't be mistaken, from the spot where we laid the twins, to the left you see our decrepit old trailer, nearly hauled away as scrap many times in the past few years. To the right you see the old brush pile, with a little trash mixed in for good measure - like a twenty year old rubber raft rotting under the branches. But look straight ahead and see soul-refreshing peace. I think this time in our lives is a lot like that: looking straight ahead, we see our dear understanding Lord and the hope of heaven, but when our minds are distracted from Him, we see all the ugliness of living in this fallen world - the days and years without our dear ones, the pain, the hurt from others, the whole crashing burden. Let us seek Him who says, "Come unto me and I will give you rest." Let us keep our eyes on Him!

Today, with a lot of tears and trust, we laid what our twins left behind in the earth, reminding each other again and again that one day we will all meet again. Hal gathered the children around and read the story of David's hope when his baby son died and then the hope of all believers in the return of the Lord and the resurrection of our bodies. This was so hard for my dear husband - he had a difficult time talking through his tears. We prayed and rested in the assurance of the reunion to come. Thank you, heavenly Father, that this life is not the end, but only the beginning and that the sorrows of this present age are not worthy to be compared to the joy to come.

We placed a stone over the spot that Hal's mother gave us. Many, many years ago, at the old church that both our families historically were involved with in the mountains, the graves were marked with uncut stones - perhaps there was no stone mason in the community. A few years ago, the church decided to replace these with marked stones so those graves could never be lost to memory. Hal's mom brought several of the old unmarked stones back home and she gave us one to mark the spot. I was so grateful!

Later in the day, I went into town and bought some lovely flowers to plant there until we could get back to plant the trees. I didn't want to plant the trees in such a dry summer for fear they wouldn't make it. We'll come back later in the year to do that. I'll try to post a picture when we get home so you can see what we did. I'll also plan to post more practical details for those of you dear ladies who are facing this, too.

Love you all!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Surviving a Squall

Some time when you are grieving, you are bound to have a squall - yes, I mean a time of weeping, but more than that, I mean a storm that passes over and threatens to upset your boat. I had a storm pass over (through) me today and I'm still reeling a bit. At the last minute it worked out that we needed to travel out of state both tomorrow and Sunday, so we thought, why don't we take the time in between and take some time to relax with our children and since we'd be in the right area, to finally bury our little ones' remains.

This is the only land in either of our families likely to stay in the family and it's a precious place to us - where we spent the first three months of our marriage. However, when my husband called the close relative who had agreed to let us bury the little ones there, this person didn't remember talking about it. Now, I don't know how this could be since I asked them in person less than 48 hours after we found out that the second baby had gone to be with the Lord. Well, I could tell something was wrong from what Hal was saying and pretty soon, he passed me a note that said, "They don't remember the conversation." I just lost it. I went upstairs and wept and wept. I felt like there was no safe place on this earth to leave my dear ones' bodies. I just couldn't handle it. I finally just had to leave the house and go on to a meeting I had tonight - to suck it up and not think about it because I felt like I was losing it.

That's a storm. It can be anything really that can bring it on - something that makes you remember what could have been - someone's unkind words - a song - a thought - anything that catches you emotionally raw. It's very overwhelming when the winds are blowing hard and the waves are swamping your ship. When you wonder if you'll come back up. When you just want to die and be done with it. BUT, our anchors hold. Cling to the Lord! Shelter yourself in His wings. Fall into His arms. He knows the loss of a beloved child. He has wept. "He is the master of the waves... billows His will obey." If you are trusting Him, you will not be overcome!

This is the point where I just cried out, "Oh help me, dear Father. Oh help me!" And He did. I remembered that we grieve as those who have hope. Our children will not be left in the ground - they are in His arms! The resurrection morning will find them no matter where they are and I will meet them in the air if we haven't met in heaven before!

I do need you to pray for me, dear sisters and brothers. Hal and our family worked it out and we are going down there to bury our little ones. I don't know how I'm going to hold up emotionally in dealing with the burial and in visiting, especially after this squall. Please hold me up in prayer. I love you all!

Monday, June 11, 2007

A Universal Need

I had the opportunity this weekend to talk to several dear friends who have experienced miscarriage - one has suffered six miscarriages, one lost a child at 16 weeks, all sorts of experiences. There were several common threads among these Christian ladies: All were tremendously comforted by the hope of heaven - they knew they would see their babies again. All were still moved by thinking about it, even if it happened years ago, tears filled their eyes as they talked about it. All were hurt by those who felt they should just get over it.

I think that grieving alone is extraordinarily hard. Why do we have visitation the night before the funeral when a loved one died? Of course, it is ostensibly an opportunity for everyone else to say goodbye, but I really think the family benefits by knowing others are grieving with them and sorrowing and praying for them. I remember when my mother in law was widowed. She said that she wished it was still the fashion to go into mourning clothes, to wear black for a year. She craved some public statement that she was grieving; some immediate identification that she was hurting. I understand now.

Have you ever just told someone you thought would be interested that you had a miscarriage and had them look at you like "Oh no! Why are you telling me this?" It really, really hurts. It is sad that miscarriage comes with no predetermined cultural rituals that declare our pain. Instead, it is up to those of us who've been through it to support and sorrow with our friends when they suffer. I wish I hadn't had to go through this to understand it, but let us comfort others; let our pain be blessed by the Lord to transform us; to make us instruments of His grace!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

A Historical Twins Miscarriage

I stumbled upon the Google Books excerpt of A.E. MacRobert's book, Mary Queen of Scots and the Casket Letters which mentions the twin miscarriage that Mary (not my favorite historical figure) had while held in the castle of Lochleven. When I read his assessment of the historical evidence that this was a miscarriage of twins, I am reminded of a story told in one of the wonderful books by James Herriot. I believe it was in All Creatures Great and Small.

James Herriot was in veterinary school in Edinburgh and he had just attended his first great lecture - on the anatomy of the horse. He walked out of the lecture hall feeling a veritable expert, an insider, one with knowledge. He saw a carthorse standing on the street and came up to examine this creature as one with special knowledge. The horse grabbed him by the back of his collar and suspended him from his mouth until the driver appeared. The coalman reacted in fury, shouting that he shouldn't mess with things he knew nothing about.

Mr. MacRobert describes the scene on 24 July 1567, as related by Nau: Lindsay and Ruthven enter the queen's chamber, where she is lying prostrate from her troubles and a "great flux caused by the miscarriage of twins." MacRobert describes an envoy's letter dated a week before describing her as 7 weeks pregnant. He speculates on the date of conception as being before or after her marriage to Bothwell on May 15 - all historically debateable matters. What gets me is this paragraph on page 62:

A miscarriage of twins resulting from a pregnancy following her marriage on 15 May could not have been apparent to her attendants. Even if she had conceived as early as her abduction on 24 April it is highly unlikely that a twin miscarriage could have been recognised in the "great flux" reported by Nau. Perhaps an attendant made a mistake over the twins or Mary had been pregnant before her abduction.

By all evidence, she was at least 8 weeks pregnant and could have been as much as 12 weeks pregnant legitimately. Having just lost twins who died at 6 weeks and 10 weeks, to say that twins were "highly unlikely" to be recognized is ridiculous. In my opinion, especially if they were fraternal, it is highly unlikely they would not be recognized. With all due respect for your scholarship in a convoluted period peopled by unsavory characters, Mr. MacRobert, "Dinna meddle wi' things ye ken nuthin' aboot!"

Miscarriage Bracelet

I am wearing the lovely bracelet that Holly gave me today and I thought I'd better give you a link in case you might want one or want to give someone one. Here's the website of the lady who made it: The Little Footprints. She also has a ebay store and you might be able to find one at a great price. Mine has two precious feet to represent the twins, the birthstones for their conception month and due date month, and seven pearls to represent my seven living children. Honestly, I'll try to get a picture up here soon!

Monday, June 4, 2007

A Happy Providence

Several weeks ago I spent some time searching for a memory box to keep my few memories of the twins in. I remembered that Hal's cousin had shown me the memory box someone had given her when her little girl died shortly after birth. When my sister-in-law lost her eldest son to stillbirth, I remembered how precious that box was to Caren (Did I spell your name right?) and went looking for a memory box for Hal's sister. I found a Tuesday Morning and some lovely hat boxes. There was a pretty, small yellow one and a bigger one that had Victorian cherubs, decorations, and a ribbon banner that said, "How bright things are here!" on a lovely blue box. I originally bought the smaller one because I was afraid her things would seem lost in the big one, but when I went out to the car, the saying written on the blue box kept ringing in my heart. I realized that particular box pointed to heaven. I had to go back in and get it! I'm so glad I did because that memory box has been precious to our sister.

When I lost the twins, I wanted a beautiful box, too, but I couldn't find one anywhere. I searched on memory boxes and found a lovely charity, Memory Box Artist Program. They are a group of artists that make handmade memory boxes to send to hospitals for parents suffering the loss of an infant. I paged through the site, and saw so many lovely boxes. I thought about how much I'd love to have a simple blue one with lovely flowers - no angels, no teddies, just memories. I wrote one of the volunteers, asking is she knew of anyone who sold or gave boxes to parents who suffered an earlier loss at home. The sweet lady who I emailed said that though it wasn't strictly in their mission, that they'd be glad to make me a box. I didn't tell her what I wanted because I felt like they were doing me a special favor and I didn't want to be presumptive. A couple of weeks later, I received the most gorgeous pastel blue box with a garland of painted flowers on the top that says, "Precious Memories," and it was even lined with lovely padded cloth. It was made by Mary Bobrowski - a wonderful artist. It was the very box I had dreamed of! Isn't God good? I don't know why He choose to give me this when so many of my dear sisters haven't had anyone do something like this for them. I do know I was at a very low ebb in my life and not just the loss of the babies - I believe our Father was showing me that I was safe in His arms, not abandoned, not forsaken.

If you have the opportunity to help this charity or others like it (I just found Joshua's Boxes in the UK) please do - they are doing a worthy thing! If this is something you would like to have, or to give to someone, a lovely box can be made out of a hatbox as well, and I trust the Lord will lead you to just the right one, too. :-)

Safely Met!

Number One Son has been met by my brother in Asia!

He tells us he had a bit of excitement: His plane was 45 minutes late leaving home and he only had a 45 minute layover. He had to run to make the next segment!

I'm wondering what the Lord had in mind this morning. I felt an urgent need to pray for him after his plane landed - he was probably clearing customs. After some time, the need to pray went away and moments later the phone rang - he was there!

I am beginning to realize just how much we need to flee to the Lord in prayer when we have anxiety. He is able to give us the peace that passes all understanding in the midst of all sorts of turmoil. For those of us grieving, how important it is, that we seek solace in Him!

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Update on Us

Number One Son is enroute to Asia! Please pray for him! He has to make it through a massively large and confusing airport in a little more than an hour to make his connection and his flight is running late!

Susannah is healing, but her cut still looks very angry. The stitches are just about to the point of absorbing. Please pray she will not pick at it.

My bleeding seems to be reducing and turning more mucousy. I'm so ready to be done with the physical part of this.

I have a happy providence to share with you tomorrow!