This is a statue that resides at the cemetery where so many babies (including our daughter) are laid to rest. To me it is a representation of Jesus and a mother who has lost. You can see that her baby is safe in the arms of Jesus. He is looking at her, His presence full of loving comfort as she looks to Him for reassurance and peace.
Isaiah 40: 11
He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.
I always believed that God 's hand was guiding the decisions that we made while we were in the hospital. Tough decisions about memorial services, burial, and autopsy. And looking back, wow. we were just in a state of shock. We had incredible peace at that time, and I am thankful for that. But in all honesty that peace turned to quite a bit of restlessness in the weeks following April's home going to Heaven. I struggled with regret. I thought that if I could do it over I would change this or that. It was a dark couple of weeks as I felt I had really not gone through the proper process in letting go of a loved one.
When losing a baby at this stage of pregnancy (17weeks) there is no rule, nothing is a given. For practical reasons we chose not to have a formal funeral and separate burial, as the hospital handled these matters in a respectful and appropriate way. Nonetheless, we were left with many unresolved feelings. We had a growing desire to have a special service of sorts to honor the life that she was --although short and only inside me. In the typical death of a loved one there is a process I'm sure we have all experienced. For example, funeral home visitations, memorial service and graveside committal are all steps in the process for those left behind to feel some closure to the loved one's life. Dan and I felt a missing piece of this process since our loss of April.
Two months to the date that I delivered April, we gathered with our children, our pastor and our family to thank God for April. To glorify Him and to further our healing.
It was one of life's pure moments. There were many heavy hearts that day. Many of our loved ones that stood there in support of us also brought their own pain of loss. How sadly beautiful it is when one has a heartache, we all share the tears. I then knew that the restlessness I felt in my heart was leading to this day. A day that hopefully fostered healing in more hearts than my own.
Perhaps this seems unusual considering the time that has past and that we seem to be doing much better than the early days. While there is some truth to that-- God has started the long road to healing our broken hearts, it is still very much real and devastating to us. We can put a smile on our faces most of the time, because we have extreme joys in our lives as well, but the underlying sadness is ever present.
Truly, it wasn't all sad. When you bring 4 kids to a cemetery for the first time, there is bound to be comic relief. Certainly it was true of our kids that day.
Take this photo for example:
Joy is picking her nose, Drew is eating Cheez-its, Juliet is up to no good in my purse, and of all the emotional responses possible at the time-- I am smiling?! My precious blessings!!
I'll never, ever forget so many things about that afternoon here are a few for the memory books...
Juliet's rain boots.
Lord's Day 1 of the Heidelberg Catechism Q & A
My husband's tears.
The flowers that the Grandmothers brought.
Pastor Scott keeping an eye on Juliet
(for all she knew, she was at a playground)
Singing through tears, How Can I Keep From Singing Your Praise?
SURELY THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD WAS IN THIS PLACE.
(objects are much more destroyed than they appear)
Tomorrow is the last day.
I predict the kids will jump out of bed as they did only one other time this year--the first day of school.
What is a sweet time for my kids is a bittersweet accomplishment for me.
They have worked so hard to complete Kindergarten, Second, and Fourth grades respectively. I have worked hard at wishing they wouldn't grow up so fast. It is not that I don't want my children to become teenagers and ultimately adults, I just so enjoy them as is. On the verge of it all.
To prove that my thoughts don't change all that much over the years, I dug up this post from the archives. Oh my. They didn't stay little.
Most of the melancholy feeling toward summer break comes from the fact that the next 14 weeks will not be what we hoped they would.
There will be no back to school baby.
This summer was going to mean washing and sorting baby clothes, rearranging bedroom assignments and staying up way too late searching for the perfect baby name.
It was supposed to send Dan to McDonalds to calm my late night ice cream cravings.
I had planned on plopping my round self in a raft in the lake or pool and feel my little one wiggle around as I lay there enjoying all that is summer vacation.
These are dreams I am gradually letting go of.
As much as I want to wallow this rainy night. I choose to change gears. I don't want to ruin my kids' summer while I grieve. They deserve a momma that is present.
I will do the cottage thing, the pool thing, the park dates and all the rest.
I will sleep in and buy them ice cream and go camping.
I will finish projects we've always wanted to start.
I will live summer 2010 in hope.
Nothing says 1995 like oversized plaid shirts from Abercrombie & Fitch (Dan's) or your father's closet (mine),
This pic was snapped mere weeks after Dan & I started dating. I wish I could remember what we bought each other for Christmas that year. Maybe it was more plaid button down shirts. :)
I absolutely love browsing my photo archives, please bear with me!
This pic was snapped on our anniversary a couple weeks ago.
or your email box, or a Facebook message, or a face to face message:
an expression of our gratitude.
Perhaps it is no surprise that I like to talk (small talk-- not so much. rather, large-deep- real conversation).
I wish I could sit over coffee and talk with every single one of you that has reached out to us through spoken words, prayers, meals, cards, emails, messages, gifts, phone calls, hugs, handshakes, blog comments and visits in the last 7 weeks.
I would tell you that I (we) are not alone. Do you know how many parents have walked this road we travel?
I would tell you that I am blessed to live in a generation that allows me to grieve, to feel, to share, to question and not have to know the all answers.
I would tell you that I am not over this loss, but that is OK, I won't ever be-- and that is OK too.
I would tell you that I fumble under the weight of this pain everyday and still want my dreams--my will fulfilled, not God's. Even still His mercies are new every morning.
I would tell you that there is only One who can take you from holding your lifeless baby in your hands --to finding hope and joy in anything else again.
I would ask you to continue to pray.
I would tell you through my crocodile tears and swelled heart-- THANKS Be to You!
Every expression of love we have received has indeed brought us closer to the healing we seek.
Now... off to find a pen and that stack of Thank-You cards...this could be a long night... :)
February is the shortest calendar month but it felt like the longest for me. Dan was working out of state for most of the month but I kept myself going, thinking that if I could make it to March 1 (my and Joy's Birthdays) I would be past the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, and I would be home freeee! Free from migraines, free from fatigue, free from worry (because statistically speaking there is only a 3 percent likelihood of miscarriages after 12 weeks)
March brought about my 34th and Joy's 6th Birthdays.
We celebrate every year together.
Every year I rejoice that she was born on my birthday--WHAT A GIFT!
Chase turned Double Digits! How is it that we have a 10 year old already???!!!
We lived in happy anticipation as March moved on through. Dan finished the Ohio job and was able to go to my 13.5 week Doctor appointment where we heard our baby's heartbeat for the last time. Other moments to treasure in March included:
wearing maternity clothes (for me, one of the best things about pregnancy--really!)
thinking about baby names,
being convinced I was carrying a boy (wrong!)
anxiously waiting for that first flutter of movement from inside.
I will always wonder if I ever truly felt April moving. Even if I didn't, she was with me everyday, as she always will be.
Thanks for joining me on this walk down memory lane.
"Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything." James 1:2-4
I was given 17 weeks and 6 days to carry April. I learned I was pregnant on January 15, and she was born asleep on April 15. For those 3 months that I knew she was with me and we had a really good time together.
I thought I would fill in the gap that I left in my blog from February 7 to April 13. I didn't have a blog post once during that time period, and I really feel a need today to document our family life during the time we anticipated our precious baby, for it was the only time she was here with us this side of Heaven.
Before I even knew she was growing, we took April to Great Wolf Lodge with all of her Hopkins cousins and Grandparents.
We enjoyed surprising Daddy that his hope and dream for a 5th child was going to happen. I remember so clearly the reaction that Dan had. He was excited, while I was very unsure about what having a family of 7 really meant. I was scared but felt that we had been given a precious gift. God answered the prayers we had prayed last fall as to if our family was complete.
The very next day, we ice skated as a family up at Mom & John's. I clearly remember skating around the rink with my new found secret growing inside. Dan was especially giddy that day, but only the two of us knew why.
The weeks went by and at 8 weeks we decided to tell our family and friends that Baby Dieleman #5 was on his or her way!! I was fortunate to have an early ultrasound at 10 weeks and this is the precious picture I have as a forever keepsake. I'll never forget that harried morning with Joy and Juliet in the ultrasound room with me. I left there feeling extremely blessed and still in awe that I was truly pregnant again!
Off next to New York City!! The trip had been planned since December, but being pregnant made it a bit more eventful when traveling by plane and NYC cab. After many a nauseous moment, I had a fantastic time with Jamie & Katie, Dana and company...
We rounded out February with a Hopkins cousins party hosted by Ron & Cheryl. We had a great time catching up with them and sharing the joy of our pregnancy.