The Christmas decorations are already put away. The tree taken apart and the ornaments nestled in their little boxes up in the closet.
We had a lovely Christmas. The kids were excited to the point of barely being able to sleep the night before and were anxiously awaiting us in the living room at 4:30am. They were sent back to bed but I am sure there was little more sleep for them.
There were not a ton of presents but anything wrapped was like pure gold for them. The finest things, just because they had paper and bows. Jack looked at every gift with amazement, wondering "It is it?" with every package, whether it was for him or not.
It was truly beautiful, save one tiny detail. My daughter was missing. She was not there to distract me while presents were opened. She did not have a token under the tree from her older siblings. She did not sit with Santa in the weeks before. She did not get to wonder at the lights on the tree.
Absent were the cries of an overwrought and over tired baby on Christmas day, who had missed a nap and probably been over stimulated with all the excitement.
My oldest son mentioned more than once, with the innocence, joy, and truth only a child can muster "Eden is having the BEST Christmas because she is with Jesus." My oldest daughter carried the picture someone had drawn of Eden over to the tree to open gifts so she could be a part of it all...
And my heart broke a thousand different ways on Christmas day, even without noticing it, my heart broke. Even without a constant ache, I was depleted by the days end.
I have been thinking about something my pastor said to me. He pointed out that in the book of Job, after Job loses everything God restores it all to him twice over. My pastor has declared the same for us. But tell me, how does He restore my daughter unto me twice over? How does He fill the void left by her sweet little soul?
I was blessed by a Christmas letter I received this year. The writer of the letter referenced something she had read, and I can't even cite the source or give a direct quote as the letter isn't in front of me. The quote was making the point that while we often worship God and praise Him for all the gifts He lovingly bestows upon us, we need to remember to honor God simply because He is God. He is the creator of the universe and the creator of each and every one of us. He has loved me from before there was time, and He will love me long after.
So in the midst of missing my little girl, in the midst of this new shade of grief, I praise My God and I love Him. I praise Him because He alone is worthy to be praised.
Sunday, December 30, 2007
The Christmas decorations are already put away. The tree taken apart and the ornaments nestled in their little boxes up in the closet.
Posted by Alexis at 12:34 AM
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Two months ago I switched off the hospital TV and, with you nestled in the crook of my arm, surrendered to my body's need for sleep. Through God's grace I slept well, yet lightly.
Even as I closed my eyes that night, my spirit knew what I could not voice. My spirit knew this was my last night with you. That what had begun to be measured in days would soon be measured in minutes.
I hated to let you go but know in the depths of my soul my time with you was not fruitless.
I think so often of the impact you had on the world, but you had such great impact on me. Just like He does with your brothers and sister, God used you to teach me so many things.
You changed this family forever, and your impact was only good. I think I am a better mother for having had the great honor of mothering you. I am a better wife for sharing you with your daddy. I am also, I hope, a better Christian for having had to trust God so fully with your very life.
I miss you Eden... I long for the day we will be reunited before our Heavenly Father. When I will bask, not only in His glory, but in the completion of our family. When I will see you healed and whole. When I can hold and kiss you again.
Christmas will be strange this year with your little empty stocking. We will celebrate and have joy... but there will be an absence that is palpable. It amazes me how we can so fully feel you missing in the memories you never were a part of.
I love you baby girl. Everyday.
Posted by Alexis at 12:09 AM
Friday, November 30, 2007
I am often surprised that God is still so surprising in His goodness. Surprised I still don't expect Him in just the right moments. Surprised that all He wants from me is all of me, flaws and all. That my weaknesses really do give Him opportunities to show His unending strength.
Laying bare my struggles before you and therefore, before Him, gave Him just the opening He needed to meet me in my valley. In a matter of hours the heaviness began to lift and my heart began to beat in rhythm with the things He is teaching me.
I am blessed to be walking this road. Blessed to have been able to hold and meet my daughter. Blessed to struggle like I do.
I am so greatful to all of you who hold me up when I feel so weak, and rejoice with me when I have strength.
Posted by Alexis at 7:44 PM
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
At night, while I'm laying in bed, I think of all kinds of things to share with you. All kinds of encouraging words... some a little less so. Then, morning comes and it all gets so lost in the everyday... Lost in the dishes and laundry. Lost in the day to day chasing after three rambunctious kids. Lost in normal life.
I've wondered a lot lately about what my new normal is. Six months ago I was planning the next few years in the light of feedings, diaper changes, and lack of sleep. Then for five months I was in limbo... desperately seeking God for the miraculous in every breath. Then I was a mother to four precious babies. Two days later I had three living children and an encounter with God like none I'd ever had. Then life settled in... and now? Where to from here?
I crave that unexplainable closeness with God. To be fully embraced, tangibly, by the lover of my soul. To stand before Him in worship and have the very core of my spirit tingle with His touch. Yet, it eludes me a little.
I stood in church Sunday and felt slightly numb. The first I'd felt that in a long, long time. I didn't like it at all.
I am not angry at God, but I am realizing that maybe I am feeling something I haven't yet faced. Something I'm not even sure how to name.
I wanted Him to heal Eden. I wanted to bring her home. I want to be holding her and cuddling her right now. I want more than a photo album and one adorable picture. I wanted more than memories.
It's hard to read the scriptures that speak of asking and receiving or His great power. I want to throw a tantrum. Stomp my feet and cry like my two year old when he can't have a cookie. It stings a little to know He could have healed her and didn't.
It is something I keep saying I am working out with Him. But I wonder if I really am? Is it too hard and painful for me to really look at? To be truly vulnerable to God with those feelings.
The truth is I don't know.
I trust Him everyday by choice right now. I trust Him because He *is* still the creator of the universe, the Ancient of Days, the one who died for me. I trust Him because He holds my daughter to His very bosom when I can't. I trust Him because I know His plan is perfect.
If it is even possible, this part of the journey seems to hurt the most. To feel so distant from He who loves me most. I feel like I am swimming through quicksand to get back to the place we once walked so closely.
Maybe that's the point? Maybe it's a little too much me? This isn't something I can do on my own or by my own power. This can only be done by God. I can only have healing in His plan and His time.
I am going to try very hard to wait on Him. To let Him meet me in my time of need. I am going to try and be still...
Posted by Alexis at 9:24 AM
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
One month ago, today, I finally got to meet you. I got to see your sweet little face, so like your brothers' and sister's. I touched your tiny perfect feet and hands. I held you in my arms and studied you. My heart overflowed with love for you.
One month ago my life changed forever, holding you, loving you, and knowing this meeting was the beginning of a goodbye.
I can not imagine it's only been a month, as I spent a lifetime holding you in that dim and quiet hospital room. It seems forever ago that the world stopped and allowed us that precious time. Forever ago that I learned what immeasurable blessing can come from something that seems so tragic.
In two days I will reflect on what it was like to let you slip into the arms of Jesus. What it is to know peace that transcends all of our human understanding. But today, right now I am going to remember the way you felt in my arms. I am going to look at your pictures and I am going to feel joy at having been chosen to be your mother.
I love you little one...forever and ever.
Posted by Alexis at 9:57 AM
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
This picture was taken the day before me cesarean. Probably just about 24 hours before Eden was born... seems like a lifetime ago. I was still filled with such hope for my little bean... but very aware this might be the last time I knew her while she was still alive.
This one of the only two pictures we have of our whole family of six. Even though we were all heartbroken we had joy in this moment. I will always be grateful we had this time together...all of us.
Noah and his baby sister. Some of the most beautiful pictures we have are some of the most heartbreaking.
All my babies. everything about who they are is captured in this single shot.
Phoebe and her sister...taken by her big brother. She was so ready to love her for as long as she could.
Posted by Alexis at 10:29 AM
Sunday, November 04, 2007
Today I stood before God, at the church altar, and sang these words...
You have turned my mourning into dancing.
You have turned my sorrow into joy.
I sang these words as an offering and sacrifice to God. I am not yet ready to dance. I am not quite filled with joy. I have made a commitment to myself and to Him to open myself up and allow Him in to heal the deepest, darkest, most broken parts.
Emotionally, I am raw and some days suck, but mostly I am surviving and enjoying the life and babies I have. I am making a conscious choice to heal and let God work in me, but it's hard because I'm still really tender and wounded and it's something I need to work out with Him. I know He could have healed my baby and didn't and that hurts. My faith is not shaken but my heart is bruised...
I know in my deepest being that God is still working through the life of Eden, that He is still working in me. I ask myself almost daily if I still trust Him, and I do. If I still believe His heart breaks with mine, and I do.
So today I stood there. Raw and exposed before God and sang the words I know to be true.
This is how we overcome
I will only overcome this deep wound, will only live in the grace and power that is mine through Jesus, if I can open my heart and worship Him from this place.
Posted by Alexis at 6:32 PM
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Lest anyone get the idea that I am some super strong woman or that I am somehow more capable of handling grief and pain like this I just wanted to share some of my heartbreak with you.
I do believe with all my heart that God has not written the final chapter of what's to come from Eden's short and dedicated life. I do know that He holds me and my family in His hands. I know that He only wants good for me. I know His desire is to comfort me in this time of heartbreak.
I know all of this.
But I also know my house is far too quiet. It is missing the cries, coos, and laughter that a new baby brings. My arms are empty and aching for my daughter. I have a favorite picture of Eden that will never change. I have a photo album I ca not even fill with her pictures.
I am grateful beyond words to have my other kids... to see them smile and play and laugh everyday is both a comfort and a deep pain, as I wonder what their sister would have brought, new and exciting, to them.
I keep waiting to wake up from all of this, but I don't. This is real and doesn't just go away and stop hurting. It's more to walk through everyday.
I can't imagine doing this with out God, even though He feels so distant at times. I know He is there for me. I know my daughter is with Him. I don't have to wonder after her. I know Eden walks in perfect peace with joy beyond measure. She never cries, she never has to experience pain or sorrow.
When it gets to overwhelming I can go back to the moment I handed her into her Heavenly Father's arms... I can remind myself of the peace and joy of that moment. I can remind myself of the tangible presence of The Holy Spirit... and I wouldn't trade that to have Eden in my arms right now.
Still, my arms ache for her...
Posted by Alexis at 10:18 AM
Monday, October 29, 2007
My good friend Nicky put this video together to celebrate the short time we had with Eden...
Posted by Alexis at 5:13 PM
I keep wondering about adding to this blog. I feel like so much of this story is not yet written, but it might be better to leave this chapter finished... But today I want to share, so share I will.
I was remembering yesterday, as weekends naturally bring Eden's birth to the forefront of my mind, what it was like in the recovery room as Eden's family and visitors poured in.
We were in a private and dimly lit room, holding a child we all knew was not likely to survive much beyond these precious moments and yet there was not a great pall of death in the room. There was not the unwelcome spirit of desperate grief. There was the prayer of my pastor, a prayer of intense spiritual struggle that comes out in only three words repeated "Jesus, Jesus, Holy Spirit, Jesus". Words that spoke volumes in their simplicity. There was heartbreak over prayers answered differently than we'd hoped. Tears ran freely. But there was joy. There was celebration of this little being that God had made so perfect in every way but one.
It is this joy that carries me. It is this joy that buoys my heart when my arms ache with emptiness.
I would never choose this journey. I would never wish it on anyone. Yet still, I am forever grateful to have been given the opportunity to walk with God through this trial.
Posted by Alexis at 2:27 PM
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
She and Steven went immediately to a private room so the kids could meet their sister since we had been told she looked like it would be a matter of minutes before we lost her. I wondered if I would ever see her alive again.
As they wheeled me in to join my family the first thing I saw were my two daughters, the oldest holding her sister and crying... my heart broke again. I didn't understand the unanswered prayers of that broken hearted girl. They placed the baby in my arms and I had my first chance to hold her, to connect to her... and suddenly God didn't seem that far away. He had created this little one , perfect for His plan, given her life and loved her.
I saw a brokenness in all those who had prayed for her healing and I felt the same brokenness, but I also felt God, whispering He hadn't ignored me, stopped loving me, or made a mistake.
There was peace like none I can describe. Peace that is, frankly hard to connect with right now as hormones shift and change, but peace I felt and know to be real so I hang on to it even though it seems somewhat distant.
I believe God revealed something to me about hope in those moments. Hope and perfect peace. I wanted Eden to be healed as a testimony to His power and greatness. I wanted nothing more that for Eden's life to point people to God. That they would be so amazed and awestruck they couldn't help but fall to their knees before Him. What God chose to reveal to the world was His ability to comfort and give strength when none seems likely.
I did not get to bring my baby home, and I miss her, but I did bring home an encounter with Him that will change me forever. I bring home memories of the doctors and nurses impacted by the peace, hope, and strength they saw in our family and in our friends... the knowledge that we had something different. That difference was The Lord of the Universe. A God so big, yet one who cared so much about a simple little family from Lomita.
It is hard not to have my girl with me, but it was easy to pass her into the arms of My God.
What was supposed to be minutes together, God stretched into just over 36 hours. In her last few moments, when I knew she was leaving us, I felt so calm, so serene, so ready to hand her over to my Jesus. I believe that heaven is all around us. That it is very real but it is in a realm we just don't see... if you read the story of Stephen in Acts he begins to die and speaks of the cloud of wittinesses all around. Eden had never focused her eyes, she was quite probably blind, but in the 20 mins or so before she passed her eyes were open and focused, closing when she breathed her last, and I believe she was focused on her savior. I still remember, and always will, that last breath and the sensation that I was literally handing her off into the arms of God. What a special little girl, to get to spend her eternity with Him so soon.
Posted by Alexis at 2:12 AM
Monday, October 15, 2007
Eden Rebekah Anderson was born Saturday, October 13, 2007 at 3:46 PM at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Beverly Hills.
While our family did not receive the healing that we had so long hoped and prayed for, we are rejoicing in the miracle of Eden's birth and grateful for the time God allowed us to spend with her.
Eden passed away this morning at 4:10 a.m. from the arms of her mother and father into the arms of her Heavenly Father.
Thanks to all of you for your words of encouragement and prayers. We are doing well, have a peace that transcends understanding and feel blessed to have had the opportunity to love this little girl for her short thirty-six hours of life.
Posted by Alexis at 7:33 PM
Saturday, October 06, 2007
It has been nearly impossible to find a free and semi quiet moment in which to update my blog in the last week.
First there was the weekend following my last post that passed in kind of a haze. It was a weekend that just ached. My husband and I were once again living with the raw emotions that flood the parents of a child you are told can not live. Seeing, again, the ultrasound image of my sweet baby, so perfect in every way but one, was heartbreaking. I, once again, had to work out my faith with fear and trembling. Somehow, asking God to make Eden whole over the course of 4 months seemed so much more attainable... but knowing He was down to two weeks was suddenly overwhelming.
Once again, my spirit was reminded that God's timing is perfect. He is never early nor is He ever late. I was reminded that I had the distinct impression in those first weeks that there would be no evidence of healing until Eden was born. And just a few weeks back the notion had come that even if she is not born whole, healing is still possible.
I do not see every thread in the amazing tapestry of God's perfect plan. I can only see one small part. I do not know how He intends to work this for His glory and my good, but I know His word is clear that He holds those two goals. That Eden is not a surprise. That my pain is not an unfortunate byproduct. I know that God has a perfect plan...
After all of this I was called in for another appointment with my new doctors. And, very surprisingly another ultrasound. Again, the screen showed the picture of a mostly perfect form. A wiggly and wonderfully made, yet lacking a brain.
This ultrasound did not break my heart, I saw, again, an opportunity for God to move. For Him to heal. And for His glory to be revealed.
At this moment I am only one week from seeing God's answer. I am just seven short days from seeing, what I believe will be, the miraculous.
My past birth history makes a natural birth a little risky, and while that had been my hope for this pregnancy, a third cesarean has been scheduled for Saturday, October 13th... at 2:30pm. Should labor begin on it's own before then I will still have a chance for a natural birth.
I thank you all who continue to pray for us, your prayers are desperately needed an greatly loved at this point in the race. I pray God will pour out His blessings to each and everyone of you as well.
Posted by Alexis at 12:09 AM
Friday, September 28, 2007
Well, I had hoped to be able to report the divine today, but as of this moment no healing has come forth.
I'll admit I was sad and do feel a little weepy right now, but my faith in God is not shaken. I *still* believe and still hold out hope for the miraculous.
I want this baby to come home so badly.
I wondered to myself, and wondered also if I wasn't hearing the voice of God, on my drive home if this would be the thing to break my faith. If this would be, suddenly, too much bad news. Too much science. If suddenly I believed a miracle was no longer available. But my God did not change who He was in that half hour. He still formed the beating heart I watched and heard. He still breathed life into the cramped baby I saw on the screen. And He is *still* in the business of performing miracles.
If faith is the evidence of that which is not seen, then today my faith was strengthened. Today I did not see a nice round head. Today I did not see God's hand change the brain of my fourth child... But today I still believe God will heal her. I am surrounded by those who believe God will heal her. ..
Two scriptures sent to me this week:
Also, in Matt 9:29, "Then he touched their eyes and said, 'According to your faith will it be done to you'."
Posted by Alexis at 4:00 PM
Saturday, September 22, 2007
I think it's easy to forget that some of the mighty and wonderful things God did in Old Testament times He still does today. I am not speaking simply of miracles. Throughout the Old Testament , and into the new, we see that God placed great value on a person's name. A name was often prophetic of the role that child would play in history or a marker of the parents state of mind.
More than once God changed someones name when the old no longer applied. Sometimes, as is the case with Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah... holding on to your given name was done simply to prove you did belong to your God.
I have always said that God chose the names of each of our children. No favorite but unused name has ever been recycled. They fit each soul and then they no longer fit. Rebekah has been a name both my husband and I have loved since before Noah was born... but it's never been the right time or the right baby to place that name on the list.
This all strikes me as today, my beloved husband, wrote this in a blog he shares with the students he teaches...
And, thinking also of my youngest unborn daughter, asked APUSH'er Rebecca Figueroa if she knew what her first name meant, not entirely sure if I remembered myself the origin of Eden's middle name.
So this morning, I looked it up again and thought how wonderfully appropriate and inspired my youngest daughter's name is.
"Rebekah" means "to bind".
I remember Mrs. Anderson telling me this early in the pregnancy after we had decided on a name and finding it rather odd, wondering if we had made the right choice and wondering if it were as appropriate as Noah James (The Peaceful Comforter, Brother of John the Beloved), Phoebe Elisabeth (Pure, Consecrated to God) and John Steven (God is Merciful and Gracious, Anointed/Crowned). Looking it up again this morning, I find it beautiful and so wonderfully fitting. If anyone has ever helped to bind our growing family and our church family together, it has been our little Eden Rebekah and all God has taught us through her.
Eden means to delight or find pleasure in.
Perfect. Just perfect.
Three more weeks.
Keep praying for our little Eden Rebekah and for our entire family."
Posted by Alexis at 5:20 PM
Friday, September 21, 2007
So, I am having another ultrasound. Friday at 11:30am... This is not to check the condition of the baby but to check out where my placenta is in relation to my previous scar tissue from the cesareans I had with the boys.
I know that if I don't see healing in this ultrasound it's not too late, but oh, how beautiful would it be to see a nice round head on my sweet baby girl? To not have to labor with the unknown, to be able to spend the last two weeks of my final pregnancy with a whole and healthy baby kicking me in the ribs.
I have so many reasons to believe Eden is coming home. So many traces of God doing things beyond the expected.
It's hard not to try to explain to God all the many reasons He should do what I want, as if he doesn't see the giant tapestry in which our lives are but a tiny thread. Important, essential, but small. At the same time I see God moving. I see opportunities to dramatically change peoples lives. I see hearts softening that will have no choice but believe He is who scripture claims He is...
Just the other day my mom let slip her heartbreak over my sweet girl. It was a simple sentence but it revealed her brokenness... if for my mother's salvation alone this whole journey is worth it. If to give my mom the gift of, not only a second granddaughter, but more importantly a relationship with her healer, her creator, her savior... I had to walk this path it was worth it.
Thank you all for your prayers, please remember me on Friday...
Posted by Alexis at 9:33 PM
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Eden is due in just over three weeks. In many ways it seems like the diagnosis was just pronounced and in others it feels like we have been living with the weight of it forever. The last half of my pregnancy has gone incredibly fast, but each day gets longer and longer.
I can not believe that in about a month we will finally have our answer. We will finally know if this baby is coming home.
In a lot of ways I am far more confident than I have been in the long four+ months I have carried her with her diagnosis, that we will see a miracle, but at the same time I am even more afraid to say it out loud. It's one thing to declare absolute faith in an idea that will not see fruition for several months, it's another thing entirely when it's right around the corner.
In a way I hadn't quite expected, I feel like I love her even more now. I have loved the concept of her for months... but there has been so much "other" to focus on. Now I actually can just sit and be with her.
I have been so focused on God and His plans, the things He was teaching me, the way He was changing my family, the changes in my church... all related to this precious little one. Now, I have crossed a line where it's able to just be about me and my baby.
And I love her and I want her to come home. I want to hold her and wake up in the middle of the night. I want to watch her toddle and take her first steps. I want to see her smoosh a cake in her face on her first birthday. I want to watch her brothers and sister spoil her. I want to sacrifice some autonomy for the sake of being the mother of a newborn. I want to get spit up on. I want to change another bazzilion diapers. I want to watch her daddy get wrapped around her little finger. I just want to mother her.
I have prayed many things for her and our family... but today I just want to say "Daddy please, can I just bring my baby home?"
Posted by Alexis at 1:12 PM
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
My husband and older daughter, who is nearing seven, were in the pool the other day, and I was watching from the sidelines. She is learning to swim little by little and it's her Daddy who is doing all the teaching. He never sits her down and says "Now Phoebe, we are going to have a swim lesson." He plays with her, encourages her, and guides her.
I watched her climb out of the pool and stand at the side, readying herself to jump into her father's open arms. She was the tiniest bit fearful but knew he would catch her. "Daddy, you stand right there." She jumped and I watched him inch back so she would swim just a little further than she believed she could. This went on all day, until suddenly she was swimming the width of the pool. The little girl who thought she could swim a few feet had suddenly conquered the pool. It was beautiful to watch. She beamed with a new found confidence. She knew that she had been forever changed and she really could swim.
My journey with Eden has been much like this. I never would have imagined on March 10th that I would be able to, not only float out here in this sea of blind faith... but that I would be able to swim. I can do this because I trust my Heavenly Father not to let me drown. I may not understand the point of him stretching my faith like He has, but I know when I reach the other side of this ocean His plan will be perfect.
Posted by Alexis at 2:14 PM
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
My daughter came with me to my last midwife appointment. She used her new camera to record her sister's heartbeat. When I hear this I have hope for the life inside of me.
Posted by Alexis at 10:18 AM
Thursday, August 02, 2007
Today was a very nice day. Lunch with my bible study ladies, here at the house, we were celebrating a birthday and also blessing my home.
We've been here for less than 4 months and we've had issue after issue... mostly small and annoying but still. I had wanted to anoint the house with oil but never did in all the chaos...
As a group of women, some old enough to be my mother or grandmother...some even a bit older, walked through each room of my house...we laughed and joked...and prayed. As the blessings were spoken over a kitchen full of conversation, kids rooms filled with peace, and even a bedroom filled with love, I was struck by the amazing provision of these ladies.
Each one carries her own baggage and hurts, but each was here to bless a transplant from another country, or me, a mother in the midst of her greatest struggle. It is truly a gift from God to be blessed in such a way. And once again they spoke life over Eden...even words of joy over my older daughters room, that she be able to share her room with her sister.
I was reminded of the time in my life before I found God or accepted His gift of perfect love through His son, Jesus. I used to feel terribly lonely and empty. I had good parents and I had a handful of friends, but I always wondered if there was anyone to whom I truly mattered. I fantasised about becoming ill and being hospitalized, wondering if anyone would come to see me. I have said before, that God filled that void instantly on the day I allowed myself to see Him, and that is true. But today, and all along this journey, I am filled to overflowing.
Being a part of the family of God is so much more than doctrine or rules. It is to belong in a way never even fathomed before. It is to be fully embraced, loved, protected, and natured. It is to be filled so much that you have nothing else to do but give some away.
We may not always get it right, but this family is so beautiful.
I have also been blessed by friends from afar, I recieved a quilt and a box of cards and notes from women all over the country and into Canada yesterday. It touches me to see that, no matter what, Eden has touched lives already.
Posted by Alexis at 1:54 PM
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Sometimes I let this blog go a week or two because I'm not really sure what to say. The particulars are all still the same. And I can't really update you about Eden much because she's hidden away from view... for all I know she's healed already.
So here's where I am at this week, I'm trying to figure out how to plan for what to *do* after she's born, should she not be healed. It's a practicality I can't quite wrap my brain around. Neither Steven or I feel compelled to have a service or bury her body, But that leave a big question on what to do with her remains. I don't want her just "disposed" of, but I really can't imagine what to do. And there is an issue of cost, which maybe shouldn't be a factor here but is. I think I need to really start looking into this, but I ask you "How do I hope for a miracle, believe for a miracle, and investigate ways to dispose of my baby all at the same time?" Even now, I'm typing that out and she is doing the thing where a foot or butt bushes against my stomach and makes it take a weird shape... how do I plan for this all to end?
In many ways I can't fathom that there could be anything wrong with this little one inside me. She is so obviously *alive* right now, her heartbeat is strong. Her movements are regular and frequent. She is growing and making me physically uncomfortable and exhausted. How can she not be "just fine"?
I have had reason to talk to a few people lately about the impact of Eden on my relationship with God. I realized that I have had the wonderful opportunity to see Gods love poured out in a new and different way. I have had a chance to live "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted" (Matt 5:4) I have hurt more than I even knew was possible and been wrapped in love like I can't describe. I have understood what it is to touch the heart of God and have His heart break for his child.
I was telling Steven yesterday, that I feel weird because I was operating in such a fevered pitch with Jesus, and now this has all become so everyday. It's so much more a part of my every moment reality. I wondered was I getting lazy? As we talked I realized that I am now, forever changed. It's not that I've gotten lazy it's that I've gone from one point to another. That my faith has been forever changed. And I am grateful for that change.
This is from an email I received just 10 days after the diagnosis:
"Eden Rebekah what a powerful name- "delight" and "captivating beautiful" I was just thinking of the story of Issac and Rebekah in Gen. 24 and in verses 55-60 Rebekah agrees (and is willing) to go with Abraham's servant to A PLACE SHE HAD NEVER BEEN. And the Lord spoke to me that Eden is taking you to a place where you have never been with in the Lord. He will go with you to that place and though it may be a hard place it has changed you forever. You will never be the same again and your faith level will never be the same again"
Just one of the many words of faith I have received for this little blessing.
Posted by Alexis at 12:45 PM
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Today is my 14th wedding anniversary. Recently at another wedding I was listening to the vows and thinking about how much Steven and I have been through, and how much we have changed over these 14 years. We were just kids when we walked down that aisle and made promises to each other and to God.
I am grateful everyday that he is my husband and that he is the father of our four children. As Eden's daddy, he is torn between feeling like he can't protect her and what he needs to do to care for me and the other three on this journey. He handles each new hurdle with love that comforts me, even when he feels he isn't. I am grateful that God put us together so long ago...that we have grown together in age, faith, and maturity.
Eden continues to wiggle, kick, roll, and squirm almost constantly. And I am reminded that, whatever the outcome, there is a little tiny life inside of me. The doctors can say whatever they will but, at this moment in time, Eden *is* alive and she has a special designation from God. She has already stirred the faith of many.
In bible study we have been going over Psalm 23. And I am reminded constantly that while I walk through this valley that it is only a "shadow of death" that passes over us. And that I needn't fear because God is with me...with the big kids...with my nearly two year old...with my husband. My God is a good God who loves and cares for me. Who desires only the best for me. Though I can not always understand what He is doing, I trust that He has only my best, and the best of those who love Him, in His heart and Mind.
Posted by Alexis at 9:43 AM
Monday, July 02, 2007
I have written, rewritten, erased, started over again, this blog about 4 times already. My thoughts are so jumbled.
I start out telling of my struggles with the constant everyday of carrying Eden, I talk about feeling her first kick during her ultrasound, I start to answer questions I've been asked a lot lately... but it all sounds so flat.
The reality is, this is getting really hard. Aside from everything else, I am getting really pregnant. I am exhausted and have a hard time even finishing up my daily chores. Folding the laundry, putting it away, doing the dishes, and vacuuming puts me out for a day and a half... lets not forget it's summer and all three kids need a mommy. Also included in the 6 month pregnant package are some pretty emotional days. Fighting to install a water filter for two days reduced me to tears more than once.
It's also a long journey. I wish I could know, right now, that everything was going to be okay. That I was bringing my baby home in October and we'd all live happily ever after. But that is not my path... I don't get to sprint. It's a marathon.
My husband is having a hard time not knowing how to be the Protector of his family and how to struggle through his own emotions. He needs your prayers right now, he needs the strength of all of you to help hold him up.
Posted by Alexis at 10:49 AM
Thursday, June 21, 2007
I replay a lot of the stuff that happened at that first ultrasound. I replay what was said to me. The look on my friend's face as she sat and listened. The tone of voice that the technician used. The smells... all of it. But just recently I've been remembering that first split second after she told me. My first and immediate reaction that hadn't heard figures or facts yet, the moment just a fraction of a moment before my head started swimming...
What I thought in that moment was "Well, I guess God will have to fix it. "( I didn't yet know she was a she.)
This moment comforts me. It was here that my faith spilled out, not yet crowded by logic or emotion. Just faith. I wish I could say it was the whispered voice of God reassuring me, but of that I'm not sure.
I thank everyone who is following this journey. Every prayer is felt here...
Posted by Alexis at 11:51 AM
Monday, June 18, 2007
Last night I was having a lot of back pain and heartburn and what not. Just generally feeling crummy... And I was struck by how different things are than with an ordinary pregnancy. In the past, when I have felt icky while being pregnant some sort of motherly instict kicks in and the idea that I need to take it easy and rest becomes primary...
But now, I feel pain and wonder "Is this the begining of the end of my time with Eden?" and I think how that would be sad but that I knew this was a possibility...and then I wonder "Do I sit and rest, or do I go on as normal and let things happen?"
As it is yesterday was just the culmination of a few long weeks and a very long and exhausting weekend, Eden is still wiggling, rolling, and kicking. I am still very much pregnant.
I have had a rough week emotionally, I mean I've been okay, but I've worried more about the what-ifs than in the weeks preceding. I was asked if I felt I knew she would really be okay and I am starting to feel a little shakey about if she will or not... it's hard to carry around this hope and faith in her healing everyday. I want so baddly to stand firmly in the knowledge that she is being knit together even now... but some days it's the best I can do to sit weakly.
Posted by Alexis at 12:19 PM
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
Had my first OB appointment since the diagnosis today. It was kind of weird in that it wasn't all that weird. I did all the typical stuff - weight, blood pressure, etc. Just like any regular old pregnant woman. Because I am, in fact, a regular old pregnant woman. But not really... Most regular pregnant women are worrying about things like stretch marks, exhaustion, and frequent potty breaks. Me, I'm just sort of existing in this limbo world. Waiting on my miracle but uncertain everyday...
I talked a lot to my Dr about my emotional well being, she wondered what kind of support I had and was very pleased to hear me speak of all of my church family that was rallying around me. I told her Eden's name and she made a note in my chart. The care with which she treats me is truly remarkable. I don't think she'd make this choice but encourages me to truly enjoy and celebrate every moment I have with Eden. (Hearing her referred to by her name is very comforting to me.)
We listened to her very strong heartbeat. Beating away as if nothing was amiss. The Dr confirmed that, yes, those were definitely hiccups that I was feeling...
Eden is moving all the time. Not just the hiccups but I feel her rolling and kicking almost constantly, It is both wonderful and a little heartbreaking. While I choose to believe she will be born whole, part of me knows she may not be and it pains me to think this might be all I have of her. I love her, yet I may never know her in *this* life. It's a very weird place to live.
I told my Dr I had hope in a very Big God and that I still thought Eden could be born whole and healthy. I think this bothered the Dr. and I understand why. Science has *no* room at all for this possibility.Two ultrasounds and a blood test are pretty clear.
Ironically I left today feeling even more sure God was going to do the amazing with Eden. The sun was shinning and I knew He was with me.
All in all today was a very good day to be Eden's mommy.
Posted by Alexis at 6:54 PM
Friday, June 01, 2007
Ever since I put up this blog, and even just before, I have had people saying really wonderful things about my grace and strength... I am touched as those things are merely God showing Himself. Today I want to throw myself on the floor like my not quite two year old and just cry and throw a tantrum.
I knew when we decided to give God full reign over the Eden there could, potentially be a full 5 months of waiting and uncertainty... I wondered to some friends when or if the day would come that all the peace would crumble... I still have peace but today is not so bright as a few that have passed.
If you had asked me even 4 days ago I'd have told you I felt really good, emotionally and physically. That I fully expected a miracle and my baby girl to be born whole... today I am a lot less certain. Today my faith is far more weak.
Today is the day I press in further with my Jesus and let His strength hold me up.
God moved in big ways this week with two babies, yet still in the womb. One child nearly confirmed as ectopic was found safely hanging out in the womb and one who's labor had begun too soon was stopped as suddenly as it started... and I do honestly rejoice and find comfort in those two big blessings. But if I am truly honest, part of me is jealous too. I am stuck right in the middle of my storm and I too, want word that my baby is whole and everything is okay. I want my waters calmed.
I was sharing with some ladies the other day, that I don't believe I will see Eden's healing until the moment she is born. I will have at least one more scheduled ultrasound, but I feel like God is whispering to me not to rely on those to show me. So in a way I fear them...
It is hard to rejoice in my pregnancy, even though I rejoice in Eden. It is hard to not feel just a little bit sad when I feel her constant movement. I so deeply believe she will be born whole, but there is still a very human part of me that can't let go of what I've been told is her prognosis. So I delight and mourn every roll and kick.
God reminded me tonight of so many of the "classic bible stories", the ones even my unsaved family and friends would know... Most of the biggest miracles came after longer periods of intense suffering... The woman who had bled for 12 years (Luke 8: 42-44) Mary and Martha who watched their brother die and buried him (John 11) Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Daniel 3) The father who's daughter was ill and died (Luke 8: 40-56) and so many more...
I am in the midst of my trial, and only God can carry me through.
Also, a lesson I learned this week... This trial is not mine or my family's alone.
Posted by Alexis at 7:35 PM
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
A month ago my biggest worry was the flaky plumbing in my new house. And it wasn't even a serious worry because I'm a renter, so I didn't have to foot the bill to fix it.
Today I am wondering if this is all too much for my older kids. If I am being selfish or cruel to them or Eden. I believe in my heart of hearts, and in the deepest recesses of my spirit, that this is the absolute right thing to do, but when those kinds of arrows are flung at you... it hurts.
I have spent the last several days really feeling good and confident, but today it just all fell apart.
First came the phone call. The one where I was told all about how little sense this all made. How I was hurting my older kids and how waiting was going to make everything harder on them. How it was cruel to keep Eden with me. How I should just let her go...
And then the talk with the teacher about my oldest and how out of sorts and disobedient he's been. The compassion for how he's feeling, but at the same time needing to get his behavior under control. And his long, hard, ugly cry on the way home about every "bad thing" that happened this week... the cry that ends with how much it hurts him to think about his sister who might die.
So I begin to wonder if somewhere I've made a colossal mistake and I ask him again about the impact of waiting... and he explains how it's better to wait because if they take her out now she *will* die but if we wait she could be okay. And that hope was better...
I always knew God used our children to teach us great lessons, but this was again, so true.
Jer 29: 11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
I can only trust in God to bring prosperity in this situation. Nothing on earth will bring me the hope I so desperately need. So desperately cling too in moments like this.
Posted by Alexis at 4:10 PM
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
I don't claim to be a bible scholar. I wish I were...but I just know there is so much to be learned from taking these steps everyday.
When I wake up in the morning and open my eyes...I am trying to remember to thank God I am on this journey. I mean it's not one I'd have chosen. It's not one I ever anticipated could be a good thing... but I am strangely excited by it.
I know it's all the prayer, as so many people I love and who support me, have spent, and continue to spend countless hours on their knees.
My prayer time is disjointed at best. I am trying to find my quiet place with God, time to be alone and really focus, it's not easy. And my words run out often and I am just left with the name of Jesus and a prayer shawl wrapped around me.
For whatever reason, God has put me and my family in this place, with this struggle, at this time. Several of you have commented on my strength, it is not *mine*...it is wholly given by God and I really don't understand it. I suppose this is "the peace that passes understanding".
Posted by Alexis at 7:35 PM
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
One of my main concerns as we faced the decision on whether or not to carry Eden to term was the impact it would have on the older kids...
Sunday, while running errands as a family, I stole a few moments with my oldest son, nearly 9 years old... When we had first told them the baby wasn't going to be able to live, they asked very few questions. Just cried... the questions came in the next few days, eventually asking where she was. I explained she was still in my tummy but the Dr might need to help get her out.
So I spoke to my oldest about how it would make him feel if I continued to get more and more pregnant but Eden was still not able to survive. His answer surprised and comforted me... He stated very matter of factly "I think that would be better. Because if the Drs take her out too soon she might still be alive and that wouldn't be good." It was so simple but so true. That wouldn't be good... not for any one of us. Mind you, for the few days I had lived with the decision to terminate I had reminded him after his prayers that Eden be okay, "I don't think that's going to happen buddy." Here was this honest and sincere childlike faith, and I was trying my best to fit it in the box I had constructed. His answer was always the same "Yeah, but it could." We have always tried to instill in the kids God's amazing ability to heal... they pray for ever cold and boo-boo, to him, this is no bigger.
Then yesterday I had a moment with my daughter, now she is my baby who loves to raise her hands and worship, or sit on her special prayer mat... but, I never really know how deep it goes with her. She is a special little girl with a certain depth to her I sometimes have a hard time figuring out. I remember her tears once as she confessed shed never actually heard God when she prayed. I remember explaining to her that it takes practice to hear Gods voice, and that every time she felt the inclination to be kind, loving, or do what's right, she was hearing the voice of God.
Yesterday I asked her the same thing about how she would feel... she paused a bit. I don't think she's terribly comfortable with the idea as it seems a little odd. But she looked at me and said "I think, but I'm not sure, I think God told me she'll be okay. 'cuz I heard a voice." That last part she said pointing to her temple.
I had to fight tears as I said "Well baby, I sure hope you are right." Now I don't know if this was the voice of God she heard, but I don't doubt it could be. I never underestimate the prayers of a child.
Posted by Alexis at 2:19 PM
Monday, May 21, 2007
11 days ago I was a wife and mother to three, expecting a fourth child in October. I had the next year or so planned, how we work things out over the summer season and how our daily schedules would jive with a newborn come the fall...
11 days ago I made an appointment for a followup ultrasound. I had some irregular pre-natal testing and my doctor seemed most convinced I was having multiples or my dates were way off... I had no idea what could possibly go wrong. I am low risk for every anomaly that I had been tested for. So 11 days ago I started preparing myself for the possibility of twins.
10 days ago I walked into an overcrowded waiting room and everything changed.
By the time I'd met with the genetic counselor I knew something *could* be wrong. I still didn't expect it to be. I consented to an amniocentesis, in case I needed one to further clarify ultrasound results. I didn't even do that amnio. The Dr performing the ultrasound took a quick peek and then started talking about moving me to a different room to see more clearly... she also started whispering with the nurse about how I wouldn't need the amnio and I felt relived. I made a joke about not really wanting one anyway. The Dr. Turned to me and said "Oh, I've already seen the anomaly and it is very clear without the amnio. That's why I'm moving you to the next room, so you will see it better. But i have to finish with a patient in there." and she left.
In that instant everything went haywire. Something was wrong with my baby... and I was left to wonder for what seemed like an eternity, but was in reality only a few minutes , what could possibly be wrong. I wondered what kind of special care my child might need.
When they transferred me over to the next room and squirted more warm jelly on my stomach the Dr, I hadn't caught her name, I think she told me but I missed it entirely, anyway, she proceeded to measure things like leg bones, heart valves...beautifully beating heart valves... and various other body parts. The whole time she did this I searched for anything that looked misshapen or wrong. Finally she told me what had happened to my child... it's skull hadn't fused and the brain had never developed fully. There was a brain stem but little to no fore brain... the part of your brain that basically makes you a person. I was stunned.
She then, proceeded to explain that the baby I was carrying would likely not survive pregnancy, and had little chance of lasting even an hour after birth. She gave me technical terms and prognosis, and whys... but all I heard was my baby wasn't going to live. After she had explained all this, had told me all the various reasons "termination" was suggested, she asked me if I had any other questions... "Is it a boy or girl?" She seemed surprised I wanted to know but confirmed what I thought I'd seen a few weeks earlier in a different ultrasound..."A girl".
I walked out of that office with everything in my head swirling... I had to tel my husband, I had to tell my two oldest children, I had to get home, I had to make decisions. I knew only one thing, I knew her name... Eden Rebekah had just been given a terminal prognosis.
As a Christian, and actually even before I ever accepted the Truth of Jesus as My Savior, I had always held firmly to the belief that life begins the moment a sperm meets egg. You may not agree, I'm not asking you too. This is not the place for that argument. I never thought there was a moment the switch flipped. I also didn't think it was the "right" of anyone to end that life. I knew there were exceptions... ectopic pregnancies need to be ended, if a mother's life is jeopardised... I was pretty sure those were the exceptions. But now, here was this whole new, and vast, and murky grey area I never knew existed. My baby, my baby can not live outside my body. Not now, not 22 weeks from now. Not ever.
So my husband and I were faced with some enormous realities and even bigger decisions.
We prayed for discernment and we prayed for hope. We prayed for miraculous healing for our baby. We felt lost. We felt we'd lost her already.
We did decide to have a confirmation ultrasound, you can't do something this enormous without a second opinion. The confirmation was just that, confirmation. No skull, no brain... but a beating heart.
We cried and consulted my wonderful OB. The options she laid out were termination or carrying the baby, knowing all along she wouldn't survive. I imagined 5 more months of that kind of pain, I wondered what I would do if any of my three older children were on life support with no hope of survival... I would let them go. We decided to let Eden go... my heart broke at the thought but it seemed right... or as right as things could seem.
All this time I had friends and church family pulling for a miracle. Praying and holding my family up. One friend told me that on that Sunday (two days before the confirmation) that God had revealed to her that Steven and I were like Moses who couldn't hold our arms up on our own to fight this battle but that she and others were being like Aaron and Hur, holding us up. (Exodus 17: 8-12)
So Tuesday we decided that we would make the heartbreaking decision to end the pregnancy. I was broken at the thought. My dr said she would call with the information that day... and that day the information didn't come, nor did it come the next day. Finally I called on Thursday, after my husband had returned to work. He'd taken off that Monday through Wednesday... I wrote the information on a pad of paper on my desk... I didn't call.
Friday came and went... I didn't call. And for the first time in a week I felt like I could breathe.
Saturday I talked to my husband and we decided to wait until this busy time at work was passed to make the appointment... and again I felt like I could breathe. I even went to a wedding reception and had a good time. My first real outing since this whole thing began.
A good friend of mine said to me on Friday "I'm just worried about you. I don't know how you will live with having made this decision." It wasn't said in judgement or to sway me. It was said in love. And I realized in that moment, I couldn't. I had begun to beg God, not for healing but for a miscarriage. I realized the terror I had at facing such a difficult choice. Even if my daughter has no conscious thought, can not feel pain, will never be whole, I can't make a choice to end her life.
Yesterday was Sunday, it was the first Sunday back at church, just nine days after the initial diagnosis. Service always starts with a time of singing and worshiping God with Song. My husband plays flute with the worship team and I sit with the kids. I had barely made it though the first song when my hear began to overflow with love and praise for my savior. Yes, this all sucks, but God is still God. he still created the heavens and the earth. He will still cause good to come from this. It is an accordance with his promise in Romans 8:28 "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" I began to raise my hands in surrender to Him and at that moment I remembered the words of my friend a week earlier, about being able to hold my own hands up. I sang out to a song which said ...
So won't you reign in me again
I am sure you are familiar with the story. In the bible study the three God followers thought of two options that God would move in their troubling situation. Scenario A: We can be delivered from the fire. Or scenario B: We can be delivered by the fire into His arms. But the message talked about another solution. A way that God moves that catches us off guard. Something that shows us that He is the one in control, and He knew the whole time. Instead, scenario C happened: They were delivered through the fire. The story is that God met them in the fire. He kept them safe, that even though they were tied up so that they could not shield themselves they were not hurt. In fact in the end as they were called out of the fire it was recalled by the King that they didn't even smell of smoke.
Sometimes I would like to tell God that I only want him to deliver me from the fire. I don't really want to go through any pain or anxiety. I pray so much that God will help you that way. I pray so much that God would heal your little baby like he healed the women who was hemorrhaging. She had so much faith that she knew if she just touched the hem of his garment she would be healed. I don't know if I have that much faith, but I pray that God will do it for you. I pray that God will touch that head that is rested in you and bring it whole. But sometimes God works other ways either delivering that baby into His arms or delivering us through the fire. I wish I knew.