"Some people only dream of angels; we held one in our arms."

Below you will find Austin's story in multiple parts in order to tell the full story of my pregnancy, his birth, funeral and the months following.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


What's in a number? Well, let's just say, 17 never held much meaning until this past year. And now, here is another 17th; a date every month that has become easier to deal with, but the events replay constantly and it just serves as almost an entire day of remembrance.

As I am sure we can all relate, we are constantly trying to find ways to make something unique related to our situation. At least I am. So of course, I knew something was different about today's 17. When I went back and checked, I realized that this is the first Wednesday the 17th since June 17th. I guess that makes sense, considering today marks 8th month.

So, if you can't tell, I am not really in the mood for writing today (going back to work after a 2-week snow break is taking its toll!), but heres to another 17, as my life remains forever changed.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Out of the mouth of Babes...

So we had just put the girls down to bed, and Alyssa (my two and a half year old)began a very long conversation to herself. I sat in my room and listened and typed out what she was talking about:

"Hayley says I am a baby at Grandma Chapman's house, and I say No, I am not a baby. And I want mommy to have another baby and baby Austin is not in her stomach anymore. And baby Austin is a baby and baby Jesus is a baby and Austin is my friend, but Jesus is not my friend. (this part made me sad). Hayley is my sister. And my door is open so i can get out in the morning time. She's sad and Mommy's sad."

She gets out of her bed. I put her back and she said her bunny was sad. I asked her why. I said "Were you talking about Austin, and she said yes." She said, "Well Austin and Jesus." I said , Well Austin isn't Jesus." Then she said, "Well, Austin is friends with Jesus. (wanted to cry) I said, "who told you this?" She said, "I did."

I put her back to bed and when I leave the room, she starts talking again. She says, "I am talking about Austin and Jesus and Jesus isn't Austin. I told mommy that Jesus and Austin are friends."

She then proceeds to talk about her friends that are going to come over to her house the next day. I find it absolutely amazing what was going through her mind, as we hadn't even been talking about him or anything before bed tonight. We always say our prayers and remember him, but that was it. Amazing that she makes the connection so simply and can remember so clearly what we have talked about in the past. We have told her that Austin is with Jesus, and I think she equates Jesus to always being a baby (from Christmas), but still the connection is there and she knows they are together.

I think I needed this reminder today, as the drive home from work today, I couldn't seem to keep my mind off of him. And I thank God that I have this sweet little girl of mine for the precious reminder that Austin is indeed with Jesus, and they are in fact, friends!

Friday, February 12, 2010

God's Lent Child

I had coffee this morning with a woman, who lost a son nearly twenty years ago (amazing, how many people I have met in my hometown who have been through this.) She shared with me the following poem:

God's Lent Child
"I'll lend you for a little while
A child of mine," God said--
"For you to love the while she lives,
And mourn for when she's dead.

It may be one or two years
Or forty two or three;
But will you, till I call her back,
Take care of her for me?

She'll bring her charms to gladden you
And--(Should her stay be brief)-
You'll have her lovely memories
As a solace for your grief.

I cannot promise she will stay,
Since ALL from earth return;
But the lessons taught below
I want this child to learn.

I've looked the whole world over
In search for teachers true;
And from the things that crowd
Life's lane-- I have chosen you.

Will you give her all your love?
Nor think the labor vain?
Nor hate me when I come to take
This lent child back again?"

I fancied that I heard them say
"Dear Lord, Thy will be done.
For joys Thy child will bring
The risk of grief we'll run.

We will shelter her with tenderness,
We'll love her while we may--
And for the happiness we've known
Forever grateful stay.

But should Thy angels call for her
Much sooner than we've planned,
We'll brave the grief that comes
And try to understand."

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

My Sister's Keeper Thoughts

So, I finally finished reading, "My Sister's Keeper," after having it in possession for the last nine months. After completing it, I now know why I hadn't started it until last week, and why it took me a good week to finish it. After getting half way through it last week, I had to put it down, as a lot of it had become too "heavy" to deal with, but I really wanted to know how it finished, so I read the last of it today.

With that said, I found myself folding down several pages, as several passages spoke to me, and resonated with everything I have dealt with or felt over the course of this long journey. So I feel compelled to share the quotes that captured me and why they moved me in the way that they did. There are some quotes that I have far more to comment on than others, while some need no words or thoughts, they just speak to me. This is quite a long post, but for those of you who have read the book, I think you will understand why...

"The human capacity for burden is like bamboo--far more flexible than you'd ever believe at first first glance."
Until this year, I hadn't experienced burden, and while that sounds very negative to think of my situation, or what happened with Austin as a burden, that is sometimes how it feels. Sometimes it was more than I thought I could bear; there were times in the few months after he died, that I didn't think I could make it through the pain, the unshakable burden of grief. As this quote states, my capacity was far more flexible than I ever envisioned, and I am so thankful it was because while the pain has been unbearable, I continue to make it through.

"We are not the first parents to lose a child. But we are the first parents to lose our child. And that makes all the difference."
This needs no words.... just brought tears to my eyes.

"If you were me... and the medical ethics committee handed you back a piece of paper with a suggested course of action that would save your son's life, would you question them further... or would you just jump at the chance."
For me, as I have expressed before, I don't have a lot of regret as far as Austin is concerned, nor do I spend much time dwelling in the "what if's." However, it is inevitable that the human mind will drift to the "what if" scenarios, and this passage struck me in that I wish I never had to make a decision. I wish that there was a course of action that could have saved Austin's life; I wish so greatly that I could have jumped at a chance to have given him a second chance or even a fighting chance at all... I know the decision I made was the right one; deep down I do, but the whole life support issue still gets to me, and I know that is something that I need to trust that God was there with us the whole time, and we really weren't the ones making the decisions.

"It doesn't take a whole long life to realize that what we deserve to have, we rarely get."
This quote caught me in the sense that the word deserve is such a "catch 22," and I think this is a rather cynical way of viewing life. Did I deserve to have a son, I guess anyone would say, sure, I deserved to have him. On the other hand, do we rarely get things we deserve or desire; I would choose to disagree, and say that often times we do get what much more, as opposed to "rarely."

"Change isn't always for the worse; the shell that forms around a piece of sand looks to some people like an irritation, and to others like a pearl."
What good possibly come from the loss of an infant? What good could possibly come from the horrendous pain and suffering that comes with losing a child? I will tell you that the loss of Austin has changed me profoundly, and while I hate that it happened to me, and I hate that things turned out the way they did; my change in the way I look at life and other's situations is a positive change, as opposed to the immense irritation I once thought this whole situation was.

"We hadn't been going anywhere, and the place we wound up was awful and still I wouldn't have traded that week for the world."

"Not that... Because you know what it's like to not have any control over your body."
Control...something I always thought I had, and something I realized I had to let go of.... you see, the entire time I was pregnant with Austin, I had no control over the bleeding, I had no control over the outcome... and as still as I sat and as much as I stayed in bed, what happened was going to happen, and I had no control over it. The day he was born, I had no control over that. The weeks and months of pain and suffering; I didn't have control over. I tried to believe that I had control; I wanted so badly to have control over my body and my emotions, but I knew I had to let go at some point.... let go for myself, let go for others, let go for God to use me in ways I never knew were possible.

"That in addition to the piece of me that's always wanted Kate to live, there's another, horrible piece of me that sometimes wishes I were free."
Whew... this was a rough one for me to read because this explains exactly how I felt those two weeks in the hospital. I thank God I didn't realize how sick I was; I thank God it wasn't until the end that I wasn't scared for my life because naivete in this case was a good thing for me. You see, until I realized that my life was in danger, I would have done anything to hang on to my little boy. With my whole being, I wanted to do everything I could to keep Austin and allow him the chance at life, but I would be lying that there was also a piece of me that was scared to death and wanted to be freed of the nightmare. I wanted to be freed of the fear of the unknown; I wanted to just have answers. For this, I have felt guilt because in the moments right after Austin was born; I was just so relieved to be free... I was so relieved to be "done," to have answers and to know I was okay. This probably has been the most difficult part of my journey of grief.

"That Kate's death would be the worst thing that's ever happened to me... and also the best."
Note best would be too strong of a word for me... but I think you understand the idea.

"Nowadays I can hardly remember what that old house looked like. I walk out the front door and never recall the streth of months that the gaping lot stood out, conspicious in its absence, like a lost tooth. It took some time, you know, but the new owners? They did rebuild."
I use this metaphor, as I am the gaping house that stood empty and lost for several months. That is exactly how I felt, no matter how I disguised it, no matter how much I put on a "front" that things were okay. I was lost and empty, and didn't think I would ever rebuild. There are still times, even eight months out, that I still have this feeling. But just as an empty house gains new owners, I feel like I myself am a new owner of my body, spirit, and mind. I have learned to deal with the empty, achy feeling, and I have learned that I am going to continue to rebuild...and rebuild...and rebuild.

"I realize that we never have children, we receive them. And sometimes it's not for quite as long as we would have expected or hoped. But it is still far better than never having had those children at all."

Interesting way to look at it, but so very true, in that we truly are receiving these children from God, and we may never understand why they were taken from us, but as hard as it is to remember, because God knows it is for me, but they truly belong to Him, and not for us to "have."

"In the English language, there are orphans and widows, but there is no word for the parent who loses a child."

"Grief is a curious thing, when it happens unexpectedly. It is a Band-Aid being ripped away, taking the top layer off a family. And the underbelly of a household is never pretty, ours no exception...See, as much as you want to hold on to the bitter sore memory that someone has left this world, you are still in it. And the very act of living is a tide: at first it seems to make no difference at all, and then one day you look down and see how much pain has eroded."

And this is what I was left with, as tears were streaming down my face and the book came to a close, and I realized that this summed up the past year of my life. I am so grateful I didn't read this book in the hospital when I was given it, as I wouldn't have understood the depths of it, and it wouldn't have placed much meaning in my life. (It also would have made me way more depressed and sad, which is probably why I cast it aside in the first place.) I guess today, or even the past month, I have been able to take a step back and realize just what a difference the time has made; and can see how far I have come... physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Inspiring Devotional

Came across the following message in my devotional this morning, and thought it might serve as inspiration and positive way to look at our difficult situations.

"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"(Romans 8:28, NIV)

Life can be full of ups and downs, twists and turns. We've all had to face challenges and difficulties. But did you know that everything you've been through up until now is getting you prepared for what God is going to do in your future? Nothing in your life has been wasted. Every disappointment, every setback, every person that did you wrong, every lonely night, God is going to turn around and use for your good!

During the difficult times, we grow and mature. That's when our faith is stretched and our character is developed. God didn't send that hardship, but He'll use it to get you prepared for your next step. Those adversities will help make you and mold you into the person you are called to be.

You may be experiencing tough times today, but remember, nothing is ever wasted. Have the attitude that says, "This is a new day. Things are shifting in my favor. This difficulty is not going to stop me. It's going to promote me. It was meant to bring me down, but I know the truth; God is going to use it to lift me up and lead me into victory all the days of my life."

Thursday, February 4, 2010

A Broken Heart

Yesterday, we had another snow day, and they are just bittersweet to me. I feel an overwhelming sense of sadness and loneliness on these days, and we are about to get another 2 feet tomorrow and Saturday, so I feel like my little "funk" will continue.

Needless to say, yesterday, I was home with the girls, and I decided to do a craft with them. (As I have noticed some others indicate, this past year, I have defintiely felt like a sub-par Mom, in that the television has been on a great deal, and I just haven't been able to connect with them as much as others may think I could/should. I can't tell you how many people say, "Your two little ones need their Mommy so much," and while I know this is true, I can't help but feel some guilt in that I can't be as emotionally available to them as I may have been).

I digress.... but this is what prompted my craft activity with them. We decided to make hearts for Valentine's Day, in which I ended up doing the majority of the cutting and taping onto the windows, and I must say, it does look really cute. As I was cutting the hearts (I did it the "old school" way, of folding the paper over and then cutting half the heart), I realized, that is indeed how my heart feels.... broken and in half. While the pain has definitely lessened, it is still there, and I just feel so broken. Broken because I can't fix this pain; broken because my heart has never before felt so much pain, anguish and sadness. My heart really is broken, and I guess as with any part of your body that is broken, time will heal, but I just feel like this one is taking a long time, or far longer than I ever expected.

Until today when I spoke with someone at work (my former Spanish teacher, as I teach at the same school I attended in high school), and I was going to talk to her about something related to a student, and after awhile, she just asked how I was doing, and if I was ever going to try again. Only certain people can ask that question, and it just felt so easy and natural to answer her. I should have known that she understood the pain. She went on to tell me that twenty-five years earlier, she lost her son after some complications, and had to deliver him. As she recalled parts of her story with tears in her eyes, we both just understood so clearly how broken our hearts were and are. Even twenty-five years later, she said she still thinks about him and what happened, and I guess as always, that brought me some perspective.

It has only been seven months; I lost a son; I lost Austin; my heart isn't going to heal over a couple of months, or even a couple of years. It might be broken for awhile; I hope that the intense physical pain will continue to lessen, but in talking with her this morning, I realized I am always going to have a piece of my heart ache for my son, as I am sure all of us will. While I may continue to have a broken heart, I am so blessed to not be broken in spirit because although the depths of this pain is unimaginable to most; I do know that I have learned so much from this experience. I know that I will continue to learn from this experience, and perhaps that will be my next post... what I have learned so far from the past several months.

Until then... I hope that I can take this snow storm for what it is worth, enjoy the time with my husband and two little girls, and enjoy the complete and whole hearts that cover our kitchen windows.