Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A burden lifted

I have been meaning to write this post for weeks now, but haven't really known how to say what I am about to say.

Before I get to that, the above pictures are of the bench in our backyard by our waterfall. We built the waterfall in remembrance of Angelina--to have the symbolism of "Living Water" near her and a place to memorialize her. Taylor then gave me the bench for Mother's Day last year and ever since we have wanted to get a plaque for it, but haven't gotten it until this year. The plaque reads, "In Loving Memory of Our Angel, Angelina Joyce Housley, April 1, 2009" It's beautiful and we love it.

Alright, on to the purpose of this post. April 2010 was a big month for us. It was the year mark of Angelina and I approached it with a lot of hesitation and apprehension--I had no idea what to expect and didn't really know how to feel. It's obviously a day that holds a lot of meaning to us as we reflect on what happened a year ago, but at the same time, I didn't want to be "down" and "wallow in self-pity" and have a "woe is me day" just because 'that's what I was supposed to do' or because 'that's what people thought I would do.' ...hopefully that makes sense.

Well, April 1 arrived and it coincidentally was our "Day in Heaven" for our church. That essentially means that all the members in our church who live in a certain area around us spend the day--or whatever time they have--at the temple. For more information on temples, go to www.lds.org .

Well, for days leading up to this "Day in Heaven" I really felt a very strong desire and urge to be at the temple. I knew that that was the closest I could get to our Angelina while on this earth. So perhaps my prior hesitation turned into an anticipation to get to the temple. Sure enough, April 1 came and my experience at the temple was absolutely amazing. It was a very spiritual experience for me--one that cannot be expressed in words on this blog. As I sat in the temple, I remember telling Angelina in my mind that I loved her and that I knew she was in a good place and that Heavenly Father was with her. It was an absolutely amazing experience--the temple was definitely a place I needed to be that day.

Well, everything remained the same after April 1, but what was about to come, was not expected.

Without many details, I came in contact with a girl who had previously gone through an almost identical experience as us--she learned her baby had Turner's Syndrome and she had to deliver the baby right before 20 weeks. We emailed each other several times and I was (and am) so grateful to meet someone who knew almost exactly what I was going through.

Well, after several emails, she wrote something that I didn't really allow to sink in. I read over it and that was about it--I was pretty taken back at the words in the email so I didn't allow myself to spend much time thinking about it. I guess I just brushed it off.

Well, a few days later, a very close family friend was having a conversation with my mom. She was aware of our situation and then told my mom that she too had had a stillborn several years prior. She then told my mom the exact same thing that the girl in the email wrote. My mom was inspired to tell me of her conversation with our family friend and it was then that I put the two comments--from two completely different people--together. And, quite honestly, had these two people not had stillborn births of their own, I probably wouldn't have listened or put much weight to their words. But they knew what it was like to have a baby inside of them and to be told that there is no longer a heartbeat and to then proceed through all the steps of delivery and labor and post-delivery....so I knew I should give merit to what they were saying.

And what they both said, at two separate times through two different mediums, was this: that I needed to let go and essentially move on.

This was so extremely different than what I had thought the entire year prior. It was a full 180 from my way of thinking. What I went through with Angelina was definitely something that shaped and molded me--and really, changed me. But my way of thinking was like I had a huge sign on my forehead that said "I have had a stillborn" or "Guess what happened to me last year?" or "I had a life changing event last year" ...any of these phrases would be equivalent to having a huge blinking light above my head, at least that's how I felt. I felt like when people looked at me, they thought about my stillborn, and perhaps I felt that way because that is how I felt. I felt like every person I met I had to tell them my story. Angelina's experience was just a huge, huge, huge part of me.

So hearing the words "I need to let it go" ... was really a new thought and concept to me.

And then the amazing thing happened. I realized I did need to let go. Now, "letting go" does not mean that I forget, or pretend it didn't happen--but I realized I put way too much thought and energy into the past--that I was almost stuck in a rut and I couldn't--and didn't want--to get out.

I will NEVER forget the experience we went through, because like I said earlier, we truly have grown and have learned many valuable things. One of which is how much I need to rely on my Savior Jesus Christ and put my faith and trust in him. And truly, Angelina's story is a part of who we are. But I recognized that I was letting the situation become me, instead of letting the experience help me grow to become a better Christlike person. And the amazing thing was, when I realized this, an incredible weight was lifted from me. And the thing is, I didn't realize how big of a weight or burden I was carrying until it was lifted. I know the Lord lifted the burden for me and that He is currently carrying it for me. I cannot tell you how amazing it felt to have that lifted. I recognize that the burden is probably termed "grieving" but I didn't realize it for the entire year. I am the type of person that goes through something, I cry, I have my hard days, but I pick up and keep moving forward. I felt like I had grieved, I didn't see that I was still grieving.

I am grateful to these two people who were inspired to tell me that I needed to reach a point where I was ready to move on. These two separate statements came relatively close together, but they came very differently. And again, had they not gone through it themselves, it's sad to say--but in all honestly, I probably wouldn't have believed them.

I am grateful that I have a Savior who loves me enough to carry the burden for me. I am grateful for the knowledge the gospel gives me that I can turn to my Savior, for He has felt the pain I have felt.

So, while I will never forget our angel, Angelina, I have recognized that I can think about her now without pain or burden. I can carry on and be freed from the weight I carried. ...and how remarkable that is!!!

So, while I plan to leave this blog up to share our story, this will be my last post on this blog. Thank you for reading and allowing me to share what we have gone through and what we have learned. I have learned so much and we have been so blessed to have this experience....I will never forget what we have learned, and more importantly, what we have gained--a greater understanding and appreciation for our Savior, Jesus Christ.

If you have suffered or feel pain from something that you or someone you know have gone through, please click on the above link to find hope, peace and comfort. I know you will find it there--I did.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

April 1

I know I haven't posted on this site for a while....I have had many experiences in the past few months that I am just not ready to share yet. We are approaching the year mark of our sweet baby girl...April 1, 2009.

I have mixed emotions about it....am I sad because that is what is expected from me? Am I supposed to mope around all the days leading up to this great milestone? Or am I supposed to be happy and not allow myself to go to "that place" emotionally? What are we even "supposed" to do on April 1?

And honestly, I can't believe a year has gone by already. And what I have come to terms with for my own self, is that I need to keep myself busy. I don't want to wallow in self-pity and negative thoughts, I want to REMEMBER what we learned and gained from one of the hardest times in our lives.

So, I am going to be grateful that we have an angel watching over us--and have had an angel watching over us for the past year.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sandwiched between two holidays

I have been meaning to post, but obviously haven't. Around Thanksgiving, I wanted to write my feelings in regards to how grateful I am to be blessed with Angelina and to have gone through what we did. Like I have said many times before, I am grateful for going through our experience, but I never want to go through it again. Angelina is our baby girl in heaven, and I think about her daily.

In reference to the title of this post, I feel sandwiched between two holidays. Thanksgiving was one where I was extremely grateful for Angelina, and for the knowledge we have of the gospel, and for the love and support and comfort we felt and continue to feel from many different sources. And soon Christmas will be upon us. Last year, we found out on Christmas day that I was pregnant with Angelina. It was a definite shock and surprise but an extremely joyous one, nonetheless. However, this year, it is the official "one year mark" of everything we went through. And surprisingly, a very hard reality to think about and face. Perhaps it is hard because I am still not pregnant. Or perhaps it is hard because the time of year reminds me of the previous year. Or... perhaps it is just hard.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Where to turn...

The other night while we were sitting down for dinner, I had the thought, "we should have a baby about two and a half months old right now with us at this table." Obviously this thought could lead to two different paths... the first being "but we don't" which would inevitably lead to negative, self-pity thoughts. And the second path being a more positive, constructive, confidence in the knowledge we have been given because of our beliefs path.

Ultimately, I believe we need to grieve our loss. But I believe we can allow that grievance to make us stronger or pull us down. And I choose to let our loss be a spot of happiness, peace, and comfort because we know we will be with our baby girl again. It doesn't make the loss less or easier, but it makes it bearable. And I know as I focus on what we know and how we felt when she was born, I won't allow myself to spiral downwards in a self-pity cycle.

My dear friend, Emily, whom I admire and love very much, posted this on her blog and I am passing it along....I think it sums up this post perfectly.

"... Your joy is your sorrow unmasked. And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears. And how else can it be? The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven? And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives? When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy." -Kahlil Gibran

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

July 22, 2009--The Funeral

July 22, 2009 was the day that the hospital held a funeral for all babies who had passed away earlier in the year...and that day included our sweet Angelina.

I don't know how the hospital organizes it exactly, but we elected to go this route. The hospital holds a memorial service for babies who have died between certain periods of time and then holds a memorial and burial service three times a year. So perhaps they do this once in the spring, once in summer and once in the fall/winter time.

A lot of time had obviously passed between when Angelina was born (April 1) and when the burial was (July 22). Immediately following our loss, I truly was upheld in the Lord's hands. I truly, truly was. I was at peace, I knew where our baby girl was and I knew what it meant for our family. I knew she was ours and that she was in the Lord's hands now and that we will see her after this life. Looking back, I feel as if I was "the strong one" throughout the entire process for those around us. Not in the sense that Taylor was a mess and needed me--in the sense that so many people wanted to see us and talk to us and know what happened and we would tell our story over and over. Well when the initial news seemed to calm down, and once all the healing had taken place physically, we began to wonder when the funeral was.

I called and asked, no one knew for another week. Well when I finally found out when the funeral would take place, a new wave of emotions came upon me. It felt as if I had blocked some emotions from coming through because I was "being the strong one"...and then all of a sudden, I was experiencing a whole new set of emotions I had never dealt with...I guess it was as if to say reality set in. The funeral was very hard on me, more importantly, leading up to the funeral was hard on me. It was hard to know what to expect and how being at the grave site would actually affect me.

I don't remember how many babies were in the casket. There were several families there, I wondered what they were thinking and how they handled what they were going through.

I have learned that I am not a public crier. When in public, I really try to choke back tears. I don't really like that because I think it is very therapeutic to cry and allow emotions to surface. At the start of the service I couldn't hold it in though--the hospital said some words and then we broke off to the side and did our own thing. My dad spoke and then Taylor spoke and dedicated the grave site. It was beautiful and I am very grateful for their willingness and worthiness to do what they did.

We met a couple at the service who experienced a similar thing and were also of our beliefs. Taylor's Aunt and Uncle knew and recognized them...turns out they actually knew us and babysat us many years prior. I just thought it was neat to meet and we have kept in touch since.
July 22 was a sacred day in our family. While we physically laid our baby girl to rest, I am grateful to know she is watching over us and waiting for us. It is comforting and peaceful to know we have a guardian angel watching over us. It is comforting to know that the Lord trusted us to provide a way for our baby girl to enter the world but that she was too precious to live on earth. We love our Heavenly Father and our baby girl and everything that comes with it.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Brave, really?

I've been having a few of the same thoughts lately, forgive me if they don't all come out making sense.

In starting this blog, I have received many comments via blog, facebook and email about how brave I am to share our story. I've sincerely appreciated all those comments, but have never felt "brave." To me, sharing the story is essentially what you would find on our medical records. Sharing my testimony with our story simply goes hand in hand. Literally--I do not know how I would have gotten through our experience without our beliefs.

But brave?

I don't feel brave. I don't feel so brave when a dear friend of mine recently had a baby and I can't bring myself to go see her or her baby because I am not sure how it will affect me. I don't feel brave when I was recently at a baby shower and wanted to break down in tears when I saw the tiny newborn clothes because all I could think about was that I should be holding a newborn. Or when I am at a store and see people with two, three, four, etc kids and think that I have two but physically can see only one. Or even seeing car seats because I wish I was carrying one. Or when Isaac pretends to take care of his "Elmo" doll I can't help but think what a great big brother he would be (will be). Or at church when it's testimony meeting and all I want to bear my testimony about is how this experience has drawn me closer to my Savior but since I said that the month before and everyone already knows our story, I probably shouldn't get up. Or in Relief Society when our lesson is about families and the question is asked, "how has it changed your perspective knowing that your family is eternal?" -- because really, I could get up and talk the whole time on that subject but instead I am sitting on the back row fighting back tears because again--the whole Relief Society already knows my story and I fear I sound like a broken record.

I guess my point is--I am always thinking about Angelina and some days I struggle more than others. Someone once asked me how I was doing but feared that I was 'in a good place' (i.e. not thinking about Angelina) so they were scared by bringing it up it might "set me off" (i.e. the tear-works). But truth be told, I am always thinking about Angelina. Angelina has changed my life for the better. I remember one night, Taylor and I were watching TV and I don't remember if it was a commercial or a show but this little girl--who knows, maybe 4 or 5 years old--comes on the screen and it was almost breath taking because there was silence for a second and I said, "she looks like she could be our daughter." Instantly, Taylor said he was thinking the same thing.

I know the Lord blesses us and strengthens us in many ways and for that I am grateful. I don't write these things for way of looking for sympathy, it is just my candid, what I go through, what I think type of things that occur to me while experiencing this loss. These thoughts are just real. Am I upset, angry? Not at all. Just miss my baby girl.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Recent Thoughts

So much has happened in the last ten months or so, and this blog has only been in existence for a week or less, so allow me to intermix the past with the present until I can get everything I want in writing.

Today I want to record a few recent thoughts. First, a few days ago, I was around a number of people--some I hadn't seen in a long time. One gal asked if I had two kids and then said, "Or is it one?" I said I have Isaac and was actually pregnant earlier this year and lost the pregnancy which was followed by, "So I have two kids, but one living." Of course this ensued the "ohh's" which made me go into more detail. However, it was just weird--"it" being the conversation. And all I can say to explain this is that I felt like it had been so long since I talked about Angelina to those who had no idea that I didn't know how to talk about what we went through. "Weird" right? I concluded that it just wasn't the right setting to go into great detail or length.

Secondly, we were challenged as women in our church to complete the new Young Women value experiences and project for "virtue." I was really excited about this and gladly took on the challenge. At the start of this challenge I was really struggling over the fact of how much I missed Angelina. There are times that I think, "I should be holding a newborn baby right now," or when I see baby clothes and think of my baby girl in them or even when I see others having to take care of crying babies and wishing that was me. You have no idea how much I yearn to have another child right now, and again, perhaps that is part of my trial. So I continue to exercise faith in the Lord's will and timing of all things. An aspect of having a child on the other side of the veil is that I pray daily to feel her influence in my and our family's life. At this particular time, Angelina was constantly in my thoughts...I really needed a "lift me up." So this challenge from our church couldn't have come at a better time.

One of the value experiences had us read in 2 Nephi 32:1-5. In verses 2 & 3 it reads:

"Do ye not remember that I said unto you that after ye had received the Holy Ghost ye could speak with the tongue of angels? ... Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do."

I cannot even tell you how welcoming and inspiring these verses were to me on that particular day--and still are today. I know that I can speak to Angelina and feel her spirit and influence on this side of the veil through the gift of the Holy Ghost. What a reminder these verses were to me to live in a way that keep me worthy and righteous to keep that line of communication open with my baby girl.

A few days after that experience, I finished the "value experiences" and began the "value project" which is to read the entire Book of Mormon. Again, I saw the Lord's hand work miracles in my life.

I started in the very first chapter and in the very first verse. In that verse it reads, "...and having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days..." I have read this verse many times and never has this line stuck out to me before. In reading a book titled "Doctrinal commentary on the Book of Mormon," I came across this reference to the aforementioned verse:

"Life was not intended to be easy. The path of righteousness, that course leading to eternal life, is ever an upward climb and hence uninviting to many. Nephi saw afflictions and blessings as compatible companions. Surely anything that brings us nearer to God is a blessing."

This commentary coupled with the verse in the scriptures also hit me like a ton of brick, because I 100 percent agree with it. We knew when we went through everything that we would accept the Lord's will. We knew that. And I believe that because we allowed the Lord in our lives at a very hard and difficult time, we saw many blessings along the way. This commentary has become a new "motto" for me, if you will..."Surely anything that brings us nearer to God is a blessing." ...perhaps that is something I can always say now when I talk about Angelina.