Saturday, July 30, 2011

Another 100 steps - Grocery Store

My assignment this week from my online photography course was to take 100 steps and find something inspiring or beautiful to photograph ... it can be challenging to find the inspiring or beautiful in everyday life. I had to run to the grocery store one evening this weekend ... and I thought why not try it. So here we go:

First step into the store ... start counting

Here is what I saw at 100 steps:

Then I noticed this, and I certainly believe anytime you combined chocolate
and marshmallow it is a thing of truly delicious beauty:

Then I found some other yummy things to take pictures of:

And finally what I came for :

So many choices:

Has anyone tried this? I don't think I would like spicy popcorn ... hmmm...

Time to check out:

Friday, July 29, 2011

Music from above ...

Its been a rough few days and since the memorial servive for our Journey is coming up in one week ... I suppose it will only get rougher for a bit. I cry a lot ... I find it almost impossible to sleep most nights ... I drift off around 4 am, but then kids are up between 7 and 8 am ... I'm a very tired sleepy mommy. But night time gets here and I just lay awake thinking ... wondering ... talking to my self ... praying ... worrying ... praying some more.

This morning I could barely keep my eyes open as I drove my two eldest kids to help out at our church's VBS. On my way home I was talking with God and the next thing I know I am hearing Amy Grant singing Better Than a Hallelujah coming from my car radio:

and then the next song that came on was Blessings by Laura Story:

Some times God sends his message in music from above

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Saw this little button today on someone's blog today and thought of us:

The little picture is from ... and when I started browsing around I also found this link to Photography Styles, its been very fun to browse through all the different photos

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Memorial Service ... and Burial ... and me just rambling

I've been wanting to write about the upcoming service for our sweet Journey since we met and talked with Sister Fran Donnelly at Resurrection Cemetery last week ... but for some reason or another I have not let myself sit down and write about it yet ... its not like the reality of loss can be avoided, it slaps me in the face every day. But writing about a burial service seems so final. We've spent two months thinking of where to bury Journey's remains ... we left the hospital with Journey's remains in a sort of jar inside a tiny container or coffin. I am glad we were able to do that ... I am glad that his remains came home with us, as odd as that sounds. But now the idea of turning his remains over to a mortuary so he can be buried is making me a basket case. I know and believe that the moment his heart stopped beating he was taken to the arms of Jesus, he is perfect and happy and joyful right now at the feet our God and Creator in Heaven. I know that what we have in this container is just his remains ... his broken, too weak to live here on earth body. But perhaps because that is all I have of him ... it hurts so much to let it go. I just want to be pregnant and give birth to my little baby!!!! I really don't want to be making these plans. But since I can't have what I so desperately want ... I am doing the best I can to have a place to remember him. I have let my stomach get all tied up in knots wondering where we should bury him? should we have a service? whats the best way to do this? can we afford this? will I make a decision now that I will regret later? I guess you can see why I am a basket case most days.

I feel there will never be a perfect or ideal scenario for burying one's child. Because losing a child in pregnancy or at anytime destroys any hope of life ever being perfect or ideal again. But I do know from experience that months or years later there can be regrets. We have lost babies to miscarriage before, and I very quietly and privately buried their remains in our own back yard. There was no service, I made no marker, but it was comforting for me to do this for them and comforting to me that I knew where they were buried. I often wished over the years that I had pushed for something more formal, that someone besides me had recognized and remembered their little lives. But I don't think anyone would have understood ... and I did not have the energy to fight the attitudes of those around me. It was all I could do to carry on with daily life and care for my living children, that took every ounce of the little energy I had left. Its such a lonely and sad way to feel. So when we lost Journey in May this year, I knew it could not be that way again ... I needed to have what I needed this time. I'm older, stronger, hopefully wiser and I have a better support system this time. And I believe in my heart that Journey is every bit as much a gift and a blessing as the 5 children who are still living here on earth with me. God created and formed each one of my 9 children (Psalm 139) ... He does not love one more than another, why does this world expect me to cherish and love my living children more or differently than the children who have gone to heaven before me? If any of our 5 living children were to die and go on to heaven before me, we would of course have a funeral and a burial and I would be expected and allowed to grieve beyond a week or two.

Our sweet Journey Peace was only 12 weeks gestation ... so no one expects us to have a service or burial, but how do I get closure without something like that? Its horrible to try move on with life feeling like everyone else has forgotten this sweet little baby that i so deeply loved and wanted ... still love and still want. And truthfully I am not even sure I want "closure" ... because to me that sounds like I'm closing those memories and feelings up in a box and forgetting about my baby ... moving on with life as if he never existed. I know thats what many people expect, but I know he existed!!! He was here and alive inside of me ... his heart was beating ... we loved him and dreamed of our family with him in it. It hurts so much to change our dreams, to no longer be counting down the days and weeks ... no longer be looking forward to ultrasounds and appointments ... to walk by baby clothes in the store and know there is no reason to buy them. I want him here so badly ... Some days I can make my way numbly through the day without tears, but then there are days like today, when I think of him all day long and my eyes hurt from crying so much. Why is it so wrong for me to grieve ... to want to honor his memory? Why do I feel I need to defend this need? How could anyone ever see an ultrasound with a tiny heart beating away and still try to tell me its not really a baby? its not really a big enough loss? Why would people think I can just "go home and hug the kids you do have, and that will make it better" or "forget this unfortunate pregnancy and move on." WHAT???!!!! Right now, please imagine those cartoons where the character is angry and steam is blowing out his ears and eyes and his face goes beat red as his head starts to spin and then suddenly BAM!!! The character blows up from the intense pressure. That is me lately, so full of emotions I might just explode! Why do people put mothers of miscarriage through this? Its insane! And it probably adds to why so many of us often feel like we are going insane. Really? Is it that insane to miss something we so loved and wanted?!?

I guess I know why I've been hesitant to write about this for the past week ... there has been a lot of stuff bubbling up inside of me. I suppose a blog about my journey through loss is as good a place as any to let all the bubbling out ...
I must not be the only one who feels this way about our babies, our miscarriages and lour losses, because since Journey's heart stopped beating May 4th, I have found so much more support than ever before. I'm grateful for modern technology and the way it has helped connect me with others who understand what I am feeling and going through. I'm grateful to all the brave moms that stepped out and had the energy and courage to defend their feelings and desires to remember their angel babies. I'm grateful for the books and articles and forums those moms wrote and share. I'm grateful I have been able to read so many women's stories of loss, and grateful for the bible study on pregnancy and baby loss I am taking part in and the photograph course for baby loss mothers that I am doing ... and I am grateful to Resurrection Cemetery for providing an opportunity for moms and families of miscarriage to bury our babies and grieve. As much as I would love to have a service and a burial and a grave marker just for our sweet tiny baby, Journey Peace, its proving not to be financially possible. I just hate how money and finances affect everything (that is a whole other post all on its own for another time). But I know I am not alone in this. And places like Resurrection Cemetery are doing wonderful things like quarterly burial services free of charge for families who would like to take part. Our baby, Journey Peace, will be buried with other angel babies who died before they could be born. There will be a a service and a grave marker with an angel on it and a date ... just not any names, as there will be quite a few buried together. I am so thankful for the kind and compassionate people who came up with this idea and who donate their time and money to make this happen. I will have a grave to visit, a place I can lay flowers if I so choose. An if we do decide to donate money to Resurrection Cemetery at some point in the future, they are building a Children's Memorial Garden by their beautiful pond, they have a statue of Rachel weeping there and a memorial wall facing the pond where children's names can be engraved. So, though we will not have Journey's name engraved on a grave marker I do hope we can one day place his name on that wall. I can't put into words why this is important or helpful or healing ... I wish I could. Maybe then other's would understand. Maybe then other mom's would not be expected to move on with life without first grieving and seeking the kind of closure or healing they need.

Last night I took our small coffin with Journey's remains to our back yard and i started snapping pictures ... because that is what I have learned will help me heal. Is it what every baby loss mom should do? No, certainly not. Everyone's loss is different, everyone has different feeling and they get expressed in so many different ways. There is really no right way to grieve. Each of us should be allowed to find our way, to grieve or cry when we need to, to sing or dance or creat or photograph or talk when we need to ... I'm learning step by step and maybe by sharing what I am learning I'll help another baby loss mom, or the friend of another baby loss mom. Or maybe its just the path God has me on to help me heal ...

It is what it is:

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Illuminate Week 2 - Light!

For the next few weeks I will be taking part in an online photography course called Illuminate, taught by a sweet new friend and baby loss mom Beryl, from Be Young Photography

For week two of our Illuminate e-corse we are looking at, watching, and writing about light. What does light mean to us? Where do we find it? And then we are taking pictures in different lights, thinking of what kind of lighting we feel most drawn to, thinking about how differnt types of lighting bring out different types of emotions and connections.

So here I am trying to think about light ... what does it mean to me? Where does my light come from? Why is it so important? I think I'm having mental block ... maybe making this harder than it needs to be, so thought I would look for quotes or sayings about "light":

"Lights camera action"

"Lets shed some light on that shall we?"

"Sometimes our light goes out but is blown into flame by another human being. Each of us owes deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this light."
Albert Schweitzer

"God didn't promise days without pain, laughter without sorrow, sun without rain, but He did promise strength for the day, comfort for the tears, and light for the way."

And God said, “Let there be light,”
and there was light.
God saw that the light was good
Genesis 1:3-4

You save the humble
but bring low those whose eyes are haughty.
You, LORD, keep my lamp burning;
my God turns my darkness into light.
Psalm 18:27-29(NIV)

The LORD wraps himself in light as with a garment;
he stretches out the heavens like a tent
Psalm 104:2

When our world goes dark around us, what do we do? Seems to me human beings have forever looked for ways to light up the darkness. Torches, campfires, lanterns, candles, lightbulbs ... my kids treasure their night lights and flashlights. We have this need to illuminate things and push the darkness away.

My life has felt very dark this summer ... sadness and grief take their toll. My bed and sleep have been where I go to get away from reality, to get a away from the world. And then even when I get out into the world I feel exhausted ... like I'm making my way through a strange unfamiliar place with a tiny candle to see where I am going. Its strange because I feel like I am missing out on much that is happening all around me ... but I'm not ready for bright light to reveal all that is there.

I've been a bit obsessed with candles lately. After losing Journey we were given four memorial candles ... which I thought was so nice. We are newly grieving for Journey but really this grief reopened the older wounds of all our losses. I love that they can all be acknowledged together. But I see this tiny amount of light from a candle very much resembles where I am at. My world feels very dark ... but there are glimmers of hope ... I can't see very far ahead or very much of my surroundings, but the candle does illuminate enough to make my way around and it does penetrate through darkness.

I decided to photograph my candles on their window sill at different times of the day. The end results were very different depending on if and where the sun was shinning. I love the glow from the candles when there was very little other light. But I also love the morning photo with sun beams streaming in ... almost like rays of hope and love being sent to me from above.

My last three photos are certainly of light ... sunlight. They were taken from my car window as I drove out of our neighborhood. I was just inspired by the morning sun and beautiful clouds. I really still wanted to be hiding under my covers, but I had forced myself to get up and go out. Made my self go out into the sunshine and the world for my twelve year old son. I was on my way to his baseball tournament so I stopped long enough to shoot three quick pictures. These were taken while I was stopped at a stop sign, but I switched modes on my Cannon Powershot (point -n-shoot) camera between each shot:

My camera was on macro (I had been photographing baby blocks the night before)

I switched to the "sunset" mode for the next shot:

Then switched to the "action/kids" mode:

I had not planned on these pictures being able to represent me or my grief ... but today while I was looking at them it occurred to me that physically these pictures are almost exactly the same ... taken from the same location on the same day (in the same minute of time) ... houses, trees, street lamp ... nothing moved, nothing changed ... yet with one click of a button on a my camera the end result is drastically different. To many people my life now looks exactly the same as it did before my first miscarriage, many people expect the same Heather they knew before ... but with one "click of a button" (one silent ultrasound picture)I am now drastically different. Loss has changed me ... there is no going back to who I was. All my parts may be in the same place ... I may look the same physically, but I am not the same at all. My world is painted a whole different color. And I'm trying to come to terms with the fact that I will never be the same as I was before and I will never see the world as I did before. I'm sure there will be a new me to emerge from this journey ... a more broken, but perhaps stronger me. How I wish I could explain it better, so those around me could understand. But then, I guess its taken me almost 6 years to even begin to understand ...

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Beautiful Creations For My Angel Babies

These prints were created for me by Ronda Spalding from Sparrow Farm She makes such beautiful cards and prints and she has very reasonable prices for memorial pieces. I would love for all my friends to stop by her site and see her amazing work.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Medical answers ... or lack there of ...

Often, moms who have suffered through repeated miscarriages will ask multitudes of questions and seek some answers ...

Why did this happen?
Is there something wrong with my uterus?
Is there something we could have done medically?
Did I do something I should not have done?
Will it happen again if I get pregnant again?

I am no different and I have asked those questions and many more of my doctor. We agreed to run several blood tests (ok, more like dozens)and possibly a hysteropingogram after my next cycle. I got a call today that the labs came back very good ... nothing showing up like genetic mutations, or clotting disorders. My thyroid, blood sugars and hemoglobin are within the normal ranges. We knew, from blood work during my pregnancies, that my progesterone was very low and this latest blood work shows my Vitamin D is almost non existent (even though I am on a vitamin D supplement). So I will need even more vitamin D and if/when we get pregnant again I will need progesterone supplements. We do know that I have 2 uteruses and 2 cervixes so the shape and anatomy of my uterus could be a factor in having had 4 miscarriages. This is why my doctor would like the hysteropingogram, it basically involves injecting dye into the uterus (or in my case both uteruses) and then taking several x-rays to see where the dye goes. It gives an idea of the shape and cavity of the uterus. Sounds less than enjoyable, right? I'm still up in the air as to whether or not we will do it, still waiting to hear if insurance will cover it, for one thing. And since my body has been able to hold 5 successful pregnancies in the last 15 years I'm not convinced its a necessary step. But I suppose the image of my unique didelphic uterus would be of interest to my OB doctor.

In our case I suspect we will find no definite medical answers. Could my uteruses be the cause ... yes, but I have had successful pregnancies before, as have other women with dipephic uteruses. Could my low progesterone be the cause ... yes, but I have never needed them in previous pregnancies. So now we wait upon God ... Continue to trust that he does indeed have a plan for our family. I meditate on scripture and breath daily prayers ... trying to bring my emotions along side what my head knows.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Balloons to Heaven

Some times I just feel the need to send love and kisses and
balloons up to my angel babies in heaven.

I love all my children ... even the ones I can not hold and see here on earth

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Illuminate Week 1 - Write a letter

For the next few weeks I will be taking part in an online photography course called Illuminate, taught by a sweet new friend and baby loss mom Beryl, from Be Young Photography

For our first week's writing assignment Beryl has asked us to write a letter to our baby or babies. This has been extremely over whelming for me. I've tried to start a letter several times, only to tearfully give up. I guess I was stressing about whether I should write to Journey, the baby we just lost in May, or if i should try write to all my angel babies. I think writing to all four just seems too overwhelming so for now I think I will try addressing my letter to just Journey. So ... deep breath, sigh, and here we go ...

My dear sweet baby Journey~

Two months ago I cried so hard that I could no longer carry you inside of me ... I carried you for 12 weeks, and the last 10 days of that knowing you had already passed. We saw your beautiful heart beating twice (at 6 weeks and again at 8 weeks), but at the next ultrasound everything was so still and silent. Although I carried your tiny body inside of mine, you were already in heaven. I knew it made no sense to continue carrying you in my womb, but oh how I hated the thought of letting them take you from me ...

I just kept asking my self Why? WHY? Why was this happening aging? I'm sure you know already that you have three siblings in heaven ... so this was the fourth time I had to say good bye ... the fourth time my life shattered and my heart tore open ... the fourth time I had to deal with the blood and the pain and the empty arms ... the forth time I had to give up the dream of kissing, rocking, nursing and holding my baby. Oh Journey, how my arms long to hold you!!! In my mind I sometimes ask God why He could not have waited another month or so till you were just a bit older ... so I could have truly seen you and held you, had tiny foot prints and photos to cherish while we are apart. Obviously there is no answer, I don't know why and perhaps it would only have made me hurt that much more. I don't know ...

What I do know is the love and the hurt ... I miss you so much it hurts ... my chest aches and my arms feel this dull throbbing pain. I don't share about that pain often because I'm sure most people would think its all in my head. I know so many think "you really can't love or miss something you never had". But Baby, I did have you ... you were supposed to be safe inside me, I knew you were there for weeks, felt such relief when we heard and saw your little beating heart, I treasured you and loved you from the moment I suspected I was pregnant ... and sweet Baby Journey I still do! And I will miss you as long as I live. I don't understand why I don't get to parent you here on earth, I suppose I will never understand that until I see you in heaven.

I know that you are happy there in Heaven. I know you have great-grandparents that probably dote and love on you and I've dreamt of auntie Missy holding you and rocking you and playing with you other siblings there ... that brings me such comfort. I know that Heaven is perfect, with no tears, no pain, no evil ... but the world I'm left behind in is full of tears and pain. I guess my job now is to figure out my purpose here, what is it that I am still here to do? Your journey was much shorter than mine and now you are at peace (that very thought is how we got your name: Journey Peace Sauerbrey) My journey will be much longer, but one day, some day we will be together again. Now i ask how do I carry on in such a way that I bring grace and glory to the Lord our God and how can I move forward honoring your little life with my life? Oh! If only I could figure that all out. I must be meant to carry on (I'm still here) ... to finish something here on earth, but most days I feel so lost and I have no energy ... I keep praying for clarity, for vision and for energy ... that God might point me in the direction of where He wants me to go. So today I wait ... I pray and I wait ... and I cry some too.

I won't ever forget you sweet baby Journey, your mama will always cherish and love you. I will blow kisses up to you and send balloons up to you when I want to celebrate specials days. I will light candles and remember you. I will tell others about you and I will comfort others who hurt like I do. I hope you are proud of me, I hope you know how much we loved and wanted you. If you don't mind sending me a few butterflies as kisses every now and then I would sure love that.

Love Always & Forever ~ Your Mama

The other part to our assignment this week was to turn the camera on ourselves and take 3-5 self portraits during the week that tell the story of how we are feeling in this moment following our loss. This part was hard for me too, because I still feel like I'm on an emotional merry-go-round and roller coaster all wrapped into one. I am often exhausted by the end of the day from all the different high energy emotions I am experiencing. Swinging from one extreme to the other is taxing on my energy, my attitude, and my ability to cope. But even when I want to collapse life continues to move along, dates arrive, kids need attention and love ... so intermixed with all the sad and pain are definitely moments of peace and joy. I wondered if I would really be able to capture that reality.

I kept my camera handy this week and caught several different emotions ... keep in mind there were actually dozens more ... but these are what I captured:

Depression & exhaustion are ugly ... but the truth is that most mornings still start this way. I'd rather stay in bed than face the world.

Feeling drained (almost literally)after a morning doctor appointment.

Getting fresh air and a date with my sweet hubby always helps me to relax. We enjoyed a beautiful walk and some beautiful scenery together.

He really is my wonderful support ... I'm so in love!

We were excited to be offered tickets to watch a MN Twins game from an air conditioned suite on Sunday (on our 18th wedding anniversary). But even in the excitement of kids and ball games exhaustion can hit and I fell a sleep!

But I did wake up and I did have a good day and enjoyed being with the gorgeous man I married 18 years ago

I know I don't need any more pictures added to this assignment but there was a very healing moment for me today that I wanted to share. I had wanted to take part in The Compassionate Friends Walk To Remember held about 25 minutes from my house in Mpls, MN today. But weather and air quality being what they were today (bad!) we decided it would not be a wise decision to take part in the walk because of my asthma and my 5 year old's heat sensitive medical issues ... I was so sad at first, then I decided to take the signs I was going to carry in the walk and go buy some balloons and just send my love up to our angels on my own, right from my back yard. I'm sure the neighbors think I'm a bit crazy, but I don't care ... it felt really good and healing to just send up a little "we love you!".

Even before I knew we would not get to walk I had planned to try include each of my new friends from my Illuminate Photography Course. I'm sure their angel babies and my angel babies are enjoying heaven's playground together and I wanted to send love to all of them, so I wrote colorful names on a piece of paper. When I could not carry it in the walk I just attached it to the balloons: