I'm sure most people have heard that line from Winnie the Pooh. I heard it in my head all day Friday. I felt like there was a dark rain cloud hovering over my head wherever I went. Everthing has been going so well, I just don't understand what has thrown me into this state of sadness. I really felt like I had lost Matthew all over again.
I was trying to pinpoint the reason, but couldn't really determine it. Was it the Sudafed that was making me feel loopy, was it the current medical situation with Abbie (Abbie has mild bi-lateral VUR, somewhat similar to PUV), or is it just something about 7 months?
Whatever the cause, I am feeling somewhat better today. I've decided to finish the Bible Study book that I had started after Matthew died, Threads of Hope Pieces of Joy. I got through the first four chapters originally, then just stopped. I still consider myself new to this grief thing, and I pray that finishing the book will bring me to a new step of grief, and past this stage, whatever it may be.
On a different note, me, my mom and the kids drove to Jacksonville, FL (about 3 hours north of me) on Friday evening and stayed in a hotel there. We got up in the morning (Saturday) and went to the 5K run and family festival for the Fetal Hope Foundation. There was a great turnout there which inluded families of both survivors and angels. I posted Matthew's picture and story on the Wall of Hope, and ran the 5k in his memory. I won't even post my time on here, because I'm surely not much of a runner...more of a run for several yards, walk for several more yards kinda girl. I prefer to lift weights. LOL. It was a very nice time, we got back yesterday around 6 PM, and my body is paying for it today. :) The picture on here is the balloon release that was done in memory of the angels lost.
Last weekend, Abbie went to a water park with her cousin, so I had the opportunity to spend some special time with Raleigh. We went to a town near New Smyrna Beach and met up with my brother who lives near there. Our first stop was at Ponce Inlet Lighthouse, which is the second tallest in the U.S. 202 steps up and 202 back down. Raleigh was a trooper and didn't complain once! I on the other hand, was getting claustrophobic on the way up and had to stop for a break. The view at the top, however, was amazing and well worth the climb.
There were several buildings surrounding the lighthouse that were built in the 1800s with memorabilia and all sorts of historical artifacts. I love history, so it was right up my alley!
We next stopped at a marine science center where they rescue injured sea turtles and birds. And what's a trip to New Smyrna Beach without going to the beach? I couldn't believe how much nicer the beach was there than the one where I live. What a difference an hour makes! It was absolutely wonderful and the water was so shallow and clean looking. I didn't have to worry about a drop off like we have at our beach. Raleigh could run out into the water and the water level never rose above his knees. Beautiful...
6 months. Wow. I can't believe how the time has gone by. It is such a significant time, yet I don't have much to say. Why is it that time seems to crawl ever so slowly when you are pregnant, but with an event such as the loss of a loved one when you want everything to be at a standstill, it goes lightening fast? I never quite got that.
Six months is such an adorable age when they really start to show their little personalities. I was thinking today about what he would have been like and what he would have been doing. Grabbing his little toes, crawling all over the place, giving me the biggest toothless grin...
We went to the cemetery this evening, and it was Josh's second time back since after the funeral. It had been atleast 2 months for me. I felt peace this time. Perhaps it was because we were all together, but it was the first time that I didn't shed a tear. I sat on the ground with Raleigh in my lap and we talked about his baby brother and how special he was and still is to our family. God has given me such a treasure in my family and I am such a lucky mommy!
Originally I was going to post on the great weekend we have had so far, but I will have to do that another day, because a different post is taking precendence over that one. Raleigh and I went to church this morning and I heard such an amazing message that really spoke to me today, and I felt really compelled to share it and how it relates to my life. It was called "The Overflowing Lifestyle."
It was about doing things to become filled with the Holy Spirit so much that the Holy Spirit in you is overflowing and you begin to share Him with others.
I can say that three months ago, that was completely me. I was reading my Bible daily, doing my devotions, talking to to God several times a day, and finally knew what it really meant to have a real relationship with Jesus Christ. I was sharing Him with others and it was so exciting to feel what I was feeling! Since going back to work in May, the Holy Spirit has been slowly "leaking" out of me. I was afraid it would happen...working for 10 hours a day, pick up kids, come home and cook dinner, baths, books, bed. Such a routine, and it's hard to break. Church on Wednesdays and Sundays, nothing in between. Just going through the motions.
I am not quite filled with the Holy Spirit, and I am definitely not overflowing to where I am sharing the Word with others. My Pastor shared with us a wonderful statement today: God has placed us here to touch lives. We touch them, God changes them. So true. Even if we are totally filled with the Spirit, what good is it really if we are not sharing that with others and changing their lives? Ok...yes, it's still good, but we need to be passing on the wonderful message! I have prayed that by sharing my story on the blog, that people might be touched. And they have. I have met so many wonderful blogging women on here and I am so grateful that we are able to share our stories and lift each other up in times of praise, hardship, sadness, and other emotions that we may go through. I am touched by reading about their lives and how their faith lives on through the most difficult of situations, so thank you all for sharing!
As for where I'm at spiritually at this moment, I can't stand it. I NEED that relationship that I had, BACK! No, I haven't turned into some horrible person, but I am missing out on the most important thing in my life! The one thing that got me to this wonderful place I am at now, that saved my marriage and gave me new life- God! I am a Christ Follower on a mission to get back what has been lost, and I know He will lead the way.
The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Isaiah 58:11
First off, let me say that I am not pregnant. But, another baby has been on our minds, a lot. Josh and I have been talking about when the best timing would be for our family financially, but emotionally I have no idea when I will be ready or if our timing will be right. It is definitely something we will have to pray on to make sure we make good decisions and to let the Lord guide us, but we do have a certain month in mind right now.
I have been having these strong urges that I just want a baby now, and it's really hard just to try and clear them away, because they don't seem to be going anywhere! I don't know if this is a step in the grieving process where my body and mind are saying that they are missing a baby, or if it's the real deal and the time may be coming again.
Abbie and Raleigh have also been talking about another baby. Raleigh just turned four yesterday, and he was expressing to me last week that it wasn't fair that our baby is in Heaven, but his friend's baby (sister or brother) is here on earth. I have a hard time dealing with that, because it is so hard for them to understand at that age, especially since I don't completely understand.
It has been five months that have gone by too quickly. No one could ever replace Matthew, and I will never forget him. I look forward to advice from anyone who has had a baby (or currently pregnant) after a loss.
Raleigh has a pair of cowboy boots. My dad was over last week, and asked me why I got him cowboy boots. I replied simply that Raleigh REALLY wanted some. And he did. Well...ok, I did too, but only because he insisted on wearing his sister's girly boots everywhere at the time.
There is more behind that story, and I was thinking about it again today. When I was 18 weeks along with Matthew, I received the call from the fetal surgeon's office that they had decided not to do in-utero surgery to give him a shunt which would possibly relieve his obstruction. My husband as you may know, was three hours away at a month-long training class during this devastating time. So after I got off the phone with the surgeon's office, I spent the next hour crying on the couch. I had to force myself to get up, makeup running down my face, to pick up the kids from daycare before they closed.
And now what? It was just me, the kids, and my baby that I just wanted to pretend wasn't even there anymore. So I figured the only way to get through this would be to pretend I wasn't even pregnant. Perfect, right? Yeah, I don't think so. We pulled up to Wal-Mart and my hubby calls. I told him I wasn't pregnant anymore. Ok.....so then he asked me if the baby's name was going to be Matthew. "What baby? I am NOT pregnant!" I gave in and spoke few words, very reluctantly. Apparently I had told his mom that the baby was going to be named Matthew, but neglected to tell my husband, who found out through his mom. Oooops. Sorry hun. Atleast that's what he says, but I think he just tuned me out when I informed him.
Next stop...the shoe store. This is a big coping tool of mine, and probably every other woman out there as well. The kids and I all picked out a pair of shoes, including a pair of boots three sizes too big for Raleigh, and I threw in a new purse as well. Did we really have the money for all that? Nope. Did I care? Nope. I realized today that purse is the same one I am still carrying, which is why I wanted to post on it, because it's significant to me. Little did I realize that I carry with me everywhere, this purse that made me feel surprisingly better after learning that my son would likely die after he would be born. Now, this definitely wasn't the answer to my problems, and I will admit that I don't believe I turned to Christ that night for comfort. I was looking for the quickest way out to make me feel better, and it was a temporary fix. Maybe for an hour.
I would love to hear how anyone else coped with finding about about their baby's diagnosis if anyone wants to share. Have a blessed weekend!
This was last weeks topic for Sufficient Grace Ministries' "Walking with You," but I missed out, and I'm not sure if I'm ready to tackle this weeks question on grief.
Matthew Alexander Harden
I had a tough time naming Matthew. My hubby and I take turns naming the kids, so it was up to me this time around. I knew he needed a special meaning behind his name, which is why I chose Matthew for his first name, which means "Gift from God."
His middle name is what I struggled with the most. I even went through the 10,000 name baby book from front to back (the boys section, that is) and only came out with a list of about 5 middle names. I chose Alexander because I loved how it sounded with the rest of his name, and the meaning suited him as well. Alexander means "Man's defender, warrior." Though he didn't survive long after he was born, he will always be a warrior in my mind. He made it through the pregnancy while in the 1 percentile for amniotic fluid. I worried SO much during the pregnancy that with such little fluid his supply from the placenta would get cut off if he sat on his cord, but my little warrior made it.
Walking With You was created by Kelly of Sufficient Grace Ministries to help support those who have lost a child. Together we share our stories, helpful information, scriptures, encouraging words, prayer requests, and more. This week, we are sharing about saying good-bye and experiencing the memorial service or funeral if applicable.
I have decided to join Walking with You so that I can re-capture those times before and after Matthew. Memory fades, and I want to remember everything I can about my little boy.
Where do I start with this? I was planning Matthew's funeral months before he even died. Quite honestly, there were good parts and bad parts about it. No one should ever have to plan a funeral before their loved one dies, but it happens. It gave me the opportunity to plans things out and not feel rushed. I can't imagine having to plan everything within a matter of days. It's such an important event to plan out and show remembrance for our son. I know people have to do it all the time without much notice, and I don't know how they do it. You are so emotionally disraught while having to deal with funeral sales people and florists, pick out music, write an obituary, etc.
We tried how we could to make light of our situation. The first thing we picked out was the music. The same music on my Playlist is the same music we had at his funeral. I listened to it many times before he even died. Abbie would hold the speaker up to my belly so that Matthew could hear the music. I sang it to him, and it was almost like he was already gone, but he wasn't. It all just seems so out of place.
We also visited the cemetary where he would likely be buried. They drove us around to the different areas, we looked around, and found an area that we thought would be a nice resting place for our son. We wanted to think on it, so we decided not to purchase anything until after he passed away.
I wanted to find him the perfect outfit since this would be the only clothing I would ever get to buy for my baby. I found a company online called Little Things Mean A Lot. http://www.littlethingsoutlet.com/infant_childrens_burial.html They were very kind, helpful, and had beautiful clothing at a reasonable price. We ended up going to a boutique about an hour away where they carried that line. I wanted to select a christening gown as well for him to be baptized in, so that I would have something to take home with me that he had worn.
There really was not much else we could do until afterwards, so we just waited and enjoyed our time with him.
After he was born and died, I spent three days in the hospital. I knew after coming home, I would have to finish the planning. It was horrible. Instead of being able to grieve for my child, I had to make all of these plans. The funeral home was the worst of it. And it wasn't just the experience of what we had to do, but it was the people we had to deal with. When we had visited them just a few months prior, they told us that Matthew's spot would be free, we would just need to pay for preparation and their services. Well, when we went in after his death, they said their rules had changed, and now we would have to pay full price for an adult sized spot. What!? All I could do was cry while trying to talk to the salespeople. I was so angry and felt so taken advantage of. We had to leave because the stress was just too much for me to handle. After talking it over with my husband and family, my grandmother suggested that we bury him in one of their plots, which is right across from the original place we had chosen. My Aunt Marsha had died from cancer almost 10 years ago and was moved there. So my grandparents went ahead and purchased two spaces right next to her. They had decided not long before that they would be cremated when they died, and really wouldn't need both spaces. So he had a place, with family. We are soooo grateful that my grandparents were able to help us out, and that Matthew wouldn't be alone, though we know truly he is not alone, but it was important to me to have his body in a nice place.
One thing I really struggled with was a funeral program. The ones at the funeral home were nothing special, and none of them stuck out at me as being for a child. I spent HOURS on the computer looking online for programs we could order, download, create, whatever. No such luck. I called a dear friend of mine who happnes to be a graphic designer, and she was so willing to help out. I knew what I wanted it to say, and what I wanted it to look like. She had it done within two days. Again, another person we were so grateful to have helping us out. *If anyone knows of a website or a person who makes funeral programs for babies, I would love to have that info*
We settled the rest of the details and waited for the funeral day to come.
When the day was there, I didn't want it to be. I was antsy, and very emotionally cranky, to be nice. I wanted everything perfect. During the service, I didn't want to be there. I really couldn't wait to get out of the little chapel. I saw my baby beforehand, and he looked different. Sometimes I wished I didn't looked at him again, because for a while, that was how I remembered him. We had many people there, around 50. It felt good to have lots of people to share in mourning the loss of our son, even though most never got the chance to meet him. They knew how special he was to us.
After the chapel service, we moved outside to the graveside, following the hearse carrying Matthew's body. They had a tent setup, and everything really looked very nice. Something I can look back on and laugh, is that there were two large, white birds nearby while the Pastor was saying his final words. The birds were poking their beaks to the ground, perhaps looking for worms or bugs. Josh taps me and points to the birds, and our daughter, Abbie. Abbie was copying the birds movements. It really made light of the situation. I think most people noticed, and it was so very cute. She was walking funny, bending over and putting her nose towards the ground and pulling it back up again, with her "wings" at her side.
After everyone left, we decided to stay for part of the internment. This was all very new to us, and we didn't know if we really wanted to watch or not, but we saw them place the casket into the ground. I think I needed to see that. To know that's right where he was.
Sometimes we may go through trials in our life and wonder what we did wrong to cause that situation. Was there something we did that God was punishing us for? How could anything good possibly come out of this tragedy?
On Friday, the kids and I headed up to Florida Memorial Gardens for a much needed visit with Matthew. As usual, Abbie and Raleigh fell asleep in the car, so it gave me some time to myself. I started thinking about how I got to where I am at this point in my life. Sometimes everything I have gone through seems so surreal, and at times it’s hard to believe that we had a son, and he died.
My mind drifted back to when we found out I was pregnant, and I realized that it has been almost one year. In fact, one week from today is when I believe Matthew was already being knitted by God, and his fate already determined. My marriage was on the rocks at the time, and I did not believe anything could save it.
In fact, I really didn’t want it to be saved.
In my mind, there was no “us” anymore, and never could be. I was selfish, stubborn, proud, and very obviously not following God’s words. I was not kind or loving to my husband, and I know he often wondered when he would come home if I would still be there.
When I surprised Josh with the positive pregnancy stick the day before his birthday, he was so incredibly happy. I was happy for him, because I knew he wanted to be a daddy again, but I could not be happy for myself. I felt sad for our child, that he or she would be born into this loveless marriage.
After a few weeks went by, I started to feel some excitement. I slowly started acting more like the wife I committed to be 5 years prior. By 15 weeks, Josh and I had grown much more closer together and were working on things, but had no idea that it was by God’s grace.
At the same time was when we discovered something was wrong with Matthew. I spent a lot of time reading about Matthew’s condition and saw that situations such as ours often tore families apart.
But how? Why?
It was then that I began to see through the situation, and believe that God had a plan for our family. I had no other way of explaining how an unplanned, unborn baby with a negative diagnosis could bring TOGETHER a family that had grown so far apart. It was a gift. God was sending us a gift in the form of a beautiful little baby, hence the name Matthew.
Josh was out of town for job training during the most difficult part of the pregnancy- when the diagnosis was received, and the three weeks where I underwent weekly vesicocentesis. My husband was not there when I cried my eyes out every day, not knowing whether our baby would make it even through the pregnancy. I was resentful that he couldn’t be there. I wanted to be angry at him, but under it all, I knew he would have been there if he could. God was really testing our strength at that point, and we did not break. We grew.
As our story and the life of our son go, our beautiful son was born into a mother and a father who loved him as they loved each other. Who loved God even more.
Although we will never fully understand God’s loving intentions until we are in Heaven, it is so clear to me why we were put through this trial. Our loving Father knew what it would take to open our eyes to Him and to see how truly amazing His works are. He continues to remind me of my mission that He has so obviously placed upon my heart, and I look forward to sharing that with everyone in the weeks to come.
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1 Peter 1:6-7
I haven't done a regular post in about a month, since Matthew's 2 month birthday. It definitely has something to do with being back at work full time, and loading up my calendar with anything and everything. I have to always be busy, not sure why, but I thrive on this crazy life. Working 40 hours for a government contractor, working part time selling Arbonne, starting a non-profit organization to support moms in the area who have received a fatal diagnosis (I haven't really spoken of it much, will give more details when it is set up which it is almost there), gymnastics, swimming lessons, cooking, cleaning, kids, husband and our awesome Lord! Phew. I'm tired just typing all of that! LOL! Two things I miss so dearly that I was able to do when I wasn't working: 1)Spending daily time with the Lord. It wasn't long ago when I was consistently reading atleast three chapters a night in the Bible, going through my Bible based grief studies, and having daily conversation with the Lord. I haven't picked up my Bible outside of church in weeks now, haven't moved forward in my grief studies, saying only a quick prayer at dinner time. It's not that the Lord isn't important, because He is the light of my life. But how do I make the time? If anyone has tips on how they make their time with God, please share! 2)Time with Matthew. I feel as if I am neglecting his memory. Monday was his three month birthday, and I did not go visit him. I think the last time I went there was for his 2 month birthday, if it wasn't then, it was Easter. There are so many things I want to do with his items that I feel like I will never get done. Printing out his pictures, preserving his flowers, organizing his items, etc. In spite of my recent frustrations, we have had many good times over the last few weeks that I would like to share! So enjoy the pics! Unfortunately, many of the PreK pictures didn't come out well, but I think these are the best of them.
Here are a few pics with Abbie's ballet costume. I was really far back at the rehearsal, so the pics didn't come out well for that event either, and we weren't allowed to take pics during the show. But my dad snuck in his teeny tiny video cam, so I'll eventually get a copy and post it.
And....the Premiere Orlando Hair Show! This was my third year in a row doing it, and by far the best experience. I worked for Sam Villa, who is also connected with Redken. I did the mainstage show presentation, worked the booth for a few hours, then was in the Stylist Choice Awards presentation for Redken in the evening. I'm trying to get some video, but here are some pics for you all to see. I left at 5 AM Sunday morning to prep for the show, didn't get home unitl about midnight. Longest work day of my life for sure!
My friend Stephanie went into labor 2 weeks early. He was born at midnight last night and was with them for almost 4 hours. Please keep them in your prayers during this time. Baby Vayden had Posterior Urethral Valves like Matthew. You may have seen her blog from mine, http://vaydenjamesstewart.blogspot.com/
Another precious baby safe in the loving arms of Jesus.
I just met Rebecca Harding online about a week ago. She is pregnant with her first child, a boy she and her husband are naming Ephraim Josiah. Ephraim has Posterior Urethral Valves like Matthew, and they are going to try and transport him to a children's hospital in Georgia after he is born. Rebecca is scheduled for her c-section this coming Monday, the 18th. Please keep them in your prayers this weekend, that Ephraim will come out with healthy lungs and kidneys!
Today marks two months since Matthew was born and died. The day really was like any other has been lately, until the evening. I went to work, and decided today was the day to request Matthew's medical records. I figured it would take a week to get it together, but it was ready for me to pick up this afternoon. They told me over the phone that there were 29 pages (shocking since my Matthew only lived 3.5 hours!) and they charged me $1 per page...grrr. I wasn't very happy about that, but I wanted the records and did what I had to do.
I waited until Josh got home and we went over the first few pages together, before his short attention span kicked in. There were many surprises and new things that we learned of that day. After Josh walked away, I stopped reading for a little while. When he went into our bedroom to watch a movie with the kids, I took the papers back out and poured over them. I wanted to cry, but needed to be alone. Josh doesn't show any signs of grieving, and perhaps he is "over" it, but I am definitely not. Reading the papers, tears just started rolling down my cheeks, while I started sobbing harder than I have in a very long time. It wasn't the two month milestone...it was reading the notes that did it.
"Infant presented with initial weak cry, poor muscle tone and heart rate of 60-80. The infant was cyanotic (blue due to low oxygen). Evident was a bell-shaped thorax, prune belly, and some clubbing of the feet. "
Matthew had a wrinkled belly appearance, but I didn't think much into it until a couple of weeks after he was born. I thought all PUV babies had bellies like that, but I found that wasn't so. This report confirmed my suspicion that Matthew also suffered from Prune Belly Syndrome, also known as Eagle-Barrett Syndrome. PBS occurs in 1 in 40,000 live births. It basically consists of obstructive uropathy (PUV), undescended testes, and none or very little abdominal wall. He was a very special little boy is how I see it!
"Congenital atresia" One of Matthew's ears was folded over which I assumed was from lack of fluid and having his ear pushed against the side of my uterus. The term above is used to describe an ear that is not fully formed, usually to include some inside parts of the ear. Matthew may not have had the ability to hear out of that ear, and would have required some type of surgery to correct the appearance.
"Infant admitted and placed on mechanical ventilation. Poor response to high conventional settings. Goal is to stabilize infant until such time as family can visit him. The parents are clear in their wish that we discontinue life support. The mother specifically does not wish that iv be placed or that surfactant be administered. I have reviewed the possible scenarios of intervention with the family, including the most aggressive measure of treating with surfactant and referral to level III NICU for high frequency/ECMO and possible dialysis. The family has remained unwavering in their desire to forego any treatment measures beyond the current stabilization and wish to discontinue support once everyone has visited with the infant."
Reading this passage made me feel so very horrible. The wording just really got to me and made me feel that I didn't want to help my baby. But I did so much! I'm really struggling with my guilt again today. I wanted him so very badly, but I loved him too much to keep him here. I want to be holding my two month old right now...nursing him and stroking his cheek....strolling him around the neighborhood...NOT sitting at my desk at work all day, staring at his picture and yearning to just hold him one more time! Oh Lord, I miss my baby so much!!! But I know if I didn't lose him, that I would not have developed such a passionate, deep relationship with Jesus Christ. Having that love for the Lord is so much more important than having my Matthew here with me, and I know that. But it doesn't mean I don't miss him constantly. I know he is in a perfect body, feeling perfect love. I know he doesn't feel pain, but yet I'm crying now as I type these words. Why is MY pain still so deep? I have never asked "why" as many times throughout my whole pregnancy and afterwards until today. Lord, even though I know my Matthew's life was planned out before he was even conceived, these feelings that I chose to let his life end are just tugging at me.
"The baby is in the NICU at this time and is actively dying."
I really despise the word "die." He's not really dead, he just has a new body. He is very much alive in Heaven with God the Father, where I really look forward to seeing him some day.
I started back to work yesterday. Am I happy to be here? Not really, just don't tell the boss. I pictured coming back to be very difficult, especially with all of the people who did not find out that Matthew died, asking how the baby is. But actually, those are the people that I am enjoying attention from. They are about the only ones who will talk to me, with the exception of a select few who came over and asked how I was doing, and expressed their condolences. I just want people to be real with me....talk to me....just tell me they are sorry. Please don't ignore me! And thank you to the engineer who came over without the slightest idea what had happened. He wanted to hear what happened, wanted to see Matthew's pictures. It was such a relief just to talk about it. I cried, and it felt so good!
So back to work....I can't focus, very antsy, and pretty much miserable. However, I did start a side job from home and am working my hardest to move up as quickly as possible. It's for Arbonne, and we sell botanically based cosmetics, anti-aging, baby care, mens products, weight loss, and more. I absolutely love it! My sponsor and awesome friend who lost her baby girl six years ago introduced me to it. The products are amazing, everyone that I have met are christians and they put God first. How awesome is that?!! I prayed about this opportunity, and God directed me through it. He is my number one, and I give Him all the glory!
That's it for now...Matthew's two month birthday is coming up on Friday, so there should be another update coming soon!
Saturday was Matthew's official due date. It was also our "Family Day" with my company, though I am not yet back to work. Every year the company pays for all permanent employees and their families or a guest to go to the selected theme park for that year. This year was Universal Studios: Islands of Adventure. Josh wasn't able to attend since he was working, but I did invite a friend and her daughter. We had such a blast, and it was a good distraction for the significance of the day. (It also enabled me to make up for the Sea World trip we didn't go on last week!)
Since Matthew died, I have found it so helpful for my healing to spread God's word and talk about what He has done in our lives recently. I had the opportunity to speak a little more in depth to my friend about how amazing my relationship with God is, on our way to Orlando. I really see His plan shaping me into a more loving, caring person everyday. My husband has also noticed, and thanks me for the changes I have made. I tell him, "Don't thank me, thank God." And he does.
When it comes to working through my grief, I don't really have a plan. I seem to be keeping myself as busy as possible with work around the house, runnihg errands, and not leaving much time for myself. I am realizing that I need to change that. I found a Bible study book called "Threads of Hope, Pieces of Joy" which is for mothers who lose a baby through miscarriage, stillbirth, or early infant death. I contacted my church to let them know who I am (it's a huge church), tell them Matthew's story, and to see if there is a Bible study that could be started using this reference. They got back with me and said there is already a group using that book! I met with the group leader yesterday to dicuss some ideas I have and talk about the group. Unfortunately next week is the last meeting until the book is finished, but I will be attending anyways.
To throw a little more onto my already full plate (which is what I'm trying to avoid...) I made the quick decision at Abbie's ballet class last night to attend a GriefShare group at church an hour later. It was the second week of the class. I think there are 13 weeks total. When I first saw it in the church bulletin, I thought it would be a great idea. Then I started wondering if it would even help, because I figured I would be the only one who lost a baby. But I felt that God was really telling me to go, so I went. It was a good sized class, maybe 15 people. We saw a video which showed other people who had lost a loved one, and the different effects it had on them. Those in the group also shared their experiences.I was amazed at how much I had in common with those who lost their parent, spouse, uncle, etc. I was sitting there nodding my head, agreeing and relating to what these other people had gone through. I was the only one who had lost a baby, but it was okay. I understand that there is a grief process, and no matter who someone loses, those steps still have to be taken. I will definitely be taking the class every week because I know I am in need of a step-by-step program. I feel like I am subconsciously avoiding my grief by filling up my plate. Sitting in the group last night put it right in my face. My son died. He's not coming back, and it really hurts. Within 30 seconds of sitting in the chair and watching the video, tears were already coming out. That was the point that I realized that I needed that class and those people. And God knew it. He put it on my mind, and He was right. His plan works.
Above is Matthew's name in the sand. How beautifully done. Here is the link- To Write Their Names in the Sand. Thank you all for such a wonderful service!
I was reading Psalm 139 today and it really tugged at my heart. I love how our Maker knows everything about us. He is with us wherever we are. He was there during all of the doctors appointments, bladder taps, when I would curl up on the couch and cry, He was watching. God knew how he was going to use Matthew, before we even knew there was a Matthew. When my feelings of guilt ever rise up within me, I know I can always turn to this passage and feel relief. His masterpiece, our Matthew, our Gift from God, already had his life planned out. And what a meaningful, loving life it was. I love you and miss you my baby Matthew!
1 O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. 2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.
5 You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.
7 Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,"
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.
13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
16 your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you.
As much as I wish I had some pictures to post from Sea World, I do not. Plans fell through due to lack of sleep. We were supposed to wake up at 4 am, and leave at 5 to make it there by 6. Josh and I didn't get to bed until midnight. We decided it wouldn't be the best idea to spend a day at the park on only 4 hours of sleep. Poor Abbie would have been feeling it as well, because she didn't fall asleep until some time after 10:30! She was tossing and turning in her bed trying to fall asleep, but kept waking up thinking she heard the Easter Bunny!
We ended up going to church at 8:30 (no sunrise this year!)and eating breakfast at Dennys afterwards. We went and visited Matthew which was Abbie and Josh's first time back there (Raleigh was zonked out in the car). The cemetary was quite packed. There was even a guy camped out with his lawn chair! Not really my style, but I am pretty new to this cemetary thing. Abbie enjoyed decorating Matthew's spot and wanted it to be the prettiest one there.
So after we left Matthew, we went to a new park, right on the river. The kids got to play on the playground, and we also went down on the dock and watched the sailboats on the water. It was a beautiful day. The rest of the day we spent at home and I took a much needed nap.
I was thankful that Raleigh didn't even remember that we were supposed to go to SeaWorld. Abbie asked about it at Dennys and we told her why we didn't go. She pitched a short fit, but I knew that the Easter Bunny was a much bigger deal to her than SeaWorld. Phew.
I think the holidays will especially be difficult when thinking of Matthew. I wondered what kind of cute Easter onesie I would have put on him, and I know I would have taken a hundred pictures of his first Easter! Oh how I wish I could hold him just one more time! To run my fingers through his soft hair, hold his little fingers, kiss his tiny toes.
Here are some pictures from our day today. I took the kids to an easter egg hunt this morning where they got to do crafts, visit with the Easter Bunny (Raleigh would have no part in that one!) and hold some baby chicks. Lots of excitement! I took them down to the river as well.
Then we went to another egg-stravaganza with pony rides and games. That one really wore me out, especially being out in the heat. Tomorrow's plan is to go to Sea World in Orlando for sunrise service. We will be in the Bayside Stadium by 6 Am. It's only an hour away, but we will still have to leave by 5 am. Yikes! It's hosted by a local Christian radio station, and will have band Big Daddy Weave, and guest speaker Blair from the Facts of Life. (Anyone remember her? I think it was before my time.)We are anticipating getting tickets to go to the park afterwards, but I am hoping it won't be too busy! I will be sure to post some pics after I recover from the trip!
I am really looking forward to being outside to watch God's beautiful sunrise as we praise Him for sacrificing His Son! He has done wonderful things in our lives and He loves us with such an amazing, everlasting love! We praise you and lift up your name, Lord!!!!
Ok, so this is a bit different than my regular posts, but I must share.
For more than a month now, we have had some very unwelcomed visitors going through our trash cans. I am only assuming they are raccoons, because almost every day (with the exception of trash pick up days) I go outside to find the cans knocked over, trash bags in shreds, and food and garbage all over the place. It doesn't sound like the work of an opposum, but you never know.
So my dad gave us a trap to borrow and catch the culprit. I put it out two nights ago with a bowl of grape jelly in the back. Nothing. We have two indoor/outdoor cats and I think I may have given them a little too much credit when I decided they were too smart to go in. It's jelly; do they ever jump on the table when I'm making peanut butter and jelly? Nope. Meatloaf? Of course.
I came back yesterday afternoon when I finished running some errands. Low and behold, who is meowing up a storm? None other than Little Kitty. Yes, that is her name. Sort of. Her real name is Roxy, but she only gets called that maybe once a year. Can you guess the other cats name? You got it- Big Kitty...aka Friend. Yes, we are a creative bunch.
Anyways, I had some extra beef left over from dinner last night and decided to give the coons a treat they couldn't resist. Abbie comes in my room at 5:30 this morning and wakes me up.
Abbie: "Mommy, I heared a noise outside my window!" Me: "Do you think we caught something?" Abbie: "Yeah, let's go out and look!"
Out we go into the cold, trying to determine what is in the trap. One of the trash cans is knocked over, that's a good sign. It's too dark to see what is in the trap, because the light from the front porch won't reach that far. Still about 15 feet away, we start inching forward. Not because I am afraid of what's in the cage- I know it can't hurt me when I'm out here- but because I'm afraid of the dark. (Yes, it's true. Yes, I'm a little ashamed. I keep our bathroom light on with the door cracked so there is light in the bedroom. Maybe I just need a night light.)
We hear some sort of rustling noise, but not from the cage. It's coming from the other side of my car, which we are standing right in front of. Suddenly, something comes out running like lightning from the other side of my car with a heavy panting sound. And it was big. I tell Abbie. "RUN!!!" We dash inside, our hearts pounding heavily.
I had absolutely no idea what it was, but it scared the socks off me. All I saw was the outline of the creature. When I think panting, I think dog. But it seemed heavier than a dog's panting, and only one time in the last 3 years living in our house have I seen a dog running losing near our house. It will probably remain a mystery, because I hope to never go outside, without my hubby, in the wee morning hours again. As far as the creature in the cage, it was Big Kitty. He was left in there until it was nice and sunny, about 7 AM. I'm sure he enjoyed that beef though!
We will try again tonight, with BOTH cats inside. If Abbie wakes me again, she will just have to wait! I will welcome any coon catching experts comments out there!
Milestone- a significant event or stage in the life, progress, development, or the like of a person, nation, etc.
Abbie will be graduating from PreK next month and will also be performing in her first dance recital. Raleigh will be entering PreK in August and we will begin to look into sports options, most likely T-ball.
The host of the radio station I listen to was talking the other day about how her brother's birthday was the next day. She had neglected to send him a card, and, knowing she couldn't get one across the country in one day, was asking the listeners for ideas on what to send him. She said it would have been easier had it been her sister's birthday because she could have ordered flowers and had them there on time. Being for her brother, it was a different case.
Her situation struck a pain in my heart. It made me sad. It's one of those moments where I'm doing something completely normal, then a new thought about Matthew comes into mind. This thought was that Abbie and Raleigh would never have their Matthew to send birthday cards to. To watch at his graduation or cheer for at his baseball games.
Because I was the one who carried Matthew for 34 weeks and dealt with more physical and emotional pain, I was very focused on my own healing and the present time. I didn't yet understand what his loss meant to others, even my own family, through now and into the future. I had barely scratched the surface of the pain and wonders that Abbie, Raleigh and Josh would endure.
It makes me think back to what goes through their little minds when mommy and daddy say there will be a new baby in the family. Do they dream of singing him a lullaby, rocking him to sleep, pushing him in the stroller, or just looking at him in amazement with his tiny toes and fingers?
Were their dreams crushed when we told them Matthew would not be coming home with us from the hospital after he is born? Or did new ones begin with thoughts of their own special angel watching them from above?
Today marks one month since Matthew was born and died. Another milestone, and today I am okay. A friend came over and visited with me, and for that I am thankful. I also went to the Old Time Pottery store this morning looking for an area rug. Instead I found statue of a little boy kneeling in prayer in a garden. Next to him is a scroll with wings at the top of it. The scroll says "Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:4" How perfect. I feel good that I have something to bring to his empty grave.
One last note- we made the Resurection eggs a few days ago that were recommended. The kids had the greatest time scavenging for the items to fill the eggs with, and putting the items and scripture inside. We sat down to go over the story, and Raleigh lost interest after egg #2. Abbie, however, was very into it. She listened intently and loved opening her eggs and giving me the scripture. Sometimes I'll ask them to tell me the story of Easter, and they do really well explaining it. Even Raleigh understands the basics of the story which is wonderful.
I have been studying the Bible and spending a lot of time speaking to the Lord since being home after Matthew. I can't even express in words the depth of how much my relationship with God has changed. Just amazing. In turn, our home life has improved and become more structured and loving and focused on God! I was missing out on so much!
Are you growing in your love for God? I want to share a bit on our love for God that I have read about. After reading this, it was very pleasing to know that I could honestly say "yes" to every point. My personal thoughts and experiences are included. I hope you all enjoy reading it as much as I did learning about it.
After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you love me more than these others do?" "Yes, Lord," Peter said,"you know I love you." "Then feed my lambs," Jesus told him. Jesus repeated the question: "Simon son of John, do you love me?" "Yes, Lord, " Peter said, "You know I love you." "Then take care of my sheep,"Jesus said. A third time he asked him, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, "Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you." Jesus said, "Then feed my sheep."
Peter knew that he had let Jesus down when he denied him three times before the Crucifixion. But Peter also knew that Jesus had forgiven him. Jesus tested Peter by asking him "Do you love me?" three times. In the original language of this text, Peter's response to Jesus' questions has great significance. When Jesus posed the questions, he had basically asked, "Peter, do you love me with a sacrificial, committed love?" But Peter responded with a different word for love. Peter essentially said, "Lord, I like you. I love you as a friend." Atleast Peter was honest. He told Jesus the truth about his committment. Interestingly enough, Jesus still enlisted Peter in his service, to care for his sheep. Jesus wanted Peter to affirm his devotion before giving him direction for ministry. As this story implies, we must love God before we can serve him faithfully.
Here are five ways to tell if you really love God:
1. You will long for personal Communion with Him. "As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God." Psalm 42:1 When you really love God, you will delight in praise and worshipping him because your heart will overflow with love for God. This love will cause you to look forward to spending time with Him and his people.
I usually spend atleast an hour a day in reading. Josh and I just started two different studies. One focuses on couples, and the other focuses on raising your children to love God. So good so far! After the kids go to sleep in their beds (yay, finally!) we have that time to ourselves to communicate and do devotionals.
2. You will love the things He loves. We know what God loves by what He has declared in the Bible. So if you love God, you will love His Word!
And I do! I remember not long ago when reading the Bible would have been more like a chore. I saved it for church only. Now I have to have my daily dose, and often have a hard time puttng it down. Like one of those great novels I used to read and finish in five days. I just don't want to put it down! Now that I understand God's love better, it has more meaning.
3. You will hate what He hates. As the Lord's nature becomes your nature, his likes and dislikes will become your likes and dislikes. His outlook becomes your outlook. We know from his Word that he hates sin. If we love him, then we should also hate sin.
So true. My personal example. I have always been the type of person that takes a while to forgive someone. I can stay mad and you may never know why (my poor hubby). I have learned how important is to forgive, just as Jesus told God to forgive those who crucified him.
4. You will long for His return. Jesus described himself as a bridegroom(Mark 2:19). His bride is the church- the body of believers (Ephesians 5:23-29). When Jesus returns, he will be united with his bride. Therefore, if you love the Lord, you will long for his return as a bride longs for her bridegroom.
I know I am going to Heaven! I suppose if I didn't know, I may not look forward to His return so much. Heaven will be more than we can imagine and I look forward to what that amazing life will be like!
5. You will keep His commandments. Jesus says, "If you love me, obey my commandments" (John 14:15) Though it is impossible for any of us who loves God to go on an endless course of sin, we will still occassionally fall into individual sins. But if we love God, we will repent of those sins and seek his forgiveness, and his lifestyle will conform to the truths we find in His Word.
Giving our son, Matthew, life when the doctors pushed us to take it away! The Lord created our son for a reason, and we wanted obey His plan. We would have had it no other way.
I am looking for some ideas if any of you have anything to contribute.
First idea needed: Looking for a creative way of teaching the kids about the meaning of Easter. I checked out a book from the library with some beautiful pictures, but there are a lot of words and I'm not sure they will be able to sit still and take it all in.
Second idea needed: We will be going back to visit Matthew for Easter and I would like to bring him something. I'm looking for a craft that the kids can do with some assistance, Easter related. Like a cross or an angel. It needs to be pretty weather resistant.
I'll do some searching online also, but I thought you readers may have something you have done that has worked well.
Yesterday, I went and visited with Matthew for the first time since he died. I had been wanting to for over a week but kept putting it off, maybe waiting for the right time. I wanted to go without the kids for the first time, not knowing what I would be feeling upon being back at the cemetary. I can imagine Raleigh throwing a fit because he wants to see the big "hole" that Matthew is in.
His grave is in a newer section of the cemetary, actually the Veteran section. My grandfather, who is still alive, is a vet. He and my grandmother have spaces in there for when they pass. My aunt (g-pa's daughter) died of leukemia several years ago, and they had her moved next to their spaces. We are glad that he is in with family and the arrangements worked out very well for the situation.
Tears started streaming down my face as I drove to the back. I don't recall ever visiting anyone's grave in my life and hoped to be the only one there. I pulled off to the side where Matthew is and noticed a tent with chairs not far from where I was at. There was a table in the front where a casket would soon be placed. At each end of the table silently and still, stood two soldiers. I thought about how sad they must be feeling to have to bury one of their own. I hoped in my mind that whoever he was, got to lead a loving and fulfilling life knowing Christ.
I walked over to Matthew, noticing the small patch of grass that covered him. There was also a new sign. It was small and plastic, marking who he is until we order a bronze setting.
Matthew A. Harden 2009-2009
Such a short life. I wondered if anyone else had noticed him. I had hoped so. The flowers we left after the ceremony were gone. It had been a few weeks, so I'm sure they were very dried out by now and the grounds workers cleaned them up for us.
I knelt down next to the fresh sod and spoke to the Lord, thanking him once again for my precious son. My tears were falling to the ground as I wept silently. I'm sure Matthew saw every one of them from above and could feel the love. I felt a bit rushed, not wanting to be in the way if the funeral precession were to come my way. I looked back and noticed that the soldiers had moved from their place by the table, on to the roadside behind me. They were standing there ever so still in position, out of respect for me and my son. I got up and brushed the dirt off my knees, and just thought about my Matthew for a few minutes, wishing I had brought him something cheery. As I walked back to the car, the soldiers walked back to their position at the ends of the table. I didn't know those gentlemen, but I was very proud of them, and I'm sure their fellow soldier would have been as well. My time was my son was very important, and their actions showed that they understood that.
We had a pretty busy weekend, me and the kids. Josh is working 7 days right now with the new business, and probably will for the first year, so he misses out on a lot of the family fun.
On Friday night, I took Abbie to a birthday party at Pump it Up. It's a room full of bounce houses and was our first time there. Not only was it cool to stay up late (10 pm) with her friends, but it was also a pajama party! There were, however, three pregnant women there. Not so cool for me. Tears started welling up in my eyes from the beginning, but I made it. I did go into Matthew's story a little bit when two other adults asked me why I wasn't in playing with the kids. I explained that I recently had a c-section. Other mom: "Oh, so the baby is at home tonight?" Me: (Head goes down) "well, no...." Other mom: "Oh, I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to...." And that's where the story came in.
Saturday is gymnastics day. Abbie and Raleigh both go, but I brought Abbie to Josh's mom's since she can't do anything with her arm broken. That makes it a little easier for me anyways. Abbie's class is after Raleigh's, so that's 45 minutes less that I have to be there, and less moms to run into. A couple of the instructors knew that Matthew wasn't supposed to make it, and I'm sure they spread the word, because no one said anything. You know, I was pregnant last time you saw me? Please just say something.... There was a couple there, and she is due March 31st. She knew ahead of time. She asked me how I was doing, and I said ok. I hate that question. It's too easy to say "ok". I moved onto another floor and started crying. It was just hard to see her pregnant, even though I never got upset before then. A few minutes later we crossed paths again, and she stood there looking at me, maybe not sure what to say, or waiting for me to say something. I made it short, knowing that I didn't have much time before I would lose sight of Raleigh. When I was done telling her, I started crying and hugged her. Tears started forming in her eyes and she had to walk out. I felt really bad. I'm sure as any mother would, she imagined for that moment what it would be like to lose her baby.
We stayed home for the reast of the day. I had enough adult interaction, plus my car window broke earlier in the week and it looked like it was going to rain. Sweeping leaves off the drive sounded more relaxing than going to the fair anyways. It really was.
Sunday Church. Abbie sometimes throws fits about going, but is always glad once she is there. Raleigh LOVES going, and I love that! It was amazing. I hadn't been since before Matthew was born. I watched it online last week, but with the kids around it makes it difficult to pay attention. Pastor Mark is doing a series on the Ten Commandments, and the kids are as well. Today was the Fifth Commandment, to honor your mother and father. It was such an amazing sermon. Every word sunk right in. He spoke a lot about parenting and raising your kids according to the Bible. I have been working a lot more with the kids, teaching them about the Bible and our Father. We have been saying our prayers every night at dinner, and some nights at bedtime. I know how easy it can be to slip out of routine, but it is so rewarding to speak to my children about Christ, and have them talk to me about him! God has been doing amazing things in my life since Matthew and I really feel Him every day. I love my time when I can sit there and talk to him. He understands what I am going through which is so comforting.
After I picked the kids up from class... Raleigh: How many kids you have? Me: Two - you and Abbie! Raleigh: And Baby Matthew! *Wow. How did that one slip past me? Caught up in the moment? Out of habit?* Me: Raleigh, yes, that's right! You, Abbie and Matthew! Raleigh: Matthew is in the hospital. Me: No..... Raleigh: Um...Heaven! Me: *All smiles. I love that he seems to understand.*
After church we went to another birthday party at the bowling alley. It was their first time, and Abbie made it work with her arm. There were a few babies there in the group, but I was way too preoccupied with helping Abbie and Raleigh hold the ball correctly and cheering them on that it didn't bother me a bit. Hopefully next weekend's party (Pump it Up-again) will be as easy as that one was.
Here are some pictures of Abbie and her cast. We had a lot of fun decorating it. Me more than her I think. :) The pictures aren't the greatest, but will do. She wanted to put "I love Baby Matthew" but we didn't have enough room, so we did I heart M H.
When I was pregnant with Matthew, I often wondered what I would be like after losing him. What I imagined has been far different from what I have been experiencing.
I was very emotional until the funeral,then, I was okay. But not okay. I stopped crying, and was without emotion. I just couldn't understand what was wrong with me. Why was I not grieving for the son that I had just lost? This can't be the end of it. I turned to the Lord in prayer several times a day for help and guidance. He has been there with me throughout all of my heartache and will be by my side until the end. He will get me through this.
Two days ago I started experiencing an emotion that I never even considered before. Guilt. Before I had Matthew, Josh and I had made the difficult decision to offer comfort care to Matthew instead of trying to save him. Based on his poor condition after he was born, we stuck to our decision. His kidneys did not work, his chest was tiny, he was having such a hard time breathing while on support. We did not want him to suffer and be in pain and struggling for every breath. I believed that he was a baby that was meant to be with the Lord and felt much peace with my decision during pregnancy. When the time came to take his support away, my heart did not want to let go. I considered in my mind flying him to Winnie Palmer for help, but no. I didn't want to do that to him.
Little did I know that would come back to haunt me. I was watching one of the baby shows on t.v. on Tuesday. You're probably wondering why in the world I was watching one of those after losing my baby. Unfortunately, I can't provide a good answer. I just did. It showed a baby who went on breathing support after he was born, and I began to wonder why in the world did I let him go? Even though I knew why, I kept asking myself.
Yesterday got even worse. At one point I kneeled on the ground, crying, asking for God's forgiveness if I did the wrong thing. I could barely drive either. I know that Matthew left this world surrounded by and knowing only love which makes me happy. A friend of mine who just lost her baby as well is experiencing some similar emotions, so I think this must all be part of the grieving process. I don't like feeling like I made the wrong choice. I think it was the right choice, but is a very difficult one to accept...wondering what might have been.
Things are going okay for me. I take it day by day, praising the Lord each day for my beautiful angel baby. Abbie and Raleigh keep my mind occupied and busy, but nothing can ever fill the void that is missing in my life.
Great thanks to all of my friends and family out there who have been so supportive during this time. Thank you to all of the courageous moms who lost their precious babies who have been there for me as well.
I have two moms who need special prayers. Both of their babies have been diagnosed with PUV like Matthew, and the future shows babies who likely will not make it. Jonah's mom, Kelly, went in for a c-section just a few hours ago, so please pray that she is doing well, and that she gets lots of time with her baby boy. Here is her link...http://hausercarlson.blogspot.com/2009/03/jonahs-birth-day.html
Also, Stephanee is about 26 weeks pregnant with Vayden, also a PUV baby. She has a bit more time left, and even though things don't look so good right now, the good Lord can make things happen. Here is her link: http://vaydenjamesstewart.blogspot.com/
With everything we have been through yet, could it get any worse? The days seem to be getting harder and harder, and though I am looking forward to seeing my baby boy again, I'm not sure I'm ready for any closure yet. The memories are fresh and I don't want them to fade. I want to be sad right now becasue I miss him so dearly. Baby Matthew Bear sleeps with me at night while I cry myself to sleep. I cry alot during the day as well. I'm not sure the kids understand why mommy is crying so much, but Josh tries to explain it to them. I even tried eating a banana yesterday morning but started crying because I was sad the nourishment is going only to myself and not being shared with my baby. Ok, so I'm crying now and will get onto our more recent tragedy.
Abbie and Raleigh were at Josh's mom's house the day before yesterday while I was home working on funeral plans. Josh picks the kids up, and in comes Abbie crying that she fell and her arm hurt. She was standing on a tree stump that wasn't even a foot tall, fell, and landed wrong. I took one look at her arm and was hurting for her. It was obviously bent from it's normal position. We dropped Raleigh back off at Grandma's (he wasn't so happy about that) and took Abbie to the ER. She wasn't crying by the time we got there and was even getting down from the bed herself. You would have never known anything was wrong, she is one strong little girl!
The radiologist came in with the xray machine to get her pictures. I was sitting in a chair on the opposite side of where she put the machine and asked her if I needed to move. She said yes, that Josh would be of more help to her since I am pregnant. That hurt. After she left I started crying, of course.
The Dr. said Abbie has a fracture and they put a splint on her for now to allow time for the swelling to go down. We have to take her to a specialist next week and they will have to break her fracture all the way through and reset it with a cast. That sounds horrible. She will be asleep for the process atleast.
She is taking it well, looking forward to a pink cast. The splint is starting to drive her crazy though because she gets itchy underneath and it makes her arm hot she says. Hopefully nothing else goes wrong, I need time to let all of this settle down first.
The question about donations has come up. If anyone would like to make a donation in Matthew's name, please send your support to String of Pearls. Their link is on the right sidebar. They send packages to mommys like myself who will lose a baby. They sent me an amazing package for Matthew with a journal, photo book, tea to help dry up milk and a cream, supplies for making: a hand/foot cast, imprint, and ornament with paint for tiny feet and hands. Thank you String of Pearls for help making such precious items!!!
For those who are able to make it, Matthew's funeral will take place: Sunday, March 15th at 1:00 PM in the Chapel at Florida Memorial Funeral Home 5950 S. US Hwy 1 Rockledge, FL Interment will follow at Florida Memorial Gardens
Here goes. All day Saturday and into the evening I was having contractions, but too far apart to consider going to the hospital. They were again more painful than anything I had ever experienced with Abbie and Raleigh, painful enough that I should have realized that even though they were far apart, they were much more productive than any other previous contractions. Between 5-6 in the morning, I had about 6 contractions. (I was kind and let Josh sleep through it all) They were still very staggered...17 minutes, 5 minutes, 10 minutes (was told to go the hospital between 5-7 minutes)...I had also been leaking some fluid since 3 or so in the morning. I probably should have called the doc at that point. So anyways, I called the Dr. at 7 AM, she didn't seem too concerned because of the timing, but said to go to the hospital to get checked out. We first had to wake the kids, pack a bag for them, take them to my in-laws and get our stuff together. By the time we got to the hospital it was about 8:15 AM. Contractions were only 2 minutes or so apart at that time. They checked me and I was 8 cm! Wow! We still had to wait for the Doc to get there and the anesthesiologist. The nurse did a quick ultrasound and he was still breech, so we were definitely going for a c-section. The Doc got there first and gave me a pain reliever which I really didn't want to take, but needed to in order to sit still through the spinal. It made me feel really woozy and silly which I definitely didn't like, but it did do the trick.
The anesthesiologist arrived and I was wheeled off to to the surgery room. Josh waited outside (He looked so cute in his spaceman suit!) while they prepped me. When they were ready for the procedure they brought Josh in and got started. He couldn't see anything since he was behind the sheet with me, and I'm not sure he even wanted to see. I felt when baby Matthew was lifted from me which was pretty neat. I heard him make a sound, but it wasn't a cry.
My birth plan specified that no intervention be taken to prolong his life, that we wanted things as natural as possible for Matthew. The neonatologist called Josh over to Matthew while they were assessing him. They talked for a few minutes, but I couldn't hear what was going on. The neonatologist then came over to me and explained that Matthew coudn't breath on his own, and he suggested that we put him on breathing support until we are able to get some time with him. I agreed that was what I wanted. They wheeled Matthew over to where I was laying. He was so beautiful! I put my hand over and touched his beautiful skin. He weighed 4 lbs 2.5 ounces, and was 15.5 inches long.
They took him down to NICU and I had to wait in recovery for an hour. You would think that was the longest hour of my life, but the time really did pass by quickly. Perhaps it was the drugs.
After my time was up, they wheeled me into the NICU where Matthew was. He was hooked up to a breathing machine and his lungs were working so hard, poor little guy. I just stared at him, trying to memorize every body part. His black hair was just like Abbie's when she was a baby, he had her nose too. His tummy was a little wrinkled from his bladder getting stretched out and big in the womb, but his feet were not nearly as clubbed as we had anticipated. He was perfect in every way to me.
Our family started coming in a few at a time. My mom and dad, Josh's mom, Abbie and Raleigh, my brothers, my grandma, my cousin, my dear friend Tammy, and Amanda from Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep (infant bereavement photography).
My pastor was at the church service at the time and was not able to make it quickly to baptize him, but he did hault services when he found out that Matthew was born, made an announcement at church, and said a prayer with the congregation. We had the hospital Chaplain come up, Father Bob, whom was my grandmother's pastor.
The nurse placed Matthew in my arms for the first time while Father Bob Baptized him. All of my family and friends were in the room for that, and stayed as Matthew's breathing tube was removed and he slowly drifted away peacefully in my arms. I cried for the first time at that moment. I was so sad that he had to leave, but so happy that he did not endure any suffering. He was with me for perhaps 5 or 10 minutes without any assistance, other than from the Lord. He even opened his eyes for a minute or two at the very end and I thank the Lord so much that he gave Matthew the strength to do so!
Note: Raleigh still didn't quite understand and was telling everyone what a big brother he was and how he was going to help change Matthew's diapers. That was so very heartbreaking.
I was wheeled back to my room quickly for some pain meds. To my request, the nurse did not give me many pain meds during our time with Matthew in the NICU, becasue I was so afraid that I would not be alert enough. I was in a terrible amount of pain now. Every bump in the hallway made me groan. Josh stayed back with Matthew and videotaped while he was given a bath. After a while, Matthew made it back to the room where we could spend some more time with him and have Amanda take some photographs. Bless her heart, she was so wonderful and stayed with us from 9 AM until around 4 PM. The time with him afterwards was so important, yet so physically difficult since I coudn't even sit up. The kids loved holding him and did so several times. I have no regrets about their participation in their brother's life, and they handled it so very well.
We decided to keep Matthew in our room overnight. I needed it.
Matthew was not the same in the morning as he was the night before. I think you all understand. But it was the first time we really had to ourselves to completely look him over. I was more coherent than I was the previous day and needed to remember everything about him. We finally had the nurse come that morning and take him away. That was the hardest part. Yes, even harder for us than when he went to heaven. We had already lost him in one way, and now we had to say or final goodbye. We just cried and cried, something I didn't even expect out of Josh.
I spent three days in the hospital and welcomed visitors happily. Josh stayed the nights with me and most of the days, but I loved being able to tell my story of Matthew. How he was only in my life for a short time, but made such a huge impact on who I am. Through Matthew, He changed me as a mother, a person, a wife, and a Christian. God gave me the best thing in the world, and I am forever grateful for Matthew. I am more happy than sad. Matthew was a very special baby with his beautiful life set for him in Heaven. I feel so blessed to be chosen as his mother. Of course we would have loved to have taken him home, but that was not God's plan for him. He was not to be like other babies here on Earth. He was to be a special angel, loaned to us for eight and a half months to show us how to love better, to shows us what life really is, to show us how great, glorious, majestic, and wonderful God truly is. Thank you so much Lord for all that you have done for us!!!! We love you!!!!
I also have to say thank you to two very special nurses, Chris and Kelly, that took care of me in the hospital. They were absolutely amazing and truly helped make my time there special. I was kept in the same room in labor and delivery during my whole stay to give us privacy and comfort.
Matthew Alexander Harden was born on March 8th at 9:40 AM. 4 lbs 2.5 oz, 15 1/2 in. He was put on breathing support to give us a little more time with him since I had to be in recovery from my c-section for an hour. All of my family was there to celebrate his life with us. He was baptized in my arms, then breathing support was removed. I held my Matthew in my arms for several minutes (between 5-10 I believe) before he drifted off to be with Our Father in Heaven. He was with us for approximately 3.5 hours. He was absolutely beautiful. I just came home from the hospital about an hour ago and it was very difficult to leave. I just wanted to let you all know that we are home now but I am very emotional and not able to go into detail yet. Over the next few days I will post some pictures and our birth story if I am feeling up to it. Services will likely be this Saturday, but we will be going today to the funeral home to figure details out. I will let you all know.
Yep, still at home! What a crazy labor this has been. It is 2:30 in the morning early Sunday and I cannot sleep. Last night I had contractions about every 15 minutes for 4 hours or so. They stoppped early in the morning (4 or 5) and I didn't have another until around 8 this morning. As it got closer to the evening, I started getting thrm about every 30 minutes which is where I am still. I cannot compare this pain to the labors I had with Abbie and Raleigh at all. I am experiencing back labor for the first time and cannot even describe the pain. I'm sure some of you out there know exactly though. My back hurts even when I am not contracting. My lingering cough is causing contractions. Nothing seems to relieve this pain. I cannot imagine having to wait until they are 5-7 minutes apart when 30 minutes is torture enough! If Matthew doesn't come by Monday, I have to go in to the OB to get checked and hopefully will be a few cm. Maybe if I do enough pleading she will let me go ahead and have the c-section. Hope you all are sleeping well!! Think I will walk the house for a little while now.
I was at work yesterday at about 5:30 when I got a much more intense contraction than the braxton hicks I have been having. I lightly practiced my breathing exercises for the duration of it. When I got home we started timing them, and they were about every ten minutes for an hour and 1/2 or so. Some were painful, some were not. They eventually went away.
They returned this morning around 10:00. At first they were about 30 minutes apart, then later in the day went to about 10 minutes apart. Again- some more severe than others. Since I will be having a c-section at this point with absolutely no idea about the procedure or protocol, I called the nurse and she said to go to the hospital to get checked out.
When we first got into the room, I had to use the restroom, where I was surprised to learn I had lost my mucus plug. (Kinda gross, sorry!!)Afterwards, I got hooked up to the machine to test for contractions. The nurse left me on there for about 30 minutes and I only had one severe contraction. The doctor wasn't there, but the nurse got in contact with her and she told her I need to go home and rest, and come back when they are about 10 minutes apart. Even though it will be a c-section, I need to be in a good patterned labor first.
Here's the part I'm unsure about. Nurse said that for a c-section I should go 8 hours without eating. If I don't know when they will get closer together, when can I eat? Otherwise, if I do eat and go into very active labor, it would be a emergency c-section. Boy do I wish I had them educate me on this topic!
So here we are waiting....twiddling our thumbs....Josh is going to Orlando tonight because he has a test to take at 7 AM for his contractors license. Great timing, huh? He may get a call at 3 AM and will have to scoot himself home pretty darn quickly.
I do feel good being back home. As well as I have taken the news of the whole pregnancy, being in the hospital wondering if "this is it" was extremely frightnening. I started crying for the first time in a while. I know it's coming very soon, but the good Lord has given me a little more time to soak in reality. And to go out and buy Matthew's baby blanket if I make it till tomorrow :)
Abbie is such an amazing little girl. Practicing her nurturing skills, she is rubbing my belly during the difficult contractions and calmly telling me "just don't think about it, mommy. It'll be okay."
So I have the flu, or something like it. First Josh, then Raleigh, Abbie and me. I've been off work for three days and should be back tomorrow. I am feeling a whole lot better than I was yesterday and this morning.
I had my OB appointment on Monday with not much to report. Matthew's heartbeat is still strong, and we did a quick ultrasound to see if he turned around, but he hasn't :(
I started on my birth plan this week but a lot is left unanswered until it is determined what kind of delivery I will be having. I do have a regular ultrasound next week (Monday I think) at the specialists. I don't imagine there will be any change.
So I woke up at 4:00 this morning feeling my belly to make sure Matthew was still in there. I had a horrible dream that Matthew was born and I only spent about a minute with him before handing him over to the nurse to take away. I'm not sure if he was alive or not at that point, but it was very upsetting and has been bothering me all day. I know that when Matthew is born things will be very different and I will get to spend as much time with him as I need to. Also, tomorrow will mark the 6 week point until he is due, so things are starting to become even more realistic and emotional.
At the end of the dream, the scenery fast forwards from giving Matthew away to being blessed with delivering our fourth child, a little girl we named Elizabeth. I'm not sure what all of this means, but I pray that getting it out on virtual paper will ease the fears I have experienced today.
Matthew has been very active the last couple of days and I have been praying daily that the Lord will help him to turn around so that we can experience the best delivery possible and make the most of our time with him. I have also heard Abbie saying a couple of prayers in the back seat of the car asking God to heal Matthew so that he can be with us forever. It really breaks my heart and I hope that our prayers are answered. We have an appointment with the OB on Monday, so I will let you all know how it goes.
Click the "Play" button on the gabcast below to hear Matthew! (You may need to pause the music player at the bottom first.) Gabcast! MatthewHeartbeat #1
I was sent a blanket for Matthew some months ago through an organization, I'm almost positive it was called Hippocrates Children. Of course I can't find the info for it now in my emails or online, but the sister of a woman at my mom's church made it and sent it. They make these "little hero" blankets for sick children. It hangs over the side of the crib that may never be occupied by Matthew. I look at it every time I walk into the room that he would share with Raleigh and am very saddened by knowing that the child it was made for may not be cuddled, rocked to sleep, or fed while wrapped up in it. He is my "little hero" for surviving as long as he has under such tight circumstances and I will forever be changed by having him in my life. The blanket will continue to hang, and the crib stay intact as long as he still has a chance for a miracle.
As I noted briefly in a previous entry, we made a Baby Matthew Bear at the local Build a Bear. Raleigh slept through the process of picking out a bear and outfit, but Abbie had a great time. She picked out a little star and made a wish for Matthew, placing the star inside the bear. We saved one for Raleigh to do as well. We also purchased a recorder piece that we recorded his heartbeat on at the last ultrasound and is inside Baby Matthew Bear's stuffing. While Baby Matthew Bear resides in the crib, I'm sure he will make his way into my bed and arms to comfort me in the coming months.
Our son, Matthew, was diagnosed at the beginning of the second trimester with PUV- Posterior Urethral Valves which affects 1 in 8,000-10,000 boys. It is a blockage that prevents him from peeing, causing his bladder to fill up and the urine to back up into his ureters and kidneys. It can be fatal if not treated by in-utero surgery, which we were not a candidate for. PUV also causes extremely low amniotic fluid levels around the baby, called Olighydramnios, which put the lungs at risk. Matthew was born and went to be with the Lord on March 8th, 2009.
To read our story from the beginning, click here and start from the bottom.