"He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm,
and carry them close to his heart, and shall gently lead those that are with young." Isaiah 40:11

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Remembering Pregnancy

I have had a few great days now, after what seemed like a very long stretch of gloominess. It felt like my feet and heart were stuck in a pit of mud.  I didn't want to do anything.  Thank-you Dave for your patience and understanding!! Yesterday I read stories to our kids.  I talked with them and laughed and it was so healing for my soul.  This morning, all my kids were happy and I made chicken noodle soup and put something in the crock pot for supper. It felt so good to 'be domestic' again. 

Our lives are not just gloom and doom - there is so much laughter in this house.  But I feel like I can swing so quickly from one end to the next too.  This afternoon I re-read one of my last posts and decided to follow the link to Pearl's story.  I was familiar with it but as I read it again today, her story brought me right back to those early days. If you want to know what it was like for us to wait for Rachel - read her story.  Because if I were to write our own - it would sound so much the same.  Except that we have not yet had to say our good-bye's.

The feeling of our broken hearts
The coldness of hearing the words 'termination'
The thankfulness for each peek into Rachel's world by ultrasounds
The sometimes profound thoughts coming from our children - gifts from God
The awkwardness of talking to strangers
My gratitude to David for his amazing support
The preparation for birth, the desire to see her, mixed with the dread of saying good-bye
The large bag for the Hospital, four times what other moms need to bring
The preparations to cram years of memories into minutes, hours, days

I remembered back to that day near the beginning - of standing in the kitchen holding back the sobs but knowing I had to make lunch for my kids.  And Ethan said something to me that stopped me in my tracks.  True story - Ethan - age 4 said to me "Mommy, don't cry.  Don't you know that God takes the good things and bad things and mixes them together to make something beautiful?"  Those were his exact words.  We have no idea where he heard this and we did alot of asking around.  I can only think that God whispered these words to him.  Right afterwards, he switched into monster truck mode again.  Thank you God for your gifts - your reminders to us that we are not alone.  Your windows of grace.

I remember what it was like to stand in the shower and weep and weep, because that seemed to be the only place I had left where I didn't need to be strong.  I remember the feeling of dread that came just before the questions and comments I knew would come. "How far along are you? oh, you'll be so busy with three.  Abigail will have a sister? How exciting!" I remember telling a table full of women a bit about Rachel (right after they had ohhed and ahhed over a friend's pregnancy) and being met by a long stunned silence.  Not even an 'I'm sorry'.  No questions.  It was like I had said something obscene and I had ruined the party. I didn't want to steal the show from my friend - but I couldn't pretend I had a healthy pregnancy.  It was the truth and their lack of response hurt. I remember how large groups of people made me feel nervous - I couldn't just blend in because of the very obvious belly lump, but I didn't want Rachel to be unknown either. 

And with those I knew - I wanted her to be celebrated. I wanted to talk about how special she was and how she was changing us. I had a hard time sometimes explaining the feelings in my heart but I felt so cared for when people asked me how I was really doing anyway.  I was glad when friend didn't assume we were being taken care of.  And I was glad they asked questions about our life, not assuming they already read everything on our blog. I found it hard sometimes to give of myself to others the way I once had - to initiate things, and I was thankful that many close friends were (and still are) so patient with me.  So many of you continued to call and email even when I wasn't able to respond.     

In a previous post, I wrote that a stranger said something unkind to me about Rachel. I have wrestled sometimes about how/if I should write about the unhelpful things that people have said. (and about how they make me feel)  The last thing I want to do is cause you to wonder if you have been 'that person' who said something hurtful.  Please trust me - I have never written something with a certain person in mind - hoping that they will read this.  I can say honestly right now that I hold no bitterness in my heart - and I am asking God to keep me free from that.  I have learned (and am learning) to appreciate that people show love differently.  I myself often feel very awkward around hurting people and I have said 'the wrong thing' plenty of times - and I think that helps me to be more gracious to others.  I am learning to see past the words to the heart behind them - and I am learning to speak up when something doesn't sound right to me too.  I think we  need to help teach each other how to speak to hurting people.  I have alot to learn myself.  I hope that writing about these things will be helpful and not alienating.      

Our journey started almost a year ago.  And now the things that most concern me are not so much the random 'odd things' that I have heard - but statements that indicate a belief system which I believe needs some challenging. The topic of miracles and faith has been on my mind alot this past year!! Please pray for me as I continue to work through this.  Something that I have heard quite often throughout this year is a variation of this statement.  "You just gotta have faith and believe. (and God will heal Rachel)" Another one is a bit different.  It's "oh, I'm sure she's just fine.  Rachel is so special.  I'm sure God won't let her die."  Neither of these statements allow room for us to express any sadness at the reality in which we have found ourselves.  And neither do we believe that they portray an accurate picture of God's work in our lives.  Or a healthy response to trials/disappointments in our life.  A few people have been pretty militant about their ideas. I am quite weary of these 'conversations'.  One day I would like to write a proper response to this.  (and by the way, yes I do believe in miracles - Rachel's life has been filled with them!) But for now - if you want to read something we have found very helpful - you can re-read this post. It is titled Father's Day. (go right to the end) I copied in a section from a book we were reading while I was pregnant. 

Remembering is tough.  Sometimes it means wrestling again with painful memories.  (Sometimes like today - we end up meandering all over and we feel a bit crazy!)  But at the same time, I remember the very real experience of God's strength in my life.  I remember many hours of pacing the hall of our house with music playing and I how clung to the words and to God.  Many people told me then that they didn't know how I did it - that they were amazed by our strength.  Honestly, I had no strength of my own.  On my own, I would have been a big heap of mess on the floor.  God was my strength.  He carried us through.


chelsey said...

Oh Kendra, this has brought tears to my eyes. I see God everywhere in your story. It amazes me so much! I especially had goosebumps when you shared what your son, Ethan, said about God mixing the good and the bad to make something beautiful. God truly uses our children to teach us, and I know Rachel too has taught you and so many of us so many things already.

Debbie Sandland said...

I just love how you open up and just share your heart, Kendra. I know I often don't know how to talk to hurting people, and I so appreciate your experience and your wisdom. So many of our comments are made without any thought at all, and I'm glad you're willing to challenge them... and yet gracious enough to forgive our thoughtlessness. I have seen how you and your family have grown so beautifully through all this. Rachel may not have a long time here on earth, but she has already had an incredible impact on so many, through you. Thank you!

Sharon said...

Ah Kendra I have chills reading this! I'm adding Ethan's matter-of-fact God whisper to my favorite quotations on my Facebook profile. I love you so much! Thank you for continuing to share your thoughts and experiences with us. Bless bless <3

patti said...

As I read your post today, I was struck by how much I appreciate your honesty about what you're going through as well as your reactions - and your ability to reflect on the past and connect that to where you are at today and things you have learned as a result. Thank you Kendra! And Ethan's comment - I too believe God whispered to him. Children so often have this childlike faith and ability to hear God's voice that us adults seem to have lost somewhere along the way.

On God's path said...

Gulp! Wow Kendra! You astound me more and more with every post that you write regarding your struggles and issues that others make you face. You are right that God is the source of your strength because even I can testify to how God has been my source of strength time and time again. This is an ultimate struggle that you and your family is facing. I check into your blog daily to see how it is you are going to challenge my thinking, to see how sweet little Rachel is doing, to see the struggles that God has you facing and seeing that there are people out there who are fully leaning on God for their source of strength. I am still praying for you guys.

fiona said...

kendra, this post made me really cry . . . and as i think about those tears, i think they come in part because you continue to show me what the love that jesus taught us about looks like. the love you have for your little girl, for your children, for dave, for our Lord. i often think about the conversations i have at work every week - so many dear mothers and parents who are unwilling to do the hard work of love, and it is hard work, because it involves suffering on their part. and then i listen to you tell your story and it is so much more unbelievably difficult than any of the sad stories i hear at work, and i just cry as i get a glimpse of God showing me the love of a parent for a child, for showing me the love God has for each of us as His dear children, His love so large that He gave His only son to suffer on our behalf. it is more than my heart can understand or grasp, but it is beautiful. and i know that this is not the way God originally created . . . and i long for the day when He once again makes all things new . . . and kendra, your words encourage me to be kind. ah, kindness, it gives us all strength to go just a little further. may God bless you with the kindness of friends and strangers alike.

Twyla said...

Hi Kendra - Sandi passed on the link to your blog to me a little while back, and I have been working my way through your story. Thank you for sharing so openly and honestly with people and allowing some of us you don't know well or know at all get a glimpse of your journey. It has brought me to tears so often and tears my "mother heart" apart. It is too much for anyone to bear alone. So thankful to see the way you are clinging desperately to God. Your family has been added to my daily prayers - may God continue to fill you with strength and peace as only He can.

Bev said...

I've been a stranger "lurking" on your blog for several months now. I don't even remember how I came across your blog, but your story, Rachel's story has touched my heart that I just keep coming back almost on a daily basis to read how things are going for you all.

Kendra, I'm touched by how open and transparent you are...about your struggles, your exhaustion, allowing yourself to ask the MANY questions that come upon your heart, the struggle to keep life as normal as possible for your other children but needing to give so much time and energy to Rachel. God is carrying you...I see it through your family and friends, the church...by the many gifts of love they continue to give you!

I'm a stranger, drawn to your story, praying for you. Your story has touched sooo many people near and far.

I'm a birth doula in Wpg. and have a passion for supporting families through pregnancy and birth. I've had tough experiences and realize first hand just how fragile life is...it doesn't matter what stage of life we are all in...God gives and takes away and I OFTEN have questions and don't understand His reasoning or purpose many times.

Thank you Kendra, for continuing to share your story. May God continue to walk together with you...giving you the daily strength you need to get through.

Much love,


Anonymous said...

Kendra it feels like I have gotten to know you by reading your blog....your ability to open yourself to people is truly amazing....I sooooo hear your heart....God forgive us when we speak out of turn....sometimes we get stuck on not knowing what to say, but feeling the need to say "something"....may God continue to give you and David the strength and wisdom that you need....hugs from Mb....L-lew

Brenda Funk said...

I will say 'Amen' to all the above comments! I like the term 'lurking' on your blog -- people who visit your blog and don't neccessarily comment. I have heard from many people like that, who are amazed and touched by your experience as well as by your ability to share it so well and so honestly and so transparently. Thanks for making this effort Kendra!

Anonymous said...

Sweet friend,
i add my own tears to yours as I seek God for more of Him for you and new ways to show you His love and mercy. Longing for the day when we no longer "see dimly" - my heart always leans in your direction.
love you!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Kendra. You did a good job of expressing your feelings. I think I have often been too afraid to do that for fear of being judged for not having enough faith, because that has happened. Having faith, however strong it is, does not take away the pain.

That quote by your son is so precious! We just need to keep looking to God for strength, as you said. Thanks.
love, Martha