Thursday, October 31, 2013

What Could Have Been

well, it's officially "the holidays." the time of year that is the most difficult for parents who have lost a child, or so i've heard. i have yet to experience its entirety for myself, but i already believe it's true.

today noah was supposed to be dressed up as a giraffe, cowboy, or something else equally adorable. we could have had him in a boat costume with stuffed animals surrounding him in the boat. noah's ark. how cute is that?!

i don't believe there is a more heart wrenching emotion than wishing for "what could have been." 

we've all experienced it. 

what would have happened if i committed to that relationship, instead of letting fear dictate my decisions? she could have been the one.

if we didn't experience x, y or z, could our marriage have survived?

what if he never got on that airplane?

what would my life be like if i had gone to that other college?

life is complicated sometimes, isn't it? messy, gritty, with endless possibilities. that's life. beautifully murky.

obviously, my "what could have beens" with noah are much, much more than costumes on halloween. i could live without those. what's almost unbearable to live without, however, is him. 

because i know with all my heart he would have been the most gentle, kind, loving and funny little boy in the world. and grown up to be a respected, giving, faithful man who would be admired and cherished by everyone who knew him.

this is what could have been.

halloween, and every holiday after, is just a stark reminder. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Love That Remains

"just because you don't feel devastating pain every minute of the day, and are able to somewhat function, does not mean you love noah any less."

words from our counselor this morning. words i needed to hear.

hundreds of times a day, i fight off thoughts of noah. not because i don't love him. not because i don't care about him. but because if i allow myself to really "go there," to let my brain absorb the violent truth that noah isn't here, my soul wouldn't be able to withstand the weight of that constant sorrow. so i push those thoughts aside. so i can cope. so i can survive the day.

then i feel guilt. heavy guilt.

i should visit noah's place more often.

do we have too many pictures of noah up in our house?

should we have more pictures of noah around the house?

something must be wrong with me when someone else starts crying talking about noah, and i don't join them.

i should light noah's remembrance candle more often.

i don't talk about him enough.

i talk about him too much.

guilt is a nag. and it's constant and exhausting. guilt is a total b-word.

why do i equate the value of my love for noah by my grief-stricken responses, actions and feelings?

can't i just trust that i love noah with a deep, unconditional, never-ending, world shaking, vulnerable love that has absolutely nothing to do with my coping strategies?

i love noah. 

and of course there is pain. we have experienced a tragic, unexpected loss. but if you peel back the layers of pain, love is almost always there at the root.

i feel pain because i love.

and though i don't always know how to best navigate this hell without him, and don't always have tangible ways to show and proclaim my love for him, somehow this love survives within my spirit, whether it's accompanied by pain or not. and, i believe, this love is only going to get stronger and stronger each day. less marked by pain, and more by pride and gratitude.

because i'm not created for pain. i was created for love. i was created, as was noah, out of Love. that's what will remain. not pain. love.


saudade is a portuguese word that has no direct translation in our language. as wikipedia puts it, saudade "describes a deep emotional state of nostalgic or deeply melancholic longing for something or someone that one loves. moreover, it often carries with it a repressed knowledge that the object of longing will never return."
another way to think of saudade is "the love that remains."

(saudade quote given as a gift from a dear friend.)


Monday, October 21, 2013

Pastor Peterson

my dentist's name is dr. peterson, but you may as well call him pastor peterson.

this morning i had an appointment for a cleaning. the last time i went in i was pregnant with noah. i was a little nervous to go in today, because i knew they would be expecting to see pictures of a healthy 4 month old. and i was right. i walked in to a chorus of "congratulations." when i told them the sad news, of course they were so very gracious, but none more than the dentist himself.

he sat down with me, listened to the whole story and prayed for me, right then and there, with his hand on my shoulder.

i think he may have picked the wrong profession. he was a better pastor than some people i know who have "reverend" in front of their name.

what a beautiful reminder that no matter your career, degree, education, or skills, we are all capable of taking a moment out of our day to shock someone with love.

love came when i least expected it today, and i can just feel God's delight.

his beloved son tenderly comforting his hurting daughter. what grace.

that's the kingdom of God right there.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Selfish Season

there's a fine line between "doing what you need to do" and just being plain 'ol selfish. and i'm riding it.

example. someone asked me the other day if i wanted to see pictures of her newborn granddaughter. 

um, not really.

i would be all too thrilled to ooh and ahh over precious babes...had i never experienced a lossbut i have. i lost my newborn baby. so seeing pictures of babies noah's age are incredibly difficult for me right now. maybe one of the hardest things. so i pretty much avoid looking at all costs. it's just so painful. 

so what do i do in this situation? say, "no, thank you" and sound like the rudest person on the planet, but at least not deal with unbearable heart pain the rest of the day. (literally, it feels like a 300 pound weight crushing my chest.)

or suck it up, tell myself, "it's not all about you, mccayla" and just take one minute to let someone show off their joy, even if it causes me more pain.

i find myself in this tug of war often. 

because all the grief counselors and books i read say to basically do, or don't do, whatever i need to right now. 

take care of yourself

if you don't really feel like doing something, then don't do it. (the exceptions to this "rule" however, are eating well, getting some exercise and keeping it legal.)

but there comes a point where all that just feels gross, because it's straight up selfish.

canceling a fro-yo date with students because i don't want to leave the house.

not returning a call from a friend for months because i flat out forgot.

unexpectedly leaving early from a gathering of friends because my energy is drained at a lightning's pace.

calling in sick to work only because i'm heartsick and don't want to go.

putting my needs before others. it doesn't feel right, but is happening a lot these last few months. because this is what we call a "selfish season." (it sounds more fun than it is. it's actually makes me feel like an awful person a majority of the time.)

it's a season of vulnerability, of heightened sensitivity. 

i have a crushed and broken heart that's going through complete reconstruction. i have to be selfish to survive.

however, seasons don't last forever. thank God spring always follows winter. so little by little i believe, i hope, this selfish season will pass and i'll be able to one day put my needs aside for others and not have to think of myself so much.

to go back to being an innate people pleaser.

or maybe i'll actually learn a little something from grief and follow my heart a bit more. to do what's best for my spirit, instead of caring so much about what other people think.

maybe i will come out the other side of grief a stronger, more confident woman. a woman who can say, "no, thank you" more often.

maybe i'll also simultaneously transition into a woman who, despite the circumstances, loves deeply. a woman who is capable of making sacrifices for others no matter what the costs are. 

we'll see how it all shakes out. 

here's what i do know for sure - spring is coming.

new life. a season for God to show off his wild creativity.

i'm desperately looking forward to that sweet season for myself and everyone experiencing this desolate winter without noah. 

and we'll all be better for it.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

I Remember

it's october 15 - pregnancy and infant loss remembrance day.

a day that i didn't even really know existed until now. shame on me. 

i apologize for all the days in my past that i have allowed this day to pass without a second thought for little lives lost. 

now my eyes are opened. i see the suffering. we weep together.

people from all around the world are lighting a candle today in remembrance of all those little lives lost too early through miscarriage, stillbirth or infant death. 

and i join them. my remembrance candle is lit.

for Asher.

for Bennett.

for Henry.

for Johnny.

for Joel.

for Elliott.

for Hudson.

for the Paddock babies.

for Joshua.

for Joey.

for Jacob.

for Briggs.

for Dominique.

for baby R.

for Samuel.

for baby K.

for Shannon.

for AJ.

for Noah.

for Layla.

for Eliza.

for Eden.

for baby B.

for Rachel.

for David.

for Jasmijn.

for Colton.

for Fletcher.

for Isaiah.

for Jannik.

for baby Chee.

for Phoebe.

for Ronan.

for Edoardo.

for baby N.

for baby F.

for Bailey.

for Christopher.

for Alexander.

for baby Hoffman.

for baby Marrs.

for Noah Hudson Butler.

for all those too young to have a name.

for all those not listed, you are in my heart.

each of your sweet lives, though way too short, mattered. you have eternal value in this world. 

you are loved. 

you will never be forgotten.

you shine brightly, today and forever.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Noah's Pics: Edition Three

i haven't shared a noah pic in awhile. i apologize. it's definitely not because i don't want to! i think i'm just hesitant to post them because we don't have that many and i don't ever want to run out of pictures to share. every single one is like a precious treasure. our link to moments we can never get back. so sometimes i hoard them.

i wish we took a million more. but we thought we had a lifetime with him.

the picture for today has so much i want you to see, that i made it as large as possible.

some of the many reasons why i love this picture:

* noah is in it. he's so handsome.

* noah is surrounded by all his best buddies. 

* there's monkey the mickey mouse right in front keeping a close eye on noah at all times. monkey has long been in the family and a close friend of auntie annie and auntie becky. he's been a lot of places in the world, but of all the travels he's been on, sitting with noah 24/7 was his most memorable. (apparently i speak for stuffed animals now.)

* then there's mickey the monkey, in the far back, guarding noah, always keeping him safe. he was the one who went with noah into surgery. and we thought we had lost mickey the monkey forever. but our social worker at seattle children's hospital tracked him down and sent him back to us. we were very grateful to see him again.

* then, of course, there's noah bear...  noah's go-to cuddle buddy. lucky bear. 

* noah's very best buddy in the whole world is in this picture - his daddy. and oh, how i love him.

* you get a good view of noah's dark, soft hair. by the way, he had lots of hair everywhere, just like his daddy. he had some crazy sideburns too... they went from his head, to his ear, to his eyebrow, without a break. i have a picture and will post that one some day.

* i can guarantee that noah's daddy was saying something like, "we are so proud of you, son. you're such a fighter, but don't worry about anything right now, just get some good rest. we love you very much." always encouraging, always there to care for noah in whatever way he could, always loving, always advocating, always hoping. he's such an amazing daddy.

this picture represents a lot to me when i look at it. of course, there's my sweet noah, who always captivates my attention with whatever picture he's in. but also, when i look at this picture, i'm reminded of all the thousands of people who love noah and are invested in his life. and that makes this mama so very grateful.

so, may i take a moment to say, thank you. thank you for loving our boy. maybe you weren't able to spend 24/7 in noah's bed like monkey the mickey, mickey the monkey and noah bear, but, like them, you constantly surrounded noah with sweet care and powerful protection. and you continue to do so. and that honors us deeply. more than you will ever know.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Do You Have Kids?

well, we were finally asked the dreaded question. (you're bound to find at least one curious person at your ten year college reunion.)

so, do you have any kids?

awkward silence. 

nervous glances shared with the husband as we tried to non-verbally communicate with each shall we answer that? how much detail does this near-stranger need to know?   are we ready to break open this tender topic?

then, i spoke.

"yes. we have a baby boy who is in heaven."

deep breath. and you know what? with those words came a deep sense of relief and pride. 

we have a son. 

four months ago tonight our perfect angel entered the world.

happy birthday, sweet one. mama and daddy are so very proud of you.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Paper Pregnant

"He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end." (ecclesiastes 3:11)

last year october 4th was a thursday. i remember because i took a pregnancy test and got a + that day. it was such a good day. i wanted to scream our news from the rooftops. everyone who i ran into that day, whether i knew them or not, i wanted them to know, "I'M PREGNANT!!" but just john and i knew. it was our little secret. but not for too long. i'm incapable of keeping secrets. i'm not superman.

which leads me to a "secret" i just can't keep anymore.  i was going to wait until this october 4th to share our latest big announcement, because wouldn't that be cute and special, but then i was like, screw it - i can't wait that long. and what's so bad about october 2nd anyway? it's a fine day.

so, here it goes. john and i are PAPER PREGNANT!!!

and your loving response is probably, "yay!!! that's great news! but what the H does it mean?"

i'll tell you.

john and i are going to adopt a baby!!! noah is going to be a big brother. and as far as our social worker is concerned, we are "expecting."

this is obviously very exciting for us, but, as you can imagine, it was also a difficult decision. not because we don't have the desire to adopt, we most definitely do, but because everything that happens in our life, from here on out, is plan B. noah was our plan A. there's no getting around that, and it's hard to swallow sometimes.

but even plan Bs can be pretty beautiful. Jesus was plan B. 

and even though we didn't plan it this way and it wasn't the original design, we believe our story is still being written, and there's goodness yet to come. we just have to look at our life through the lens of a "new normal."

and our road to pursue adoption was not a simple, snap decision. it's something we always felt like would be a part of our family story. for one, i'm adopted. and i've been crazy-blessed because of the adoption plan my birth mother made 32 years ago. i know, without a shadow of a doubt, i'm in the family i was meant to be in. and i'm grateful everyday for it.

we believe adoption can be the most remarkable gift, for everyone who is blessed to be touched by it.

another reason adoption holds so much hope for us, and i'm not sure i've shared this before on the blog, but there's a chance that the condition that took noah's life (ACD) is genetic, meaning there's a small possibility it could happen again. (lord, have mercy.) so for the past four months we have not only been grieving the loss of our sweet, perfect baby boy, but the loss of potential future sons and daughters. and that is absolutely heartbreaking.

but we refuse to be shackled by fear.

we don't know what our future holds, but pretty much the only thing we do know is that we are meant to be parents again, no matter what road leads us there. so we're not giving up.

and we pray, with everything we have, that our rainbow baby will arrive very, very soon.

In some circles, babies born to families after the loss of a child are referred to as "Rainbow Babies." The idea is that the baby is like a rainbow after a storm. "Rainbow Babies" is the understanding that the beauty of a rainbow does not negate the ravages of the storm. When a rainbow appears, it doesn't mean the storm never happened or that the family is not still dealing with its aftermath. What it means is that something beautiful and full of light has appeared in the midst of the darkness and clouds. Storm clouds may still hover but the rainbow provides a counterbalance of color, energy and hope.
                                                                      ---  Definition Source