Monday, June 30, 2008


I went to a baby shower for a young girl at our church tonight. Babies having babies? Not what I hope for my littles, but not the end of the world, either. She's young, but she's got a lot of help. Sure, it might be better not to be pregnant at 15. Sure, it would be easier for her to have a child 5, even 10 years from now... But she's having one now. So. It's her baby. And it's a boy.

But I wasn't counting on how all those baby boy clothes would make me feel. They were so little, so witty, so full of hope and happiness and joy. And I feel so low on those things right now.

Moments of hope, moments of happiness...yes. I was telling someone this weekend that every good thing I've experienced lately has been tempered by Hazel's loss. This weekend I went by an apple orchard and I got excited about picking apples this fall...and then I felt sad thinking about how this would have been Hazel's first orchard trip; how I would have carried her in the sling and then staged some kind of cute, hokey picture of her in the wagon with apples.

All my bright moments are darker than they would have been.

Will it be like this always? Will they be as bright? Or has this loss, this death changed the levels for me? I remember reading the Anne of Green Gables books. Anne's first child dies soon after birth. Anne's eyes never shine as brightly again, even after her little, healthy Jem is born. Is this how it works? I'm truly not trying to sound melodramatic (I'm aware that I do), I'm honestly wondering. Am I forever dimmed?

Friday, June 27, 2008

Oh, it is not the same. It is just not the same

Losing Hazel was terrible; the worst thing that’s ever happened to me. She was active, already stubborn, she kicked all the time, sometimes so hard that it surprised me. But we didn’t know her; even the most essential things about her. We had chosen not to find out if she was a boy or a girl. When she died, I didn’t even know she was a she. Oh, how I regretted that choice we made 7 months earlier. I wished, during those hours I tried to deliver my sweet, dead baby, that I knew what gender she was, what her name was. Walter? Hazel? Who was dead inside of me?

I know you are not supposed to compare grief. All grief is hard, certainly. But the grief for a run-over dog does not touch mine. On the other side, there is no way my grief is like that of a mother who has lost her 5 year old. But the pain I feel—the temptation to hopelessness—gives me a glimpse into that grief. How much more pain could one handle? I have an almost 5 year old daughter. If I try to imagine what it would be like to lose her, I feel sick. I cannot imagine it.

What is hard right now? Realizing that bad things really do happen. If this one bad thing could happen to me, to us, to our community, what’s to stop it from happening again? How do I hold on to hope in spite of that fear?

My God is not a cheap God; not an easy God, not a “safe” God. I know he suffers with me. I believe he is both mother and father and I believe he knows grief--knows my grief. Why, then, does he allow things like this to happen? I have no idea. None. Not one.

Just for the record, I do not believe he did this to me, to us. Allowance is not the same as cause. And also, I believe that God can bring good out of bad. Does that mean he will fix it? Take away my hurt? Bring Hazel back? Of course not. I will always, always miss my sweet little girl. Will I know what good he brings from this bad? Perhaps not. Perhaps not.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

What's in a name?

Four years ago, before we discovered that the baby I was carrying was a boy, Chris and I dreamed of names for our child. We've never fought over names; never have had trouble picking them out. If a boy, this child would be Noah, named for Chris's beloved, gentle, pacifist grandfather. If a girl, this child would be Hazel Irene, named simply because we loved the first name and because the second name means "peace." I was in love with the name we gave Miriam, as well. She is named for my grandmother and for Anne of Green Gables. I remember being out in public, ridiculously in love with my baby and saying her name to her. I kept thinking, “People will hear me call her Miriam Blythe and say, ‘What a lovely name! What a perfect name!’”--because I thought it was lovely and perfect.

After we found out that our baby was a boy, I let go of the name Hazel for a time...but I dreamed of using it. Our friend, Jena, really felt as if there was a Hazel in our future. I wanted that to be true!! When we discovered this pregnancy, I rekindled my dream of the name; but I wanted a little girl so very badly that I could hardly let myself consider that I might get one. Of course it was more than just because of her name: I wanted Miriam to have a little sister.

Tonight Methodist Hospital had a memorial service for the babies who had died during the past year. It was simple and nice. As Chris said, afterwards, “I’m not really into that religious stuff.” But we have so few things we get to do for Hazel. And, honestly, I just need to be able to use her name sometimes.

I sat in my seat and just whispered her name, “Hazel, Hazel, Hazel.” We lit candles at the end of the service and they said we could speak aloud the name of our child. When it was my turn, and no one else had spoken aloud, I just could not do it. I was too embarrassed, too afraid that I would cry. As soon as the moment passed I regretted it. I keep saying how much I’m mourning even the very name we gave her and here I had a rare chance to speak the name aloud and I passed it up! When we stood to go forward and collect our little Hazel’s shell (a memento from the hospital), I said, aloud, regardless of the possible embarrassment, “We lit our candles in the memory of Hazel. I love her name and just needed to say it out loud.”

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Company in mourning

I have recently discovered the treasure trove that is Facebook and am so very excited to get back in touch with people from all sorts of stages of my life. From elementary school, high school and college, from my childhood church, from our time at Vineyard Central in Cinci, from Common Ground, from our families (so many cousins online!!) and, of course, from our time here at Englewood (which is where we shall remain, Lord willing!)

Finding these friends again, many of whom had heard about Hazel through the grapevine, has been an amazing comfort. As I've said before, Chris and I can tell that others are carrying this burden of grief with us...and that feeling has been confirmed over and over by the truth spoken to us--on facebook! Oh, the irony that these impersonal internets can bring us closer together.

I've been reading a couple of other blogs by mothers who are going through difficult periods in their parenting journey. One is by Angie Smith, whose husband is in the band Selah (of whom I had never heard, honestly, but of whom, it turns out, my mother is a big fan). Their 4th child, a daughter, died a couple of hours after birth. It was an expected death, but one they had hoped would not occur. The other is by another Amity Mama whose greatly anticipated twins arrived 15 weeks early and are struggling through their first weeks of life. These precious, tiny boys are like little newborn mice, hairless and with their eyes still shut--oh, they are precious!

Monday, June 23, 2008


My brother and his family have been visiting for the past few days. It's been really relaxing and wonderful to have them here. Their enthusiasm for things I've learned to take for granted is eye opening for me.

Yesterday we made tie-dye shirts for the kiddos (I'm a firm believer in tie-dye for kids ONLY) and last night I freezer-paper-stenciled the names on. My sister-in-law, Aimee, cut out the stencils for her kids and I did mine.

Aimee's children are younger than mine and not quite up to working with the dye themselves, but Alex, Miriam and Noah each dyed their own shirt. I tied. They dyed.

Today we went to the Children's Museum. Indianapolis has one of the best in the nation. It's really a place at which you could spent days with your kids and still not see/experience it all. Which makes having a membership a very good thing. We go even when we can only stay for an hour or so. It's 10 minutes away (or less) and not too far off the highway.

All the children played hard, got tired out and now are sleeping well. Miriam fell out of bed and was sleeping mostly under it when we checked on her a few minutes ago. That says much for the deepness of her sleep.

Jared and Aimee leave tomorrow. I hate to see them go; this has been very good for all of us.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

I can almost see her.

I can almost see her, my sweet Hazel.
She's 2, maybe 3, with brown, ringleted hair.
She's chubby still, toddling after her siblings.

"Hazel!" I call, "Come back!"

But she keeps going, giggling and determined.

I'm mourning all of her, even her name. That name I dreamed of using for 4 years. I wanted this little girl, dared to dream of her, to hope for her. I do not understand this. I can not.

Today is her due date.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Strawberries, fresh from the field!

On the way out of Lancaster, we stopped at a plain Mennonite farm to get strawberries. The mother was still out picking the berries for sale that day and a little girl ran out to her to get our 4 quarts. We brought home strawberries that were in the garden MINUTES before we purchased them. You just can't find that in the city (at least not for a reasonable price!)

While we were waiting for the berries, the kids got to pet a little pony attached to a cart. The girl that was helping us offered the kids a ride and my two olders got right on the carraige and had a blast! Noah enjoyed watching them, but there was not way his little butt was getting on that carraige. I wish I had gotten a picture, but I didn't want to miss the moments fumbling around for the camera.

I will have more pictures from Aunt Janelle's pool tomorrow.

Monday, June 16, 2008

My baby brother is married!

It was a lovely evening on Friday, June 13th--Perfect for an outdoor wedding. Jon, my youngest sibling and his now-wife Dani picked the perfect day possible, as the next day brought crazy thunderstorms all evening.

This has been a very bittersweet week for us, as we think about what should have been. We should have been holding our sweet baby, but instead we only have pictures and memories and grief.

However, we were able to truly enjoy the wedding all the celebrations surrounding it.

Here is Jon, with Miriam:

My father and mother. I thought my mom looked absolutely lovely:

Dani and her father:

I now pronounce you husband and wife:

Jon and Dani hadn't kissed on the lips since January 1st. They kissed a lot during the wedding celebration!

Some other pictures from the wedding.
My nephew Gavin. Isn't he sweet? He's a litte lover and a talker. I really enjoy being around him:

I made the clothing my children wore. Here's Miriam and her cousin Lyra:

My boys. I made Alex and Noah's shirts.

Jon and Dani with the twins they babysit. These dear, sweet babies are close to my heart. They were born on Christmas day and their mother died on New Year's. They are little girls missing their mother and I'm a mother missing my little girl:

The back of Dani's dress:

Just my kiddos. I loved their outfits. They were all made from Heather Ross fabrics. I love this line. LOVE it:

This is one of my other nephews, Moses. His mama is a stylist and she cut his hair last week. Then Gavin asked her to give him a mohawk, too "pweese". Moses is a spitfire. I don't have to be around him long before I'm laughing away.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

What would have been--and what is.

We leave today to travel to Pennsylvania. This trip would not have occurred if Hazel had lived. I will try to find much joy in witnessing my brother’s wedding and not focus on my own loss.

Noah and his cousin Elmo (really Moe-Moe, or rather, Moses) very much enjoy each other’s company. When Moses realized his mother, my sister, had made up our beds, he went outside to the garage to “wait for Noah.” Noah, on the other hand, having been told we were leaving “tomorrow”, got up from his nap yesterday saying, “It’s morning time!!” with much joy and anticipation.

We will have a wonderful weekend, just because of all the sweet children.

Oh!! And the best news—My brother and his wife are coming out for a long weekend the following week. I’m so very much looking forward to that. My sister-in-law, Aimee, is someone I know I will be able to talk with candidly. She lost her father at a young age, and although our grief is different, she understands grief.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Days of Remembrance

If Hazel had lived and had made it to term, she would be arriving via c/s either tomorrow or Friday. I was walking outside, on this wonderful, cool late spring evening, and it struck me how different this night should have been. I should have been great (and I mean great) with child, Hazel should have been kicking around inside with little room left. I should have been filled with joy and anticipation—wondering what gender the baby would be and what he or she would look like.

Instead, I am faced with this terrible week, knowing that some people think I shouldn’t be so sad anymore (it’s only been 8 weeks!!), that my mother is dealing with so much right now that she can’t help me deal with this (and I can’t help her), that I will never, ever get to hold Hazel again in this life. Even if another baby comes our way, she will not be Hazel.

Early on, I was horrified by the gap Hazel’s death would bring. Even if we had another child eventually, there would be this 5 year gap. I could just imagine having to explain, “we didn’t wait 5 years after Noah, we had a daughter, Hazel, who died.” Just thinking of that gap, that empty space, made me ill.

I also felt an intense desire to “get another baby fast.” I had fantasies about adopting quickly. My sister called me and said, “I have great news!” and I thought, “You have my baby!”

I know now that these intense desires and strange fantasies are normal. Another weird occurrence that happened early on was my aching arms. I couldn’t believe how much they hurt, literally. I came upon this quote in the book Empty Cradle, Broken Heart last night and it explains my feelings exactly:

“The biggest thing I remember was empty arms. My arms just ached. I’ve read about this and it’s hard to believe, but to me there was actually a physical emptiness. I could almost feel my arms cradling, but there wasn’t anything there.”

I don’t want to forget that feeling—how my whole body ached for Hazel, how even my arms missed her, my sweet still baby.

Monday, June 09, 2008

"If I'm drowning.."

within your open sea, save me, save me" --Over the Rhine

I don't know how to put into words what I'm feeling.

People have said how well I'm handling Hazel's death. But I don't feel as if I am. I feel like I'm falling apart. There are times, every few days, when I think, "If I let myself fall into how I'm really feeling right now, I don't know if I'll be able to claw myself back out."

I think there are some people who are expecting me to be over Hazel's death already. After all, she was never born alive; I never nursed her; I never bathed or dressed her.

OH, God! But she was my baby, my precious little girl who I dreamed about for YEARS. How can I just get "over" her? I believe she's in heaven. I believe I'll see her again some day. I believe she's perfect. But it's not enough. She's missing from our family. There will always be a missing part of our family. I will always ache for her. Always. There are people who think I'm being melodramatic, but I truly don't believe I am in this case. I've read enough of what people go through to know what to expect. I've talked to enough mothers who have lost their babies, pre-birth, to know how hard this will be.

The date of my expected c/s is coming up, as well as her due date. I'm as afraid of no-one remembering as I am of people remembering--it's just so very hard. I'm so tense that my back and neck hurt constantly. I don't know how to "fix" those physical symptoms. I thought I was getting sick, until I realized how tensely I'm holding my body all the time. But how do you relieve tension? Seriously? I've never been this tense before.

How can people not realize how hard this is??? Just because she never breathed? Because she was born 2 months early? Because she never lived outside my womb?

Oh, I ache. I ache for her.

Thursday, June 05, 2008


I’ve spent such a large portion of the last 3 days crying, weeping, screaming into pillows or while driving in the car. My voice is hoarse.

I read a great book, a memoir of a mother’s grief after the death of her 6 week old son, her first born. Reading the book, Losing Malcolm, became a trigger for a cathartic night of weeping, looking through Hazel’s things and giving in to how terrible I really feel. The author, Carol Henderson, writes about how she felt this intense need to write to everyone who had written her during her son’s short life. She spent weeks doing so, for one hour a day.

I think I’m going to do some little projects of my own like that.

Shortly before Hazel died, I purchased a sweet BigFooted bunny pattern from Wee Wonderfuls. This was going to be my baby’s birth gift. Each of my children have a Waldorf doll, and I’ve made the ones for Alex and Noah. My plan was to make one for the new baby, but since we didn’t know gender (and I like to match up child’s gender to his or her doll), I wanted to wait until after the baby was born to begin making it. (And OH!! How I longed to the baby to be a girl—I wanted to make such beautiful long, pig tailed hair for the perfect baby doll). I decided to make the sweet Big Footed Bunny for the baby in the meantime.

I’m going to make that bunny. For me. I’m going to spend lots of time carefully picking out fabrics, sewing, and stuffing this sweet bunny.

And then?

I don’t know.

The bunny will not take the place of my baby. I will still always want Hazel.

I’ve read, over and over, that for some reason 6-9 months after your child’s death tends to be the time of the most overwhelming grief. (And then the grief never goes away, it’s your constant companion, forever, just that it isn’t always overwhelming). I can’t even imagine what that might be like, that intense, overwhelming grief. I barely function now.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Vallerina Miriam

Miriam had her first "vallet" recietal this Saturday. It was, of course, pathetically hokey. But it was also (of course), absolutely darling.

Miriam, when she is in her own element, is confident, bossy, and in control. She a little off kilter at her dance class; it's new and she doesn't know the other children. It's interesting to watch her in this setting. She's calm, a bit quieter, and a bit day dream-y.

She loved the class, but she wants to take swimming lessons next. She'd like some of her friends to take the dance class with her next time. Imagine that--back in her element!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008


I'm cycling again. And not the good, get your heart pumping kind. The run to the bathroom and change your outfit kind.

My baby's due date has not even passed and my body is ready to make a new baby. How fair is that? Especially since I really can't have another baby. It seems to me, that since having more children in inadvisable, my body should just stop acting like it can make a baby and give up the ghost.


Monday, June 02, 2008

Mixed Up.

I feel so mixed up lately. So jumbled and out of sorts.
I was terribly impatient with my children today.
I was glad to get a letter from a friend, with a sweet little gift attached.
I was sad to talk with my mom because she sounds sad (although she tries to hide it).

I've been
discipler (sounds better than discipliner or punisher or whatever)

And I feel so very unqualified for any of these tasks.

I can be happy. I can even really, really enjoy myself. But I wonder if I'll ever feel overjoyed again. Perhaps not. Perhaps this limit on happiness, the feeling, is one of my new normals.