It's been almost a year since I last published a post...and what a year it has been. Brad & I found out last Christmas that we were expecting again. And so began another pregnancy filled with anticipation, anxiety, and excitement. I know that God is ultimately in control, but I have a hard time laying down my fears & anxieties...perhaps knowing all that can happen or go wrong adds to my constant worry. I've been blessed to help many women throughout the US, Canada, and the United Kingdom with the doppler rentals through Beats for Bristol. But that also means I continue to be educated on another heartbreaking incident of infant loss...one that I take to heart and pour what I can into helping another grieving family.
So on a very hot July 4th morning at 7 + months pregnant, we buried our first born.
I thought I would be "ok" when we buried her. I had countless conversations with the cemetery, our family, the funeral home, and the monument company and never had an emotional breakdown. I think I had my mind set that "this is what we're going to do and everything will be fine" attitude. It's a strange thing to plan a burial for your child...and since Bristol had passed 2 1/2 years ago, I had convinced myself that this was no big deal. But the actual moment of laying her ashes in the ground took my breath away and broke my heart all over again. I didn't want to let go, walk away, or cover what remained of her with dirt. Standing over her grave pregnant, with Brad & Brody by my side was a reminder of what we had lost, what we have, and how little control we really have. Since Bristol was born, the only time she was 'away' from us was when she was taken to the funeral home by the hospital. Since then she had been with us at home, and even secretly traveled places in my suitcase (just in case our house burned down while we were gone). But now I had to leave- I had to walk away and leave her ashes in the ground. My feet felt heavy and if it hadn't been 90 degrees my family might have let me stay. But the combination of heat, emotions, and being pregnant got the best of me. My family walked me to the car to leave...where I passed out and threw up just a few miles away from the cemetery. (I think I gave my father-in-law & mother a good scare.) Looking back, burying her was almost as hard as delivering her...I think because there is a finality at the cemetery and somehow I worry that now that she is 'gone' she will be forgotten.
But I know that isn't true...her earthly legacy lives on through Beats for Bristol, Inc. and The Bristol Project. And most importantly, she is a part of our family and my love for her is always in my heart. As time has passed, the hurt of losing our first child has changed...I wouldn't say that I am "over it" as some people have said, but rather I have learned to love & grieve her while picking up the pieces. As Brody gets older and Colton was born this past August, I think the sting that hurts the most now is knowing what we missed out on with her. Watching Brody grow up (a big 2 year old now!) and the excitement of a new baby, reminds me of the memories we didn't get to make. Brody & Colton bring immense joy to my life, my heart just swells thinking of how much I love them. And I am so blessed to be at home with them- spending every day watching them grow, change, learn, laugh...I can't imagine losing them. My biggest fear is something awful happening to them and having to say goodbye. But this fear also reminds me of my most important job...to teach my children about Jesus, to teach them to love Him so that one day we will all be together for eternity.
Tis the season of Christmas music...I'm not sure where I was the other day but I heard the song about "It's the most wonderful time of the year" and the first thought that entered my head, was
NO it's NOT! November & December are emotional months for me, filled with happy and sad memories... November was when I last heard Bristol's heartbeat, but it's also the month Brody was born. December is when we learned Bristol died and she was born, but it's also my favorite holiday and one filled with many happy memories. As I was reflecting on Christmas, and the true meaning of the holiday I was overcome with mixed emotions....let me explain. I know how heartbroken I was when we learned Bristol had died...our dreams were shattered in that moment. And I know how utterly crushed I would be if something happened to my precious little boys...but GOD knew his son was going to die. His heart was shattered when his children didn't believe in Him, so he sent his SON to DIE for US so that we may be with him for eternity. Wow, that's LOVE. I can't imagine looking down on that cross and watching my son die...I can't imagine the hurt he must have felt contradicted with the overwhelming love he had for his children, for us....So as I enter into this season filled with mixed emotions, I am reminded of God's never ending love. Just as I will never stop loving or missing Bristol, God never stops loving us or yearning for us to love him.
Bristol's 3rd Birthday is just a couple weeks away and I'm not sure how we'll 'celebrate' this year.. I know December 17th and 18th will always be bittersweet, but maybe I will also be reminded that
"it's the most wonderful time of the year"...
One of the greatest joys is watching Brody love on his brother Colton...it warms my heart and brings tears to my eyes. Brotherly love...these two little guys are heaven sent, earthly reminders of their older sister who waits for us. As we approach her birthday I will be encouraged...to teach my children to love Jesus, to love one another, and to hold hope in the promise of Heaven. One day we will be united for eternity and when that time comes, it will always be the most wonderful time of the year.