Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Ultimate Fighter

I am a life long student of human behavior.  From the time I was a young girl, I can remember being intrigued with people.  I would watch how they communicate with each other, how they would respond to situations. The faces they would make when they were happy, the faces they would make when they were sad. How sometimes people's eyes would flicker in conversation.  I love people. I can remember as a young girl, no matter if someone had just been mean to me, if someone different was mean to that person I would feel called to comfort them.  My heart would break when I saw pain on others faces.  I still to this day watch people.  I have learned to read the persons unsaid body language, and it has helped me greatly in anticipating others needs. It helps me be successful in my work, and it helps me in many relationships.  However,  when it comes to seeing/reading/observing my own behaviors I may not be as insightful.

I love my work.  I have spoke of it many times.  It is my job to help others. I manage a group home for people who struggle with persistent mental illness.  I never know what I am going to get when I go in (I love that part, it keeps me from getting bored.)  I take pride in the fact that I get to help people everyday.  It is very fulfilling for me, however the favorite part of my job is when someone I am supposed to be helping, shows me I'm not as smart as I think I am. :) The thing I've realized after being in this field for 20 years is that often people with some sort of what we call disability has a much greater understanding of love than we do.  One of the people I work with always says Thank you.  No matter how small the task is that I may have helped them with, they say Thank you, in the most sincere, heartfelt way. They have a grateful heart.  As I was helping them in some mundane task, they say "Thank you Tina".  It immediately made me smile.  I thought WOW I love this person, they are just so grateful. As I continued thinking, I realized I have not had the most grateful heart this summer.  I have been in a great deal of pain, and fairly short-sited because of that.

I have talked about a grateful heart  being a peaceful heart in my blog before.  This wasn't new information to me, but it was the reminder that I so desperately needed.  I have tried hard over the last few weeks to tell God "Thank you" for at least one thing a day.  I was on vacation with my family last week, and I was having one of my many conversations I have with the good Lord.  I am not the best with the formal prayers (it is a much needed area of improvement) but I have no problem talking his ear off.:) As I was talking with him, I said "Lord I am so tired of having to fight"  Ever since I was a small child, I have been a fighter (not in the physical violent sense), but in some ways needing to be to survive, and in others I hated seeing injustices.  If  I saw someone hurt, I would go to them, I would stand up for them. I would fight for them. If ever there was a hint of unjust behavior towards another, especially if  it was someone I love, I was there ready to do battle on their behalf.  I am still that way.  I can be a little hot headed.  One time a priest friend smiled at me and said "your are like Peter cutting of the soldiers ear, when they came for Christ" I am ready to do battle for the ones I love.

In many ways, Liam's death seemed very unjust.  I couldn't protect him, I couldn't fight for him, I didn't know the enemy..... I didn't know what to fight against, so I just fought against every wrong that I felt was done.  As I was talking to God, telling him how tired I was and that I wished I didn't have to fight so much, he told me in the very loving way he tells me things "Tina, you can't fight against death.  I have already fought that battle for you and I won."  Our God is so good to me.  He loves me, even though I am hot-headed, stubborn, fiery ,inadequate, prideful and always seem to think I can do it on my own. He is patient, I know I wouldn't be that patient if I was in his shoes. I Took that moment to Thank him, and give him Liam.  I hadn't let go, I was still fighting to keep him. I wasn't ready to say good-bye.

Since that conversation, and my attempts at a more grateful heart, I believe I have begun to find acceptance for Liam's death.  There are days when fear creeps back in on me.  There are days when my heart still feels very broken.  Yet under all of that, there is the beginnings of peace over Liam's death.  I don't know why he was called home so early.  I do know that he is basking in the glory of a greater love than I could ever give him.  I just miss him, and the time I could have had with him, but I know we will have eternity, because the ultimate fighter ( My Savior, Jesus Christ) has already won the greatest of battles.

Friday, July 19, 2013


I went for a run this morning with a dear friend. I should call it more of a walk in all reality.  We started out running, talking and of course then came the tears.  I couldn't run and cry, so I walked, talked and cried.  God love her!  She just walked and listened.

I have been struggling with the fact that I am so angry.  I don't want to be.  I actually get mad that I'm angry which makes absolutely no sense whatsoever!  My Friend of course informs me that God can handle it, and I just need to let it out. I struggle with this because, well, it's Jesus! He died for my sins; He suffered greatly to save me!  I feel so guilty at the thought of being angry at Him. One of the things I have been most angry about is that I am having a hard time finding purpose, meaning and a reason for Liam's death.  It all just seems so unjust. I cant find a positive thing about it.

The other day, I went and prayed at the Eucharistic Chapel at OLV. Usually when I pray there I find peace.  I found none that day. In fact I left feeling more frustrated than when I arrived.  I pleaded with God, "Please just give me the answer, show me the purpose in all of this...tell me why?  I need to understand!"  I didn't get the answer on my heart.  I didn't find any peace.  All I heard and felt was silence.

As I have been thinking about things, I believe the answer came to me today.  The answer is there is no reason, purpose or answer that would ever help resolve the pain and loss I feel over Liam's and my other boys deaths.  There is no reason or purpose that is ever good enough to justify the loss of life. It is tragic, and that is all there is to it.  At first I thought, "Wow that seems like a pretty hopeless outlook," but as I have continued on with this thought process I believe that God is leading me somewhere.  I think I have a VERY good understanding as to what the value of a single life is.  I have lost 5 children, and the pain is so deep and so real.  My heart is pierced and broken. There are times that I am so overwhelmed with the pain and suffering and loss that it truly takes my breath away.  I believe that is why I get angry because it is easier to be mad than to feel a pain like it is ripping your soul to shreds.  The more I reflect on this the more I become convinced that I have only gained a small understanding as to what the value of a life is.

I think that we as humans can't even begin to grasp how truly valuable life is.  God above GAVE His only Son, so that we might have eternal life.  I can't even adequately put into words the anguish I feel over the loss of my sons, and to think God WILLING took on that sacrifice for my life.   I have known this my entire life, I have repeated it time and time again, and I have shared emphatically with others this truth.  I have stood up for life my entire life.  I have advocated for young, old, disabled, newborn, and preborn for as long as I can remember.  I thought I GOT it.  I thought I knew how valuable life is, yet in one of my greatest hours of pain when I did not think I could hurt anymore because of the losses I have suffered I became convinced that I don't have a clue what infinite value is.  My mind and my heart can not truly grasp it.

So the question now is since there is no reason or purpose good enough for the loss of life how do I reconcile this in my mind to help me move forward? For any of you who have read my blog previously, you know that I have to have a reason, answer, purpose or something or my brain just can't handle it.  So I am faced with more questions.  Can I be okay with the answer if there is no answer?  Can I make sense of this enough to try and heal and move forward?  As I think about these things, I realize that there truly is no purpose in his death; however there was purpose for his life.  It doesn't matter that is was short.  It doesn't matter that others didn't have a relationship with him. It doesn't matter that I never got to see him smile, laugh, cry, sleep or grow.  I love him so completely with every fiber of my soul. I love him.  I love him unconditionally.  I love them all unconditionally.  So I guess I will find my purpose in their lives.  Short as they were, there is always meaning and purpose in that.

I don't know if this is even making sense to anyone but me. I believe that in this suffering I am going through, Jesus has allowed me a glimpse of how much he truly loves us.  It is almost crushing the sheer magnitude of it. In the end, I will cling to the fact that Jesus does have victory over death, and at the end of this life, I will see my children again.  So as Steve's Grandma Mary always use to say: "It's only so long for a little while."

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The stages of Grief

Today is two months since Liam was stillborn. I feel I must preface this post with a disclaimer. I want everyone to know I am still seeking professional consultation for both physical and emotional aftershocks of Liam's death and the still birth.  I also must let you know that the emotions and feeling I type are where I am at, and I know that it is all part of grieving, healing and moving forward. However, I don't plan to sugar-coat a thing. I am firmly planted in stages 3 and 4 of the grieving process. (Yes I researched it.) It's that part of me that needs to know the why of things.

I am angry.  I am angry Liam died.  I am angry that no matter how hard I try I can not find the positive in this situation. I am angry that certain people in my life who I thought I could count on, I can't.  I'm angry that people apologize for a certain behavior, yet d0 nothing to change it.  I am angry that I am ALWAYS supposed to be the bigger person and forgive and move forward, yet they do nothing to change any hurtful behavior towards me.  I am angry that I am depressed, I am angry that I am angry.  Over all I am thoroughly PISSED OFF! This is stage 3 of the grieving process.

Stage 4 is being depressed.  I am depressed. I am sad. I feel like my brain is in a fog.  I miss details I normally wouldn't.  My emotions are raw.  I cry at the drop of a hat, I get mad at the drop of the hat. I am oversensitive and my feelings get hurt way to easy. I'm defensive and again royally pissed off.

I did my diet for a month, lost 18 lbs, but had to quit because I don't have the emotional fortitude right now to apply that kind of energy and focus that is needed.  My running is hit and miss. I ran for about a week, quit for about a week.  This week I've ran twice with plans to run with a friend tomorrow as well.  My shins hurt, my calves burn, I feel like all the tendons in my legs are just going to snap because they get so tight and burn while I run.  I know this is due to my weight.  I gained 60 lbs while pregnant with Liam, due to progesterone injections and the prednisone.  My Doc informed "you are going to get very big on these medications"  That's another reason I'm angry.  It is one thing to go through all this and have an alive baby.  It is worth it.  Right now, it just sucks......Liam died, and I got fat. I'm sure that sounds vain....but it is how I feel.

I feel completely alone and abandoned by God.  I have tried really hard to live my life in a way that he has asked of me.  I have been open to life, I have never used contraception.  I sacrifice my own health to carry my babies.....I am incredibly sick during pregnancy. I have tried to do what he asks of me, yet 5 of my children have died.  Why?  What could that possibly teach me?  What could possibly be the point? 

Some days are definitely better than others.  I am sure for my post you can tell what kind of day it has been.  I know I am being negative, I know that I have many blessings,  I know that being pissed off isn't going to do anyone any good, especially me.  I know that forgiving those that hurt me is in my best interest, because the anger only hurts me.  They have already proven they could care less.  I know that God has not abandoned be.  I know that he loves me.  There is a huge gap between the feeling and the knowing right now.  I had someone ask me the other day, "How can you still keep believing when you feel this way.  I told them,  Because Faith is not about a feeling it is a choice.  I choose to believe, despite the feelings I have.  I choose to continue to go to church, even when I don't want to.  I choose to continue to try and forgive those who hurt me, even though I feel really mad about it.  I choose Christ, because I know he chose me.

So that is where I am at in a nutshell.  Please continue to pray for me.  I have tried to will myself through this, because that is what I do.  However I can't.  So I guess that means I just have to walk through this.  So I will keep going one day at a time, one step at a time. I will survive, because that is what I know how to do.

Friday, June 14, 2013

The beginnings of acceptance.

After my last post, I had many people reach out to me.  Some were women who have gone through this, some were people in my life that cared, and some that were concerned for my health.  THANK YOU!  I am very blessed to have so many people in my life, that truly care about me.  I wanted to reassure any that were worried, that I am doing okay.  I am seeking professional help both physically and emotionally.  I started on an anti-depressant right away, but after being on it, my Dr. and I decided it wasn't helping me. I felt like a zombie on it.  I didn't feel deep sadness, but I didn't feel happiness either, It essentially made me numb and was AWFUL.  I do not have a chemical imbalance, therefore, those drugs are no use to me.

I have had some lingering side effects physically, but nothing serious.  I am doing as well as can be expected.  I'm able to laugh, smile, find joy, and live my life.  Sometimes I think in this society, that we want to fix everything for everyone, because we care.  However, sometimes to find healing, you HAVE to walk through the pain. There is no magic pill, or simple answer that will take this away.  I lost my son.  I have lost five sons.  The loss is deep, the pain is incredible, the loneliness is there, however, I am lucky.  I have my faith.

I believe that death and disease, have come into this life through Sin. God made us to live forever with him, but the human race fell, when Adam and Eve chose to disobey.  I don't believe for a moment that it was God's Will that Liam died, or any other of my Children.  I believe that those things happened, because of Sin. I'm not saying it was a punishment for my own personal sin, I'm say that sin is the tool that Satan uses to lure us away from God. I'm saying that death and disease are a result of sin. The only way to counter it, is to cling to Jesus.

Right after Liam died, I was angry at God.  Not a why did you do this, but why did you allow this?  I don't believe this side of heaven, I will ever understand the answer to that.  I believe whole heartedly that I don't see or even begin to comprehend the bigger picture, but what I do know is that God Loves me.  It hurts him, to see me hurt.  Just like it hurts me, to see my children hurt.  However as a parent sometimes we have to allow them to hurt to grow. I am no longer angry.  When I hurt the most, I sing and I praise Jesus from the depth of my soul, and it is in that , that I have begun to find peace and acceptance.

I don't know what I will learn from all of this, or in which ways I will grow, but I do know that I will. I have seen many things in my life.  I have felt incredible pain in my life.  I have been the brunt of cruel jokes, I have been judged unfairly, I have been persecuted, I have been despised.  I have been an outcast, I have felt incredible loss, loneliness, despair, and pain, and I would not trade a moment of it.  I have grown, and on the flip side, I have felt incredible happiness, I have laughed, I have been accepted, I have been loved, and I have found hope, peace and much joy.  My oldest daughter asked me once "Mom, why do you keep having kids, when you lose them?  Doesn't it hurt to much?"  I told her  yes the hurt is incredible, but the love is even more incredible. I am thankful for every brief moment I was able to hold my children in my womb.

For all the hurt I have felt, I have felt happiness.  I don't believe I would appreciate the happiness to the level I do now if I have never suffered.  The thing I've learned in my life is there can be beauty found in the pain we go through.  I'm guessing to some that sounds a little twisted, but what I mean is that if you look at things that happen in your life as an opportunity to learn and grow, and ways to bring you closer to Christ, instead of something being done to you and you are helpless against it, you can find beauty in that.

The loss of a child is agonizing.  It is the deepest and most incredible pain I have ever felt. However, I believe that Liam, Gabriel, Shane, Ryan and Timothy, will teach me more about love than I could ever understand this side of heaven. I believe that the way to short amount of time I got to spend with them on this earth, will help me live my life to Glorify God in a way I could not have done without them.

In the end, I share my thoughts, my heart and pain to help me find healing, but to hopefully also help others not feel alone.  I know too many women, men and families have gone though this.  I share my journey to help many hurting find a voice.  We are in a battle with the culture of death.  People do not value life inside the womb like they should.  Many of us have been hurt by others who try to dismiss our loss. I for one won't stand for it anymore.  If people want to judge let them, but I will fight for the value of everyone of my children's lives.


I know I will get through this.  I have God.  When I feel like the grief is consuming me, I fix my eyes on Jesus, and I am able to walk on the raging sea of loss.  Thank you all who reach out to me,  Thank you all who love me.  I can't put into words what it means.  Please keep praying for me.  I know I can't do this without Jesus, and I know that prayer truly changes things.

Quick update on the diet and training.  I have lost 14lbs in two weeks.  YAY!  I am also getting my shoes training starts bright and early Monday morning.  I am already registered for the Crazy Horse Half-Marathon......HERE I COME!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

understanding and finding courage.

Monday will be one month since Liam was stillborn.  I have received all the results of the tests they did, and everything has returned normal.  No one can tell me why Liam died.  There were no Chromosomal issues....the placenta, pathology and everything was normal.  All they could tell me is that he stopped growing around 15 weeks.  We don't know exactly when his heart stopped beating, but at 16.5 weeks we still heard a heart beat.  So Sometime between then and 20 weeks, Liam passed away.  This has been really tough for me.  I am a person who really likes to know the WHY of things.  If something is broke, I mess with it until I figure out what is wrong.  When I was a kid, I took radios apart to figure out how they work.  If I don't know the answer to something, I research, dig, look until I find one.   There is no answer here, and it is very hard for me.

I have been struggling with extreme loneliness. I ask myself....Why?  I know there are many women who have gone through this..... I am not alone.  I have family and friends who love and support me, I have four children who NEVER give me time to be alone, so why do I feel so alone? When I feel this lonely, I withdraw even more....which really doesn't make a whole lot of sense.  However it is almost suffocating.  I feel like I am sinking in quicksand, and I am just so tired of holding on to the branch, that it would almost be easier to let go.  That is how this  loneliness makes me feel.

As  I have been reflecting on the question of why after everyone of my children, that I have lost (miscarriage and stillbirth) do I feel so alone...... I begin to understand.  The word intimacy is what comes to mind.  We can experience intimacy in many ways.  I believe that the deepest form of intimacy I've ever experienced is carrying my children in the womb.  I know even before my missed period, that I am pregnant.  My body begins changing.  My boobs hurt, I'm queasy, I gain 9lbs immediately, I begin changing.   My body knows, even before my conscious mind knows.  I would say the next closest form of intimacy I've experience is the act of help create life with my husband.  I know anyone can have sex, and have the physical intimacy,  but to truly be open to life, with my husband, inside of a marital, committed relationship, that is true intimacy.  As I am processing through this, I begin to understand the loneliness.

So through the intimacy and love of my husband and I, I am given the gift to carry life within me. My body knows this  baby on the cellular level.  There have been many studies done that show, the cells of my children live in me long after their born.  There is some research that even shows these same cells, may heal things on a cellular level without me even knowing about it.  My baby  is truly present in every fiber of my being.  That is intimacy, at it's finest as far as I'm concerned. 

I have four living children, and I remember after Brianna, my oldest was born, I did not know how I could possible have enough love in my heart for another child.  I felt as if I was bursting.  However with every other child that God gifted me with, my love grew, and I was able to love all of them that much.  I remember holding each of my children as newborns, and being overcome with intense love.  Love so deep that I would give EVERYTHING to protect them. I would gladly lay down my life for them in a minute....without hesitation, and for a person who has an extremely high survival instinct....that says a lot..... it is that intimacy,  and true love that overcomes all other instincts.  As time goes on, and my children grow.....the intimacy changes.  It does not go away, but every year, every day as they grow and change, I learn to let go.  I learn to let them try walking, even if it means they will fall and get hurt.  I learn to let them go to friends houses for sleepovers.  I learn to let others care for them, and not have then within my line of site.  I love them, and I would still give my life for them, but I learn to let them become their own person.  I have years to learn how to let go.

When I have lost my babies, It is so sudden, and so shocking to my system.  It is as if a nuclear bomb has gone off inside of me.  One minute I am connected to my child in the most intimate way possible, and the next they are gone.  There is no time to learn to let go, there is no years of preparation, they are gone, and I am left..... alone.  That intimacy, the being connected to another person in a way that you are truly one, is just torn away.  My body is in shock, my emotions are in shock.  My whole world is turned upside down......I now understand the loneliness.

So what do I do? How do I overcome this drowning sensation? How do I learn to move on from this explosion that has racked my very being?  As I reflect on these questions, I realize I need courage.  I need the courage to say to my husband...."I am so lonely, will you hold me"  I need the courage to when people ask how I am doing,  say "I am hurting", and allow them to love me.  I need the courage, to humble myself, and let others love me.  I know this may seem weird to some, but I consider myself a tough person. I am incredibly independent and I have always taken situations that have been thrown at me, and said you will not beat me, you will not define me, I will overcome you. I love to love people, and help people and be there for them when they are hurting, but I am not good at letting others be there for me.  I am scared to be vulnerable, because I am afraid of getting hurt.  When you love as deeply as I do, you hurt deeply as well, and my natural instinct is to protect myself from the pain.

I know this loneliness will not go away anytime soon, I will carry it with me for a very long time, however I need to be courageous enough to not let it define me.  I will keep moving forward, I will keep living, I will keep finding joy, and I will keep loving people.  I won't become a prisoner to fear, and I will find hope in my Savior, Jesus Christ.  Yes I will hurt, and I will always miss my babies, but I will move forward for them.  I know deep in my heart, that none of my little angels in heaven would want me to retreat from the world.  I know this, because I know them.  I may have never seen or held four of them, and I only held Liam for a brief time, but I know them. As intimately as humanly possible..... I know them.

I share all this for many reasons, mainly because It is how I process things myself, but also to hopefully help people understand.   So many think miscarriage and infant loss is an extremely private matter. However, I feel I need the people that love me now more than ever.  When people don't reach out and show they care, it only compounds the loneliness.  I am very lucky, I am surrounded by many people, who have the understanding, of what life in the womb means..... many are not so lucky.  The culture we live in devalues life inside the womb.  It can even make people feel like they do not have the right to grieve or be sad, because "at least it was early" or at least they never held them and knew them"  I can assure you, as a woman, I knew everyone of my children I lost in a way, no one else would understand.  Miscarriage and stillbirth should not just be brushed under a rug.  It is easy for people to say, "well that pregnancy just wasn't viable".....that was my child, who was part of my very being, and now they are gone.  Please don't dismiss the value of my child.

As far as the training and diet, I have been on the diet 10 days and have lost 10 lbs and 12 inches. I have not begun training yet, but hope to very shortly.  I need to get new shoes, as my old ones are trashed.  I hope to do that in the next week.  I will have to make a trip to Fargo, because the stores around here don't have anything worth a hoot, and nothing in my size.  So as I continue this journey, please continue to keep me in your prayers, and if you know anyone who has lost a baby due to miscarriage, please don't hesitate to reach out to them.  God Bless!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Emotional Roller Coaster.

Well it is hard to believe that I haven't posted on this blog since last October.  So much has happened since then.  It always amazes me how I can go so long without posting, yet when I do post it is quite therapeutic for me.  So beware, the last months of my life have been full of Joy, challenges, accomplishments, great loss, and sadness.  I probably feel the urge to write again, because well, I emotionally vomit sometimes when writing.  It is a release for me.  So if you want to join me  in the emotional journey.....Keep reading.

January 2, of this year was my husbands and I's 14th wedding anniversary.  I am a bit of a nostalgic person, and as I looked back over our 20 plus year journey we have had together, and the trials of life, joys of life, and all the things that brought us there, I was overcome with love for him.  We have been through a lot in our life.....I believe most married couples have, but when I look back, and I see how whenever their are MAJOR challenges for us, we always pull together.  We lift each other up, we support each other, and despite our many differences, we really do complete each other.  Needless to say we Celebrated our anniversary..... a lot :)

I find out a few weeks later, that I am pregnant. I was filled with joy, yet much apprehension.  I lost a baby last year during Steve's dad's funeral....that was the fourth miscarriage I had.  The thought of being pregnant and possibly facing another loss, was terrifying to me.  My miscarriages have been incredibly painful, lonely, and have left a part of me longing for the babies I never got to hold.  After I had lost Gabriel(the most recent miscarriage)  I truly felt in my heart I was done having kids.  My Dr. had done some testing as to why I keep miscarrying and he said I had something called a lymphocyte compatibility disorder, he said it was easily treated with steroid during pregnancy. 

As soon as I got the positive test (which was four days before my missed period),   I already knew I was pregnant, I was at the Dr. office.  We started the prednisone immediately and then did blood work.  My progesterone level was low, so I started daily IM injections of progesterone.  Yes I was giving them to myself.  Steve helped me a lot as well.  It was less painful, if given in the rear, so Steve would often give me the injections.  If he was gone, or  unable to help, I injected myself in my upper thigh. 

Before I knew it, we were past twelve weeks.  At this point the DR. said I could stop doing the injections.  I have to say I was relieved.  I was covered in bruises and still to this day, have huge knots on my thighs.  I have never lost a baby after twelve weeks, so some of the anxiety left me.  I was a little frustrated, because due to the prednisone, and progesterone,  my weight gain was enormous.  I had worked so hard to lose 55 lbs. the summer before, and had already gained most of that back in 3 short months.

Overall, I felt ok.  I am always queasy during pregnancy....with my other four kids, I puked all nine months. Pregnancy is hard for me, but I would gladly puke for nine months if it meant the baby was healthy.   With this pregnancy, I was very queasy all the time, but I was not puking as much as with the other kids, so that was good.

As time went on, I became more relaxed, and actually allowed myself to daydream of how things were going to be when baby comes.  What names do I want, is it a boy or a girl.  My kids were so excited for this little one.  Always wanting to touch the belly(which was quite huge) Talking about when the baby comes, and who gets to hold him or her the most.....and of course which one will be stuck with the poopy diapers.

I began feeling the little one move.  I swear the kid was a future Olympic swimmer.  It felt as if I had a pinball bouncing around in there!  I would lay in bed and smile as I felt him or her moving around.  That is one of the greatest joys for me.  Being able to feel your baby move.  I had no doubt that this little one was going to have no trouble keeping up with his/her older siblings.

We reached 20 weeks, and then it was time for the ultrasound.  Finally we get to find out what we are having.   I can tell the kids, so they stop betting and fighting with each other over what we are going to have.  Although according to my 4 year old, it was a girl, and her name was Abby, and she was sleeping with her (Sarah).

The week before the ultrasound, I had some anxiety creep back in.  I don't know why, I just kept telling myself that is probably normal.  So they morning of the ultrasound, we head in.  Steve and I decide to bring Sarah with us.  We thought it would be really nice for her to see her baby(as she referred to him/her).  The ultrasound begins, and we see the baby.  I tell the tech, I want to know what we are having, and she smiles.  I of course, having had many ultrasounds, know what I am looking at, so after a minute, I say..... "Where is baby's heartbeat"  That is always the first thing I see with my other kids, and I didn't see it.  The tech then became very quiet, and is looking frantically.  Moving the wand over my belly.  She won't look at me, she wont say anything.  I ask is everything okay?  and she just keeps looking.  What seemed after about 5  minutes.  She places the wand down and says "I'll be right back"  She leaves the room.  Steve and I sit there quietly for probably 5 minutes, and then I tell him. " I didn't see the heartbeat, I always see the heartbeat."  He scoots his chair closer, and holds my hand a little tighter.  Sarah at this point, begins saying she is scared.  We try and comfort her, and soothe her the best we can, but she can sense the fear in our hearts, and it is in hers too.

After what seemed like an eternity,  my Dr. walks in the room, and confirms what I already knew, that the baby did not have a heartbeat.  I try to hold the sobs in,  I try to hold it together for Sarah's sake, but I can't.....they just come.  At this point the Dr. tells me, that since I am this far along, he would prefer to induce labor and that I deliver.  He did offer an option of something called a D&E, but the very sound of it made me cringe.  I do know that is something used in late term abortions, and I wanted nothing to do with it.....he also said he would prefer not to do it.

 So next thing I know I am up in labor and delivery, and they are giving me medicine to induce labor.  Steve had called some friends to come get Sarah, and began notifying family.  It all seemed to be happening so fast.  I began to doubt that they were right, I mean mistakes happen all the time.....what if they were wrong.  What if the baby really is okay?  I became a little frantic, and insisted that they do another ultrasound.  I knew there were a lot of people praying, what if they were wrong?  So they brought in the ultrasound machine, and I held my breath.  "Please God, Please God, Please let there be a  heartbeat?"  There was no heart beat.  I tried to stay composed, but a new wave of agonizing sobs( a sound I didn't even recognize) began escaping from me.  My whole body shook.  Steve just held me "I got you, I got you" he said over and over.

Later in the day, Steve's mom and Brother arrive(they were on their way up for the weekend, when we got the news)  My mom and sister, as soon as they heard, rearranged everything, and were on their way up.  The time was approaching that the kids would get out of school.  Steve and his brother went to get them, and tell them what happened.  They then came up to the hospital.  The pain and worry on their faces, was almost unbearable for me.  I hugged them all, told them how much I loved them, and that mommy was going to be okay.

Soon the pain from the induced contractions started really hurting, so I sent the kids home with Steve's mom and brother.  I also had a couple of dear friends stop in and see me, and hug me, and cry with me during this time.  My husband and my sister had been strongly urging me to get an epidural. I've never had one.  I prefer natural childbirth, just cause I worry about the side-effect of the medication for baby, and honestly I don't like the idea of a long needle going in my spine....I'd rather deal with the pain.  But since there were no risks to the baby, I agreed to have one.  After four pokes and what seemed like forever of me sitting perfectly still and hunched over, I had an epidural.  I did not feel any pain.....just pressure, so it did it's job.

My mom and sister arrived, and were there when my son was delivered.  Liam George Castle.  He was perfect.  All ten little fingers and toes.  I could even tell he had the same nose as my Mary and Sarah. Steve and I had the kids come up, they all got to see him and hold him.  I held him for hours.  I had been dreaming of the day I got to rock with the baby sleeping on my chest, one of the greatest feelings in the world in my mind.  So I sat there and held his tiny body and rocked him and told him I loved him. The tears fell so freely all day.  My cheeks were stinging from all the tears I cried.

We decided to have a full funeral and burial for Liam.  I had to honor his life.  I had to.  It doesn't matter that his life was so short, and that many people did not get to love him and develop the bond with him as I did.  HIS LIFE MATTERED.  HE WAS IMPORTANT.  He deserved a funeral and burial, his dignity, his life, deserved to be celebrated and honored. I found purpose in planning his funeral, and it propelled me forward.

In the aftermath of all of this, I have good days and I have bad days.  There are moments when I am filled with such gratitude for my four living children.  There are moments I find peace, because I know that Liam, Gabriel, Shane, Ryan and Timothy are in the arms of my savior.  They will never suffer, or know any pain.  They will only know perfect love.  Then there are days, when the sadness and grief feel like they are going to swallow me whole.  I find joy in my children, and my work.  I can laugh and still enjoy the beauties of this life God gave me.  I can also cry and know that my heart is broken, and that it is okay to hurt.  In the end, I will honor my children's lives, by moving forward, and living the best and fullest life I can. 

I am starting the same diet I did last year next week, and hope to begin training for the half-marathon in Oct a couple weeks after that.  I do have some lingering physical side-effects of this, so I am hoping I heal in time to do the training I need to.  I am hoping to get Bracelets made up with Timothy, Ryan, Shane, Gabriel, and Liam's names on it.  That way when I am running and struggling, all I have to do is look at that and it will refocus me.  I ask that anyone who reads this, pray for me and my family.  I know we will be okay, we have lost children before, and found a way to move on.  I also know there will be a piece of me that will always long for the day when I can hold them, and kiss them, when reunited with them in heaven.