Our year was full of JOY as we anticipated the arrival of our daughter, Mary-Linda Elizabeth (expected in January 2018)
and as we were able to celebrate our favorite team, the Houston Astros, winning their first World Series.
Moustapha even became the Most Famous Fan in the process. (87 MILLION views on his GIF & an awesome acting performance on the MLB Network!)
However, in mid-August, at 4.5 months gestation, our Mary-Linda went to be with Jesus.
We are deeply saddened that she is no longer here with us on earth. We have great hope that we will be reunited with her one day.
And, we thank God for the joy her life brought to our family. Thank you to each of you who have expressed your sympathies. We do not walk this road alone. May the joy and peace of Christ Jesus be with you and yours this Christmas and always. Wishing you hope and peace in 2018.
We don’t know what to expect. We’ve never been in a situation quite like this one.
Holidays. Not looking forward to what her first holidays will be like. Instead, these are our first holidays with our Mary-Linda. Except, she’s not with us. She’s in heaven. And, our hopes and dreams for her future with us, no longer exist. They will forever live in that place of dreams and hopes that can never BE on this earth.
My sister-in-law altered the tradition of going around the table and everyone listing off what they were thankful for this year. She, instead, asked a representative from each family to give a list of family thanksgivings. That was perfect. I could just sit and listen.
Now, with Christmas around the corner and as we are in the season of Advent- waiting. We wait and create new memories and traditions to honor our Mary-Linda.
My dear friend, Holly sent this beautiful silver angel ornament with Mary-Linda’s initials engraved. It was the first ornament we put on the tree this year.
A few weeks ago, we were shopping and I spotted this beautiful angel topper. We’ve never had an angel on top of our tree. This seemed like a perfect way to honor our Mary-Linda for years to come.
I don’t know how we will get through Christmas, as Mary-Linda’s due date draws near. Pregnancies have such a wide range of safe delivery- a 5 week range that doesn’t even include earlier than 37 weeks gestation that can also result in healthy babies. So, I don’t know that we will do anything on her actual due date. I’m thinking we might want to do something to start the new year. I can’t say that I will be sad to see 2017 go…it hasn’t been the best of years. Hoping for a much better 2018.
No matter what, our hope remains in Jesus. We await His second coming and we anticipate being with Him and reunited with our loved ones in Heaven one day. And, I look forward to holding my Mary-Linda in heaven one day. I imagine she’ll do cart wheels as she runs to greet me and she’ll joyously leap into my arms. It will be the biggest hug ever.
We wish you a wonderful Advent season and a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.
It’s personal, y’all.
The highs so high and the lows, very deep and low.
Hope boxes are a ministry of “Hope Mommies”
Please don’t tell those who have lost their homes, that it’s just stuff. It isn’t just stuff.
I know you love us and you want us to be okay.
But, Sometimes we are not okay.
I believe that I am way better than I would be without my four living children, but that doesn’t mean I’m okay with losing a child.
I don’t know how I will grieve through the holidays. Or through Mary-Linda’s expected due date.
All I know is that whatever I feel is what I feel.
It has been three months since we learned that our daughter’s heart had stopped beating at over 17 weeks gestation. I would have been a little over a month away from being full-term pregnant now, had she continued to thrive in my womb. I am so sad. My heart aches from deep within.
I am going to try to take a few minutes to describe how a wonderful ministry provided for our family on one of the hardest days we’ve ever walked through together. Bridget’s Cradles
Throughout the afternoon and evening, we had many visitors. One sweet lady named Heather from “Child Life” visited with us several times. She was so kind to always refer to our baby as our daughter. And, she told us about different services she could offer us. One was a handmade cradle from an organization called Bridget’s Cradles. She asked us what color we would like and we chose pink.
I held our sweet baby daughter all day. When the Els arrived, Heather had already created a book with photos of Mary-Linda. We decided to show the children pictures of their sister (if they wanted to see them) and to give them the option to see her in person and hold her. They were scared, but having the book of photos to look at first, was less intimidating than seeing her.
One by one, they wanted to see her. And, one by one they all wanted to hold her. We had promised each of them that they would get to hold her when she was born. We didn’t imagine it would be like this, but it was a beautiful moment filled with so much heartache and love.
I gently placed her body in the hand-knit, beautiful, pink cradle. (given to the hospital by Bridget’s Cradles) The cradle held her little body perfectly. Her body felt so fragile. And, Mary-Linda’s big brothers and sister all held her. We all cried. It was so sad, but so important for each of us.
I’ve been given their permission to share some private family photos of this with you here. No one ever wants to be in this situation. Losing their infant child in their womb. But, having all of us able to hold her was a huge part of the healing process we still find ourselves in. This isn’t easy. But, I am so glad we were able to deliver Mary-Linda and were all able to spend time with her body and hold her in our arms.
I will be forever grateful to Bridget’s Cradles and to Bridget’s mother for providing this ministry to families going through this very difficult time. Thank you and blessings to you always.
El Momma, Daddy and the Els
Warning. This post discusses loss.
Putting on clothes.
I want to be able to leave the house when I need to, and not feel exposed.
I think I’ll stick to my tent dress for a while.
I was at school delivering donuts for our older daughter’s ninth birthday. I had extra for my other children. I went to a table full of second graders to give a donut to our youngest son. I had the box full of donuts in my arms and somehow had caught up my dress in a way that pulled it close to my belly. I was (inadvertently) exposed. This sweet little second grade girl looked up at me, smiled and asked “are you pregnant?” My son’s eyes widened as he awaited my response. I could tell that he was afraid that I would break down and cry right there in the elementary school lunch room! I didn’t break down then. I believe it’s okay if I would have. (Feel what you are doing to feel) It’s okay. But, I answered this little girl honestly and kindly. And, it was alright. It’s good to be prepared for this kind of thing, just in case I get asked.
|Expecting Mary-Linda, July 2017|
|Post loss of Mary-Linda, October 2017|
On the day she was born, so many of my childhood dreams came true.
We had a list of possible names for our baby daughter. Fifty or more different combinations. We knew we wanted to give her a name that paid homage to both our mothers’.
“Goodness me. This is going to be more difficult that I initially thought.”
We thought we had time to know for sure. The kids would often tell us of their name ideas.
Here are just a few:
We told them, “God knows her name and when we need to know we will know.”
On August 15th, 2017 we knew. I remember laying there in the hospital bed, in labor with our daughter and I just knew.
Just say it and it sounds so beautiful. So meant to be. Our precious baby.
We named her “Mary” for my husband’s mother. Mary means “wished-for child.” She is our wished-for child in every way.
We named her “Linda” for my mother. Linda means “beautiful.” She is beautiful and perfect in every way.
We named her “Elizabeth” because Elizabeth means oath or promise of God. We hold tight to God’s promises. Especially that He never leaves us or forsakes us. Knowing I was giving birth to our daughter who was already in heaven was only something I could go through knowing I was not going through it alone. The Lord was with us. His presence was felt and known in so many ways in that hospital bed.
I often think back to that experience- the worst of my life. But, I can’t help but remember so much peace in the deep heartache and suffering. That’s only possible through God. There really is no other explanation.
We love you forever, our baby daughter in heaven, Mary-Linda Elizabeth.
Warning. This post discusses loss.
Today has been all about guilt and regret.
Over the last couple of days, I have begun to have memories. Memories of times just a few short weeks ago when I was worried. I remember wondering if my baby’s heart rate had slowed. Was it too slow? Was something wrong? I googled “Normal fetal heart rate” and found that my daughter’s heart rate was in the normal range for her gestational age. But, I remember worrying. I let it go, but I worried. When was this?
I took the time to look at my search history today. I guess so I could regret even more. I found that I did the search twice. I searched on Tuesday, August 8th…when my daughter was still developing and alive. And, I searched again on Monday, August 14th…when my daughter’s heart had already stopped beating and I didn’t know it.
I regret googling on Tuesday, August 8th and stopping there.
I regret not calling my doctor and going in for a checkup that week. I don’t know if they would have caught what was happening with my daughter then, but I could have given her a chance. I am not a big worrier. I walk around with a lot of “peace that passes all understanding.” I thank God for that. But, right now, I can’t shake this regret. Not now. I wish I would have given my baby girl every opportunity to live. I can’t tell you that the outcome would have been different.
Chances are, I would find something else to regret, if I would have gone in to the doctor’s office that week.
But, for now. I regret.
I regret that my baby is in heaven and not growing inside her mommy.
I regret that I am sitting in the rocker that we were given 13 years ago to rock all of our babies.
I regret that I didn’t sit down in this rocker once while my Mary-Linda was still with me.
I regret that I didn’t take my children in to see the 13 week ultrasound when Mary-Linda was dancing.
I regret that I didn’t live every moment of this pregnancy like it could end.
I’ve read that it’s good to go through every stage of grief. That it’s good to feel all the feels. The bad and the bad and even the good. I guess what I am doing is “good.” And, I’m talking about it here, because I planned to talk more about my experiences as my baby daughter was growing. I didn’t think it would end up like this. This wasn’t the plan. But, I am still talking, because, as I have sadly learned, we are not alone in this. Many of my dear friends have experienced this and come out the other side. I feel very alone and I feel so much better when I am with someone who listens or shares or just sits with me. I know there is hope for me. Hope for us. We have this beautiful, lovely family full of kids that are home with me because of Hurricane Harvey and who frankly are driving me nuts.
But, this timing must be perfect, because it’s the timing that it is. I can’t change it. And, no matter how much regret covers me, I can’t change that my baby daughter is in heaven. So, for now, I’m super sad.
Meanwhile, I shared a song at her memorial service, which we had for the 6 of us with our pastor at Church of the Apostles Houston just before Harvey made land fall. I recorded it in my living room, after the storm, as a song of hope. You can tell I am in a state of shock still, because I recorded it with no makeup on and didn’t care one bit. One day I will probably laugh about that and regret it too! But, for now, that is not one of my regrets.
In case you didn’t see it and would like a song of hope in your storm. Here it is.