Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Our Story

My daughter, Lia Grace Tyler, was stillborn on November 24, 2007, about 2 weeks before her official due date. While we do not have confirmation about the cause of death, the attending doctor believes her cord became several twisted cutting off her blood supply. But even the physical evidence of a crushed and twisted cord does not explain why or how.

Lia was quite a dancer and loved to move around, and she had plenty of room to move since her big sisters had made for ample space in my previous pregnancies. Perhaps in all her movement the cord became tangled. Also, I was suffering from severe bronchitis during the final week of Lia's life. I had extreme coughing spasms that shook my whole body. Lia's movement would decrease right after a coughing fit - but I just figured she was taking cover from the quakes of my abdomina muscles. Of course, along with those potential issues, there are a myriad of wives tales I violated including raising my hands above my head and carrying my toddlers around.

Over the past year, through many tears and many questions, I have accepted that while the cause is known to the Lord, He has chosen in His wisdom to not reveal it to me. But my hope is not in knowing or preventing a cause. Instead, my hope has been in knowing that her life was not in vain. Lia lived exactly as long as the Lord intended. I have known many amazing people in my life, but none has affected me more or challenged me more than her little life that I never beheld with my eyes.

This blog is just a portion of the hours I have poured into my private journal. My writing has been the only way to slow the flood of emotions and give myself the time to see all that God is doing and to hear His wisdom.

My prayer is that these pages would be a source of hope to those suffering and a window into the soul for those who may not yet have experienced grief. Above all, it is my way of welcoming the world into the center of our storm. The winds have been raging around us since that snowy morning a year ago - but at the center of the storm - in the arms of the Lord - we have found a peace and joy beyond comprehension.

It has been my honor to share our story with you this year. And I thank each of you for your prayers, cards, gifts, and words of encouragement.

Blessing to each of you. May you find comfort in your afflictions in the shadow of His wing.

Lia's Mom

A Gift For Baby Lea

Yesterday, on our Baby Lia's birthday, my 4 year old daughter and I visited the birth center at the hospital where Lia was born. Kaiden has had a lot of questions as Lia's birthday approached and I thought visiting the hospital, seeing the rooms, and seeing the babies might help her understand.

While waiting for the shades of the nursery to be raised, I visited with a grandma, anxiously awaiting the birth of her new granddaughter. We were the only two in the area. Even though the ward was busy, not many babies had arrived into the world yet. As the shades rose, the grandmother said - "I wonder if our baby Lea is here?" Tears instantly rolled down my face.

Her little Lea hadn't been moved to the nursery yet, so as we watched two other babies, I told her the story of our Baby Lia. The grandmother hugged me and so kindly said that she was honored to share this wonderful day with me. The nurse directed the Grandma to a set of doors where she could go and see her son, daughter-in-law and new granddaughter in their delivery room. With a hug goodbye, Kaiden and I watched Grandma and Grandson walk to the delivery area. Kaiden, holding my hand and all smiles said to me - "Mommy, it is Baby Lia's birthday and it is the New Baby Lea's birthday!"

Then Kaiden paused, looked up at me and asked, "Mommy, can we go buy a present for the new Baby Lea?" Absolutely sweetie.

In the hospital gift shop we looked at all the stuffed animals and Kaiden chose a cute monkey that had fallen off the shelf and landed right on her head. I wrote a note to the family and we headed back up to the fourth floor. Only intending to leave the gift at the door, the family welcomed us in and Kaiden and I got to meet the beautiful baby girl. Little Lea has beautiful thick dark hair and was awake and alert - and very hungry. I held Lea for a few minutes, and Kaiden gave her a kiss on the head.

Three weeks ago, when thinking about my Lia's upcoming birthday, I had an idea that at the time I thought absurd. I thought how wonderful it would be to take a gift for a newborn at the hospital. Just a way to bring a gift of joy to someone on a day that could be sorrowful. The idea seemed too far fetched - I mean, what would I do - just buy a cute doll and wander into someone's room - or maybe leave an anonymous bouquet of roses at the desk. People would think I was a stalker! The idea was so ridiculous that I completely forgot about it, until late last night as I thought over the amazing day Kaiden and I had. I had a desire in my heart - a desire to celebrate my daughter's special day. I disregarded it, but the Lord did not.

Lord, I am still at a loss of words of how to thank you for the opportunity to experience the joy of new life! I have seen you move in so many ways this year, redirecting military assignments, granting unspoken wishes, providing for unforeseen expenses. But this, allowing me to meet a family and be blessed to meet a new little Lea, such a gift from You honestly is far beyond anything I would have ever asked. I think what amazes me most is that this gift was not something I needed ~ I could have survived yesterday without this blessing. But Lord, You go so far beyond our need. You know the deepest reaches of me and make dreams come true.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Long Night, A Painful Night, A Joyful Night

Saturday night was frightening for me.

It was at 2am on November 23rd of 2007 that I woke up and suddenly knew that my daughter was gone. Now here we were one year later, preparing to fall asleep in the same bed in the same room. As I walked into the room, I said to Mark - "I think I'd rather go stay at a hotel tonight than be here!"

As I attempted to sleep, the phantoms attacked. Phantoms are my words for invitations of grief that do not come from within. They pass around me and whisper horrible thoughts that I have never contemplated. The most frightening one whispered - what if it happens again tonight.

Grief overwhelmed me and I began to cry. It was then my new little girl gave me a big kick. Praise You Lord, I called out, praise you that I am pregnant again. You knew how difficult tonight would be and thank You that my body is not empty! Thank you for the new little girl you are growing in me.

T4 (Tyler#4) is not much of a kicker yet. She has her active moments but overall is a calm girl. But Saturday night, she kicked for the entire night! Every time I woke up, there she was, wiggling away as if to say, it's okay Mommy, I am still right here with you. Mark had not felt her move before, but last night she gave him a big 'ol kick that made his finger jump.

God directs the paths of migrating birds, He causes the rain to fall on the earth, and I believe last night He instructed my daughter to dance away! What a blessing.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Thankful for a Smashed Ankle

One year ago today, I was pushing my shopping cart through a crowded grocery store. It was the evening before Thanksgiving, and I was determined to scrounge up a few staples to pull together a meal. I was painfully pregnant ~ you've seen those women ~ when we look like we'd rather sit down in the middle of the aisle and take a nap than go another step. I had been having a rough week, lots of pain, and now bronchitis on top of everything else. Each step through the store was a challenge. I clung to my cart and pressed on... then it happened.

At the chaotic intersection of dairy products and paper goods, I stopped to let someone by, but the lady behind me did not. Her cart crashed full speed into the back of my ankle. The shock wave shot through my entire body and I could barely speak words to acknowledge her apology. With tears beginning to stream down my face, I suddenly realized something, the only thing that hurt was my ankle. The belly pain from contractions, the tight chest from coughing, all were completely eclipsed by my throbbing ankle. It was as if all other senses had been turned off to devote attention to the new crisis.

Now, with only a crushed ankle to worry about, I hobbled through the store feeling better than I had all day. I was actually thankful for the injury because, as I wrote to a friend later that evening - what seemed horrible was actually for my good!

Barely two days later, in the early hours of Friday, November 23rd, my little girl went to be with the Lord. Just as I would never wish for a crushed ankle, I would never wish for my daughter's death. But what seemed horrible has been used for our good. The concerns and the pains of the world, the nagging things that can weigh me down and sap my strength are all dimmed when I think of what we have endured.

Thank you Lord for smashed ankles and broken hearts.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Cross on My Belly

We are coming up on Lia's birthday. The slew of emotions has been enormous and I can say that once again, as from the very beginning, I am constantly reminded that nothing of this world can soothe the pain of death. For that I am thankful. There are times that I wish a big ice cream dessert and a shopping spree would make everything feel better - and perhaps a purchase of new minivan. But I am thankful that each time my heart aches, I find that my only peace is found in God.

This truth however does present a challenge to me - how do we remember on earth a little life now held safe in heaven. Every book, every article, every blog presents a new and unique idea for remembering - yet none seem appropriate for us. The other day, while driving through town, I saw a cross on the side of the road - a remembrance for someone whose last moments were on that corner. I thought to myself, maybe I should just tattoo a cross on my belly with Lia's name on it. After all, it was there where she spent her final moments. My husband didn't think it was such a great idea.

So this week, as we remember the last days of our baby's life, I am praying that each memory, regardless of the pain, be shrouded in the hope of God's eternal life. And I trust that God will guide each step of every day - just as He did one year ago - carrying us through the storm. I do not know the waves that will crash over me in the days to come. But my good Father in heaven knows the path we are to take. He knows exactly what we need to remember Lia- in honor and in hope. He will guide us in remembering her just as He did one year ago.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Daddy, it's been a good day

Lynon, an elderly gentleman, was a guest at in our marriage class tonight at church. When asked of the importance of forgiveness in marriage and living without regret, he shared the following story of his wife's last day:

She had been suffering from Parkinson's for several difficult years. But this day had been different - she was feeling much better than normal and they were able to enjoy the day together. As he put her into bed for the night, she said to him, "Daddy, it's been a good day." He returned to the room 45 minutes later and she had passed away.

Lynon cherishes those final words of his wife and holds in great fondness his final day with her, a day of no regrets.

Hearing his story brought to the surface of my heart an unhealed sadness and pain. I do have regrets of Lia's last day with us. Regrets that prior to now I have only shared with my husband. Many days I have thought of how I would have lived differently if only I had known I would lose her. I have even felt anger at mothers who knew their unborn children had terminal defects - mothers who have spent the final months of the pregnancy cherishing each day with their unborn babies. Instead, I spent Lia's final hours in a irritable frustrated mood. There had been good times early in the day - times of joy and laughter watching my girls play in the first snow of the season. But the evening was filled with angry words and impatience. As my little baby began to slip away from this life, I was wishing for my day to be over as quickly as possible.

I know that the calming presence of God was with her, welcoming her into His eternal glory. For that I am so thankful. But how I wish in that last day, rather than putting head to pillow, wishing for the day to end, I could instead have heard the words..... Mommy, It's been a good day.

I have tried to heal myself of the pain of regret. I made promises to not lose my temper again, promises to not raise my voice at my kids, promises to live every day as if it were the last I would see my loved ones. But all of those good intentions have failed in the reality of daily life.

So tonight in my tears God has reminded me of a simple word that has carried me these past 11 months - Redeemed.

God is capable of redeeming any junk of this world, any sin, any evil, any sorrow. Our Sovereign One, Lord of the Universe can turn anything from evil to good and use it to His glory. My hope, my faith in His ability to redeem has given me tears of joy in the midst of pain. And again tonight I am calling out for Him to redeem.

Lord, from the first sin of this Earth you have never ceased in turning all things to good and for your glory. Lord I am ashamed of my conduct, I am ashamed of my failure as a mother, I am ashamed of the anger and even rage I have hurled at my family. But above all, I am grieved that the final words Lia may have heard on this earth were words spoken in anger. Lord I know that you have forgiven me, that you have heard my cries, but I still sit here and see the ashes of my regret. Lord I know that you can turn these regrets into works of beauty. Please redeem the pain and sorrow of my sin, of my unbridled tongue and poisoned heart. Please shine a healing light into the deepest wounds of my soul. Lord, none of my own efforts to redeem, none of my own efforts to change my ways or heal my wounds has worked. I know that true healing and true redemption are found in you alone. I know I have faith and hope in You and Your redemption, but right now Lord, my faith is weak. I am tired and weary from carrying the burden of my regret. Take me in, hold me close and mend my broken heart.