Mommy's heart for Baby Jacob

Thursday, December 30, 2010

'Jacob's Star' -- how this story helped me deal with my pain

Well, I told you I'd get back to you a bit more about my writing.  If you read some of my recent posts, you've seen that writing Christmas stories to enter into contests was what distracted me from my blog writing.  But writing those stories to send to contest also did something more...writing helped me to deal with losing my precious baby.

I think I told you that I had gone to a 'write-in' to try to write a Christmas story.  I remember really struggling with this.  I had cried to my husband a few days before saying, "I can't wait to start writing again.  Then I can make the story end how I want...with a happy ending.  With a woman who doesn't lose her baby."  I feel so awful that I said this.  I know things happen to us for a reason, no matter how difficult it is to understand.  I guess that doesn't mean that we still won't think and say stupid things.  I guess in my pain I had to try to regain control over something.  From the moment I learned that our baby had a fatal diagnosis, through the 5 days of total uncertainty, to learning that he had died so quickly, I had lost all control.  I guess I never had any to begin with.  But when you write, you create the world, the characters and everything that happens to them--good or bad.  How can a woman who just lost a baby not want to regain some control? 

So I carried a lot of these thoughts with me when I sat down to write that night in my little spiral notebook. I also struggled with finding a happy ending.  When you think of Christmas stories, they typically all end happily--whether they are secular or religious.  Even if there is some sadness in the story, things wrap up on a joyful note.  I stared at my notebook that night.  How could I even come up with a happy ending when I had felt so gloomy for weeks?  I toyed with lots of ideas but nothing came to me.  Happy ending...happy ending...where was there a happy ending for me to write about??

That's when, as I wrote in my previous post, I just started describing myself putting up Christmas decorations.  I figured I had to start somewhere, so why not start writing about myself?  It's amazing how writing anything can lead you to where you were meant to go all along.  It was like I was offering myself a gift that I desperately needed--the gift of hope.  That was my 'happy ending'.  It wasn't specific but it was something to hold on to and that was enough.

The story I wrote that night was called, "Jacob's Star."  A week prior I heard those words in my head but I had no idea what to do with them.  I liked the idea of having my baby's name in the story and something about a star...later that week Sammy (my 5 year old) had asked about wishing on a star.  That was it.  My mind played with the two ideas, threw in heaps of my pain and fast-forwarded my D&C to right before Christmas.  I played with the idea of experiencing something so painful right during a time of joy and peace.  How would a woman...a mother get through the holiday having just lost her baby especially when she had two young children who needed to feel the joy of Christmas? 

Out of these ideas and questions came my story.  My main character found hope at the end of the story.  It's that hope that I've been trying to hold on to myself.  It's also this hope that I've hoped has touched readers in the two different states where different versions of my story were printed.  The comments I heard back from the judges just lifted me to a state of non-stop smiling.  I am still feel blown away every time I think about how my story won.  I am just so thankful.  Of all stories for me to write and submit, this story was the most important to me. 

Could it possible that writing this story wasn't just for me, but also perhaps for someone else out there wondering where their happy ending was?  I've been thinking a lot since winning the contests.  Could Jacob's death have been for more reasons than we'd ever know...even possibly to touch someone else in some way?  What if we are all so tightly linked in this world that everything that happens to us can be linked to someone else--to help them in some way, to motivate them, to lift them up when times are dreary.  Perhaps all we have to do is to look, to share, to help.  Perhaps that's what we're supposed to do.  I had so many women share with me on Facebook that they, too, had lost a baby.  I felt so comforted by this--I wasn't alone.  Others knew of my pain.

Writing "Jacob's Star" was right for me at this time in my life.  I have had so many different feelings building that I had to do something with.  Why not write them down and try to find something positive to move forward with?  And for me, the best news....why not share this story with others and let them find something positive too?  I've been so blessed with this story's printing as a first place winner.  I'll never know exactly how many people have read it (or will stumble on it online in the future).  I'll never know if or how it's touched people.  All I can do is to be thankful for the opportunity to share my grief with the world and to hope that it has reached someone out there.  I am truly thankful for how this story has been read by others.  If anyone has not read it (through my Facebook links) and would like to in the future, please let me know and I can post a link.

So, stars and hope.  It looks like I've been drawn to stars this year.  To me, the Christmas Star, the one that the wise men followed, represents the hope that God sent us so long ago.  I've always loved looking at the stars.  Now I have just one more reason to love looking up.  Maybe someday just as my character did in my story, I'll see "Jacob's Star" for real.  If not, just knowing my baby's up in Heaven means I have my very own star, "Momma's Little Star".  How I love my little star! 

To my Jacob, Merry Christmas Sweetheart!  Know that your short life here on earth has touched your momma and others in more ways than you will ever know.  Thank you for being my inspiration to write again.  Know that I can't wait for the day when I'll hold you in my arms.  I'll cover you with kisses and tears of joy.  Know that when I cry now, I cry tears that are lighter...full of hope and full of loving thoughts of you.

Wishing all of my friends hope as we enter into the new year!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Another coincidence? Writing is my answer

Hi Friends!

Well, I said I'd get back to you about why I grew a bit delinquent with my blogging.  I do apologize once again for falling behind. I looked and found my last post to be Nov. 12.  I don't know if the blog posting times show up here but I do a lot of late-night writing.  Right around mid-November, my writing time switched from doing my blog to writing stories.

Let me explain.  I love writing Christmas stories.  For the last 10 years, I've been writing short stories at Christmas.  I've entered several of them into contests and am happy to say that I've either won or placed in many of them through the years.

It was about 3 weeks or so following my baby's death when I decided to go attend a 'write-in' sponsored by a local writing group.  It was an event to coincide with the National Novel Writing Month (where writers sign up to write a book in one month) and being new to my town, I hadn't yet found a writing group to join. 

I went to this writing event without any ideas, with only a spiral notebook and a pen and with no motivation whatsoever.  I wasn't even in the mood to go and had tons of work to do at home since it was right before Thanksgiving. 

I met a few people, took down group meeting dates and sat down in a silent room that only occasionally was filled with keys clicking as everyone was frantically working on their novels.  I stared at my notebook.  I knew that I had to start somewhere so just started writing garbage.  Literally.  I described myself putting up Christmas decorations.  Every tedious detail was written down and as my hand started to ache, I wondered where this stupid story was going.  I looked at the clock and felt like a student waiting for a dreaded class to end. 

After some pizza and a dew it finally seemed like my story had a flow and a direction.  And then, it hit.  One line and then another.  I felt tears coming as a smile pushed through on my face.  I looked around the room wanting to share my joy with someone.  I think every writer has some feeling when they know they've got "it" for a story or article.  Things just seem to 'click' and you know that you reached the point that you didn't even now you were looking for.

I remember coming home that night feeling so happy and so uplifted.  I was so energized! I felt 'high' on writing!  I'm serious!!  I was giddy almost.  I quickly revised the story (on the computer) and sent it out to a Christmas contest.  Well, I must have been 'on fire' because from about Nov. 20 - Dec. 10 I entered 7 different Christmas story contests.  I also landed a last-minute freelance job to write a story for another contest.  That's a lot of writing for someone squeezing it in usually in the midnight hour or later!

It was late, late, LATE one night when I was finishing writing/revising one of my stories.  I remember checking my email before I went to bed and said out loud to myself, "You are stupid.  You should be in bed, not writing your stories.  You have so many other things to be doing and yet here you are wasting time writing."  I was just chatting away with myself.  Who knows, maybe the dog was listening--but then probably not since everyone in the house was asleep except for me!  I felt guilty about not writing my blog.  I had so wanted to write my blog as I had feelings piling up but with a limited amount of 'free time' to write, I felt myself called during this Christmas season to write stories. 

Well, I pulled up an email during my self-chat and was dumbfounded to see the opening line.  It read, "Kim, Keep writing your stories."

I stopped.  I stared at the screen.  Huh???  How was it that within milliseconds of me asking those questions aloud I received an answer???  I wondered who sent the email.  The email came from a writing organization and was some sort of newsletter/update mail.  Obviously they plopped their subscriber names into the opening lines.  I don't think I've heard from these people in months and yet here was an email that rolled in at precisely the right time. 

So here it was at sometime in the middle of the night when I was disgusted with myself for 'fooling around' with my Christmas stories that I asked hard questions of myself and then found an answer.  You can interpret this however you choose, but for me I feel that it was just too coincidental.  The timing was as if I was having a  live conversation with someone and that someone was God.  I feel that God was nudging me.  I feel it was Him who said, "Keep writing Kim.  You have something to say and you need to say it.  Don't waste this opportunity."

Well, that's all the motivation I needed.  :) 

I'll update more about some of these stories and how my contest entries turned out in the next post.  For now,  know that while I'm disappointed that my writing time was detoured from my blog, I believe it went to a good cause and for a good reason.  Maybe I'll never know exactly why I'm called to write these things right now, but I believe I am.  It's helping me and I do so hope that it's helping someone else out there.

Thanks my friends.  I hope you keep your ears and eyes open for those nudges you might need!  And if you ever find yourself chatting with an email thinking you're crazy, you never know.  It just might talk back.


Monday, December 27, 2010

Merry Christmas and two months since losing Jacob

First let me apologize to anyone who may have been looking for my blog posts only to find stagnation.  I'm so sorry.  It was not my intent to let my blog lapse over the past month or so.  Please accept my apologies and know that I'm back writing again and will continue to write.

I'll catch you up on my journey here in the next few posts (including what preoccupied my blog writing time) but first let me wish everyone a very Merry Christmas!  I hope you've had a wonderful time with family and friends. 

Christmas is such a wonderful season of hope.  Despite all of the beauty and joy of the season, there are still those rough times that hit so many of us--family struggles, the stress of finding the right gift, trying to get it all done, etc.  We try hard to feel happy all December long but life is still there with it's problems no matter what holiday is here.  Even after the holidays, there's the returns, using vacation time wisely and tackling the weather and traffic return to work.  More stress and strife.

It is my hope for all of you that despite your struggles you've found something inspiring to carry you through this Christmas.  If you made it to a Christmas Eve service this year, or perhaps watched a movie or read a book that had a message of hope in it, you probably felt inspired....happy...at peace.  I know I did on Christmas Eve.  Our Pastor delivered a wonderful sermon.  I'm struggling to hold tight to the feelings I felt on Christmas Eve.  Isn't it so easy to slip back into the reality of our lives following all of the twinkling lights, the peaceful music and jolly hugs from family and friends?  I want to change my reality.

I think back to Christmas Eve and then Christmas Day and have just the best memories stored up in my heart.  My mom and I stayed up all night wrapping--literally.  Yet despite the lack of sleep, I know we both cherished every moment of Christmas.  Seeing my boys smiles light up the room, watching my 91-year old Grandma chuckle during our family's annual Santa hat photos, wondering how we'd dig ourselves out of the wrapping paper hurricane that filled my mom's house Christmas night...all of these things made the exhaustion worth it!  And that's what I'm working hard to keep fresh in my mind right now.

I'm trying so hard to hold on to hope.  It's a great test for me right now.  As you probably know, we're still trying to have another baby.  I find myself watching the calendar and hoping and praying that things will have worked this time.  I find that I hate it, if you want to know the truth.  I've always hated waiting and hoping for something to happen.  I like to just take joy in each day.  But when you're in a spot like me, it's challenging to know that things may just turn in the direction you want them to...and then again, maybe they won't.  So, you just sit and watch each day to see what will happen.

Christmas Day was the 2-month anniversary of losing Baby Jacob.  I found I was emotional at times but thankfully optimistic at others.  I also wondered a lot about my baby.  What he was doing, who he was with, was he watching us?  Was he watching his momma and feeling sad that she was in pain?  Did he hear his momma sing her favorite song, "The First Noel", during church?   Did he see my new "J" necklace that I wore, just for him?  What does he look like?  Oh how I wish I could see him!!  I have been thinking so much about him.  I would have been around 21 weeks.  And probably huge. :)  I would have been cherishing feeling every kick and nudge in my belly.

All I can do at this point is continue to hope and to pray.  My goal is to keep the feelings of Christmas with me close...every day.  I'll continue to play Christmas music if I have to.  I'll journal or jot down inspiring Bible verses, poems and notes.  Whatever I need to do, you can bet that I'll be doing it.  It's all I can do as I continue on this journey.  I'm just so fearful of my 'ticking clock'--that clock that we face as we get older and our chances for pregnancy start to diminish more and more with each passing year. 

My hope for all of you friends is that if you've been fighting your own struggles this holiday season, find something to lift you through it and hold it so close.  Christmas isn't just a day on our calendar.  It signifies the most wonderful Gift any of us could ever hope to receive.  Christmas should be celebrated every day, especially in our hearts.

I'll see you soon...with hope in my heart.