Mommy's heart for Baby Jacob

Monday, June 18, 2012

Reflections from Mom's Farm, Week 1

It's been a week since the boys and I came to my mom's.  It's been one week since I cried at my Sammy finishing Kindergarten.  Since I'd accomplished so many projects at home. Since I'd noticed so many changes that I bemoaned about in my blog.  I thought I'd share some of what we've been up to since getting a nice little break away from home...

My mom, step-dad, and grandma live on a small farm about 3.5 hours away from us.  Mom calls it a "hobby farm".  It never was a real working farm, even when my Grandpa was still alive.  But it did always have a big booming garden, plenty of chickens and the occasional horse, mule and sheep.  My mom and step-dad have animals now too:  a miniature donkey named Chico, a miniature horse named Shadow, several chickens that live in chicken coops such as "the Condo", and the "High rise", ducks in a duck house at the pond, barn cats and most recently bunnies. 

Mom's house has always been a place of peace for me.  You can't be outside walking around the beautiful land and not feel the peace, it doesn't matter what season.  It's out in the country but not too rural to be away from pizza delivery.  :) 

Going to Mom's will always mean going "home" for me.  It doesn't matter where she lives, it will always be home.  This home is extra special though.  My grandparents lived in this house and my mom and step-dad bought it several years ago in order to take care of my grandma.  Grandpa passed away in 1993 and Grandma had a stroke some time after.  Being wheel-chair bound, she needed someone to care for her.

Her house is full of memories from my childhood and young adulthood...the smell of her pies in the pantry, the crowded, yet always warm kitchen table bursting with food at family gatherings, the big red barn out back, Grandma's chickens...Mom and my step-dad brought life back to the farm when they started adding animals of their own.  It's just always been a special place to go and I love that my boys get to experience it too with their Grandma and Pa, just as I had when I was their age.

Below they are helping Grandma shuck corn the very first evening we arrived... My Grandma can only use her left hand, but does pretty well at every day tasks.

On Monday we went for "chicken dinner".  Notice there's no "a" before chicken dinner.  :)  That's how it's referred to around here.  Barberton is known for their chicken houses--restaurants famous for their fried chicken.  One chicken house started running a special on Monday nights so Mom and Grandma wanted to take advantage of it.  So we piled into Mom's car and went for "Chicken dinner". :)  It cracks me up to hear it referred to that way, but hey, it's quite tasty regardless of what it's called.  Every dinner comes with hot rice, fries and coleslaw.  Yum!

I went out after we came home to take some pictures. I had looked through Mom's kitchen window to see the sun setting and the rain droplets shimmering.

I like experimenting with different angles, different ways of looking at the same thing. 
These are taken with just a camera phone so aren't the best, but it was fun anyway. 

If you would have asked me years ago if I'd be taking as many flower and nature pictures as I do now, I'd have laughed and said you had me confused with Mom. :)  She's taken too many flowers pictures to count through the years.  Ever since Jacob's loss though, I've found myself so drawn to nature photography more than ever before.  And its just one more thing that Mom and I share a special passion for.

There are flowers Mom planted on the seat of Grandpa's wagon. 
My Grandpa had built this wagon back in the 1980s.  He passed away in 1993.  He had always hoped to ride the wagon in a parade, pulled by one the mules that he owned prior to getting sick.  Mom has done her best to protect the wagon through the years and keeps it on display on her patio.
I wish they could get it into a parade in honor of my grandpa, but I'm not sure if it's stable enough to move, and I don't think Shadow or Chico would be up to the task of pulling it unfortunately.

 A close up of Mom's flowers.

 I like how this leaf looked like a heart, especially with the sun highlighting it.

For some reason I decided to look up...and there was a rainbow. 
It was already starting to fade and as I quickly scanned the sky I knew the whole rainbow had been visible, as they so often are at Mom's place. 
I watched a video years ago done by National Geographic that talked about creativity.  It used photography as a learning tool.  One key lesson I learned from that video was to always "turn around"...meaning you never know what's behind you, what's above or below you. 
Change how you look at things.  Change how you see things. 
Only when you do can you be sure to see what you're meant to see, it's when you see what is most beautiful.
The video showed how much more beautiful of images the photographer caught simply by turning around and shooting what was behind him...he saw things that he hadn't previously seen. 
This lesson has stayed with me in my photography, and I try to remember it in life as well....
probably more than ever before since losing Jacob.

And so here was the other end of the rainbow that I was so grateful to spot right before going in the house.  I called the boys out to see the last of the rainbow over Mom's pond.  Rainbows have always brought me such peace.  I know they are a symbol for baby loss moms, but they've so often spoken to me of hope.  It's like my own private smile from God.  That things will be okay.  I love when I get to see them.

On Tuesday the boys and I went for haircuts.  Because my mom can't leave my grandma unattended, they came too.  After haircuts we stopped off at the library to sign up the boys and I for their summer reading program.  Yup, I signed up too!  I only found out a few years ago that libraries often offer the reading program for adults too.  How cool is that!  Not like I should need any incentive to make time to read but it helps.  I've already read a book by one of my new favorite authors and it felt soooo good to take time to read!
Later that evening, I went out again to take pictures around the farm.  In honor of Flag Day, Mom put out all of her flags. I love taking pictures of flags in the sunlight.

 Another view of Grandpa's Wagon, this time with flags displayed in the flower box.

Mom had told me to check out Jacob's Garden so after admiring the flags in the setting sun, I walked around to the backyard to see Jacob's Garden, a small flowerbed where we started planting flowers for Jacob--first on his due date and then last year for his First Angelversary.  Mom said the lilies we planted last year at his due date where now blooming.  I am so thankful that Mom designated that small flower bed such a pretty space to remember our sweet Baby Jacob.  Last year I spent a lot of time weeding it and planting additional annuals around.

Jacob's Garden just looked so pretty this trip.  I love all of the lilies, Mom said the light pink ones were "lollipop lilies"...perfect for Baby Jacob. :)

I can't wait until we buy our own home. I plan to do the same thing at my house.  I eventually want to get a paver for Jacob, a small bench as well as angel statues and lots of pretty flowers.  I don't think I'll ever have enough flowers, there's always room for more flowers!

Wednesday was grocery day!!  This is a big deal for my grandma.  She and Mom can hit anywhere from 2-4 stores in one day AND stop off for a fast food dinner before calling it a day.  Right now they've got it down to just two stores.  They start at one grocery store, mom pulling the cart behind her with one hand while she pushes Grandma in her wheelchair with the other.

I checked Sammy into the kids play area.  He looks forward to this every trip.  We only started it about a year ago or so.  Benny is old enough now but I'm keeping him with me.  He's content to help me shop and that way he gets a say as to what ends up in my cart. :)  I know one of these days he'll start going into the play area as well.  And I'll be sad.  It will be the end of an era. No more babies to ride in my cart.  I remember all of the times I'd shop with Benny as a baby, toddler and older. I'd be chatting away to him.  I loved it.  It was our Mommy-Benny time.  Just the two of us as Sammy often shopped with Daddy at home, or then started going into the play area up here at Mom's.  I know it sounds silly, but it's one more thing that will soon change that I will miss.

I remember when I was pregnant with Jacob thinking about our grocery shopping arrangements.  Isn't that a silly thing to think about?  I wondered how Alex and I would do it.  Alex would have to take Sammy and Benny in his cart while I would Jacob in his baby seat in mine. I get all of the food, while Alex typically gets the heavy drinks and dog food.  I knew I'd chatter away with Jacob in my cart too.

As Benny and I passed by the baby section the other day at Giant Eagle, I found myself feeling those slight tugging memories of when I used to shop in that section actively...Mom would give me diaper or wipes coupons, I'd check out their baby toy section.  I tried not to think about what I used to as I passed that section.

We met up with Mom, Grandma and Mom's good friend Linda in the small cafe in the store.  A family tradition,  Mom and Grandma enjoy any samples they picked up, coffee and sometimes a small sandwich.

We then ferry over to a second grocery store for more deals and where Sammy again hits the play area and Benny looks forward to riding in the car cart--the little plastic car out in front of the cart.  Then we head to eat, typically either Burger King or Taco Bell.  And then home where Mom gets Grandma into the house and restroom before coming out to load her wagon cart full of groceries to take into the house.

As if Wednesday's shopping day wasn't enough, we went out Thursday to Goodwill, or "GW" as it's referred to in our family.  It was their 35% off day.  I love coming home and doing "show and tell" with Mom and Grandma.  Grandma is always so proud that she gets out of there with the lowest bill!  It's just a quirky little thing that we all enjoy, but again, I've found that so often that's where the most special memories are made. :)

That night we continued pushing hard on Mom's room.  She and I had started it earlier in the week and had been chipping away at it every day.  We were switching things from one shelf to another in order to make more  more room.  Mom and I laughed...alot.  It was the first time during my visit that we shared such a joyful time and that we laughed so freely and with such giddiness.  It could have been the late hour, or perhaps it was the stress of trying to get it done that night that made us like giggly school girls.  Something about seeing a cloud of dust land on Mom's head makes for good memories I guess. :)  Whatever it was, I'm grateful for it.  I have so many of those memories with my mom and I treasure them all. 

Friday was Polka Day!  Grandma was chomping at the bit to go as usual and we pulled up to the Slovene Club a bit after 2:00.  We buzzed to get into the members-only club basement and saw the tables full!  I always worry about where we will sit but we fit thankfully.  Grandma goes at the end nearest the band.  The two long tables are full of older people--mostly ladies but with a handful of gents here and there (aside from the band which is all men except for one woman).  Some of the polka guests play cards, others enjoy popcorn and singing along to the music.  Then there are the line dance ladies--they take such tiny and dainty steps as they dance carefully in front of the food table--no big hops or stretches here--all just slow, nice and easy steps to the various polkas and waltzes.  I wonder if that will be me some day? :)

At the end of the two-hours the band gets into their final medley and most everyone gets up to clap and sing along.  The boys love to do this, especially the "bells" sections of each song.  And who could forget, "E-I-E-I-O" or "O-H-I-O"?  Both boys have been coming to Polka Fridays since they were babies.  We'd bring them in their car seats when they were tiny.  Jacob would have joined the fun too...I like to imagine him there now, I'm sure he'd bounce along to the music just like Sammy and Benny did.

 Lest anyone think my boys are totally in to polkas and that they don't do anything else... :)  Nope, they are still boys who take a bag full of toys, dump them all over the table and have action scenes amidst the bells (see green in the picture) and popcorn. :)  Most of the older people have never seen such characters--aliens from Ben 10, Batman guys, you name it.  That's my Great Aunt and Uncle behind Sammy.

The "Slovene Circle" -- there were three birthdays to celebrate today.  Everyone joins hands and polkas in a circle while the birthday people get to dance with everyone in the center. 
Benny jumped up with my Mom (in the red next to Benny).

Sammy asked Joanie to dance, a sweet lady who misses her grandchildren and enjoys seeing the boys.  This is Sammy's second time to ask her to polka.  He kept up perfectly!

 The final medley!  Everyone jumps up to clap, shake bells, sing, etc. 
The boys have enjoyed this part of polkas since they were old enough to stand up!

 Part of the band

 More of the band...my step-dad's sweet uncle is in the back playing the bass

 Final medley...O-H-I-O!  I think this is the "H" that Sammy is doing!

My Grandma getting a hug, she always gets emotional :)
We finished out our first week at Mom's with a trip to the cemetery right down the road.  It's a national cemetery and my Grandpa and two of my Grandma's brothers are buried there.  It was quiet that day.  Flags still lined the entry drive leftover from Flag day but only a few flowers had been placed for Father's Day.  Grandma got teary-eyed as she held the flowers Mom had picked for her to place on Grandpa's grave.

Seeing Grandma crying made me weepy too...it doesn't take much.  I hugged her, joked about how my mom was digging out old flower vases from the trash so they could put Grandpa's into something more sturdy and watched as my boys walked the many rows of stones.  Sammy informed us that there were 1105 stones (he saw the numbers on each).  I thought about so many of the men who were buried there who served in the different wars like my Grandpa and Great Uncles.  I blew a kiss to Grandpa before we left.  He is the same Grandpa that Mom and I said would have held Jacob on the day he died--right on Grandpa and Mom's Birthday.  I'm sure they are having such a ball up in Heaven.  He was the sweetest man.

 I miss you Grandpa, I wish you could have gotten to know my wonderful boys!
My aunt leaves seashells for each person in their family, including Grandma, Grandpa and all 8 kids. 
Our family has always loved the beach.
 Mom arranges Grandpa's fresh flowers.

 I love when I get to go to the cemetery, I feel closer to my grandpa there.  I want to tell my boys more about him now that they are a little older.  My aunt made the sign for Father's Day.
After seeing the seashells, Benny decided to add something for Grandpa's stone--little pieces of grass. :)

Later that night I felt a little melancholy...I wish we had a specific place to go to remember Jacob. I know that's a common feeling amongst baby loss moms.  Jacob was cremated and while we could probably some day inter his remains somewhere, I think I'll be happy enough to just create my own memorial garden for him with a paver, little seat, etc.  That's definitely something I look forward to when we move.
So that's a peek inside one of my trips home...just up to a small farm in the country.  It's where I look forward to life slowing down even  for just a bit amidst Mom's activities.  It's where I look forward to my walks around her property visiting the animals, photographing the flowers, remembering the past and all who had walked the same paths through the years.  It's where I treasure every giggle that my boys and Mom share, every chuckle that Mom and I share when no one else is around.  It's where I see the past connecting with the present all around me and I am so grateful that our family gets to experience so much love here.

We have one more busy week here at Mom's and with lots more memories to come I'm sure.

I hope you are enjoying your summer so far my friends!  I also hope you enjoyed that one simple lesson that I shared from the video I watched years ago.  Always look behind you, above you, below you...you never know what you might see...like the rainbow I spotted at the last minute.  And especially if you find yourself facing difficult times, remember to change how you view the situation, and may you then find that rainbow too.  I find that I look for rainbows now wherever I can.  I'm grateful that in so many ways Mom's home feels so much like one big rainbow to me. :)

I'll be back with more about my trip home...

Kim :)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

A Summertime Devotional

Well, here it is!  A few hours late, but here is the Summertime Devotional I promised you!  :)

I wrote this devotional a few years ago after a week of Vacation Bible School at St. Paul's Lutheran Church in San Antonio, TX.  Not only did our two boys, then ages 2.5 and 5 attend VBS but also my husband and I.  They had an adult class which pulled in around 15-20 adults per night.  I had never known a church to hold an adult class before and loved it!

The theme for VBS was some sort of ocean theme, I can't remember it exactly but the staff/volunteers from the church wore blue t-shirts throughout the week which had the verse below on the backs of the shirts.  All week long I saw these shirts and this verse.   It must have ingrained itself into my mind.

I didn't think much of it until a few days after VBS when a memory popped into my head in the middle of the night. I remember waking up and seeing this event so clear in my mind as if it had just happened.  I hadn't even remembered what had happened to me for years.  And there it was in my mind, as clear as day. I could smell the ocean. I could feel the breeze. I could hear the waves.  Somehow, seeing this verse all week long triggered a memory I had long forgotten--and more importantly, it brought God's Word straight to my heart.  I understood that verse and how remembering it in the future could bring me comfort.  I remember too feeling so...driven to write.  The need was so strong and the words came out so fast and so clear.  I look for these opportunities whenever I can find them--if God needs me to write, then that's what I want to write, even if it's in the middle of the night. :)

And so I wrote late one night and this is what I came up with.  I had never before written a devotional.  I know for many devotionals if I was to submit it to somewhere formal, it would be too long.  That's okay.  My purpose was just to get it captured. To relive that day and to think about how it relates to the the things that happen to us in life.

I've shared my devotional with three different writing groups and they have all praised it and it's message.  More importantly, I shared it with the Pastor of the church where we attended VBS and he surprised me with an amazing email back.  He included my devotional in their newsletter which was sent to nearly 400 members.  I even received a personal email from one of the members complimenting me on my writing, on the message and on caring enough to share something so important.  I was so honored to know that my words reached that many and I hope the message touched them too.

The entire incident that I describe below happened so quickly--I'm sure it was only a few minutes but when you're struggling in the ocean, a few moments can seem like an eternity.  The same is true for when change hits us.  It might only be a few minor changes that we are facing but getting through those can take forever and wear on us day in and day out.  Throw a big change at us and we're wondering if we have the strength to even face it let alone to get through it. 

I think that's some of what I was facing this past week. Small changes coming at me one after another.  Big changes looming in the distance.  Decisions to be made.  Significant tasks to be accomplished.  No wonder I've felt "tossed about" by the waves of change.  Reminds me of when I was a teenager.  Well, that's enough clues...read on.  :)

So, here it is in it's rough form.  I hope you enjoy it.  Please feel free to comment about what you think about my devotional, as well as your thoughts about change.  How do you navigate change?  What helps get you through the rough times?

A Summertime Devotional – June 2010
copywright Kim Villalva (2012)

“If you go through deep waters, I am with you.”  - Isaiah 43:2

Like many people, I’ve always loved the water.  We used to visit the beach a lot when I was growing up.  I remember one summer as a young teenager when I discovered the joy of riding the waves.

After watching several vacationers jumping up and over the waves farther away from shore, I decided to join in the fun so I ventured out to where the water came almost up to my chest.  Now I could ride the waves too.  I bobbed on my big toe imagining that I was a ballerina with flawless balance.  Every time a wave came I’d leap up into the air, let the wave carry me up and over, and then ride down the other side of it.  I was on nature’s roller coaster.  Every time I descended a wave, I’d quickly search for the ground again with my big toe. 

Before I knew it, my roller coaster malfunctioned and the waves started rolling at me much more frequently.  It was as if someone had pushed the “fast” button on the roller coaster—the waves came at me one right after another with almost no break between them.  I was desperately trying to keep up with this new ride.  Up and down I’d go.  Then I noticed that the waves were starting to curl and break right where I was leaping and jumping.  The waves were now several feet taller than me as they closed in on my position. 

I saw the curl of one wave as it approached me.  It looked like an ominous tidal wave right before it swallowed me up.  The current’s pull was so strong that I got sucked into the wave and it broke right on top of me.  I flipped backwards into darkness while the rushing of water pulled me and pushed me at the same time.  I struggled to find the surface and no sooner did I lift my head above water than I saw another wave crashing over my hopes for much of a breath of air. 

When I struggled to the surface the second time, I was desperately trying to find the ocean’s floor with my toe.  My foot stretched and wiggled but there was only water below me.  I looked and saw no one near me.  I had accidentally drifted out much further than I thought.  Only being a mildly passable swimmer, I fought to not get pulled under again.  I thrashed against the sucking waves and knew that the farther from shore I got, the deeper the waters would become.  More waves crashed over my head.  Sometimes I faced the looming monsters head on and saw the terror before I felt it.  Other times I’d see the beach but would look over my shoulder just in time to see the wave snatch me from behind.

Finally my toe found the ocean floor again and I fought with all of my remaining strength to gain momentum against the current’s pull and to get my feet flat on the ground.  As I gripped my toes into the sand, I won the tug of war game with the sea.  It was if the ocean decided to let me go in order to find another playmate elsewhere.  I hurried to the sandy shore while the smaller waves continued to taunt and smack me on the back.  Once I reached the safety of the beach, the sun and sand greeted me with caressing warmth as if I had never been gone.  I looked back towards where I had been.  All looked calm and inviting once more in the sea.

We often find ourselves floundering when the life we had been enjoying suddenly turns scary.  Sometimes it seems like problems come into our lives one right after another and before we know it, we can find ourselves overwhelmed.  We are tossed about and are unable to regain our footing.  Illness strikes.  We lose our jobs.  Responsibilities overwhelm us.  People hurt us.  Just as if we were in the vast ocean, there is nothing for us to grab on to and we find ourselves struggling to stay afloat in the deep waters.

When we find ourselves in situations that are literally over our heads, we shouldn’t be afraid of being pulled down into the darkness.  God reminds us that He is with us even when we are in the deepest of waters.  God has a steady grip on each of us as He helps us to regain our footing.  His loving hand holds our feet until they are steady on the ground once more. 

But even if we have to endure the struggles of the deep waters before we can return to the safety of the shore, again we need not be afraid.  In the sea where waves of panic, doubt, stress, and fear overwhelm us, God’s love fits securely around us like a life jacket.  We might have to ride the monstrous waves but can take comfort in knowing that God’s love will keep us safely coasting up and down until it is time to find our footing again.  It is His love that gives us the buoyancy we need to survive in those rough and trying times.

God’s words are the reassurance that so often we need but can sometimes overlook.  Just like I did that scary day at the beach so many years ago, we panic and think that we are all alone in our troubles.  The anxieties of our situation threaten to envelope us and consume us with a cold and frightening darkness.  Remember that God has promised to be with us even through the roughest and deepest waters.  God’s comforting touch is with us always.


Heavenly Father, You created the seas and the land.  Thank You for staying beside us during the difficult times in our lives.  When we feel tossed about in deep waters, we thank You for keeping us afloat in the safety of Your loving arms.  Amen.

Until next time my friends, enjoy this beautiful start to summer!  Watch out for those waves!  :)  More importantly, hold tight to the God's loving hand no matter what comes your way.


Note:  If you'd like to use my devotional for a newsletter or website, I'd be happy to share.  Please just contact me first so that I know where and how it's being used. :)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

New Beginnings, Endings and A Few Tears

Change is everywhere.  Nothing new, right?  Then why does it seem sometimes like we are knocked down by a tidal wave when it hits?  We are minding our own business, making our way through life and WHAMMO!  We see it coming, we KNOW it's coming but when it hits us, instead of rolling gently over it, we lose our footing and tumble head over heels into the deep water.

I had one of those days today.  I think I felt it coming the last few days and then BOOM!  It hit today.  I cried today.  I cried over things in my life that were changing, over things that are changing. I cried for things that I'd be soon saying goodbye to. I cried for what was and what might never be.

No, I wasn't a total mess all day thankfully but I did have a few moments where it just hit.  Just like the wave that catches you off guard.  And it knocked me off my feet at times today.

On Thursday, I will be putting my kindergartner on the bus for the last time.  I will give him a big hug, like I do every morning. I will kiss his face and tell him that I love him, just like I do every morning. I will tell him to have fun today at school as he takes those big, big steps onto the bus, just like I do every morning.  The bus driver and I will exchange our "Have a good day!" smiles and waves and then I'll start my good-bye sequence with Sammy who will sit in the second seat on my side.  I'll wave.  I give him a "heart" with my fingers.  I'll blow him kisses.  He will wave to me.  He will give me a "heart" back.  And it all will melt my heart.

As the bus pulls up and around the corner, I will continue waving and making hearts until I see the gold disappear behind the trees.  I don't care if the neighbors watch me every morning and think that I'm a goofy mom.  So I wave at a bus until I can see it no longer?  I'll wave and then I will get my mail and say a prayer for God to watch over my baby on his way to, at, and on his way home from school.

I remember last August when I started this ritual with my sweet Sammy.  Talk about a mess!  :)  Sammy is our first-born son.  He is and always will be my baby.  He fills my life with such joy.  I was a bit nervous sending him into the world...and on a big ole' school bus too! :)  Yeah, yeah...I rode the bus, I endured school, we all did. :)  I think it's different though when you are a parent and when you are doing it for the very first time. It's like you are sending a part of yourself away.  Your heart goes on that bus and you have to trust the bus driver, the school, the teachers, the kids...you place your trust in people you've either never met or met only once to care for your child, to treat them right, to treat them with kindness and love.  You have to trust.  It's part of life and part of the changes that come as the years come.

Every day now since last August I've taken Sammy to meet the bus at the end of our driveway.  I've watched the bus turn the corner at the opposite end of the street when it drops him off at our driveway after school.  I've hugged him, held his hand and walked up with driveway with him asking about his day.  Tomorrow will be the last time for this year that we will share that simple little bond as mommy and kindergartner.

I find myself already wondering about next year when he's a big first grader.  Will he not want me to hug him?  Will he still give me hearts out the bus window or will he be too mature, too distracted to do such loving and silly gestures to his mommy?  All of these beautiful, innocent and true moments of simple childhood that may change (and will change eventually) simply due to time...due to our baby growing up.  It's all part of the process, I know that.  But that doesn't make it any easier when we hit these milestones. :)  I'm a mommy.  I will probably always feel much and I will always cry much.  I love my boys.  I try to celebrate and be thankful for them and for every joy they bring to my life.  It's just that simple.

So, not only has Sammy's last day of kindergarten been taking me down "reflection lane", but also the fact that it's serving as a trigger of emotions and events from when he first started kindergarten.  I found myself thinking back to last August of 2011.  Life was different than it is now.  Isn't it always?  I found myself thinking about where I was last August.  I know I, both Alex and I actually, were much more hopeful and optimistic about our chances to conceive again.  I was more naive possibly?  I don't know.  I know I was still very early into my fertility treatments.  We lost Jacob in October 2010 and didn't begin treatments until March or April of 2011.  I hadn't yet had my crushing visit with the nurse in the top of October 2011 where I thought she was about to kick us to the curb.  I had completed whatever round of treatment I was on and she said I had to stop and consult with my doctor again before continuing next cycle.  I remember sitting there in the blood work chair, with my arm still resting on the cushioned rest while she leaned on the counter flipping through my paperwork.  "Yeah," she had said..."Your AMH score was almost non-existent."  Blah, blah, blah.  She was repeating everything I had known and it felt like a sentence.  Like my attempts for another child were soon to be over. 

As I had written in my blog back then, it turned out I was saved from being "kicked out" because my doctor decided to go with what another doctor had suggested for me--adding the extra shots and then bumping me up to the daily shots later.  But back in August, none of that had happened yet and I was still feeling very positive and hopeful at our chances for another baby. I went through each month anxiously awaiting my blood work date to test for pregnancy. I looked for every sign/symptom possible near the end of my cycle.  I peed on numerous sticks.  I was so innocent I guess.

Last August too I was still a few months out from Jacob's first Angelversary...and the other thing that happened to me at that same time. I know I've only alluded to it once or twice, but it was a very traumatic thing to go through.  So, again, in August, life was still good.  It was simple. None of the October strife had hit yet.

It's funny how facing the end of one event can pull your mind right back to when you started the event and then all of the feelings associated with those the beginning and the end of it can just throw you out of whack.  I know that's what is happening to me this week.  Facing Sammy's last day of school is just suddenly connecting me to all sorts of places that I had been, and so in some ways I am reliving those feelings.  In other ways I am mourning what was, what I had hoped would be by now.  Does that make sense?

I am also soon going to be saying farewell to a babyloss support group that I've participated actively with since day 1 almost one year ago in 2011.  Now, the group is only changing addresses and I will still participate but it won't be through the same means as before.  That's what I will be saying farewell too.  I know, I know.  It's a minor change...but still a change nonetheless.  I can remember throughout the last year I could easily pull up this group on my phone, wherever I was and at whatever time of day or night.  I could scroll quickly through posts. I could stop and reply and offer support. I could share a congratulations if a friend announced a rainbow pregnancy. I could add people to my prayer list. I could share a tear for a friend  -- even a woman I'd never technically met -- as I read her story.  It was all done so easily and quickly.

Participating in this group has helped me more than I ever thought possible.  Not only did I get the support and love that I needed but I quickly found that it helped me to give back as well. I still feel drawn to these women, to my "sisters in babyloss".  We share so much.  I know that's why I'm still so passionate to this day about continuing to help out in the babyloss community.  I have all sorts of ideas brewing in my head for additional ways to do that and hope to start cranking them out soon. 

So when I found out this week that the core group I've been participating with is changing locations, it too, has kind of thrown me for a loop this week.  Another wave to send me reeling into the waters.  I'm hoping that the new location will still be easy to navigate and will give it a try for sure but it will strange not being able to connect with my dear friends through the way I had for almost the entire last year.

When I was in Graduate School, I loved studying change management.  I found it fascinating that "change" had a model.  That there was a process that we all go through when a change happens.  That there are phases.  We can get stuck in them.  We can be in different phases at different times.  We can be in different phases than other people and yet in the same situation with them. We can help each other move through the phases through different means.  I loved every minute of it and especially in putting together training plans and classes to help teach others how to navigate the rough waters of change.  Change management was one of my favorite classes to teach.  I taught employees and managers in "Corporate America", I taught leadership students, I taught Army Officers and Enlisted, I taught Army wives and other volunteers...all the same thing--change was everywhere.  And you have to be prepared for it.

And yet.  Wouldn't you think then, that if I know all of this stuff supposedly (and yes, it's been a few years since my grad school days), that I would be okay with change coming my way?  That I'd be ready for it always?  That I'd know how to handle it?  How to react to it?  HAHAHA!!  :)  Well, you'd think that, right!  :) I so wish it were true!

The truth is, I did stop and recognize it today.  Even though I felt like I was in a "funk" at certain times when that wave came at me, I knew why. I knew that it was all of the change coming at me fast and furiously.  It was one change right after another.  It was all different and yet connected.  Triggers of memories, of varying emotions were everywhere. 

Unfortunately, just because I had a feeling why I wasn't in the best of moods today, that didn't mean that I could just deny it.  I have to go through it just like everyone else does.  I just also happen not to like it. :)  If you could, wouldn't you love to be happy and carefree and joyous all day, every day?  No gloom, no sadness, no worry, no frustrations, no anger...Unfortunately we won't get to experience that fully until that day when we meet our Father in Heaven...so until then we have to go through the ups and downs of life and that means facing the waves of change head on.  Sometimes we can brace ourselves and jump at just the right time to coast safely over.  And other times we will be knocked on our butt.  Clear out of the blue.  We will find ourselves saying, "What the???  I was just fine earlier...where did this come?  Why did it have to hit me now?"  And we might cry.  And feel kind of lousy while we try to regain our footing once again.

I wrote a devotional about this very topic a few years ago.  Would anyone like to see it?  Hmmm...maybe I'll post that in a day or so.  :)  I think it was the very first devotional I ever wrote and it was after our family attended a Vacation Bible School in San Antonio, TX.  It was also based on their theme verse for the week.  Yes, I think I might just share that with you all.  As long as no one laughs it you think it stinks. :)

Anyway, I hope that catches you up just a bit with me.  I'm still here.  Still going through life.  Still hoping for another baby. Still reaching out and supporting others in the blm world.  Still being thankful for every blessing in my life.  Still trying to find joy as often as I can.  And, still finding myself tossed in the waves of change from time to time.

So, in just a few hours now I'll be ending one chapter of my life...my Sammy's first year of school.  I will cry.  I will take lots of pictures.  I'll feel like a total sap.  :)  And I'll love every minute of it.

I know that we will be starting our "official summer chapter" and so that new beginning is wonderful to face.  In just a few days we are heading to my mom's where the boys and I will get lots of momma/grandma hugs, where we will kick balls around my mom's farm, where we will stuff grass through the wire fencing to feed the goats and where we will listen for Chico's "hee haw" as he greets us from the pasture.  We will slow down and just enjoy nature and our time with my mom and my 92-year-old grandma.  I'll still be thinking, worrying and planning, I'm sure.  But I hope not too much. I think I need to just "be"...so that maybe when that next wave comes, I'll be ready for it with my feet firmly on loving and supportive ground.

I have other new beginnings to look forward too...new babyloss groups are popping up to include those who wish to communicate via the old means.  Through them I am already meeting new people, in addition to sharing hugs with old friends.  My dance schedule will soon resume with lots of clogging at upcoming summertime festivals.  I have writing ideas gnawing at me just waiting for my attention to be given to them.  So yes, I'm grateful for the many new things to come.

Stay safe this summer my friends!  If you are facing endings in certain areas of your life, just be prepared for the "wave of change" to hit you.  If you coast over it just fine, great!  Enjoy the ride and splash around if you want!  But if it knocks you on your butt for awhile, just remember you aren't alone.  Neither am I.  God is right there to carry us through...and be sure to check out more about this by looking for my Summertime Devotional which I'll post this Saturday.

Until then, may we all face those waves of change with hope for something better on the other side...

Kim :)