One

Dear Joshua,

Hi mate, it’s mummy here. It’s been a long time since I wrote you a letter but today would have been your 1st birthday, so I thought it was time to write again.

To be honest, it’s been really hard to write to you, losing you has left a huge hole in mummy’s heart and while it has been mending slowly, it will never be quite the same again. Since knowing and losing you, I am now afraid of things I had never thought were even possible, but I know how to love deeper and with a fierceness that I didn’t know I had.  As I sit here at Monash Medical Centre writing this from the same place we met you one year ago, it’s overwhelming.  I miss you so much and really wish you could have stayed.  I wanted to watch you grow and to see what kind of man you would have become. I am pretty sure you would have been a champion, with your defiance and determination… you would have been unstoppable!

For a little while this year I have had to try not to think about you for too long, because a lot has happened in the past 12months… and remembering has made it scary and hard… You now have a baby brother, Isaac, and even though he has helped mummy heal, he isn’t you. I know that there is no way I could have ever had both of you on earth at the same time, but I really wish it could have been possible somehow.  That you could have stayed, and that you and Isaac could have grown up together.

While mummy was carrying Isaac she couldn’t look at pictures of you, or wear the necklace she had made with your hands and foot prints because they reminded her of how hard it would be to lose him too.  I’m sorry I couldn’t wear my reminder of you all the time… but now that he is here I think about you a lot. I think about how similar the two of you are, what you might have been like if you had stuck around and how much I have learnt from knowing you.

You, my dear boy, have taught me how much I wanted to be a Mum. It took me a little while to get there and you were a big price to pay, but losing you made me realise how ready I actually was, and how much I had wanted to complete our family.

You have taught me that life is hard, but even in the darkest times there are beautiful moments, like holding you, singing to you, and kissing your tiny nose.  That we are loved by so many, and that even though your wider family is very large and a bit messy, this family of ours is supportive and reliable and even more important than I had ever realised.

You have taught me to be stronger, to hold on, and to hope even when it isn’t easy. You have taught me to trust and because of you my faith is deeper and more real. I know I will see you again and I know there was a purpose for you coming and going… but I just have to wait, heaven is not so far.  You have taught me that I can get up in the morning, even if I need daddy to help me… and that the sun will shine and I can get through the day… even when it is really hard… thanks for the beautiful wether today to remind me.

Because of you I got to watch your dad become a great dad and an even better husband. He is so much stronger, more faithful and loving than I knew before this.  You have made us an even better team.

You have taught me I am not alone, since losing you I have spoken to, heard from and read about so many other women and families that have been through this grief of losing something so precious. That as ugly as it is, 5 babies are born sleeping everyday in Australia, a country with the best medical care and resources… and this is a stat that still breaks mum’s heart.  You have made me advocate and encouraged me to speak out about heartache and loss so that hopefully no other babies have to go too soon, and no other mummies are left with empty arms.

But most importantly my sweet baby boy, you have made me a better Mum. Because I loved you first, I hold Isaac tighter, I speak up when I am worried and I don’t take any of it for granted.  You have taught me that I could do it… that I was made to be a Mum.  Of course because I now know that precious little boys can be taken away, I am scared, but I am holding on to him with all that I am. I tell him all about you and I know you have been watching over him, because there is no way he would have known to go limb first without your cheeky influence.  You two would have gotten into all kinds of trouble together.

Today daddy and I will visit Isaac, but then we will go and have some pink donuts and a Turkish delight milkshake and think about you… how you made us parents, how you taught us to love and together we will try to work out how we go on without you for another year.

I love you little one and I miss you,

Sleep well precious boy,

Love mummy. 

26weeks & 56minutes…

Ok… it’s been a while… months in fact.. but there has been a really good reason…

When I posted my last blog… right before my birthday, I was 9ish weeks pregnant and pretending to be upbeat and excited about my birthday, rather than crawling back into bed to sleep the whole of the first trimester away.  I had been waiting to post about the second little baby George because I was really really nervous about letting people know.  I was scared that we would lose this baby as well, and I wasn’t sure how I would ever be able to cope losing another child let alone telling the world that it had happened. So… after losing Josh at 24 weeks last year, and the doctors telling us that if we could get to 26 weeks the baby would have a much better chance, 26 weeks became my magic number.  The number after which I would tell the world about baby George no. 2, I would start clearing out the room again and I would start purchasing things we would need like a cot and pram etc. It was the number that I needed to get to before I would let myself believe things would be ok… that we would get to keep this baby and I could let myself breathe…

26 weeks was 9 weeks ago… and the last 9 weeks have been quite a rollercoaster. In week 25 of my pregnancy I was admitted to hospital for bed rest in the hope that it would delay baby George from making an unexpected arrival. After the initial shock of potentially having to stay in hospital lying down until November, I had settled in and was ready for the long hall and secretly pretty excited that I could ride out the rest of winter in air-conditioned comfort, because if all went according to plan, I wouldn’t be leaving until it was pretty much summer… but it wasn’t to be… On Tuesday 1st August, 56 minutes into week 26 Isaac Ezekiel arrived… 35cm long and 827g.

Isaac arrived in a hurry, and just like his brother, had turned around at the last minute to make his entry more dramatic, needing an emergency caesarean as he had decided to come feet first. But, he arrived, breathing and even letting out a small cry which is a moment that I will never forget. Despite all the panic and fear that I felt that night, hearing that cry and knowing he was alive brought so much relief.  That night Dave and I took up a joint residence, in many ways, at the hospital, as even though we could go home after a week, Isaac had to stay.

Once again our lives were turned upside down. I had been expecting that taking a baby home… preferably at full term, would change our lives totally, but I wasn’t expecting the ups and downs of having a baby that had to stay in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). It has been so bitter-sweet visiting him, first in his isolette (humidicrib) and now in his cot… because all the emotion of having a baby is still there, but you can’t just pick him up, you can’t hold him until he falls asleep, and you are always wondering what will happen to him.  Even little things like changing his nappy is quite a task through the little arm holes in the cot, especially if you have tiny little arms like mine. Yet, he is here, he is alive and he is ok… and that is all that really matters.

Fast forward to today and Isaac is still doing well, I think I would even say really well… although there is still a huge part of me that is still waiting for something awful to happen that will take him from us. Dave and I have spent every day of the last 9 weeks traveling from home to the hospital and back again between breast pump expressions, baby store trips and tiny pockets of sleep. Our lives look and feel totally unrecognisable, and while that is probably true… and maybe even standard, for most new parents, I feel like our newborn phase one, the phase while he is in hospital, would have been totally unfathomable to me, if you had have described it to me before now.

Isaac is so strong and much braver than me. He has already faced so much and it is impossible to describe how proud I am of him. There is still fear… fear about whether or not his difficult and dramatic start to life will have any impact on him as he grows… wondering if everything has continued to develop and grow the way it should have if he was still inside, but there is also hope and faith.

Just before we found out we were having Isaac, I had been praying a lot about having children and really felt like I had to give my desperate desire for a family over to God. I knew that my faith was bigger, and my relationship with Him was more important than the plans I had for my own life.  That ultimately God’s plans for Dave and I were better… even if they didn’t look like the ‘good’ plans I had come up with… so one night a church event, in tears, I handed it all back, making peace with the fact that if God called me to follow him childless… I would. Minutes after praying this alone and with Dave, a man, whose name I do not know, asked to pray with us and unprompted, specifically prophesied children in our future… at the time we didn’t know we were already pregnant, but we knew there would be a child… a promised child and that was enough. So when we found out we were pregnant again we were pretty excited and I really felt that this was the promised baby I would get to keep.

So when Isaac arrived so early and so little I had to choose to hold on to the promise I had for him and to remember that God loved him even more than I did, and that even though it didn’t look the way I thought, protection and promise would look… that God was holding him and knitting him together just as He said he would.  This choice to trust and declare good things for his little life were why we chose to name him Isaac Ezekiel… Isaac means “he will laugh, he will rejoice” and Ezekiel means “God will strengthen”.  We liked them together and thought of them as a bit of a prophetic declaration over his life, regardless of what we could see then and can see now.

It’s really hard to trust and hope when things have gone so badly before and when you are a bit of a control freak and think you know how things should be… but I have had to learn to… and God has been faithful.  Isaac is here and he is healthy and now he is getting bigger and stronger everyday.  In fact so dramatic has his improvement been in the last week and a bit, Dave and I have had to get a wriggle on with setting up his room, because he could be coming home very soon. Most likely we will need to wait until his due date, so still early November, but in the chaos of the last 9weeks… that’s now only 5 weeks away… and then phase two, the newborn at home phase will begin…

Between now and then there is still a lot to do, finish the room, learn to breastfeed, work out what the heck we are doing… oh and the list, I haven’t forgotten about that… its been buzzing away in the background… but it was time to write, time to share and time to add Zac to the Curious George family.  Hopefully now as we settle into this new routine of being parents, I will get back to blogging a little more regularly, because I have missed it… but it was hard to know where to start… but here it is… the last 6 months of our crazy and very unpredictable life…

170929_GBlue_Isaac_2516_Lge

P.S Until recently I hadn’t read the original Curious George book… we read it to Zac in the hospital… and it’s pretty nuts… who just takes a monkey from the jungle and expects it to be house trained?

P.P.S This wonderful photo is thanks to Heartfelt, who, once again, have given Dave and I a beautiful gift of photographic memory of this really difficult chapter in our families lives… they are truly wonderful.

Pathways in the Wilderness… New Things for 2017…

So this is something new for this year, Thankful Thursday.  It may not be every week, but according to the list it will be at least once a month, and it is something I am looking forward to doing.

Learning to be satisfied and content with who I am, what I have and where I am at, is something that I have struggled with.  Sometimes this dissatisfaction has been helpful, as it has pushed me to change things, try things or even improve myself… but sometimes it’s just a misunderstanding of my life compared to the highlight reels that I look at daily on social media.

I have often thought about having a break from Facebook, Instagram and twitter, however, there are lots of things I really like about all of these platforms, but I have to constantly remind myself, that I am only looking at what people want me to see, the sections of their lives that they have chosen to include.  That I am not seeing everything, and often not the bad bits, but rather, if it isn’t a ‘highlight’ it’s still just the bits they haven chosen to share, often things they wish they could change or do differently in an attempt to get some motivation to change, or some accountability.

So, to combat this in my own life (but probably make things worse for someone else as I add more to the highlight reel, sorry, but see above)  I have decided this year to get better at practicing gratitude.  That means being thankful for the things I have, the people in my life, and that stage of life that I am in.  Sometime it will even mean looking for the good when life isn’t as rosy or easy as well as I would like, or think it should be.  Stopping to see the good things God is doing in my life even when I have to work a little harder to bring them into focus.

So this is the first one… a Thankful Thursday…  and to be honest right now I am just thankful to be feeling pretty good.  I am definitely not where I thought I would be when I was planning January 2017 last year, but where I am is ok.  For the last couple of weeks my Facebook memories and Timehop app have been flooding my phone with memories of our adventures to Europe and New Zealand and for the first time in a long time I am feeling ok about not having a holiday planned.  It’s been really nice to be able to reminisce without getting jealous of my summers past, and to actually just take a minute to appreciate how lucky we were to have had those experiences.  It’s also the first summer for a long time that I haven’t been bitterly jealous of my friends on school holidays.  Although it has probably helped that I have only just returned to work after 3months, I think that for the first time in a long time I am ok with my current lot in life.

This summer I have been able to look back on all of the things we have done and smile.  I am so thankful for the things we did, the places we saw, the people we met and the fun we had.  I am also really thankful to be having a ‘proper’ Australian summer for the first time in 3 years… where it is hot and the beach is wonderful and inviting.  I am thankful for the time I have had to get some little projects done, to clean out the house and to just rest and be restored.  I am thankful for the fresh start that 2017 has been, even if it has just been a mental one.  I am thankful that God promises new things… Over the past couple of months some Old Testament verses have really stuck out and popped up regularly, so I am thankful that I can claim them for my year ahead… here is what I am holding on to…

 “I am about to do something new.   See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?  I will make a pathway through the wilderness.  I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19

“The kindness of the Lord has not ended, his mercies are not spent” Lamentations 3:22

”This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

I am really excited and thankful in advance for new things, pathways in the wilderness and rivers in wasteland… new mercies and kindness and the encouragement to be strong, bold and courageous, because I am not alone.

tt0119

2016 – Photos, Lessons and Thankfulness

Ok so today is the last day of 2016 and I can’t tell you how ready I am for 2017.  It’s not that 2016 has been all bad, it hasn’t.  There is a part of me that will actually miss the things and events of 2016, but I am ready for something new.  Ready to start again.  2016 has held lots of my best and most treasured moments, our travels around the world, new friends, old friends and meeting and holding my baby boy for the first time.  But the second half of 2016 has also been my hardest time to date, saying goodbye to Josh way too soon and learning to live in world where he was and now isn’t.

Much of 2016 was unexpected, but through all of this I have grown.  I have learnt more about myself, who I am, who I want to be, and where I need to make changes.  More about my family and friends, just how important they are, and how much they love Dave and I through both good and bad.  And more about what is important in life, how much trust I have in Jesus and that even though I may not see the whole picture I can trust that this is part of something much bigger than me.  That this year has been and will be way more important that I will understand for a long time.  I have learnt to hold on to the things that I know are true and good and to hope and celebrate joy in really really crappy places.  I know that “God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (Romans 8:28, NLT).

Looking forward to 2017 I must “be strong and courageous! I must not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord my God is with me wherever I go.” (Joshua 1:9, NLT with my paraphrase).  God has this covered, he has Dave and I covered in his love, in his grace and in his mercy.  His love brings joy and peace beyond understanding and circumstance.  We have good things ahead and my hope is that we will see some of these in 2017. 

Usually at this time of year I would right a blog looking back at the year through the photos taken on my iPhone which I am still going to do, only this year instead of writing a highlight of each month, I am going to write about the things I am thankful for.  On most occasions these are also the highlights, but practicing my gratitude and highlighting the blessings brings me a lot more joy than just telling you that something was good.  It’s also better for my brain. So this is what 2016 looked like through the eyes of my iPhone with my gratitude lens on.

January…

I am thankful for:
•  Travel, exploring Europe and having my mind opened to more of the world with the best travel buddy I could have ever asked for, Dave.
•  Meeting new friends.
•  Polka bands and spoons in Austria.
•  Exploring London, Paris and Disneyland with my best friend.

February…

I am thankful for:
•  Warm weather and food with friends old and new.
•  Parkrun and it’s ability to engage my fomo so I actually exercise.

March…

I am thankful for:
•  More food and sharing it with more people – this seems to be a theme of my life.
•  Inverloch and the opportunity that it gives me to step back and slow down.
•  Beautiful cards from Happy Mail that I have been able to share.
• Learning about snapchat filters and the fun they have brought… even though I still haven’t quite conquered snapchat.

April…

I am thankful for:
•  The outback and red dirt and the feeling that I get when I am standing surrounded by it.  By the incredible landscapes and history our home holds.
•  Camping, hiking and exploring new and beautiful places with Dave’s family and how much closer I feel to them after having these experiences.
•  Getting over my fear of bugs, I don’t know how, but I do know it happened in April and now they don’t bother me… at all, it’s really nice.
•  Birthdays and the wonderful excuse they are to catch up with people and eat delicious treats… see I told you it was a theme.

May…

I am thankful for:
•  School and the community that it is, for the wonderful and talented kids, for our trip to Mt Gambier and watching them perform in the Lion King.
•  5 years with Davo as married couple.  Marriage just keeps getting better and better and it is still the best decision that I have ever made, to say yes to him and to get married.

June…

I am thankful for:
•  Finding out we were pregnant, even if I wasn’t quite ready.
•  For work and the fun things I get to do, talks, presentations, adventures and be creative.
•  Bram and Jean and the impact they had on Box Hill Salvos, but also on Dave and I.  Their wisdom, humility and enthusiasm is something that I greatly value.  For Bram and I’s competitive parkrun spirit and his encouragement of my running.

July…

I am thankful for:
•  Anti-nausea medication and the difference it makes.
•  The generosity of friends and the wonderful and relaxing weekend in the city it provided for Dave and I.
•  Catch ups with new, but great friends.
•  The joy of sharing good news with family.  For how excited they were and how much they loved Josh, even before we new he was Josh.

August…

I am thankful for:
•  Sharing my pregnancy with one of my best mates and having an endless supply of food at our shared desk.
•  Scans and how incredibly detailed they are, for seeing Josh move around and starting to get to know who he was.
•  The joy of sharing our news of Joshua with our wider group of friends and family and the amount of love that was poured out.
•  More sunny days as winter started to disappear.

September…

I am thankful for:
•  Cleaning things out and making way, decluttering and letting go.
•  Our Babymoon to Lakes Entrance and time spent with just Dave.
•  The incredible example my grandparents are in their marriage, 60years strong and still so in love.
•  Tiny baby clothes and toys.
•  Another scan and the detail in which we were able to see our perfect baby growing.
•  Turkish Delight milksakes and pink donuts.

October…

I am thankful for:
•  Dust and Jess and the exciting news that our Baby was getting a cousin.
•  Spending time with friends for the grand final, birthdays and mario party.
•  Holding Josh and being about to spend 3 heartbreaking days with him, for how perfectly he was made and how beautiful he was.
•  Watching Dave with Josh and falling even more in love with him as he became a father to our tiny boy.
•  Being able to sing, kiss and cuddle my precious little one.
•  Friends and family that stood in the gap for us as we grieved, for food and gifts that filled our house and for love that was poured out so abundantly.

November…

I am thankful for:
•  Learning to breathe again.
•  Sunny days to spend out on the deck and catching up with family.
•  Gingerbread, Christmas Trees and the Christmas Movie Marathon voting system.
•  Our photo wall and being able to put our whole family up there.
•  Singing to celebrate on of my old teachers at school and the impact he had on our musical lives and just singing in a choir again.
•  Heartfelt and their gift of beautiful photos of Joshua

December…

I am thankful for:
•  Polaroid photos.
•  Having Kirsten home for a couple of weeks and getting to hang out with here.
•  Crafting and blogging and having time to due some fun projects.
•  Perfectly wrapped Christmas gifts.
•  Christmastime – meals, celebrations and time spent with those most important to us.
•  Joshua’s tiny hand prints on our tree.
•  More time on the deck.
•  Summer, heat and our new air conditioners.
•  Time to reflect.

There has been so much to be thankful for and really this is just a snap shot.   Despite the pain and turmoil of moments, 2016 has been pretty good, really good actually, but I am still looking forward to 2017 with the hope of even more joy.  I will be strong and courageous, and I will trust that there is good because I love God and he loves me and will be with me whatever 2017 holds.