On my 25th birthday in June 2010 we found out we were pregnant with our first. We prepared everything for the arrival of our son Alexander Michael. On February 8, 2011 our hearts were broken when a week and a day before Alexander was due we were told that he had no heartbeat. Alexander was silently born on February 10, 2011 he weighed 6 lbs 10 oz, was 20 inches long, had sandy brown hair and really big feet. We love him and miss him dearly. This is my place for reflection on my life since his birth. We are currently expecting a rainbow baby named Oliver, a little brother due Sept 21, 2012. I love both my boys, the one who paints the clouds and my rainbow growing in my womb, tremendously and I thank God for blessing me with both of them everyday.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Our 1st Christmas without Alexander

"Truely my soul silently waits for God; from him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my defense; I shall not be greatly moved." Psalm 62:1-2

Yesterday Christmas was hard. There was a distinct lack of a crawling, smiling 10 month old. In fact there was a lack of children. I was the youngest person present. This is our first Christmas without Alexander. It was also the first Christmas that my little brother Tim wasn't home. He's currently in Afghanistan serving our country. His antics and teasing were also missed. Having seen Tim play with my niece and nephew (another brother's children) it makes me wonder how he'd play with Alexander. I do believe I'll find out in the next few years how uncle Tim interacts with my children but there will always be someone missing. A little boy, a big brother (hopefully one day soon), my son will be missing from all the vacations and holidays while I'm still on earth.

I find comfort knowing that Alexander got to have Christmas with Jesus, the angels, other children and loved ones who have gone before us. An image came into my head several times yesterday. I pictured Alexander trying to walk yesterday as older children ran ahead. I see him take a couple tentative steps and then fall on his butt. He's smiling because Alexander is always smiling. He holds up his arms to a smiling Jesus, who picks Alexander up gives him a hug and sets him back down a little ways a way. Our Lord gently encourages Alexander to take a couple steps, baby steps. This image and the image of Christ handing Alexander over to my sister in law Rachel, who went to be with God 10 years ago. Rachel and Alexander cuddle some and and walk over to join the other children are excitedly looking at something. I'm not sure what they are looking at but I don't think it matters. What matters is that they are safe and happy. They don't suffer and they get to be with God who loves them beyond measure.

"So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 'Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and the shall call His name Immanuel,' which is translated, 'God with us.'" Matthew 1:22-23

God is with our loved ones who are not here and god is present in our lives on earth. It doesn't take away the longing and the pain of missing our babies or whoever you happen to be missing. It does bring us comfort, peace, joy, hope, and love.

"For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love." 1 Corinthians 13: 12-13

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Peace that Doesn't make Sense: Meditations for the Fourth Week of Advent

As Christmas approaches I realize more and more what I am missing this holiday season. Its the little things I miss, like keeping Alexander from pulling things off of the Christmas tree, going shopping for presents, taking pictures in a cute little outfit, and hearing everyone coo over how cute, smart, and big he is. Every parent who has a baby at home spends so much time trying to get their baby to stop crying and all I want is to hear Alexander cry. I want to change dirty diapers and deal with a snotty nose. I want to worry when he doesn't feel good and complain about sleepless nights. I want to know whether he'd be just beginning to pull himself up on things or if he'd already be walking. I want to hear his first word.

And yet I have this peace about it. A peace that doesn't make any sense. That peace that people talk about that surpasses all understanding. A peace that only can come from God. I had this same peace as I was going through all the waiting and the labor of birthing Alexander, knowing he was dead. It was the hardest thing I've ever had to do and yet I knew I wasn't alone. I had my husband, my parents, my pastor, and doctors and nurses with me. I knew I had all sorts of people praying and thinking about us, and I knew that God was with me. I could have peace when my world turned upside down and things didn't make sense because I knew from the moment that Alexander's spirit wasn't on earth, that he was being held by my lord and savior. Peace isour gift from Him. Not a worldly peace but a peace in our very core.

"Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give it to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." John 14:27

I know Alexander is celebrating Christmas this year in heaven. Which quite frankly must be the biggest and best birthday party ever. I rejoice that he never knew pain or sorrow and that he was never sick. I have an Alexander shaped hole that won't be filled until we are reunited but I also have peace. My wish for all of you this Christmas is that you find the Peace that has no rhym or reason in your heart.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Rejoicing While Missing My Baby Boy: A Meditation for the Third Week of Advent

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit.”  1 Thessalonians 5:16-19

Yesterday marked the 3rd Sunday in Advent. The week begins by lighting the pink candle, the candle for joy. We are told to rejoice always to give thanks in all circumstances. But Saturday marked the day Alexander would have turned ten months old. It is so hard to give thanks and rejoice when my baby isn’t with me. I was finishing up my Christmas shopping and wanted so badly to be buying presents for my ten month old little boy. I resisted going down the toy isle and looking through the baby section of the store.   How can I prepare to celebrate Christmas with Joy when a piece of my heart is missing?

And yet there is so much to be thankful for and rejoice in when it comes to being Alexander’s mommy.  My compassion and empathy for others has multiplied. My relationship with God has become more intimate. I’ve learned to take more time, time to listen, time to think, time to cry, time to remember, time to rejoice, time to observe, and time to cherish.  I thank God for Alexander’s life and I am thankful for what has come from his death. His short beautiful life has taught so many people to cherish and love who they have all the more. We never know when a life will end.

But wait! Life doesn’t end with death anymore! That’s what we have to rejoice about at Christmas.

“That God so loved the world that he gave his only son so that whoever believes in him will not perish, but have eternal life.”John 3:16

Wow! Knowing what it is to have a child die, to actually willing send my son to suffer on this earth that we humans messed up so horribly and then die for those same humans. If I was Jesus’ parent I’d tell him that we aren’t worth it. I guess that’s why I’m not God. It is so hard being stuck here on earth with our loved ones in heaven, but we can rejoice in the fact that they are alive.

“Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of saints; extend hospitality to others.” Romans 12: 9-13

Rejoice in Hope! I can do that. I can hold onto the Hope I have in Christ no matter what my future on earth may bring. I can have joy knowing that I will get to hold my son again and I won't have to say goodbye. And meanwhile I am patient in suffering and I persevere in prayer (or at least I try).

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Watch and Prepare: Meditations for the First Two Weeks of Advent

I've always loved the advent season, the anticipation of Christmas, waiting for the announcement that the Christ was born, the shepherds, the traveling, the angels, the wise men, and the little baby. Last year during advent I was 7 months pregnant. I understood Christmas from a different point of view. I related so much more to Mary. Her song of joy and praise was also mine. 
 "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name." Luke 1:46-49

The child in my womb wasn't destined to save humanity from the mess we created. But like Mary my son was special because all babies are special in the hearts of their mothers.

The first week of advent starts at the end of November and begins December. Its the time when we start watching for the shopping deals, the new recipes, the decorations, and maybe a new tradition. Its like the beginning of a pregnancy. You keep an eye out for all that information on what you'll need to take care of your baby. You watch for deals and start looking through parenting book, magazines, and websites. In the first week of advent we are told to watch and to keep alert, but not for the best deal on whatever it is your husband, wife or children want this year. We need to be awake for the coming of the Christ. Its a time to remember the waiting and watching God's people did generation after generation. Its a time to remind ourselves that Christ is coming again and we need to be ready. We need to be ready by living our lives as He taught us, by loving and caring for all people, and by taking care of the poor, the weak, the sick, and the grieving. We hope and watch for the time when Christ comes again, when we'll be reunited with our loved ones who have passed, when people won't go hungry, and when we no longer send husbands, fathers, sons, and brothers off to war.

"I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind- just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you - so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ."   1 Corinthians 1: 4-7
The second week of advent we are told to prepare. We start decorating and buying presents. In the middle of a pregnancy you begin preparations. You start buying what you need, you begin to plan and decorate a special place for the baby. Advent reminds us to prepare for the coming of King. This time not as a baby.

"See I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his path straight." Isaiah 40:3
This year the advent season is again different for me. I'm not the pregnant woman anticipating the arrival of my special child. Instead I think of Mary at the foot of the cross and wonder if she still felt blessed that her son was the savior of the world. If she knew how the Christ was to save the world would she still have sung her song of joy or would she have wept for her son's life cut too short. (Because any time a child dies before their parent whether the child hasn't been born yet, the child lived for 10 or 20 or 50 years the child's life was cut too short.) I do know the answer to my question. Mary would still rejoice in her son's life because I still rejoice in Alexander's life. I feel so blessed to have even known him for the short time he grew in my womb. I feel blessed that he has made such an impact in my life and the lives of others. He has taught us to love completely and cherish what time we are given. Yes my joy is mingled with sorrow but isn't that what advent is? Isn't that what life is since sin came into the world? We can't watch and prepare for the Christ Child without the knowledge that he grew up and died for all of us. Without his death, his birth becomes just another birth from 2000 years ago. Our hope, anticipation and joy have to be mingled with the sorrow of sin and death or Christmas becomes meaningless.

This advent I better understand the anticipation but also the sacrifice that began with a little baby. He came to us as a child and died for us as a friend, a brother, a teacher, a Lord, and a son so that we might live with Him and our precious children in eternity. How completely awesome is that?

Our tree includes a cross and has 2 special ornaments for Alexander this year.