Monday, November 28, 2011

Eve


Last week we had a heartbreaking thing happen -- we lost our baby at 31 weeks of pregnancy.  On Friday, November 18, I noticed that I had not felt her kick in a while, so we went to the hospital.  After investigating, our doctor confirmed what I could already see on the ultrasound machine's screen -- our baby had died.We went home that night, and spent Saturday making sure that our dogs had a home for the weekend, tidying up the house, and packing for our hospital stay.  On Saturday night, we checked into labor and delivery and began the process of inducing labor.  From Saturday night through Sunday morning, our loving nurses placed pills near my cervix in order to ripen it.  I began to get very uncomfortable, and at ten o' clock on Sunday morning I received an epidural that eased me greatly.

At noon we started the pitocin drip, stimulating contractions.  The contractions came on fast and strong, and I began to feel them quite intensely on my left side in spite of the epidural.  I received an extra boost on the epidural, which ended up coming just in time for delivery.  I began to feel intense pressure as our baby started to crown.  Our nurses and doctor cried with us as I delivered our little one in three pushes.  She was born at 3:43 PM on Sunday, November 20.  She was seventeen inches long and weighed three pounds and three ounces.  We named her Eve.

As I had requested earlier, they took Eve away to bathe and clothe her, then shortly returned her to us.  First my husband held her and showed her to me, and I sobbed, thinking how dead she looked.  But then something in me shifted, and I began to see how beautiful she was.  Soon I was cradling our daughter in my arms, so in love with this little person that we will never truly know.  She had my husband's face and my dark curly hair and the longest, most graceful fingers.

My husband and I feel so blessed that we have friends and family that lovingly surrounded us during this time.  They visited us regularly at the hospital both before and after Eve was born, and many of them got to hold her.  I am so glad that we got to share her with them.

Soon, however, Eve's body began to deteriorate.  Stillborn babies' skin is very delicate, and from our handling of her she began to look more dead.  I felt okay with this, though -- it left no room for delusions that we could keep her, that she could stay with us.  Sometime around 8:00 Sunday evening, the Best Husband Ever and I said our good-byes to our little girl.

After discussing our options with our doctor, we decided to have an autopsy and genetic testing done to see if a reason for Eve's death can be found.  However, we are expecting there to be no known cause -- at this late of gestation, we learned, the main causes of death are cord complications, preexisting conditions in the mother, or some other obvious physical problem with the baby -- none of which were present in our situation.

Although this is a tragedy and hard to bear, we are not blind to the many blessings we have experienced over this past week: friends and family standing with us, praying, loving us, crying when we couldn't, supporting us at our weakest -- extraordinarily loving nurses who were an answer to prayer -- the fact that Eve was beautiful and largely unblemished, something that is not true for all stillborn babies -- a fast and easy delivery without complications . . .

. . . and, of course, the God who is big enough.  Who knows what it means to lose a child.  Who can withstand our anger and questions, should those ever emerge.  Who hurts with us.  Who loves us.

We are so blessed.

This weekend we held a memorial for Eve at our church.  Again, our friends and family surrounded us in a profoundly empathetic way.  At the service, our pastor read an email I had written earlier in the week.  I had decided  to give him the email to do with as he liked -- to read all or part of, or just let it inform his own words -- because it was written without any thought of being shared with the world, and so is the truest thing I can say about this experience.  I've been asked to post it, and so here it is, with photos of our remembrances of little Eve to follow:

We're home now.  Leaving the hospital felt absolutely glorious, but coming home was hard.  Most of our baby-related stuff is closed up in our spare bedroom, which is good for now, but I know that dealing with it will be hard when the times comes.

I am so grateful for the people in our lives -- you and our other friends and family have surrounded us in such a special way.  I feel so blessed.  God is good.

I am especially blessed by my husband.  I already knew that he is the Best Husband Ever for me, but he is proving that even more true every moment.  I am so thankful that he is the one I get to walk through this with.  He has been so gentle and open and giving.

We have been getting visits from friends and family really regularly since Saturday evening, but we are setting aside today to just be alone together with God and our feelings and the memory of little Eve.  Tomorrow we have a doctor's appointment and perhaps some more visits.  We'll be spending Thanksgiving with J's family and my mom, and we are going to have a memorial for Eve at church on Friday morning.

After that . . . I feel like that is when the real hard stuff will begin.  When it's easy for other people to heal and move on, but we (or even just I) still feel so much sadness.  Our nurse at the hospital gave us some reading on grief, and one of the papers said that we should expect the grieving process to take up to two years.  I can't imagine.  It feels too long.

But.

I also don't feel like that takes God into account.  Of course we are still early on in the process, so maybe things will get much worse than I can imagine...but I can't help but trust God.  I feel like Edmund in the The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, when monsters are howling around him and the White Witch is shrieking condemnation and hate at him...and Edmund is simply gazing at Aslan.  Because that's all that he can do.  Because that's the best that he can do.

I don't know if that makes sense...but I know that God promised that He will never leave us or forsake us, and now I find that that is the only sure thing I have right now.  Because the life-giving attention of our friends and family will fade, because they are only human.  Because J might heal from this far faster than I do, leaving me alone in experiencing these feelings.  Because I might lose J, too (this is a very big fear right now).  Because nothing in this whole world lasts except God.

I don't know why the promise of God to never leave us never felt real until now.  Maybe I relied too much on feeling Him emotionally instead of trusting Him in all ways (intellectually when emotion failed, as it always does).  Maybe I never really believed that He would back up His promises.  I don't know...but now I know that nothing else is permanent except His promises.  It's so comforting.

So far we have been pretty protected from asking the "why" questions -- Why would God let this happen?  Why isn't He good enough/big enough/loving enough to give us back our daughter?  I don't know -- those questions just seem empty.  We can't know why God let this happen.  But I also don't believe that God will waste this.  I mean, I feel like He predominantly uses hard things or "bad" things to shape us, to draw us close, to change our hearts so that we can change the world, even if just in some small way. 

So while I don't know if there is a particular meaning or reason behind Eve's death, I don't feel like this opportunity will be wasted by God.  I know that I already feel my faith being strengthened by this (at least in some ways...in other ways, it's easy to doubt...but I wonder if those doubts will ease as I heal) -- and I know that God has been using infant-related hardships to shape our church family over the past year or year and a half.  My hope is that Eve's death will help draw my parents and other unbelieving family members closer to God so that He can heal their hearts and lives.  And those are just the things that I can see from here -- who knows how far the ripples of this could spread.  I am hopeful.


 

 











73 comments:

  1. oh dear one, i wept and wept and wept as i read this. i sat here in this mcdonalds and sobbed my soul to the world on your behalf.

    my heart is with you -- one who knows the pain of loosing a child, although not quite so advanced. my dear, you are loved and treasured and lifted before the throne by me.

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  2. Thank you so, so much, Rachel. <3

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  3. Just held back tears as I read this at work. Your faith and strength are amazing, Beth, and I thank you for sharing your journey with others. Your testimony has been a blessing to me, so it's already not wasted. Praying for you..

    Holly L.

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  4. Oh Beth, I am so very sorry, so very sad for you. Are there words??? I hardly know you except that I dropped in on you one day when you had taken a walk with Eve through the fallen leaves of Montana. I wanted to "follow" your blog, a young mother-to-be with a heart for God that was counting her gifts. How precious a young woman I saw come up on the "pages" of your life.

    And now the hardest eucharisteo that I could ever imagine you must count, and I weep with you and am sorry that I can only do so from so far and through a computer screen. It is hard because I have never heard your voice and I can't fold you up in my arms and cry with you. Can you know how much I care that this happened, that you must grieve?

    I am grateful God gave you the Best Husband in the World for you. And I want thank you for letting those who love your heart and your art, know your pain. Maybe, in some way, it can be eased by knowing that the ripples of your testimony reach far, much further than you imagine.

    I promise I will keep you close in prayer.

    Much love and deepest sympathy to you sweet Beth, mother to Eve.

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  5. Thank you for sharing your story and I'm so so sorry. It sounds like you are coping as best as can be expected. I cannot even imagine.

    Please do let me know if there's anything I can do. Besides having you in my thoughts and prayers, of course.

    xo...

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  6. Thanks so much for being brave enough to share this. My thoughts and prayers are with you, friend. <3 *hugs*

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  7. Beth, you have been in my prayers and heart since I heard.

    My aunt lost my cousin Katherine the same way, the weekend before her due date. She, too, realized she hadn't felt kicks and her story unfolded much the same way Eve's did.

    I feel this very rawly, since it happened in my own family and I also have been so excited following your story and getting to know you.

    As I said on Twitter, I am so glad you did the casts and recorded these beautiful memories and photos. My aunt and uncle took a few photos with Katherine, but didn't have the foresight to capture these other mementos.

    I think that these are an amazing tribute to keep of beautiful Eve and will help in your healing process. I will continue to keep you in my heart and prayers. I'm thankful God is present in your thoughts and healing, and hope He continues to bring you the strength and comfort you need during this time.

    Love, Christina

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  8. Beth, I've thought about you and cried for you more than you know. I can't imagine how you must feel. Your faith is so amazing to me, and yes, your experience and how God is your strong foundation and your rock through it is going to touch many lives, I'm sure of it.

    Always here for you.

    -Shannon

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  9. Maggie @ Say Yes to SaladNovember 28, 2011 at 4:07 PM

    Oh, Beth. I am so sorry. My heart goes out to you. :(

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  10. Oh my goodness I have no idea what to even say ... your willingness to share such a personal event in the graceful manner you did was inspiring. I'm so emotional myself just reading this, my heart goes out to you and your family.

    I have been through the grieving process as I lost a parent suddenly as a result of a genetic condition that was unknown until it was too late. Its heart wrenching to go through and from what I've learned allowing your self to feel and experience ALL of the emotions that rise ... including the angry ones, the un-fair ones and everything in-between is the best thing you can do. Share your bad days, the good ones and tell people exactly what you want even if it seems selfish. Sending virtual hugs your way.

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  11. This is a beautifully written memorial. My heart and prayers are with you, and I know that our God is right by your side. Always.

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  12. dear beth,
    i join you and edmund and look toward aslan.
    great shining light. love. God. and offer praise for the life of eden. no matter how brief. your beautiful babe. and ask for ongoing comfort and great strength to be with you and your husband. my heart stretches to you. XOX

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  13. Your unwavering faith is SO amazing, and it's people like you who will guide others to look to Christ because of your trust in Him. My heart and my prayers go out to you.

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  14. I am so sorry for your loss.

    We lost our son at 14 months to a brain aneurysm and so I know some of what you are going through. I can only say to you that I am sending love to you and your dear husband.

    xo

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  15. Oh my goodness, this is heartbreaking. I'm so sorry for your loss. I'm so thankful that you and your husband felt the Lord's love during this difficult time. Please don't feel rushed to cheer up, but I just want to point out that the next time you see your baby Eve, she will probably be showing you around Heaven.

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  16. i found you through Rachel's blog, and my heart was immediately touched by this post and your next one. i have not known a mother's grief, but i have known a sister's grief, losing a little brother in the same way you lost your daughter. remember his little locks of hair, his body so perfect and yet so still, so small. it hurts. it really really hurts. praying for your comfort. <3

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  17. [...] visiting! Two weeks ago, my husband and I were preparing to check into the hospital to birth our dead daughter.  It seems impossible that just fifteen days ago life was normal, unmarked by tragedy.  That my [...]

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  18. [...] cranky infants There are sleepless nights alone ~ Stephanie Paige Cole I am starting to feel that all this is very unfair.  I can accept that bad things happen, that we live in a broken world, that tragedy [...]

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  19. Beth, I am so, so sorry to hear about Eve. I will be thinking of you and praying for you -- and I'm very grateful for your courage in telling this story. Hang in there.
    Namaste,
    Rachel

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  20. Thanks, Rachel. <3

    I still want to do the giveaway, though! Send me the results when they're in. I'm not sure about your art piece...I'll have to get myself to try to work on it first to see if I'm up for it.

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  21. [...] hate that Eve is dead, that for whatever reason You didn’t save her life.  But I love You and all that You [...]

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  22. Beth,
    I am so so very sorry. My heart goes out to you and your husband. Gosh, I don't even know what to say - just please know I am thinking about you...lots. Much love, Heather

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  23. Thanks so much, Heather. I don't know what to say either...other than we have been blessed so much by the love of our friends and strangers and everyone in between, and that God has been so good. It seems strange to say it, but it's the only thing I can say for certain. <3

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  24. Oh, Beth, we were so incredibly sorry to hear about Eve. How devastating. Bless her heart and yours. Please know you are in our thoughts.

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  25. Steve (and Alayne), thank you so much. <3

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  26. I laid in bed reading this just now....and i just am sobbing for you. My heart is broken for you. I have not had to bear the extreme to which you have but also recently experienced the pain of losing a loved, dreamed for and wanted baby. I was much much earlier...1st trimester....so i cannot imagine your grief. I am so deeply and profoundly sad this happened to you both. I will pray that you can keep finding your way to press into God.

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  27. Thanks for sharing, Katie. I'm sorry that you lost your baby, too. :(

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  28. Oh, honey, I am so sorry for your loss. I followed your Flickr photos here. (I am so behind on everything.) My heart goes out to you and your husband.

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  29. [...] is love, and there is gratitude.  After Eve died, everything was as easy as it could possibly have been.  An unshakeable peace, a short labor, easy [...]

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  30. Oh thank you so much, Patia. <3

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  31. [...] It seems impossible that already a month has passed — that only a month has passed.  Is it December?  Life stood still on the birthday of my daughter on November 20, two days after she died. [...]

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  32. [...] don’t want to hope that Eve wasn’t our last child.  I don’t want to be pregnant with anyone else but her.  I [...]

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  33. [...] times, and is unpredictable all the time.  That’s the most difficult part, aside from the reason why I grieve — that I can’t predict when I will a certain way.  Sometimes I can’t stop crying [...]

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  34. [...] we received the profession photos taken of us and Eve at the hospital.  I have been looking forward to viewing this photos since we arrived home, [...]

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  35. [...] our child is dead, stillborn.  This Christmas is still a marker, a milestone, but not in the way that expected.  [...]

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  36. [...] before our first child were born into our world.  Instead, it was our first Christmas without the daughter we had hoped for.  I expected to be lost in grief [...]

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  37. [...] really miss Eve.  This week I have missed her more than I ever have since she died.  Maybe it’s because now [...]

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  38. [...] 2011 was the only year that held my baby girl.  It was the only year that she lived . . . and she didn’t even live all of [...]

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  39. I saw you in Lifebook 2012 in the Emotional support Group, and would love to say how sadden I am at your loss. I'm sure it's been a very difficult time for your family, and thanks so much for sharing it with us.
    Much love
    Mariette xox

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  40. Thank you so much, Mariette.

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  41. [...] baby crying at Wal-Mart, making me think that perhaps Eve was crying before she died, screaming in pain, and I didn’t hear [...]

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  42. [...] here.  Today is the first day that Eve could have been born safely.  Her due date was January 20, but the safe window from her birth was [...]

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  43. [...] been the first consecutive days where I feel able to throw myself on God.  Where I can look at what I used to believe and say — Yes, that is still true, even after all this.  Now that the emotion of deepest [...]

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  44. [...] reach it’s end so soon?  It’s only been seven weeks and three days since I birthed our daughter, [...]

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  45. Oh, my heart just breaks. The hand and feet casts are just beautiful. I wish I had some of those from my Charlie. Praying for your family and for peace to wash over you as you begin the journey through your grief.

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  46. I totally relate. My husband moved through his grieving process much faster than I did. It was very intense and hard and nearlyy unbearable for nearly 2 years. At times I felt like I had gone crazy. Just keep on trusting in Jesus to sustain you and give you strength. You will make it through the worst. Life will never be the same and don't let others make you feel like you need to get on with it, get over it. You have lost a child, and that never changes.It will get better though, and you just have to get through, you can't skirt around the grief. Many prayers for you and your family.

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  47. Thanks, Kelly. *hugs*

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  48. [...] It seems strange, and even offensive, that I made it to this date and my baby did not. [...]

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  49. [...] my daughter died inside me, I been commended by many [...]

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  50. [...] God via thanksgiving.  I counted two hundred eighty nine small and large gifts — and then my daughter died, without warning, without cause, before she was [...]

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  51. [...] Sunday I share a song that has particularly soothing or healing to me since my daughter, Eve, was stillborn.  I call these kinds of song “sad hope songs,” because they are usually [...]

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  52. Just want to say I comment you for expressing your love for your daughter in such a beautiful way, its a love that is eternal. I am so glad there is a day that we can look forward to when our God who is the fountain of all love will reunite us with our lost children, who will this time live forevermore with us in a world that is untainted by death and suffering. My heart and tears and hopes are for you and your loved ones.

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  53. Thank you so much, Julie. xoxo

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  54. [...] I prepare to publish this post, I realize that it is the first that I’ve written since Eve‘s death that is not about her or my grief.  That makes me really, really sad.  I have been [...]

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  55. [...] weekend I share a song that has been particularly soothing or healing to me since my daughter, Eve, was stillborn. I call these “sad hope songs,” because they are usually melancholy [...]

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  56. [...] office for the first time since my postpartum appointment.  Since my doctor cried with me over my baby’s stillbirth, and her baby’s stillbirth decades ago.  Since she told me that my body was healed from [...]

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  57. [...] Day at last, but instead it is the first Valentine’s Day on the other side of stillbirth.  On the other side of  horrific, unexplained, heartbreaking [...]

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  58. So beautiful...I love your description of Edmund gazing at Aslan. What an amazing picture. Thank you for sharing Eve. Precious little girl and a lovely name.

    I so wish I had gotten a clay impression of Lily's hands and feet :( You are really blessed to have that

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  59. thank you so much, Hannah. and thank you for blogging your way through this journey, too. yours was one of the first blogs I started reading after Eve died.

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  60. [...] media piece pictured above, but because Fran is absolutely amazing.  I found her blog soon after Eve died, and I can’t tell you how helpful and supportive she and her words have been.  What a [...]

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  61. [...] weekend I share a song that has been particularly soothing or healing to me since my daughter, Eve, was stillborn. I call these “sad hope songs,” because they are usually melancholy [...]

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  62. [...] the intense happy/sad* that is the result of a friend having her baby exactly one month after my dead baby’s due date.  The grief was challenging enough — now it’s topped off by working to [...]

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  63. [...] want to subscribe to my RSS feed. Thanks for visiting!This song has been on repeat on my iPod since Eve died.  It has become my anthem.  As I wrote yesterday, the hope that I am clutching to through [...]

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  64. [...] want to share the story of how Eve got her [...]

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  65. [...] since Eve died, something interesting has happened within me.  In the past, I would try to flee this [...]

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  66. [...] months ago, I was waiting to go to the hospital to induce the birth of our dead daughter.  Eight and a half weeks ago, I began the journey into pregnancy without even knowing that I [...]

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  67. [...] me just say that it’s not just about my daughter’s absence (although I am missing her so much), or being pregnant again (which is a difficult exercise in [...]

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  68. [...] how God used Ann’s book and the practice of gratitude to prepare me for and help me survive Eve’s death.  Here is what I [...]

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  69. [...] least, it used to be.  Before Eve died.  Now, I am not sure how I feel about Easter, because it is a holiday — another milestone [...]

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  70. [...] . . . spending Holy Week dreading another holiday that rubs my nose in the fact that my daughter is dead [...]

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  71. [...] Eve died, I kept up my gratitude journal, even though it was difficult.  I intended to keep counting [...]

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  72. [...] I think of my life before Eve died and was born, it seems like someone else’s life.  It feels unfamiliar.  Could those days have really [...]

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  73. Thank you for sharing Eve's story. I am touched beyond words. I pray that as time goes by the days grow brighter. Sweet little Eve...

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"I am glad you are here with me."
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King