Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Naming Eve


I want to share the story of how Eve got her name.

The first thing I did after discovering I was pregnant in May 2011 was to begin making a list of potential names.  My husband and I couldn't agree on any boy names (well, except Thor, but that was sort of a joke).  We did, however, agree on Molly as a potential name for a girl.  I also liked Brynn, and he suggested Eve.

In September we discovered that we were having a girl.  I was overjoyed.  While I would have been so happy with a boy, I desperately wanted (and want) daughters.  And we had been given one!

But we did not progress any further in our name-choosing.  We both felt that we couldn't name our little girl until we met her face to face.

And then everything fell apart -- late on Friday, November 18, we found out that our daughter had died.  We went home, shocked.  I didn't sleep.  I lay in bed, all too awake to the fact that this world is full of suffering.  That my world was now full of suffering.

When I could manage to feel, I felt afraid.  Terrified.  I was afraid to move, to touch my still-pregnant belly.  The baby girl we had been dreaming of for months was dead.  Dead inside my body.

It is a terrible thing to hold your dead child within you.

And then the next day, the hours stretched too-long before us until we were expected at the hospital.  We tried to prepare, but how can you prepare for the unthinkable?  We made sure our dogs had a home for the weekend, and we packed our suitcase.  I vacuumed, and washed the dishes.

When we had done all that we could bear to do, my husband and I huddled together in the living room.

"What should we name her?" I asked.

My husband shook his head.  We hadn't named our baby when she was alive.  How could we name her now, waiting for the birth of her dead body?  It seemed impossible.

I didn't want to name her Molly.  It didn't seem right anymore.  I think that a part of me wanted to "save" the name for our next daughter, who would hopefully live.  Now I don't think I'll ever be able to use that name.

Finally I remembered that my husband had suggested the name Eve.  It wasn't my favorite name of the few we had picked out, but I wanted him to have something to give our daughter.  I had given her life, and a death bed.  He could at least give her a name.

I asked him if he still liked the name Eve.  He did.  We didn't have the heart to wrestle over a middle name.  And so her name is simple, and lovely -- Eve.  Although it was not my favorite name at the time, I have fallen in love with it almost as much as I have fallen in love with its owner.

I found out not very long ago what Eve means.  It means "life."


Even though she's dead, even though she died before she breathed,  it is so right.



I think it's perfect.

Eve's name in the sand

Saturday, February 25, 2012

{Sad Hope Songs} "Beauty Will Rise" by Steven Curtis Chapman

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 the questions and tears and darkness is that God will make something unbelievably lovely out of this present pain.
I hope.  Oh, how I hope.

Today, it is fourteen weeks since we said goodbye to our precious daughter.  I miss her so much.  Hope is all that's left now.  Maybe hope is all there ever was, all there ever is, for any of us.

Will you hope with me, for all of us?

Every 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 sounding but also full of the beautiful hope that is born out of pain and suffering. To pass a song on to me, please leave your recommendation in the comments.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Beauty From Ashes

Beauty From Ashes

These past few weeks have been so challenging.  Up and down . . . and down . . . and down -- that's what it's felt like, emotionally.  The grief has been hard.  I feel physically beaten and so very exhausted.  Even blogging has been difficult.

But last weekend I did manage to create some art, and I'm very proud of it.  The title of the above piece is "Beauty From Ashes," and that is my strongest hope for my life right now -- that God will take the horror and pain of losing a child and turn it into something lovely.  I can already see that He's been doing just that, but over the past few weeks I feel like I have become blind and deaf to Him.

But I still believe.  It's all that I can do.

"Beauty From Ashes" is available for purchase as a print here.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Dear Eve

I am missing you more than ever.  I thought that time would ease this pain, but it seems like each day is harder than the one before.  Time is passing so slowly.  I long for the future, for healing, for Home.  Most days I feel that Heaven can't come soon enough -- but I bet that when it does, all my years still would not be enough time.

Is that how you felt, too, when death took you?

I hope not.  I hope your passing was peaceful, rocked into Heaven by my body, by angels.  Dying certainly seemed peaceful enough for you.  You never protested, never put up a fight.  Not that I could tell, anyway.  You just slipped quietly away.

I miss you so much.

This week a little boy was born into our lives.  A friend's baby.  We had been pregnant together -- she with this sweet little boy, and me with you.  You and he would have played together.  I wonder if you will be friends in Heaven instead.

He is precious.  I am so glad that he has arrived safely at last.  But he reminds me of you, and that is hard.  Even though the two of you are similar, death made you so different.  Seeing a beautiful, living newborn makes your death horrifying in all new ways.  The way he sneaks his arm from the swaddling, his toothless yawns, the cranky crinkling of his forehead -- these are all things you would have done, had you lived.  But you didn't.  I will never see you move.  Your body was far too still.

It's hard for me to connect your body to the kicks and punches you gave me from within.  You were so strong.  How could someone so strong die so quietly, so soon?

But the baby boy who would have been your growing-up-together friend is not just a source of pain.  He is also a source of hope.  I see him and know that pregnancy works.  That stillbirth is not always the result.  His burbling existence encourages me to keep hoping that one day not too far from now I will hold your squirming, squalling, very-much-alive sibling in my arms, just like I held you.

I will still miss you if that happens.  I will miss you forever.

You are my precious firstborn, my curly-haired daughter, my love.

Sometimes I wonder if you or God send me reminders that your death was not the end of the story.  From time to time I smell the scent of your lilac candle in places where it just should not be, and I wonder.  I want you to be in Heaven, to stay safe in our Father's arms.  But if you can be safely in Heaven and blow me little kisses of lilac-scented love at the same time, I will not complain.

I cannot wait until I hear your voice for the first time, see the expressions of your beautiful face, and dance with you in grateful joy for  our Savior.

Until then, I will wait in hope, trusting the One who brings beauty from our ashes.

And loving you through the hurt.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Doing It Anyway

this (from Artful Blogging).  #babyloss #griefToday I spied this image in Artful Blogging.  I'm in love with it.  It represents where I am at so perfectly.

Life has become even more messy, which I did not think possible.   There is a lot of opportunity to worry and fear.  The anxiety is the most threatening that it's ever been.  I am trying to navigate 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 preserve my sanity and the relationship with that friend and deal with anxiety and celebrate this new little life and not be overcome by despair and isolation.

It's hard.  So hard.

It seems impossible, in fact.  It is impossible.

But I have to go through it.  I can't run away and hide (which, I must admit, I was sorely tempted to do yesterday -- Austin friends, you nearly had a new neighbor).  Avoidance is not an option, not if I ever want to truly live again.  I have to sit in the pain and discomfort and happy/sad and utter mess that is this life after stillbirth, and deal.

I have to try.

Living through this, moving through the mess, has been the hardest thing I've ever had to do.  I can't do it.  But I'm doing it anyway.

And -- I'm glad that I am.  I've tried not-trying and not-dealing before, and the result is not pretty.

So I will stay here.  I will do the impossible.  And, with God's help, I will not only survive, but become all the better because of it.

I am not okay. Not even a little.

*Happy/sad is meant to represent the incredible, impossible tension that I have found in my grief -- that I can experience intense sorrow and bounding joy in the same moment.  It is painful, and it is beautiful.  And, for me, right now everything seems to be happy/sad.  I feel like I can't have one without the other, and neutral is not an option.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

{Sad Hope Songs} "Glory Baby" by Watermark

I've been listening to "Glory Baby" by Watermark a lot these past few days.  I love this song because it tells so exactly the tension I have been living in since Eve died -- unspeakably glad that she is with God, whole and complete in Heaven, but devastated that we couldn't have her here in our earthly lives. I am happy for her, but so sad for me.  I don't expect that that will ever change.

Every 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 sounding but also full of the beautiful hope that is born out of pain and suffering. To pass a song on to me, please leave your recommendation in the comments.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Massive Giveaway at Small Bird Studios

Curly girl painted

Today I'm part of a massive giveaway hosted by Fran at Small Bird Studios.  I highly encourage you to check it out -- not only because there are lots of amazing goodies to win, including a card featuring my mixed 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 gift.

I think that the giveaway is just for today (Thursday), so definitely get your entries in ASAP.  If you're already a follower of this blog or my art blog, you've got plenty of entries already!  Leave your entries in the comments on this post.

Happy Thursday, dear blog friends.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Love That Must Be Celebrated

I've never been a fan of Valentine's Day.  When I was single, it seemed like a criticism of my single-ness and decision not to casually date.  After I got married, it felt like a cheap parody of trying to mend broken relationships, but without any actual work.  This holiday has always felt empty to me.  I never look forward to it.

Until this one.  Valentine's Day 2012.  Oh, how I looked forward to it.  The first Valentine's Day that I would be holding my daughter in my arms.

I thought.

Today it is that Valentine's 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 loss.

But I am okay.  That is to say, I am alive.  I am standing.  God has not left me, and His love is all around.

This Love -- how can it possibly be expressed?  It is wider, deeper, higher, greater, stronger, more faithful, more grace-giving, more alive than I will ever be able to fathom in this life.

But since my precious Eve's death, I have been able to fathom it a little more.  Understand it a little better.  Find deeper intimacy with the Great Lover of my soul than I ever have before.

This Love, it is worth every bit of pain, every knife of grief.

He has made me better because of the child I love, because the child I love is dead.

I must celebrate today, on this Valentine's Day that is nothing like what I dreamed, what I wanted wanted.  I celebrate the Greatest Love that ever was, that turns the ash and stink of my life into unimaginable beauty.  And I celebrate the deepest, most painful, most exquisite love I have ever felt -- for the God who does not leave, and for the child I will never see grow.

Today is a day of Love, as all days are, in spite of her absence -- or perhaps, because of of her absence.

That doesn't make the pain any less painful.  But it makes it worthwhile.  This Love redeems.

My heart is mangled, but I am grateful.

"Friends, when life gets really difficult, don't jump to the conclusion that God isn't on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner."

~ 1 Peter 4:12-13

Monday, February 13, 2012


Today I went back to my obstetrician's 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 birthing death when my heart was (and is) anything but healed.

I didn't think I was going to have to go back to that office today.  I called this morning asking if I could get tested for a urinary track infection (keep your fingers crossed that I don't have one!).  The receptionist told me that they'd fax an order down to the outpatient lab and I could just go there to get tested.

When I got to the lab a few hours later, they knew nothing about it.

"Why don't you just run upstairs to your doctor's office and ask them for the form?" the woman at the lab said.

Why don't I? 

I could think of plenty of reasons why I'd rather not "run upstairs" to the office that holds too many memories, too much pain.  That amplifies my loss and hurls it back at my face.  But I couldn't tell the woman that, and didn't want to.  So upstairs I went.

Every step I told myself that it would be okay.  That it would just take a moment.

I stepped inside the door and found myself face to face with the entire staff of the small office that had helped me through my pregnancy.  The pregnancy that  ended in death.  All eyes stared blankly at me while I mumbled something about a form.  I couldn't bear to meet my doctor's eyes.

Thankfully, once the receptionist realized that she'd forgotten to fax the order to the lab for me, the nurse whisked me away to the bathroom and had me give a sample there.

It was, in a word, difficult.  I'd given the same kind of sample months before, so happy to have to do it.  Every visit to that office was a joy, no matter what happened.

I cannot say the same anymore.

As I stumbled out of the office a few minutes later, followed by the apologies of the receptionist and my doctor's sympathetic gaze, I felt heavy.  So heavy.

I took my dogs, waiting in the car, on a brief walk as I had planned.  Every step was agony, the short hike seeming an eternity.

So heavy.

I miss my daughter.  I miss the life we almost had. I hate that I know this kind of grief.

But I am glad that I feel it, too.  If I had to lose my daughter, I want to mourn.  She deserves my grief, my tears, every ounce of heaviness.  And I know that God is in the grieving, and so is His healing.

I will grieve.  I am grieving.  And I want to grieve.

But it is heavy.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

{Sad Hope Songs} "Held" by Natalie Grant

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified . . . for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.”

~ Deuteronomy 31:6

"Held" is one of those songs that has always made me sob without fail.  And now, in this life after my daughter's death, that is doubly true -- but this song is now also more encouraging than ever before.  Because the fact is that I am held.  I dwell in the palm of God's hand, and nothing -- nothing -- can take me away from Him.

I have never felt more sure of the promises of God.  He says He will never leave or forsake us, and I am finding it to be more and more true each day.  Because of my suffering, I am finally learning what it is to be loved, to be seen, to share my suffering with the One who cares best, to know that He counts every tear that dampens my cheeks and wastes none of it.

Every 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 sounding but also full of the beautiful hope that is born out of pain and suffering. To pass a song on to me, please leave your recommendation in the comments.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Tiny Photographs

A few weeks ago the Best Husband Ever got me an iPod Touch.  Of course the geek in me went happy-crazy over the many, many interesting free apps that are available.  Given my photographer's heart, of course the first one I gravitated toward was Instagram.  Easy-to-create intage photos uploaded instantly to several different platforms?  Yes, please.

Unfortunately, I soon discovered that the camera on the iPod is not as good as the one on the iPad or iPhone, so I am unable to take crisp, clean photos.  Still, the app is fun to play with, and so I have played.  Here is some of what I've seen with my new toy:

anxiety.  :{ My first Instagram

my first panic attack (at church -- boo) // my grief (and my first Instagram)

Cody treats

Cody, soft and sleepy // Cody vs. cinnamon roll


Lio // Jackson

Eve's lilac candle 1,000 gifts seen & counted

Eve's candle burning in the morning dark // one thousand gifts seen and counted

As 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 unable to not tag any posts with her name since she died.  I think I will tag this one with her name anyway.  She is in everything that I do.

Linking up with:

life rearranged

p.s.  I am giving away a print on my art blog, and it's not too late to enter.  Check it out here.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Freedom of Feeling

Before my daughter died inside me, I wasn't sure if there was room in my religion for the dark things of this life. Does God care about depression? Apathy? Emptiness? Doubt? Or does everyone who suffers from these things find themselves on the outside of faith simply because of that suffering?

I wasn't sure. What does God make of my depression? Is there room in my faith for grief? Or should the hope in God that kindles in our hearts drive out all the pain of the grave?

Now, I have my answer. I have been reading the books of Ecclesiastes and Job, and by these books' presence in the Bible, I know -- there is room. There is room for it all: grief, doubt, depression, fear, apathy, and more.

So, like the writer of Ecclesiastes, I can tell God -- right now, I hate life. I can echo Job's words -- it seems that the happiest day of my life will be the day I die. I can be honest. There is room in my faith for honesty, painful truth though it may be.

That room, that honesty before God -- it brings freedom. Not only am I allowed to say these things, but God wants me to say them.

Because it is only by experiencing the feelings, by entering the pain, and by being honest with Him about my struggle that I will ever enjoy His healing.

There is freedom in this pain, in the feeling of it.  Of this I am sure.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

{Sad Hope Songs} "Beautiful Things" by Gungor

This is the first song that I listened to after Eve died.  It was passed on to me by a friend.  At first I could not listen to it -- I didn't want the darkness that the song talks about, the dark that beauty is born out of.  But as I began to throw myself on the Lord in my desperation for answers, this song kept coming back to mind.

Now, exactly 10 weeks from the day that I birthed my daughter's body, I am able to say yes -- give me the beautiful things, please.  If I have to have the dark, then redeem it, Father. You're the only one who can.

I hurt so much.

Every 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 melancholy sounding but also full of the beautiful hope that is born out of pain.  To pass a song onto me, please leave your recommendation in the comments.