Thursday, December 30, 2010


Hello, F.O.T.E.'s,
Hope you all are having a wonderful holiday season.  We have had a really nice time this year.  Reid was off work more than usual, so we got to do a little more visiting than we do most years.  We're looking forward to kicking off a new year tomorrow night.  Planning to make homemade pizzas, mulled cider, popcorn (with special seasonings, thanks to a Christmas gift from a family member!)...then, New Year's Day will bring breakfast casserole (thanks to a recipe from the aforementioned family member! Thanks, J!) and then later in the day pinto beans, turnip greens, cornbread and sweet tea.  Yes, I know we're supposed to be having blackeyed peas, but pintos are our favorite legume, lol. 
   I'm sure some of you are wondering about my "state of mind" regarding the events of this past year, namely the death, then birth of William.  I'm really not feeling the groove of writing about that right now, but suffice it to say that every day brings a pang of memory and loss...and I love him so dearly and miss him so much.  This year ended for me on May 14.  From then till now, there have been some sweet blessings--moving into our fabulous new house, a second honeymoon that was waaaay better than the first, children's birthdays and special days--but still there has been that everpresent ache. the urging of my daughter and others, I will start writing again.  If you are curious about Will, please send me a message.  I would love to talk to you about him...but, I think I'll write about some other things for a while....
That said....I'm hoping to begin a new weekly Ewe's Gnus feature:  Try It Tuesday!  (applause, applause)  I have realized of late that, though I *love* cooking, my menus had become very boring and repetitive.  I also realized I hadn't been trying new recipes routinely for months.  Not cool.  So, this past Tuesday, I pulled out an untried recipe and unleashed it on the family.  I will post the recipe and the review this coming Tues, Jan. 4, Lord willing  (and I don't forget, LOL).
   Until then, have a blessed New Year and don't forget to...

Keep your wool dry!

The Ewe

Monday, July 19, 2010

Memorial Service and House Ups and Downs

Hello, F.O.T.E.'s,
Well, Will's service was Sat, July 17.  It was a good day--hard, but good.  I had dreaded that day for weeks.  Not that it would "remind me," because losing Will is a constant heartache--I'll never "forget."  But, more that I am tired of crying.  I'm tired of admitting to my friends that I'm still not coping.  They have been so gracious to me.  No one has even hinted at, "You know, Amy, it's time to move on."  I have friends whose children have died, and people have said things like that to them.  That's unthinkable to me.  We would never say to someone whose spouse just died, "Ok, it's time to get over it.  You can always marry someone else." 
   Anyway, it was a blessing to have our friends and family gathered around, remembering our beautiful son.  A friend told me that the service caused her son to ask questions that needed asking...We in the pro-life community need to stay intellectually honest and this was a chance to work that out.  We can't grieve only the babies lost to abortion, while considering babies who die naturally "just tissue."  That's not logical.  That double-mindedness is  my soapbox issue. 
  As for the "house woes..."
We are looking at having to replace the heating/air conditioning unit.  This past week it's been 90 degrees on the main level and over 100 in the upstairs bedroom.  And that is *after* the hvac guy left, and the ac compressor has not kicked off for over a week. (Dread the electric bill.)  Pretty discouraging.  For a person with hyperthyroid (like me), heat is the enemy.  I can't wait until Winter.  I can always add clothes to stay warm, but heat makes me depressed and angry.  I know many people have SAD (seasonal affective disorder) in the Winter, but it affects me in the Summer.  Weird, eh?  I have panic attacks when I get too hot.  So, 90 degrees in the air conditioned house won't work for me.  So, we'll be tucking back money until next Spring for a new unit.
    On the "Ups"....we've had some pretty awesome peaches, apples and berries.  We have some apples in the freezer and the trees have many more.  We have to cut out wormy spots and bad places, but there is still a good many.
    Annie is the Chief Berry Picker, and she made a great blackberry cobbler tonight.  The produce is such a blessing, and I feel so blessed to have children who love learning about growing things.   In the cool of the evening, I enjoy walking through the fruit trees and seeing what's ripe...planning for the Fall and Winter...looking forward to next Spring. 
    Then, back on the "down" side  has been the 3 jungle showers in the basement.  Evidently we need to do some tweaking on the plumbing in our bathroom on the main level.  Under the right circumstances, it "rains" potty water into the basement.   We'll be seeing what needs to happen to (hopefully) prevent that in the future.  Just part of the territory of owning a home, no?  :-)
    Oh, did I mention we have acquired a puppy??  I'll have to leave that for another time...getting late here and The Ewe's tail's drooping.  Must shuffle off to bed.
Don't forget,
Y'all keep your wool dry!

The Ewe

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Will's Memorial and Settling In

Hello, F.O.T.E.'s,
Well, we are making the final plans for Will's memorial service at our church this weekend.  I know it's been 2 months, but his death seems like yesterday.  I've heard it said that the service helps bring "closure," but I'm not sure.  I don't think I'll feel closure this side of Heaven, when I hold my 4 precious blessings again.  That is the Ultimate Closure.  On the other hand, I appreciate the "togetherness" of having a service.  We are looking at Will's service as a celebration of his life--regardless of the fact it was only 25 weeks long.  He blessed me.  His memory blesses me daily, even through the pain.
   The day we first saw this house I had a strong feeling this was the place God would help me heal from Charity's death.  I had no idea it would also be the place God healed me of Will's death. 
The land here teems with life.  When we first moved, all the Life seemed to taunt me.  Now, it is a comfort.  It is a reminder that, regardless of the tragedies we face, the Lord is still in control.  Understanding is not necessary. 
   I am finding a thousand little comforts here.  The hummingbird...the Eastern Bluebird (I think it is...), even a Blue Heron.  Wild turkeys...the way the wind whispers through the trees.  The silence. 
   I'm devouring books about fruit trees, brambles, berries of all sorts...vegetables...animal husbandry.  It is all very stimulating and diverting.
   We had some nibbles of apple a few days ago.  They're not quite ripe, but delicious.  It was a "pinch me moment."  We have been married nearly 20 years, and outside of a house we bought that ended up becoming a rental property, we've not really had a home of our own.  Too many moves with Reid's jobs. 
    With the other house we bought, in less than a year, Reid had accepted a job in a different state.  So, we put the house up for sale.  A family fell in love with it and wanted to buy it.   The snag was that they couldn't get a loan, due to their credit score.  After a lot of prayer, we really felt that that family was the family God wanted in that house.  So, with fear and trembling, we agreed to lease it to them for a year while they rebuilt their credit.  They had the husband's company cut a check for us each month, directly out of his paycheck.  Even though it was a hundred year old house, the family never called us to repair anything.  They fixed it and let us know--never asking for money for the work.
  That year turned into 4 years before they could get a loan.  The auto payments kept coming and the repair calls never did.  Many, many times during those years our real estate agent urged us to kick the family out and sell to someone else.  Though it would have been a relief to get rid of the house, we never felt right about that.  We were convinced that house was for them.  So, we waited.
    I remember the day they closed on that home.  The wife was having her "pinch me moment."  She gushed with gratitude that we waited on them.  She thanked us for giving them a chance. 
     I'm still having my own, daily pinch-me moments.  After 2 decades of "where will we move next?" I am really happy here.  I am enjoying making our home. 
     I'm thankful to be given the chance. 

Thursday, July 01, 2010

New Home

Hello, F.O.T.E.'s,
I only have time for a quick update this morning.  We are trying to wrap up loose ends at the rental house (cleaning, etc) and get unpacked at the new house.  Eating the elephant...
  I wanted to say that now that our furnishings are in the new house, the sadness is lifting somewhat.  I have realized that the problem here was the emptiness.
   Empty maternity clothes....empty house....empty bassinet....empty womb. 
The day of the walkthrough, when I stepped into the house, I was again overwhelmed by the emptiness.  I thought, "This is empty....just how I feel."
  Moving day was last Saturday.  There were fleeting times of overwhelming sadness.  I had good friends there to hug me, pray with me.  Oh, what would I do without those people God put here to be "Jesus in skin?"  We're in this together, People! 
    Anyway, we are little by little settling in.  We had a glorious time last night playing in the yard, walking down the driveway (down and back is a third of a mile), watching the tractors baling our hay.  The temperature was pleasant.
   There was a black and orange butterfly frolicking around our lilies.
    It's good to be home.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Moving to My Dream House... why does this feel like a nightmare?
I'll tell you, I can't seem to stop crying.  As soon as we left the real estate office on closing day last week, I burst into tears.  I had imagined Will running through those fields with Adam...without that picture, I just wasn't sure I wanted the house.  It seemed like an eternity ago that we signed the contract on the property.   Two weeks after signing that paper, Will died. 
   I kind of feel like there was some sort of deal God was offering, but, as if in a warped (er?) version of  a Monty Python scene (something about deciding if a person was a witch or not), I chose the wrong answer.  As if God said, "House or baby?"  and I, not hearing the "...or baby?"  answered, "YES!  House!"...and then, whoooosh...the baby was gone.
  How weird is that? 
Now, I *know* that isn't the reality of the situation.  But still...the Lie Whisperer.
    I know a lot of people have been surprised after asking me, "Are you excited about the new house?!"  when  I answer, "Well, I have mixed emotions."  I know it's hard to understand.  After all, around the first of May, when we signed the contract on the farm, I was ecstatic.  But I would gladly live in a rental house the rest of my life if I could have my baby back.  The grieving heart doesn't necessarily make sense.  I have felt so guilty for not being thrilled to be moving.  It is a beautiful farm.  It is everything we ever wanted in a home.  I know this grief will pass and I will settle in the new place.  I just have to allow myself to not feel excited right now.  It will come.  I'm just not there yet.
     The last few days, I've been packing, packing, packing.  I keep coming across mementos of Charity and Will.  I was filing papers, and came across some lab bills from last Winter.  "Quantitative HCG"  "TSH"  It all reminded me of finding out I was pregnant and feeling scared, but excited.  Then, from March, I found the 18 week sonogram report, "Healthy  male."  We were so relieved that Will showed no signs of the tragic birth defect that sweet Charity had.
  Then, seven weeks later...another sonogram.  "Fetal demise."
How in the world can I go on?  This feels like childbirth--"I can't do it!  I can't do it!"  The Voice: "You CAN do it.  You ARE doing it." 
   One of the men at church said something a couple weeks ago that I keep coming back to.  There is a lot of hurt happening in our church right many people discouraged and in pain, heartsick.  Mr. R was speaking of Ephesians 6--
"13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace."

He pointed out that Paul didn't say, "Do this, then attack!"  He said to just *stand.*  Mr. R encouraged us who are hurting by saying that it's ok if all we can do now is stand on wobbly legs.  Just stand.  No need to run, or even walk--just stand.
   I'm thinking there's just enough Monkey Brain Grace to do that.  I can stand.  Barely.  No storming the castle...just standing.  Just like when the epidural was  wearing off. 

   That full armor is heavy.

Friday, June 18, 2010


...has been a *good* day.  Thank you, Lord, for a Good Day.

Reid took off today to help me get things organized enough to pack up.  Yes, I's pretty bad when you've got to organize yourself, just to pack things up.  But, that's just where I am right now.  And that's ok.

Thank you, F.O.T.E.'s for coming here and reading my thoughts, offering your kind words and prayers.  For this moment in time, I have hope.  I have confidence that, indeed, things *are* going to get better.   That whole, "hope and a future" thing.

Don't forget:

Y'all keep your wool dry!

The Ewe

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Hindsight II

I called Reid to come start the van.  We laughed--it was supposed to be my "time alone," but I had to call him to get bailed out.
  I sat in the van, waiting for Reid.  I had bought chocolate chip cookies in the health store, so I had a few while I waited.  I sat and prayed for Will, still thinking he was just asleep.  Every now and then, I would feel a little twitch, and I thought it was a little kick.  I guess now, maybe, it was gas.
   After a few minutes, Reid and the kids drove up.  He had instructed the children to not acknowledge me, since it was my night off.  Ha ha!  I waved "hi" to them from the van.
   Reid used the jump box to start the van.  He came around, kissed me and told me I needed to go on a short interstate drive to recharge the battery.  I thought about telling him I was concerned for the baby, but decided not to.  I didn't want him to worry.
    I pulled out onto the interstate and settled in for the drive.  On the radio, a preacher came on.  He was preaching about Job.  The focus of his sermon was, "Though He Slay Me."   This reference is from Job 13:15, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him."
     I got a little agitated.  That was our verse during Charity's death.  I didn't want to hear that.  "NO, Will is FINE.  I will NOT hear that!!"  Tears blurred my vision.  I prayed out loud.  I ordered Will to move.  I changed the radio station.
      I kept telling myself, "Everything's fine.  He's just asleep." 
     The new station played, "Your Love, Oh, Lord."  Another thing I related to baby death.
    "You gotta be kidding me." 
The tears turned into sobs upon the line:
                                          "...I will find my strength in the shadow of your wings."

I didn't want to need strength.  I wanted Will to be fine. 
But, I knew. 

Friday, June 11, 2010

Time Warp

It's so weird.  Tonight  is the 4th week anniversary of Will dying.  I don't know how it's possible that my sweet son has been gone 4 weeks.  The pain is so searing, still, it must have been yesterday...but, yet...
  Everywhere is a reminder of him.  I nearly forget and park in the "Expectant Mothers Only" space at the local grocery store.  I remember the lady at the park sneering, saying, "If you're THAT big've got to be having twins."  Just a few days later, Will stopped kicking.  Not even close to twins.
   At the restaurant Reid and I frequent on date night, it had to just be last week that I barely fit in the booth.  But, it wasn't.  I remember so vividly saying, "A few more weeks and I won't fit here!"  The truth was, a few more weeks and fitting was no problem.
    I need to buy some clothes.  I had bought new maternity clothes this time.  I finally found some I liked.  Now, the billowing shirts just remind me of how empty I feel inside.
    I know this will improve.  Just gotta break out of the time warp...

Wednesday, June 09, 2010


I'm feeling peaceful.  I miss my son.  My heart is bruised.  But...there's Peace. 
The "minute by minute, eating the Monkey Brain bite by bite" approach is working. 
Got the sweetest encouragement today via email. 
I'm remembering to "hoe the row in front of me."

Gotta take The Troops to the dentist tomorrow.  One day at a time...

Getting the Big Three ready for camp.  Little by little...

It's all going to be ok...

Thanks for your prayers.


Don't forget to keep your wool dry.


Tuesday, June 08, 2010

My Answer

I just woke up with my 3 word answer.
I had gone to sleep with my 1 word question:

How will I continue life?  How will I pick up the pieces?  How will I be the mother I need and want to be to the 5 beautiful, precious children I have the privilege of holding in my arms here on Earth?  How will I minister to the dear husband the Lord has put me with?  How will I get a meal together each day?  How will I get The Troops to the dentist?  How will I get the van to the shop for an oil change?  How will I pack up this house?  How will I unpack at the new house?  How will I learn to tend a farm (albeit a small one)?  How will I tighten the budget to do my part in getting this great little farm paid off?  How will I organize life? How?  How?  HOW?  HoW?  hOw?        how?

The 3 word answer I just woke up with?

Monkey Brain Grace

M.B.G. is a  Hallism  that came about after I read the book _The Hiding Place_ by Corrie Ten Boom.  In it, she tells of asking her father how to cope with bad things (I believe that is the's been years since I read the book).  Her dad asks her, "When we are taking a train trip, when do I give you your ticket?"  She answers, "When I'm about to step onto the train."  He explains that she doesn't need the ticket before then.
    Reading that passage those years ago brought to mind a conversation I was part of when Annie was a toddler. 
    A friend was explaining to me why she insisted her child try a bite of every new food that came his way.  Her reasoning was that God might call him to be a missionary one day (he was 6 months old at the time), and he would need to be able to stomach weird foods. 
   Well, that bothered me some.  Having had some struggle with eating disorders, I was (still am) uncomfortable with turning food into a battleground.  The difficulty was *not* with my friend's approach to her own child, it was the question of *my* parenting.  Was I handicapping my child by not forcing certain foods upon her?  What if God called *her* to the mission field?  It was a question I continued to ponder for many, many years. 
   When I read _The Hiding Place_, my fear about that was put to rest.  If God called her to eat monkey brains, He would give her--AT THAT TIME--the grace to do it. 

    Monkey Brain Grace. 

   I realized this morning that God is not going to give me the grace to deal with all these swirling needs and potential problems...until the moment I need that grace. 
   I don't have to worry about all these things.  I need to do "the *next* right thing."  These days, the need for grace comes moment to moment--not day to day.  I need the grace to make my bed.  The grace to fix breakfast.  I can't worry about tomorrow or even this afternoon.  The grace will come minute by minute.

2 Corinthians 12:9 (New International Version)

"9But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me"

I have never been weaker, but...

I will eat the Monkey Brain, one bite at a time, by His grace.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Still Here

Hi, Friends
I tried to post this morning, but Blogger was acting up...and I didn't get another chance today.
I am hoping to soon (tomorrow?) continue with the next part of Hindsight.  I may post a few pictures soon.  I have a lot to get written down.
Complicating matters is my extreme case of "brain fog."  I am having a terrible time concentrating.  I have always been a good typist, but now, I'm making so many mistakes, and keep having to go back and do a lot of correcting.  Everyday tasks are difficult to accomplish.  It is a worrisome affliction, but I seem to remember having some of this after Charity died.  I don't believe it was this bad, though.  ??
   It seems like I'm having a lot of "worse days"  lately again.  I guess I expected a gradual, consistent upswing, rather than the up and down of the first few days after Will's death.  I'm thinking this must be normal.  ??
  Anyway, I wanted you to know that I haven't stopped writing...I've had a lot going on the last couple days, and I've just not been able to.  Thank you for your continued interest in our story. 
   You all bless me.

Friday, June 04, 2010


I am grieving alongside my friend, J, who delivered a stillborn son last night... two weeks after our boy, Will was stillborn.
  I have called it, "A Painful Sisterhood."  After Charity died, I was stunned to learn of all the ladies--friends of mine--who had lost children.  Some losses had been decades earlier, but the pain was still there in those mama's eyes.  We never forget.
  When people ask, "How many children do you have?" I never quite know what to say.  In my heart, I have 9.  I have delivered 7 who were old enough to hold.  I've had the joy of raising 5.  So, how do I answer that question?  I usually say "Five," because I don't want people to feel sorry for me.  I don't know.  I may change that.  I may start revealing and rejoicing in  all my babies,  "Nine." 
   People have replied, even when I say 5, "Wow!  You must have your hands full!"

 "Nah.  Sometimes they feel strangely empty."

   I don't know what God's plan is.  I do know that there is a vast, wide membership in this "Painful Sisterhood."  There are even more of us who have never lost a child, but have yearned for one and couldn't (for whatever reason) have one.
   I also count in that membership those who have walked alongside families who have lost children.  The pain in watching someone else hurt and grieve is also intense.

   Today, I'm grieving with the M Family.  Today I'm missing Nathaniel.

Maybe he and Will and Charity and our 2 Precious Surprises are getting to know each other.  :-)

One day, there will be a glorious Family Reunion.  The thought brings a smile to my face.


Thursday, June 03, 2010

Helping Families Who Have Lost

I wrote this days ago.  I posted it briefly, then got to thinking...then removed it back to "drafts."  I was afraid that it would sound self-serving.  Well, events of the last few days have caused me to reconsider having removed it.  Let me explain...
   Yesterday, I learned that a sweet friend lost her baby.  J was 18 weeks along and found, via routine ultrasound, her baby has died.  She is, today, in the hospital being induced.
  I also learned yesterday that a mother for whom I'd been praying, died.  (This prayer request came from our church's email loop.)  She leaves 4 children and a husband.  Such grief.
   I have learned since Will's death, of 2 additional families who lost babies about the same time as we did.
So. Much. Pain.
   So, if you find yourself thinking that the following post could be an attempt to garner anything for myself, please know that that is *not* the reason I am posting.  I am posting this because I hope it can help us all help each other.  I had no idea that any of this could be useful so soon...

I hesitate to post this, as each family is so unique, and different things help different families...but...I feel the Lord has provided us this opportunity to explore grief and infant loss, for a reason.  I am writing this to help myself remember (in order to help others in the future) as much as to share with you dear friends.
        Call, if you want. Most of us have caller i.d. these days.  If a grieving family is not up for a chat when you call, they may not answer, or may ask to call you back later.  Just understand, we have good moments and bad moments.  Or, perhaps better stated, at least in the first days, we have bad moments and worse moments.

       Feel badly if you just can't bring yourself to call.  Most of us understand that it is awkward to approach grieving families--no one has magic words to make it all better.  Try sending a letter, card or flowers.  You can do this quickly--as soon as the loss happens, or later, when other support may have waned.  A benefit to acting quickly is that in the first few days, the family probably feels like there is no way out of the darkness.  Any encouragement you can send quickly, can help them feel supported.  Maybe the best thing to do would be to make contact early, via flowers or a card or phone call, then later, visit or call to give them a chance to talk.  Sometimes, in the early days after a loss, all we can do is cry.  If you can stand it, call early and let them cry.  If it's true, just say, "I don't know what to say, but I'm so sorry."  A sweet friend called me the day after Will died and said just that.  Your willingness to put yourself into that awkward situation, just to show you care, can really mean a lot.

    Ask about their baby.  We mamas and papas and sisters and brothers *love* to talk about our babies. 

     Feel badly if they do not want to talk about the baby *at that moment.*  You did *not* "remind" them of their loss.  I promise you, the grief is ever present, especially in the first few days.  You can't "remind" them of it, because they probably can think of nothing else.  Don't take it personally if they can't talk right then.  Just say, "If you ever want to talk about him(her), I would love to hear all about him."  Most of us eventually want to share every little detail about the child we lost.  I know for me, I'm just now beginning to be able to share much about Charity.  Something about losing Will has just loosened my tongue regarding my babies in Heaven.

     Ask to see pictures, if there are any available.  What parent doesn't love to show pictures of their baby?   :-)   Be aware, you may not see images of a cherubic, plump, pink, soft little newborn.  In our case, Charity *was* that baby; Will was not.  The condition of the baby's body depends a lot on the circumstances surrounding his death.   Understand that, to the family, that baby is beautiful!  If you are curious about the baby's condition, ask respectfully. 

     Feel badly if you just can't bring yourself to view the pictures.  We grieving parents, of all people, know how upsetting the whole thing is. Try to  find other ways to encourage the family.

    Offer to bring a meal, if you are able.  After a loss like this, the family may feel so lost, it's hard to organize themselves enough to pull a meal together.  Not to mention, Mom has just delivered a baby, and needs rest.  Regardless of whether she suffered a miscarriage or a still birth or newborn loss, she must tend to her body.  Mama needs the best of care in these days.  Beef is very helpful in replenishing Mama's iron stores.  Leafy greens and other vegetables and fruit are also important.  Still, if your budget only allows for a pot of beans and pan of cornbread, they will appreciate it.  Ask if the family would like you to stay for a short visit, or if it is a bad time.  Personally, after losing Will, I am craving company and phone calls.   Also, I love having other families' children around.  For some moms who have lost, it is too painful a reminder.  You can ask ahead of time, "Would you enjoy having the children come, too, or would that be too much?" 

    Feel badly if you cannot provide a meal, due to finances or other reasons.  There are many, many ways to encourage and support the family.  Perhaps you could just make a pan of brownies or a loaf of bread?  Even slice and bake cookies will be appreciated.  If you can't afford flowers, send a note.  Work with what the Lord has provided you.  He knows what you need in order to support the family.  Pray and ask Him what you can do.

   Avoid well-intentioned cliches, which may actually be hurtful.  Saying, "It was for the best," is never a good idea.  Perhaps the baby had severe defects that caused his death.  Most of us would have gladly dealt with a special needs child, rather than losing the baby altogether.  Don't say, "You can have another."  You don't know that.  Will is our 4th loss since our last live birth.  Only the Lord knows if He will again bless us with a child we get to raise.  Besides, you can never, never replace one child with another.  We love them *each* and we want every one of them.  If a spouse dies, we generally know better than to say, "You can marry someone else."  Just allow the family to grieve that one, precious child, without any predictions about the future.

   Beat yourself up if you have said one of those things.  Most of us know how awkward it is for people to know what to say.  Just keep loving the family, and try other ways to show your concern.

Well, I know this is long, but incomplete.  I don't know if it will help anyone in helping someone else, but I wanted to get my thoughts down as a future reminder to ME.  :-)  If you have further thoughts, please leave them in the comments.
   You dear friends and family have been champions at loving our family during this awful time.  It is from *you* I got these ideas for helping.  May God bless you all.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010


Friday, May 14 started like any other day around here.  Reid got up around 4 a.m...I followed about an hour later.  We each had a time reading the Bible; then we talked a while before he left for work.
  I ate breakfast, then sat down to read my email. 
Will was kicking and squirming, and I remember sitting here, thinking, "Wow.  I can hardly believe it!  Here I am, sitting here, feeling a baby kick!  And 25 weeks tomorrow!  I am *so* blessed." 
  I am thankful that  moment made such an impression on me, that I remembered it.
After prowling the WWWeb for a bit, I got up and began the day...fixing breakfast for Adam and Hannah...starting laundry, cleaning a little here and there.
   Outside, our neighborhood was cranking up for the annual "Yard Sale Weekend."  Many neighbors were set up in their driveways, peddling their goods.  Soon, they had to pull things into garages, because it started to rain.
   I started to get very agitated.  Every noise (and believe me, in *this* house, we *have* noise!) startled me.  I was irritated with the children, though they weren't really doing anything wrong.  I felt like my skin was crawling and all I wanted to do was run away.
   Reid texted me to see how my day was going.  I told him the truth.  He tried to help me figure out what was bothering me, but there really wasn't anything we could come up with.
   He volunteered to take the kids when he got home from work, so I could go out by myself--a night off.
    With that encouraging plan, I hustled around the house, working on chores, correcting children, cleaning, cooking...
   Reid got home and I took off on my "Night Out."  Right before I left, we retrieved the mail.  There was an aggravating letter from the state Dept. of Revenue, saying we had missed something on our taxes.  I told Reid I would plan to fret about that another day, as I was off duty.  :-)
   I went to the library to return some items.
  Then, I stopped for supper.  I ate a cheeseburger, and sat back, waiting for Will to start his post-prandial martial arts.
   After a few minutes, I noticed that he wasn't behaving like usual.  Fear began to rise up in me, but I kept telling myself not to panic.  I had had those scary moments sometime during every pregancy.  Still, Will wasn't moving.
   So, I began to my next destination, the health food store to pick up some more vitamins.  I started talking to the baby,
"WILL!!!  MOVE!!"   "C'mon, Baby!  Kick!"  He didn't.
   I still was figuring that he was just asleep.
   I went into the health food store, praying silently that Will was ok.  It was hard not to cry as I walked through the aisles, completely distracted by the sinking feeling in my gut.
   I went to the bathroom, and thought I felt a tiny kick while I was in the stall.  That helped me feel a little better, but it wasn't the nice, strong movement I knew Will was capable of.
   Finally, I gathered all my supplements and went to check out.
  The bill was high--$87.00  A chilling thought flitted through my mind as I swiped our health savings account debit card:  "This is a waste.  The baby's dead."  I wondered "who" was whispering that?  Satan or the Holy Spirit?  (I'm guessing the devil, now, as I know the vitamins are still important for *my* health, even though Will is gone.)
   I finished paying and went out to the van.

It was dead.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

First Day Back

Today was our first day back at our church after losing Will.
So many arms...
So many hugs...
So many shoulders...
So many tears.

Shared burdens.

We are so blessed.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Mercies V

The heat blasted me as we walked out of Kathy's house on the way to Will's funeral, Saturday, May 22.  I had not really been outside much that whole week.  When we left Kansas City on Tuesday, it was around 50 degrees.  Will's Funeral Day, though, the air felt to be about 90. 
   That morning, I felt like I was in a dream.  A flashback to 2006...sitting in Kathy's living room...waiting to leave for my child's funeral. 
    Hannah was not cooperating at all.  So different from the last time--she was only a couple days old when we had her twin, Charity's,  funeral. This day, on Will's day, Hannah did not want to get dressed.  She hid herself in the blankets on the bed where Reid and I had been sleeping.  I set out 3 dresses and told her that if she didn't put one on, we'd take her to the funeral in a blanket.  I wasn't kidding.
    When it came time to go, Hannah had composed herself and was dressed.  I was really glad to not have to take a child to her baby brother's funeral....wearing a blanket. :-)
     When we arrived at the funeral home, our friends from KY were already there.  Such a comfort to see them and cry on their shoulders.  Our doula/midwife assistant arrived a bit later.  We hugged.  Tears came again.  She had been there when Charity died, too.  Oma, Opa, Kathy, David...all of us quietly filed into the chapel.
      Kathy had compiled a slideshow that we displayed on the little table where Will's small green heart-shaped box sat.  A collection of mementos--the baby afghan Annie made for him, other photos from the hospital--shared the table with Will's remains. 
    After a while, we all sat.  Reid had passed out slips of paper with Scripture references written down.  We began to read them in order, one person at a time.  I did not take a slip.  I knew I couldn't read.
   Annie and Meg had each contributed passages that had been a comfort to them since Will died.  It was such a blessing to me to hear all the different voices reading God's Word.    Deep voices, quiet voices, young voices, Grandma voices, Grandpa voices...strong voices, weak voices...I felt a sense of, "We're in this together."
   Obviously, the loss was more personal and intense to our family, but to know that others shared that sense of loss--that others hurt with and for us--made the day survivable. 
   There were many others who wanted to be there.  I got a series of text messages from my brother that day, saying I was on his mind...he was thinking of me.  I appreciated those notes.
    Friends from around the from around the world...had sent encouragements our way....said prayers...wept for us.
   It was a day to gather and remember.
It was Will's Day.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Mercies IV

I woke up on Friday, May 21  with a stranger in the bed.
He looked like a prize fighter.  Lips swollen and eyes merely slits.  He had an angry, red  rash on his hand and arm.  His bald head was covered with red dots.
It was Reid.
His face was swollen to the point that he could not get his glasses on. 
Since Wednesday morning, we had noticed that he'd had an itchy spot on his eyelid.  Gradually, that spot spread to the point that we knew Reid had to find medical care. 
   We had an appointment that afternoon to meet with the funeral director to plan Will's service.  We hoped Reid could get back quickly enough to make that appointment.
   At first, Opa took Reid to a clinic to see if they could help.  His rash was too severe for them to care for, so they sent him to the e.r. at the nearby hospital.
   There, Reid was given steroid shots and an ice bag for his itchy hand.  They threw other treatments at him, trying to get the swelling down.
   Reid called the funeral director to explain that we would need to come later, as Reid had not yet been released from the e.r.
   Finally, around 4:00, after about 6 hours in the e.r.,  Reid and his dad arrived back at Kathy's house.  I was glad to see that the treatments were working, and Reid's puffiness had gone down some.  He was still definitely not back to normal, but I was beginning to recognize him again.  He and I had "his and her" hospital bracelets.  :-)
   We arrived at the funeral home around 4:30.  We met Damon, the director.  He was youngish--I guess about our age.  (That's young, right?  ;-)  He showed such compassion and care.  Listened to our requests for the service.  Listened to us tell first about Charity, then about Will.
   Something that really ministered to me was the fact that he never called Will "the baby" or "the body."  Damon always referred to our son as "Will."  I had never thought about how important that was.  It was very honoring.
   During a quiet moment, Reid pointed to a picture on Damon's desk.  "Is that your daughter?" he asked.
Damon answered, "Yes.  We adopted her from Guatemala."  "She's precious," we said.  "Thank you."  You could see the love he had for her.   I was very touched.  "He gets it,"  I thought.
  We set up the service for 2:00 the next day--Sat., May 22.  It was the day we were supposed to be taking a trip to Silver Dollar City to celebrate our Claire's 10th birthday.  She had plotted and planned, anticipated and dreamed of that day. 
The Lord had other plans.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Mercies III

All too soon, we had to relinquish Will's tiny body to the nurse.  This was not the decision of the hospital staff--they didn't rush him off--but it was obvious that we had to let his body go.
  The moment the nurse left the room with Will, tears burst forth again. 
   We sat quietly for a few minutes. 
After a bit, Oma and Opa took the children back to Kathy's.  Reid, Kathy and I sat and talked.  Cried. 
Sometime in there, the doctor came in to talk about discharge.  She stated that I was welcome to stay as long as I wanted, but also I was free to go.  "We're not going to keep you here if you want to go," she said.  I told her, "*You're* not keeping me here--my numb legs are!"  :-) 
   Indeed, it took 6 hours for the anesthesia to wear off.  After that, my legs were still rather like Bambi's.  Reid joked, "Hello, Young Prince!"  ha ha
   Once I could toddle around some, I changed clothes and put on my shoes.  We   gathered our things and signed papers.
   Our nurse, Hannah :-), brought a wheelchair for me. 
   Kathy had left to get the car to meet us at the front of the hospital.
   The hospital corridors seemed like a huge labryinth.  I remember thinking, "I'm glad *I'm* not wheeling me out of here!"  Finally, we rolled into the lobby/waiting room area of the hospital.  There were people from wall to wall.  It was loud--t.v.'s blaring, children crying and laughing...people talking, cell phones ringing.
  I thought, "Don't you all know my baby just died?"  Then, I realized, "Some of these people are going through hard times, too."  There is plenty of hurt and pain to go around.  We need each other.  We must "bear one another's burdens."
   The pick-up area at the front of the building was abuzz with activity.  One lady in a wheelchair--looked to be about my age or a bit younger--looked so gaunt and weak. Her pale eyes slowly scanned the crush of cars, looking for her ride.  A nurse stood behind her, chatting a bit.  I said a quick prayer for the lady.
   Kathy pulled up and I wondered how I was going to heave myself from the wheelchair into her car.  Of course, Reid and the nurse helped, and I did make it in.  An odd feeling settled in and I wished there was a little car seat strapped in beside me.  That was the first time I ever left a hospital without a baby.
    We drove through Nashville.  Kathy was pointing out areas that had been under water during the flood.  (Nashville had flooded a couple weeks or so before then.)  Again, I thought, "There is plenty of hurt to go around."  I know some people died in the flood.  Some lost everything.  Many, many lost much. 
     When we arrived at Kathy's house, I changed into a nightgown and settled into bed.  Reid went to Krispy Kreme to procure the traditional Hall Family Birth Celebration Doughnuts.  The kids had asked before if we were going to get KK's.  I said, "Of course.  That's what Halls do.  We still have a life to celebrate."
      My chocolate glazed was sticky and sweet.
Sweet like life.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Mercies II

Around 6:30 a.m., Thursday, May 20, I woke up in the hospital bed at Vanderbilt University.  The epidural had allowed me to sleep during the night (albeit, brokenly).  I realized upon waking, that I was feeling an odd new sensation.  I suspected Will was about to be born.
  Kathy looked and didn't see anything at first.  She asked the doc to come in.  Before the doctor came in, I *knew*...Will was coming...right *then*.  The doctor barely swooped into the room in time to gently help him out.  We wanted to be very careful with his body, as it was becoming very fragile.  It had been nearly a week since he died.
  As I lay there, it seemed like 4 or 5 hours (it was really just a couple minutes) until I was able to see my son.  My eyes roamed from Reid's face to Annie's, trying to glean any information about my boy.
    The doctor (nurse?) carefully wrapped his body in a blanket and placed a tiny hat on his head.  Someone handed Will to Reid, and then Reid held the baby so I could see him.  After a few moments, he handed Will to me.
  How the tears flowed.
I had told one of the children the night before, "Right now, we're only going to deal with the physical.  I can't handle dealing with both physical and emotional at the same time."  I was referring to coping with labor and delivery.
   There, on Thursday morning, holding my precious stillborn son, it was time to deal with the emotional.  I stared into Reid's eyes, silently asking that question that just keeps coming up through all this:  "How do we go on?" 
   I turned to Annie.  How I wished I could soften the blow for her and all the children.  What a tremendous loss.  Soon, I handed Will to his eldest sister.  Annie carefully held her baby brother and cried.
    We had contacted a non-profit organization, Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, to come and take pictures of those moments.  The photographer began to take pictures of those tender times.
     The other children were at Kathy's house with Oma and Opa.  We had contacted them when I woke up and realized that Will was about to be born.  They began to make their way to the hospital.  (Later, I learned that our Hannah-girl was sleep deprived and a bit of a bear to get clothed, out to the van, into her seat and into the hospital.  Once she got to our room, though, she was fine.)
    Sometime during the first few minutes after he was born, the nurse weighed and measured Will.  He was 1lb 15 oz (big for a 25 weeker!) and 14 inches.  He had my nose and Reid's hands and feet.  "Every inch a Hall!"  :-) 
     Kathy and the nurse wrapped Will's body in several blankets, to help stablize him so we could all hold him and pass him more gently from person to person. 
     I'm sure there was a lot going on at Vanderbilt University that day, but in L&D Room 5, all outside noise and activity faded away while we soaked in every minute we would have with our boy. 
    I had been a little concerned about Adam and Hannah's reaction to Will's body.  Obviously, he looked different from a healthy, full term newborn.  His skin was dark and his baby skin was beginning to peel a bit.
    I shouldn't have worried.
Hannah and Adam both just accepted their baby brother.  They held him and loved them, smiling into his little still face.  So precious. 
    Adam did ask, "Where is his face?"  :-)  Will's  face was wrinkled up some, so I had to show Adam where Will's little eyes were.  In a baby that young, even born alive, their eyes are generally fused shut.
    All the children held their baby brother.  Oma and Opa had turns with Will.  The photographer took shots of us all just savoring the moment. 

Monday, May 24, 2010


We left KC last Tues, en route to TN.  It was an uneventful 12 hour trip.  The ride gave me a lot of time to think/pray/meditate.  We got to Kathy's around bedtime that night.  Tucked the kids in (most of them, anyway) and sat down for a chat with K.  After exploring options and feelings/leanings, we decided we would go to Vanderbilt University to induce.  I've never used pain meds in labor, but this time, I knew I wanted some.  With so much emotional pain, I just could not cope with the thought of a very intense labor. 
Wed, May 19 we arrived with Kathy at the hospital.  I've had some unpleasant hospital experiences, so I was a bit anxious about going in, but I knew it was the right thing this time.  Kathy said she'd worked w/ them at Vandy before, and never had a bad experience. 
   From the moment we arrived at labor and delivery, it was obvious that the Lord had gone before us.  *Everyone* treated us with such respect.  No one pressured us about anything.  They accomodated our children's visits (even though we exceeded their visitor limit).
   I was so wanting to get the "show on the road" and get my baby born and into my arms, even if just for a short time.  It seemed like the paper work would never get done for us to start the induction.
  Finally, around 4:30 p.m., the medication was placed and contractions began.  They had offered to place an epidural before they began the induction, but I was comfortable at that point and didn't mind waiting for the anesthesia.
   The anesthesiologist came in just after we started the meds and she very patiently answered my many (many!) questions.  She was a calming influence and carefully explored my medical history to be sure we proceeded safely. 
    Just before time for the second dose of induction meds, she placed the epidural.  I noticed right away that not much happened.  Once the inductions meds kicked in (this was a dose twice the size as the first) I knew we had to revamp something.  Severe, severe pain. 
  We called back in the anesthesiologist staff.  The first doctor (who had kindly stayed 2 hours past the end of her shift, just to be with me) had gone home, but her boss and another cohort were there.  They took 2 more swings at placing the epidural and the 3rd try work immediately.  I needed help getting my legs back up on the bed after it was placed.  Ah, yes.  Relief.  That was around 1:30 a.m., Thur, I believe.  Shortly afterward, the 3rd dose of induction meds were placed. 
   I went to sleep.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


The peace that the Lord grants does not announce itself.  In the depths of despair, you can't feel it coming.  In times like those, you have to remind yourself that the Truth isn't what it seems.  The truth is, God cares.  The truth is, God has a plan.  The truth is, God will carry you through.  While our heart is screaming, "IT'S NOT FAIR!!!!!!!  WHY DID YOU DO THIS?!?  ARE YOU PUNISHING ME?!?" somewhere in our head, our will? through sheer determination, we say, "This is under control.  God is on the job.  It's going to be ok.  Good will come of this..."  Little by little, our head and our heart get together and the feelings catch up with the knowledge. 
    In many ways, the cloud of confusion is beginning to lift and I'm beginning to be able to see that, indeed, God is bringing us through. 
   Yesterday,  I talked with a lady who is the director of a perinatal hospice in Kansas City.  I had talked with her before, when I was pregnant with the twins.  When she answered, I told her, "I never expected to be calling you up again."  She told me it actually wasn't that uncommon for a family to go through this kind of thing more than once.  Oddly, that comforted me some.  She also told me that with the first loss, families tend to lean on God and are able to trust Him and know He's got a plan.  With the second, however, the families tend to be angry.  I can say, that is how it has been for me.  With Charity, there was always an underlying sweetness and peace.  This time, I got angry.  May as well be honest about it.  It's not as if I fooled God.  I imagine that the anger will cycle through a few times, but, right this moment, I can feel God's peace begin to settle in around me, and I can feel Him again. 
    His body, the Church, is a beautiful thing.  We have been so blessed by our brothers and sisters in Christ.  Notes, calls, flowers, dinner...on and on.  And especially the prayers.  I know it's hard when you feel like you can do nothing for someone who's hurting, but never underestimate the value of praying.  It really means a lot.  And it works.
     We are heading out to our midwife's house today.  I am praying labor goes smoothly and quickly.  That would be a first for me.  :-)  When Charity died, the police officer who conducted the "investigation" (they have to do that any time a baby dies) asked if she was our first.  "No, 6th."  The officer said, "Wow, you must have really easy labors!"  I looked at our midwife and we both chuckled.  Not hardly.  Skin of the teeth type labors is more like it.  But God is good. 
    You praying types, keep us in prayer in these next days.  We have to get through labor, then plan a memorial...get through that.  Then make it back home to lick our wounds.
    'Til next time.
The Ewe

Monday, May 17, 2010


Our baby died Friday, May 14, 2010.  He has not yet been delivered.  So at this moment, my womb is also a tomb.  Such an odd feeling.
When Charity died, our pain was somewhat dulled by the joy of having Hannah in our arms.  Such a comfort God provided in her!  Of course, the pain of losing Charity was searing, but still...there was peace and comfort.  God's presence was so very *there*.  I felt Him.  I smelled Him!  Can you believe that?  A few times, the smell of roses just permeated the room I was in--with no flowers anywhere.  He was there, and I knew it. 
  Losing Will has been pure agony.  Where is God??  Where is His peace??  I know He's good.  I know He's in control, and I know that He is no sadist.  But yet...where is that comfort?  I do smell flowers--our beloved church family had beautiful flowers on our doorstep within hours of the news.  But where is the supernatural flower garden??
   I don't know what God is up to.  I think He may be overestimating my abilities to withstand such grief.  Do you know (some of you do) what it is like to have to drive home from the hospital, and tell your children their long-desired sibling is dead.  Dead.  Don't we have such euphemisms for that word??  "Passed."  "With Jesus."  "Gone."  With Charity it was, "not compatible with life."  C'mon.  DEAD.  That's the word.  Oh, how I hate it.  Pastor Jeff preached about Jesus raising Lazarus a few weeks ago.  He was saying that part of what was going on when "Jesus wept" was that He was deeply disturbed by Death.  It was not right.  It was not the way things should be.  So...He fixed it.  "LAZARUS, COME FORTH!!!"  And he did.
   In those desperate moments while the nurse was holding the ultrasound wand to my belly, I knew the baby was dead.  I was praying for the nurse's smile and sigh of relief:  "There he is!  Heart beating strong."  What did I get?  Silence.  Neverending silence.  I didn't dare look at the screen.  I couldn't bear to see my precious son lying there motionless.  I knew.  I didn't need a t.v. to show me. 
   In times like those, we grasp at straws...attempt a bargain with God.  "God, wouldn't it glorify You more if You brought him back to life?!?  Please, God!!  Please!!  I beg You!  I'll do anything!!"
    But, little by little, the realization that it is not a bad dream sets in.  Layer by layer, you realize, "He's not coming back.  God really *is* requiring this of me."
   And then, the horror of telling your children.  What an awful task.  To watch your children suffer and know that you can do nothing for them.  Yes, hold them, love them, talk and cry with them...but we can't fix it.
  One of the kids asked, through tears, "How will I go on?"  All I could answer was, "I don't know.  But we will.  Together.  By God's grace." 
   I have thought a lot about how to answer the question, "How are you doing?"  I can describe it right now as swinging between extreme sadness and utter despair.  I know, though, that little by little, the days will get better.  The stabs in my heart will come less frequently.  I know this.  I've been here before.
  The foundational Truth in all this?  The one I do not understand, yet know it is true?


Monday, March 08, 2010

Big Gnus from the Ewe

Hello, F.O.T.E.'s,
Well, it's only been 5 months since a post, but I thought I'd not make you wait any longer. :-)
The Big Gnus around here is that we're expecting another Lamb around the end of August. Honestly, I had thought that baby-having days were over for me, but I guess I was wrong. When you get to be of "advanced maternal age" (which is the doc's fancy term for me--an old mama, haha), you don't take fertility for granted. After losing 3 babies--our dear Charity right after birth, then 2 miscarriages--I had about accepted that our "team" was complete. I am 15 weeks along now, and so far, so good. What a blessing. A curious thing about the pregnancy, too, is that my morning sickness is the mildest it's been since Baby #1. That worried me for weeks, but we've now seen the baby on sonogram, and heard him/her with the Doppler, so I'm beginning to relax about not being so sick, and just enjoy the fact!
In other Gnus, Lioness, Lovable and Musical have all finished Bible Quizzing for the year. I'm so proud of the vast amount of Scripture they've memorized--whole chapters, even! I do well to remember John 3:16, lol. Some of the senior quizzers memorize whole books of the Bible. Amazing.
We have been enjoying some *beautiful* days lately! Ah, Spring is coming! I wouldn't be surprised to see another snow before it's all done with, but these 60 degree days have been glorious. The Lambs have gotten to play out without their Himalaya gear, lol.
Well, I need to scoot...I just had a cup of coffee, and I need to get moving before it wears off. Ha ha!
Y'all keep your wool dry,
The Ewe

Quote of the Day: "Mama, I have winkles!" --Hannah, while investigating the bottom of her foot