Tuesday, June 24, 2014

On love and loss...again.

We don't talk about it much, you know...those of us who have been through it.

Especially those of us who have been through it multiple times.

Sure, we're brought out of the shadows when a new mom goes through it and needs an outstretched hand, a softly whispered "I've been there and I made it through. You will too. Healthy children can come after loss."

But then we fade back into the shadows, the experiences to the recesses of our minds. 

I don't know why it is. I don't know why there's such a stigma.

And yet there is.

Pregnancy loss.

Dusk and I experienced a miscarriage last week. The pregnancy had been a wonderful surprise and had been going well. And then last week, we were almost 10 weeks along and the baby just inexplicably stopped growing. No heartbeat. No growth. I had a d&c this morning. 

Yes, another miscarriage. Sigh.

For the record, this is our 7th. Yes, the seventh child taken from us before we even had the chance to meet him or her.

If you've never had a miscarriage, you're thinking "oh, that's too bad. But miscarriage happens. They can try again.  At least they weren't too far along."

And you would be right about all of those things.

But once you've been through it, you realize it's so much more than that. You know what a deeply painful experience pregnancy loss is. You, too, would have been surprised at how emotionally jarring it is, how deep the pain goes. How, no matter how much everyone tells you not to get too excited at "just" a positive pregnancy test, you can't help yourself. How, in the days and weeks after that positive test, as your body starts to change, your heart starts to dream about this new life, starts to imagine bringing this new child into your family, finding their space among their siblings. 

Almost against your own will, you start to imagine a future. 

And then, one day as swiftly as that dream began, it is over. Snatched from you.

The loss knocks the wind out of you.

And recurrent miscarriage loss is an entirely different ballgame. Maybe the shock is less severe each time, the healing quicker; but the pain is still there. The absolute loss of a life so dearly wanted.

We've had losses at all different stages. The two losses we had before we had kids were shocking and fraught with concern over whether we would ever be able to have children. Then, the two losses between our children were tinged with worry that we might not have our kids as close together as we would like, that somehow our children wouldn't be close. The three losses we've had since Bodie, now, with me being almost 38, at what are ostensibly the end of my childbearing years, are different. There's a different sense of loss in realizing that your childbearing experience will end with such sadness.  There's a profound sense of grief in that single realization.

So today, my heart is heavy.

And yet, through it all, there is HOPE. 

We have 2 beautiful children living here on Earth with us, and we're given the privilege of loving them and raising them. So so so much joy in this one fact.
(and, as an aside, I find it comical now that I ever worried they wouldn't be close). 

We have 7 beautiful children in Heaven, being raised by Jesus himself. I cannot imagine the party that takes place up there. I mean, seriously. We've had enough references to being a modern day Job this year to realize any kid that gets to bypass Earth with the Bennetts to go straight to Heaven is a darn lucky kid. Bodie and Sierra have been talking about their brothers and sisters in Heaven and how they can't wait to meet them someday. I could not agree more. What an incredible gift, to know that the pain of loss here on earth is only temporary. 

We don't know what's in store for our family here on Earth. Yes, there is sadness today. But so much hope and joy for the future. 

So, if you've experienced pregnancy loss, take it from an "expert" (not something I ever wanted to be an expert in, but by this point, it's kind of undeniable), it DOES get better. The pain DOES lesson. Joy returns. Love returns. Hope returns. And all of it - the joy, the love, and hope, comes to you in spades when you rely on Jesus Christ to get you through. If you know Him, cling to Him. You can weather anything with Him. And if you don't know Him, get your hiney to church and meet him. Or ask a friend who knows Him all about Him. Heck, ask me. Just know that you don't have to weather it alone.

And if you know someone going through pregnancy loss, share this blog with them. Let them know they are NOT alone. Give them a hug. Come alongside them and comfort them. And let them know there is HOPE. 

Even through the pain. Even through the tears and sadness. Even through the loss. Hope.

Always HOPE.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Breathing Again

A month ago today, Bodie had his cath.

It seems like a million years ago.


It is impossible to explain how much his life, and by extension, ours, have changed because of that cath. 

From the moment Bodie was diagnosed on October 1, 2009, our lives changed forever. We began a journey of fear, of worry, of constantly being focused on his heart, on his next surgery, his next procedure. 

That was the day we started holding our breath. 

And May 13, 2014 was the day we started to let that breath out. 

Bodie is doing so incredibly well. Better than he ever has, by far. His oxygen saturations are typically in the mid 90's, sometimes even a bit higher. He's never winded, and we only see tinges of blue when he's really cool, which hardly happens these days. 

He can do things he never could before.

He wears shorts and tee shirts to preschool, instead of the requisite long pants, long sleeved shirts and sweatshirts in an attempt to try and help his little body stay warm.
He's HAPPY. 

For the first time since starting this school year, he is loving school. He skips away from me to play with his friends at drop off (most days, at least), and bubbles over with excitement to tell me all the fun things he did with his friends that day when I pick him up. He is LOVING swim lessons, jumping into the pool and under the water absolutely as fast as he can. 

You can just tell he feels better. Have you ever had altitude sickness? One of his doctors once told me that kids who are chronically cyanotic feel like healthy people feel when they go to high altitude...except that their bodies never adjust, so they always feel a little "off." This kid has felt that way his entire life. He's never known how a body is supposed to feel. It's little wonder that he was always a little edgy and unhappy. 

He's just...BETTER. Life is BETTER. Life was good before. But it's off the charts great now.
It doesn't mean we don't still worry. He's not "healed." We know the future holds more cardiac interventions, more surgeries, and very likely a heart transplant. It doesn't mean I'm not worried going into his next cardiology appointment, for the echo to hopefully tell us he looks as good on the inside as he does on the outside. 

It doesn't mean we're not still scared about the giant beast Bodie will fight against his entire life. 
But it DOES mean that, for today, his heart ISN'T the focus of our family. He is happy. He is thriving. There are days we just don't think about his heart. At all. 
And today, we're rejoicing and thanking the Lord for his provision for our son. 
And we're going to enjoy this space for as long as we get to be here.
Just...breathing again. 

Friday, June 6, 2014

This girl...

This one...
 (the one on the right, with the cute gap-toothed grin - not the exhausted mama on the left)

Her daddy and I could not be prouder of her. She had her awards ceremony at school yesterday and won 2 awards - a church attendance award (I LOVE that her school does that!) and a Merit Roll award.

So, here's the thing. I know to some families, this might not be a big deal. I mean, I grew up in a household where, if you weren't going to get A's, you might as well be getting F's (in my parents' defense, they claim there was no such emphasis on grades in our household - but somehow that's how I remember it. Ha!), so Merit Roll and Honor Roll were just a given. 

But in our household, it's a big huge ole hunking deal.  

Here's why.

We (and by "we," I kind of mean all 4 of us, but in this particular scenario, Sierra) have some issues paying attention. For Sierra, that translates to difficulty staying on task in school, focusing on finishing her classwork during the day and her homework at night. That means that schoolwork does NOT come easily to her. She expends a lot of time trying to reel her energy in so that she can focus, which doesn't always leave a lot of extra time to actually learn the task at hand. 

For kids (and adults, for that matter) with attention issues, a strict schedule and good routines are some of the best recommendations for thriving. 

Yeah...so, while Sierra needed a strict schedule and good routines, she got...
*a brother recovering from open heart surgery when the school year started.
*a brother bouncing in and out of the hospital for the first 2 months of school.
*a house fire.
*2 nights living in one hotel, followed by 3 weeks at a different hotel.
*moving into a rental home, having lost all of her furniture and a good portion of her belongings.

Need I say more? This poor kid was practically set up for failure.

And yet, she tried. She pushed through, despite the rather large obstacles in her way.

And she made the freaking merit role.

So today, we're going to shout from the rooftops just how stinking proud of this little girl we are.
You go, Sierra.