Thursday, June 22, 2017

Lucas' Memorial

Lucas had a beautiful memorial service yesterday.  Our families and community rallied behind us to help us put together something that would celebrate our sweet boy and his brief time here with us.  I've had several people ask if we would record Lucas' service, which we did not do.  I didn't think to talk to Andrew about it until the service was starting, and then I wasn't sure I would want to watch it again, thought it might be too painful.  But, I have the words I shared about my Lucas:

Isaiah 65 “See, I will create new heavens and a new earth.  The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.  But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy.  I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and crying will be heard in it no more.  Never again will there be an infant who lives but a few days or an old man who does not live out his years; the one who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere child; the one who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed.  They will build houses and dwell in them, they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.  No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat.  For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people, my chosen ones will long enjoy the work of their hands.  They will not labor in vain, nor will they bear children doomed to misfortune, for they will be a people blessed by the Lord, they and their descendants with them”

I first studied these words in detail after the death of our first daughter, Reagan.  I poured over them, relishing in the truths and promises of the Lord.  I found so much comfort in knowing more about my eternity, and my entire perspective on life was altered.  I never imagined I would be reading them again after experiencing the same loss.  Never thought I would find myself in this place again, saying goodbye all too soon to a child I loved so dearly.

I first laid eyes on Lucas in January and, amidst the craziness and distractions of raising 3 other little ones, I loved him in an instant.  He was such a happy boy on all our ultrasounds – we watched him smile, watched him wave, watched him suck this thumb.  He was always active, never quite wanting to be still for his pictures, very much like his older brothers.  When we found out we were having a boy, we were shocked.  I had been so sure he was going to be a girl.  But oh, we were excited.  And we immediately started planning how we would do life with another Savant boy running around in our home.

We dreamt about how Lucas would fit into our crazy, messy life.  It certainly would have been an entertaining place to grow up, with older brothers who are wild, carefree, and loud, who love to play and laugh and sing.  I could see Lucas following around behind them, wanting so badly to be a big boy just like them.  And I could totally see them plowing right over him, knocking him down.  But I would have been right there to kiss away the tears and make his boo boos all better.  Hannah would have been a great big sister, once she got over her jealously of not being the baby anymore.  She came to every appointment with me, watching the screen intently, learning to say “baby” for the first time.  Andrew was excited to have a 3rd boy, to complete his golf foursome, to coach his baseball team, to teach him how to be a man.  And me?  Well, I was just ready to care for him.  To love him, give him kisses, rock him to sleep.  I didn’t want anything more than to just be his mommy and all the daily tasks that went with that.  I wanted to see him play in the woods, to zoom trucks around the house, to build the most intricate train track, to stack Legos and form tall towers or whatever his imagination could think up.  I wanted to dance with him in the kitchen when he was still too little to stand, to jump around and be silly to some of my favorite songs, and to hold him at night when he just needed his mommy. 

But God had different plans for Lucas.  And, though I can’t wrap my head around the why, that I can’t understand His will and His plan, I am so grateful for the time I had with my son.  I’m thankful for the quiet moments in the middle of the night when he would kick so hard, grateful for the way he’d wake me up by pounding on my bladder.  And I love that we got so many ultrasound pictures, that our ultrasound tech was kind and let us see him for longer than was needed for the measurements, that we have pictures of him smiling, that I saw him suck his thumb, and he waved to us.  These are precious moments I will treasure. 

On the morning of June 9, I woke uneasy.  And I couldn’t find a heartbeat on the Doppler.  As we headed to the hospital, I prayed that I was wrong, that I was overreacting, that our sweet boy was fine.  God chose to answer those prayers in a different way than I had hoped.  As I saw the image of our son, still, on the ultrasound, I broke.  We broke.  And our sweet boy, Lucas Robert Savant, was born the following morning at 4:41 am.  He weighed 14.8 ounces and was 11.5 inches long.  He was perfect.  He was fearfully and wonderfully made, beautiful.  I think he looked the most like Warren, but I could see all my other children in his sweet little face.  He had Reagan’s big pouty lips, Dean’s upturned nose, Hannah’s full cheeks, and Warren’s eyes, eyebrows, and chin.  I wonder what he would have looked like when he laughed – would his nose crinkle a bit like mine and Hannah’s?  Would his eyes pour with tears like Dean’s when he got sad?  I hate that I will not know the answer to these questions any time soon; that I have to watch my other children grow up knowing our family is incomplete, knowing they have an older sister and baby brother that are but a memory to them.

Having faced this before, we knew our time was limited, that we had a few hours to create a lifetime of memories.  I loved my morning with Lucas.  I’m so thankful he was born in the quiet hours of the morning to give us some time together.  I took in his face, memorizing each little detail.  I read him some new books, rocking him in our chair, kissed his forehead, and sang him a lullaby.  All these normal things parents get to do with their children, only I knew I would never do them again this side of heaven.


But that is where Isaiah 65 comes in.  I don’t get to those things with Lucas here, in my timing, in my will.  BUT, I get an eternity with Lucas, filled with Joy and wonder as we worship our Creator.  There will be no weeping or crying.  Infants will not die.  And I will be reunited with the children I lost.  We will get to see them laugh and smile.  We’ll watch them dancing on streets of gold.  We’ll run and play ball, and explore God’s creation.  And as we walk through the pearly gates into heaven, Lucas can run to us with his tiny perfect feet and embrace us for the first time.  Oh, what a moment that will be.  Lucas is loved perfectly now by the God who created him.  He is well cared for, longing for nothing.  Never will he experience the pain and heartbreak this world brings.  He went straight into the arms of Jesus.  Today, I am resting in that, in where my son is, in our eternity together.


We also chose to share a slide show of Lucas, sharing most all of our pictures of him and how we spent our time.



video




Saturday, June 17, 2017

How are you

I've been asked how I'm doing more times in the last week than ever before in my life.  While I appreciate that we are being considered, that people are checking in on us, I haven't figured out the appropriate response to that yet.  Just exactly how honest and vulnerable to be.  Because, I'm afraid if I utter one word of truth, I'll lose it.  The truth is, I'm barely holding it together.  I cry constantly, any chance I let myself think about what is happening.  I feel immense guilt when I try to play with my living children that I am forgetting Lucas, but guilt when I am hiding in the bathroom from them because I can't let them see me like this.  How do I love them, support them, encourage them when all I want to do is find a quiet spot.  I am not okay.  My body has failed, and another child of mine is gone.  I'm left in this horrific place, experiencing normal postpartum pains, engorged and unable to cuddle with my kids, all painful reminders of what should have been.  I still need maternity clothes, but I can't bear to put them on.  Instead, I have them in a pile in my closet, unable to pack them away yet unable to put them on.  So I'm settling on my 1 pair of stretchy pants that still fit, despite the fact that it is 95 degrees outside.  And yet, I know when this goes away, so will any physical trace of Lucas' life.  And that, perhaps, is the cruelest of all.

This week, I'm planning Lucas' memorial service, trying to figure out what words to use to communicate so much more than just my grief, trying to find the purpose behind his life.  His service is Wednesday.  Along side this, Father's Day is tomorrow.  And I can't bring myself to come up with all my usual cute handmade gifts, all the special things I would normally do to show Andrew how much we love and appreciate him.  No man is more deserving, no man has done more for their family.  I tried to go shopping today, and found myself sobbing uncontrollably in the Walmart parking lot.  Walmart - the last date I had with Dean, the night before Lucas died, when Dean was just so excited to pick out special juice and suckers, and when I thought nothing was wrong.  What a terrible place to be my last happy spot, because I normally hate Walmart.  And then, in one week, we are celebrating Dean and Warren's 4th birthday.  A birthday party, two weeks after Lucas died.  How??  How can I face our friends and family, put on my happy face, and sing to my oldest boys?  How can I celebrate them while my heart is still breaking, when my body is still recovering, when my mind is still reeling??  I don't want them to resent Lucas, to miss out on things because he is gone and Mommy needs more time.  But it's all just so hard.  Putting one foot in front of the other, taking steps forward in life, seems so much harder this time.

So, how am I doing?  Well, not sure any of this fully answers that question.  I'm broken, hurting, confused, angry, and torn.  I'm overcome with guilt, facing the truth that my "hostile" environment will likely cause this again, trying to come to terms with the fact that these 3 I have here may be all I ever have.  I'm searching for peace and guidance, as the truths I have known to be true seem to be, in fact, false.  I am paralyzed at the thought of facing people, of running into the multitude of women I know who are pregnant or just had babies, afraid of the bitterness I've battled for years after Reagan died.  And, ultimately, I'm not sure where to go from here.

Friday, June 16, 2017

One Week

It has been one week.  One week since our lives were forever changed, shattered.  One week since we headed to the hospital, praying I was overreacting to the lack of movement I felt the night before.  One week since I thought surely everything would be fine, that God wouldn't have us endure this again.  One week since our triage nurse told us, with tears streaming down her face, that she couldn't find a heartbeat.  And one week since I saw my baby Lucas, appearing to just be sleeping, but ultrasound missing that little heart flutter.  I remember this sound coming out of my mouth, hardly recognizable.  I remember crying out "no" and repeating all sorts of words of anguish in this weird babbling.  And then I remember going numb, feeling too much pain to even let myself feel anymore.  And less than 24 hours later, Lucas was born.

Grieving this time is so very different.  We had few responsibilities with Reagan and every second of every day in the weeks after she was born were spent thinking about her, doing things for her, crying over her.  But now?  Well, there's so much more going on.  Just like in pregnancy, poor Lucas doesn't get as much attention as I'd like to give him.  But I will say, I didn't smile for a long time after Reagan died.  And now?  Well, my kids are crazy, and they're funny, and sometimes they'll say ridiculous things to make me laugh.  Or at least smile.

I find myself frustrated that they don't have a clue, that their lives are unphased by our family's tragedy.  I would never wish them to be so sad, never want them crying and broken, but sometimes I just wish they'd recognize that Mommy and Daddy are sad and just need a few minutes every now and then to think about Lucas.  Probably too much to ask of our almost 4-year-olds.  Instead, they are fighting over toys and throwing temper tantrums, far more than usual, over the most ridiculous things.  I don't know what I would do without a community willing to step in and take them for a few hours in the afternoon.

So, as a week has past, so many things have happened.  I was induced and Lucas was born.  We were able to spend some time with him, and then we said goodbye.  Since coming home, we've expanded our Reagan's Garden space to create a Lucas Garden.  For Andrew, this involved moving sod and digging up plants.  But we now have a space outside where we can sit and look at flowers planted for each of our heavenly children, carefully picked and planted through tears.  We've created a photo book for our boy, with our favorite pictures of the day and our pregnancy, special moments that celebrate his brief life here with us.  And we've begun the work of planning his memorial service.  I remember planning Reagan's, knowing I would be speaking, and breaking.  I remember telling my mom how no parent should ever have to do this, that it just felt so very wrong.  And here we are, doing it again.  Trying to create a service that will honor Lucas' life, that is unique to him and how we think of him, but that will still point to the hope we have in our Savior.  Because ultimately, without Jesus, this would be the end.  Lucas' life would be over, and we would never see him again.  And, though I am still incredibly hurt and angry, though  I am confused and broken, I HAVE to trust and rest in that truth.  I have to remember that God is good and His plan is perfect, even when writing those words makes me want to scream.  I get eternity with my boy.  With my sweet Lucas.  With Reagan.  Our story does not end here.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Anger

It's the middle of the night and I should be sleeping.  Ultimately, I should be sleeping with baby Lucas dancing away in my belly.  But instead, I am lying awake in pain.  Physical and emotion.  With Reagan, I was in shock at what I experienced after delivery.  I certainly hadn't gotten that far in my pregnancy books to have a clue about labor, delivery, and postpartum healing.  This time, I felt more prepared.  And yet, I'd just done this twice with living babies.  So, now my body and my heart know that feeling too, what it's like to be up in the middle of the night because of crying, to be bone tired because of caring for a little one (or two).  And that makes these middle of the night wake-ups so much more painful.  I know what I am missing.

So, I am angry.  I keep hearing that I am strong.  And brave.  Well, I don't feel strong.  I feel weak.  I couldn't protect my child, couldn't keep him safe.  I tried, but I failed.  And it seems that God failed me too.  I know he didn't fail Lucas - that Lucas is safe and happy and healthy.  That Lucas has his Heavenly Father to care for him, and 2 siblings to play with.  But it just doesn't seem like God is really for me this time, and I am so angry with Him right now.  The moments of peace, the joy at seeing my son, they're there at times.  But right now I just want to scream.  I'm angry that I am planning a memorial service for the second time.  I'm angry that I endured 12 weeks of daily shots that my body fought every step of the way - bruised and swollen and some days unable to walk.  I'm angry that my morning sickness never went away, that I had 23 weeks of feeling so sick.  I'm angry thinking of all I gave up to try to keep Lucas safe - the events we didn't do, the food I didn't eat, the time I spent resting instead of playing with my children - and that NONE of that even mattered.  He's gone anyway.  And all my attempts to protect him weren't enough.  I would gladly give up anything to protect my children, and I naively thought I was doing that.  I'm angry that God chose to take Lucas early, that this freak cord accident happened to us when we've already endured so much.  I'm angry that this is my 4th, FOURTH, 2nd trimester baby.  I'm angry that my postpartum body serves as a constant reminder of what should be but isn't.  I'm angry that my milk coming in creates so much pain that I can't snuggle my children, can't sleep at night.  I'm angry that I finally allowed myself to relax and start prepping for his arrival, that shipments are still coming in.  That we were just picking out the few things we wanted new or different for this time around.  I'm angry that I ordered a whole stack of maternity clothes, laughingly saying it was about time on baby #5, only now to face a stack of unworn clothes I'm going to have to return.  I'm angry that my laundry is full of the few maternity clothes I did own and that they don't have a home anymore, that they are just sitting there in Lucas' nursery.

I KNOW the Truth.  I know that God has a plan, a purpose.  I know that His ways are best, that His plan is sovereign.  But why? WHY?  God can use another family now, because I just cannot anymore.  Reagan forever changed my perspective on heaven and my eternity, and I am thankful for that in these early days.  But it just hurts so much to feel.  And so I keep bouncing back to numb.  I imagine it's my way of protecting myself.  But I don't want to be numb.  Or angry.  I just want my boy back.  I just want to find a way to do something, change something, that would give us a different outcome.  I want to go back to Monday when we got incredible ultrasound pictures of him, when we were reassured that he was healthy, when I saw him sucking his little thumb.  To go back to those moments when I thought life would be okay.  When the worst I planned on was being sleep deprived and overwhelmed.  I want to go back to that time and beg God to spare his life.  But I've been down this road before, and I know that none of that is possible.  That I will spend the next days, weeks, years bouncing back and forth between places of peace and understanding, anger and bitterness, and utter despair.  That I will feel Lucas' absence at every family gathering, every holiday, every birthday.  That I will always keep track of what he should be doing - when he should be born, when he should be walking, when he should be going off to preschool.  The knowing made the hospital time so special, allowed me to focus solely on him and our time together, gave me a chance to soak up and memorize every aspect of his little body.  But now?  Now, the knowing only hurts.  I'm angry about things that haven't even happened yet because I know that they will.

It's been 72 hours since Lucas was born.  Since I saw him for the very first time.  My precious child.  I've been questioning if we missed something on Monday's ultrasound.  If we should have looked more at the cord.  Not that we could have known anything was coming, but those doubts are there nonetheless.  Reagan was 3 days shy of "viability."  Lucas though, he was on the other side.  If we had seen something on Monday, could he have survived?  And would we have wanted that life for him?  I just don't know.  But oh, how I long for him.  How I miss him.  How I wish I could have heard his laugh just once. He looked like Warren - would he have Warren's giggle?  Or seen his eyes.  What color would they be? Would he start to get my freckles like Dean?  Would he snuggle with me like Hannah?  I'll spend the rest of my life wondering these and so many more.  How can one sleep when I keep thinking of more?

Oh my sweet Lucas, your mommy misses you so much.  So very much.  Amidst the distractions of your siblings, amidst caring for them and managing their temper tantrums, I long for you.  I don't know how to do this every day, when it hurts to much, to try to stay strong for your siblings, to put one foot in front of the other and just keep going.  I'm so sorry son, so very sorry.  I love you dearly, and this was not at all what I wanted.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Saying Goodbye

Yesterday, I said goodbye to my son.  It felt like my heart was breaking into a thousand pieces.  I don't know how I am going to make it through this again.  How much can one endure?

Lucas was born in the early hours of the morning while the rest of the world was sleeping.  I had a handful of regrets with Reagan.  None in our time together, but I always thought if I would do it again, I would stand strong in my decision to not use pain control and not cave in the final hour.  I wanted to feel every second of time I had with her.  And I so wish we had pictures.  Our hospital didn't say anything about infant loss photography, and we just didn't know our options.  The only picture I have of Reagan's face is the one in my head.  So, I knew going into this again, I didn't want to make the same choices.  I battled through some intense labor, but God knew when I'd reached the end of what my body would tolerate, and Lucas was born relatively quickly, 9 hours after induction began without the need for a 3rd cesarean.  He was quietly cleaned and handed to me.


He was beautiful.  His face was just perfect.  He had a sweet little upturned nose, peaceful resting eyes, and big pouty lips (just like Reagan and Dean).  He had a true Savant chin, and just a hint of pudgy cheek.  The hair that he did have was blonde, just like Reagan's.  I could see pieces of all 5 of us right there on his little face.  


Lucas had the most precious little hands.  Perfectly formed, just tiny, resting.  I held his hand for a moment, relishing the feeling of his little fingers on mine.  The detail was amazing, truly amazing.  And I just soaked it in.  And he had some big boy feet!  All the texture in the sole of his foot, long thin toes.

  


We were so blessed to be able to spend some time with our sweet boy before we had to say goodbye.  I knew from Reagan all the special things I wanted to do.  So Andrew went out Friday night to get him a few things that would be just for him.  No hand-me-downs allowed when you have such a brief time together.  He found a great blue and white blanket used for our professional pictures, the one thing Lucas was wrapped in that we get to keep forever.  He also bought him a few books so we could have some new reading material for our special boy.  We spent our morning soaking up every second we had together - took some pictures early in the day, had the kids come up and meet their baby brother, rocked and held him while reading his new books and singing all our favorite songs.  It was a special time filled with a mix of joy and sorrow.  I am so grateful for those precious hours with Lucas, and so devastated that those hours are all I get.  

  

  


  

And then, that was it.  Our time was over.  A lifetime of memories were crammed into those few hours.  I couldn't hand him over.  I couldn't let him go.  Knowing what it feels like to never see your child again, knowing the recovery that was ahead, knowing the stillness I would feel in my belly as I tried to sleep.  It was all suddenly to much for me.  I am broken.  Again.  Oh, how I miss my Lucas.  Andrew bravely carried him over to the nurse, swaddled in his sweet blanket, gave him a kiss on his forehead.  And then we fell apart, leaning on each over, overcome with grief.

Less than 12 hours after he was born, I was home.  I am so thankful for our doctor who made an exception for us and allowed us to leave without spending the postpartum time, allowed me to come home and snuggle 3 of my kids.  And I am so thankful that I have those kids.  That the sounds of their laughter fill our home.  That they can make me smile.  That Hannah knows how much I need her baby snuggles and is willing to crawl up in my lap and let me hold her.  That Dean and Warren love their baby brother so much and want to know more about him.  That my parents drove down to meet Lucas and help with kid management so I have the time to sit and write and process some of this out.  That I have a community that rallied behind us and took care of our kids without question while we were in the hospital, are bringing us meals and supplies.  God is providing for us during these dark days when I have no strength, when I am so angry with Him, when I just want to scream.  Even now, I know that He is with me.








Saturday, June 10, 2017

Time together

Our brief time with Lucas has been incredibly sweet. He enter the world silently early this morning at 4:41AM weighing 14.8 ounces and 11.5 inches long. Our lives will never be the same. 

Holding my baby boy

Reading Lucas his first book

Such a sweet little hand holding on to Mommy's 💙

Big man baby feet




Friday, June 9, 2017

Lucas Robert Savant

I cannot believe I am about to write these words. That I am facing a lifetime of not knowing my child. That God has called another one home. Why? WHY?!? 

On Monday, we had a great OB appointment. We saw Lucas smiling and sucking his thumb. We got some incredible pictures. He was happy. The week went perfectly, we had no reason to suspect anything. And then, Thursday night he wasn't active. I didn't feel any kicks. This is not unusual for us at just over 23 weeks, so I didn't think much of it. But I was unsettled all night. And had some more cramping and contractions than usual. To put my mind at ease, I grabbed a Doppler Friday morning.  Only I wasn't reassured, I was met with silence. Trembling, I called Andrew.  And together we came to the hospital, only to confirm our worst nightmare was repeating itself. There was our sweet Lucas, still, chest missing that little flutter. 

As I lie here waiting for contractions to pick up, waiting to meet Lucas, to hold is precious body for the first and only time, I am overcome. Broken. Confused. Angry. I don't even know what to feel, how to process. I am questioning God's goodness. Surely that must be meant for someone else. How can we be facing this again?

Oh my baby Lucas, how hard this is. I love you so very much. You were loved before we even saw you, prayed for from before you existed. You were wanted, and you will be greatly missed. I was so looking forward to kissing your pudgy cheeks, to rocking you to sleep, to figuring out how in the world to do life with you in this crazy world of little people. Your big brothers gave you kisses every night before bed, sometimes even over kisses for their mommy. They couldn't wait to have a baby brother to play with, and they even said they'd share their toys with you, which is no small feat. And your daddy, oh how he loves you. He was so looking forward to having a golf foursome all ready, to coaching you in baseball, to taking you to Clemson. Our family is broken without you, my child. 

But you also have an incredible big sister, who you will get to know far sooner than any of us. She can take your hand and teach you to dance. And you have another sibling we never knew, who was gone in an instant. And most of all, you are meeting Jesus.  And though I am very angry with Him right now, hurt and confused and unable to express myself, I know that He will care for you. That He loves you. And so, my Lucas, you are not alone.  And you are immensely loved.