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thanksgiving 🦃

I did not know how hard this photo would be to take.

With broken family ties, the holidays have been a source of unease in the recent years. I grew up surrounded by family members on the holidays. With each passing year the voices have quieted to just us. And I realized how much I needed the noise this year.

We chose to avoid family drama this year; with us trying to figure out how to maneuver the holidays without Logan we didn’t think we were emotionally or mentally prepared to deal. The very thought of being surrounded by the different personalities that encompass our families gave us anxiety. A very nice lady donated a Thanksgiving Dinner to us, we rented a nice pile of movies and planned to camp in our basement. Sounded like a nice plan and for the most part it was.

Josh worked Wednesday so Thanksgiving morning when I woke up, I was alone as Wyatt was still asleep. I thought, I’ll drink a nice cup of coffee, eat some donuts, hang out on the couch, get some me time. I settled in downstairs and decided to catch up on some of my shows. It just so happened the latest episode of This Is Us featured a storyline of miscarriage. And while I didn’t have a miscarriage, it still struck a cord. It seemed like every show I attempted to watch would bring me to tears. I felt alone and my heart and my arms felt empty. Something was missing. Something I couldn’t fix.

Once Josh got home and Wyatt got up, things weren’t so gloomy anymore. We had our Thanksgiving dinner, watched movies and setup a couple of our Christmas trees. We even ventured to put up lights on the outside of our house! We brought Logan Bear out, propped him up in a chair to watch us. And while the day progressed effortlessly, there was this underlying ‘something is not right’ feeling. The house felt too quiet. There wasn’t the normal unhealthy spread of food littering the kitchen. No little boy to treat with the yummy spread.

With the lack of extended family involvement, we’ve decided to start our own new traditions for the holidays. With that in mind, we went to a christmas tree farm with the idea of cutting down our own tree, seeing Santa, picking out special ornaments for the kids (Wyatt and Logan) and just enjoying family time. It started out well enough, Wyatt rode the little train and we took family pictures. Wyatt picked out a cardinal bird as his ornament and I picked out small flannel boots for Logan. While waiting in line to see Santa, I realized we had left Logan Bear at home. I began to feel uneasy and guilty. I told Josh we couldn’t take a picture of Wyatt with Santa without Logan. Not only did I feel like we couldn’t, I simply refused to, I did not want to. Logan needed to be here for this. I felt guilty for leaving him at home. Josh ran home while we waited in line. When our turn came up, Wyatt crawled onto Santa’s lap as I quietly said, “We lost our son earlier this year, may I please sit him on your lap?” To which he replied, “Of course.” As I stepped back I began to cry. It was a moment Logan was supposed to be apart of. He would be 9 months old yesterday. I don’t know what it was about that moment that popped the cork. As Wyatt climbed down and I reached for Logan, Santa laid his hand on mine and with a nod said, “Bless you.” As we walked away I couldn’t stop crying, which of course alerted Wyatt to my predicament. I simply explained to him that I was missing Logan and I wished he could have been here to experience this with us. For the remainder of the day Wyatt kept Logan bear by his side.

Later that day we went shopping for a few of Wyatt’s christmas gifts. As I walked past the aisles filled with the baby and toddler toys and the rows of baby clothes I just felt taken aback. I won’t ever get to buy Logan a Christmas gift. I won’t get to watch him slobberly chew on his wrapping paper. I won’t ever get to see his face light up with excitement over the toy he’d been asking for all year. I won’t ever get to sit him on Santa’s lap. I won’t ever get to fill his stocking.

In a way I am thankful family wasn’t here. I didn’t have to pretend to be interested or ignore the jabs for drama. But at the same time, the whole holiday felt unnatural. I think I would’ve welcomed conversation. I wanted to feel the overwhelming love that family brings at the holidays. I feel like Josh and I are inadequate to give Wyatt that overwhelming feeling of love. A part of this family is missing. It will always be missing. We will never be full. So I’m left with the ever looming question, are we enough for Wyatt? Losing Logan has left me feeling inadequate. Unable to reach my full potential because part of me is gone. Many times today I have wanted to cry. I haven’t felt this much sadness, helplessness and loneliness in a long time.

We have a hard 4 months ahead of us. We hesitantly walked through Thanksgiving. We have Christmas next, which I’m thinking I will really struggle through. Logan’s 1st birthday is in February and his death anniversary is in March, same day as our anniversary. Please keep us in your prayers. Neither one of us wants to admit the struggle bus we’re on. Instead we both keep pushing it back down, telling ourselves we are doing okay. I miss him. I don’t think I say it often enough. I really miss Logan. I’m always telling people that Logan is in a wonderful place, which he is. I tell people how blessed I am to have gotten the time I did with Logan, which I am. I tell people how he has changed my life and encouraged me to start my foundation, which he has. But none of those amazing things change the simple fact that I miss my son. No matter what face I wear day to day, underneath all that strength, is a little voice in the corner crying for her son.

first family

Yesterday I served my first family from my foundation L💙ve From Logan. It was beautiful and equally sad. To be acknowledged on the back of the families funeral program was very touching. I can’t tell you how powerful that feels.

I was first contacted by this family last weekend. I won’t go into details about their circumstances out of respect for their family. I spent the majority of this week fretting over this family. I spent all day Friday running errands trying to collect the items people were lending us and purchasing the rest. The family hadn’t given us much direction, and that made me even more anxious. There was pressure to serve them successfully. To do right by their little family and not offend them. I purchased their photo album for them praying it was okay and to my relief the mom loved it.

The past several weeks I have been pretty emotional when it comes to everyday things with Logan. Things that have not bothered my in many months. Tac on the frequent panic attacks that have progressively gotten worse. As you can imagine there was a lot of hype around this funeral. It was our very first one for my foundation. We literally just launched a week and a half ago. It was sink or swim time. And it was the first funeral I’d been to since losing Logan. Friends and family gathered around me with concerns of how I was handling it all. And to be quite honest, I don’t think I really knew how I was handling it all. I’m a task oriented person, and this was a task I was given. To serve God through serving this family. And I wasn’t going to let either one of them down.

On Friday, one of my stops was to Babies R Us, which I have not been to since I returned all of Logan’s things before he was born. I found myself at the corner of Anna and Maple at the stoplight. Many of you know, it’s the entrance into the Towne West Mall. As I sat there, in the middle of a panic attack, I was staring at the trees that lined the entrance. You know, the kind of bored gaze you do when you aren’t really looking at something, you’re just zoning out? Yeah that. The longer I gazed at these trees, I slowly started to see shape to the first one. I quietly thought that kinda looks like a heart, huh that’s cool. The seconds ticked by, and with more effort and hype I thought, ‘That looks like a heart!’ And I immediately thought of Logan, and as I did, I heard ‘Mom, you got this.’ and it was with this smirky kind of tone. And in a matter of probably 2 minutes at the stoplight, I had gotten a shove from God through my sweet Logan to keep pressing forward. It was what I needed to hear to know that what I was doing would glorify God and bless this family in a deep rooted time of need.

Saturday morning I woke up, made myself go to the gym thinking it would help destress my exhausted panic driven mind and body. It didn’t. I came home and scrambled to get ready to attend the burial of their precious baby. As I stood there applying my makeup, my husband and I were discussing his grandfather who happens to be buried in the same cemetery, and how we hadn’t been there since his funeral almost 3 years ago. He made an innocent comment about something that I can’t even remember, but it hit my panic button and triggered the tear canals. I had been fighting the overwhelming nag to cry the past few days and I was determined not to be broken. Not on this day. This day was not about me.

As I got in my car and began driving through my subdivision, I could feel that nag again. I shut my radio off and very strongly had an out loud conversation with God on my way to the cemetery. I told him in quite a bossy voice, that today was not about me, and that I would not cry. And that I needed him to shoulder that for me. That he would give me the strength to push through, to be strong for them. For him to put the focus on them. He didn’t fully apply what I had bossingly asked for. During their cemetery service, I stood in the back while my volunteer photographer took pictures. I listened to their pastor give his speech. The honest sincere pain in his voice and the evidence in his eyes. My heart cracked a little. When the grounds keeper came to lay their sweet boy to rest, I was caught off guard in the manner in which they do it. Once again, out of respect for the family I won’t go into details. But this, this order, split my heart open enough to let the wretched tears out. I was taken back for a moment when I had to leave Logan. Each time I left him at the funeral home was hard. I could feel the pain of leaving him there in the cemetery, and he wasn’t my son. Afterwards, I assured them, that would be the hardest part of the day.

There was a moment in the cemetery, as I listened to the Pastor and I looked around at the family, that I felt pure innocent joy. It was such an easy yet hard feeling to have. In such a time of grief, here I felt joy, even in the midst of my grief being dredged up. The only way I know to explain it, is that it was God telling me, well done. I call it pure and innocent because it wasn’t joy for myself, but joy for the simple fact that I had done something in Logan’s memory for the love of God. I had sacrificed myself to serve this family to praise God. To share the love and comfort God had given me during my difficult time with Logan. I was dumbfounded; how could you have joy and grief at the same time. I’ve learned many times over the last 8 months, that these two, however different they are, go hand in hand. Kind of like ice cream and birthday cake, cookies and milk, or whatever your vice is.

The funeral went beautifully. I always thought I could write pretty decent. But this momma could write! The service and their commitment to God were very beautiful.

I was blessed to have two photographers volunteer their talents for this funeral. Several people lended supplies to help with decorations. Two of the people on my team helped me setup, one stayed through the whole service to serve where needed and helped me pack up. I got to spend a little quiet time with the mom, discussing grief. Several times today I have played back our conversation and thought of so much I could have said to her. Knowing that I cannot change yesterday, I pray that I gave her what she needed, and if she feels the need, that she will know that I am here to help in anyway I can.

I’ve learned a few things in the past couple of days. God gives us different paths. I know several mothers who have lost children. Some similar and some very different. But we travel a different road, sometimes that road joins together, kind of how 96 converges with 235, but then they separate again, 235 to I35 North or 235 to 254 or 235 to I35 South. We join for a short time, and then our journey takes us elsewhere until we meet again. I believe that us loss moms have a common unity, but that our journeys are different. I know that if I needed to call any of these women and talk, I could. Even if I have only met them in person once, and talked to them twice over the phone. I know our conversation can be as deep as I want or need it to be. There is a barrier that is forever taken down because of what we’ve been through. With that said, I’ve learned that I will most likely face families who will do things very different from what I think is right, but it’s not what I think that’s important. My job is to serve these families in a Christ-like manner.

I think my panic attacks may have subsided, at least for today. Oh wait, just kidding, here comes one now.  My emotion is still there, fighting to break the surface. I continually hammer it back down thinking it will just give up. I know the longer I push it down, the bigger and harder it will break through. Like a volcano that spends years bubbling under the surface just to break through with tremendous force.

l💙ve from logan

After I lost Logan, I met several women who had lost a child of their own within a pretty close time frame of my loss. Many times I would find myself more concerned with their well being than my own. I knew pretty quickly that I wanted to help other loss families. Just a week or so after Logan passed, I remember attending a Bridget’s Cradles work night. I knew a face or two there, and my sista came alongside me for support. It was an easy evening, and it allowed me to talk about Logan without the avoiding glances of sadness from others.

Fast forward a few months and I joined Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep (NILMDTS); I’m currently volunteering under two teams – Event Coordinator and Hospital Liaison. At the informational meeting it was brought up that there was thoughts of helping these families decorate their memorials. AgapeCare Cradle already helps families with funerals, but perhaps take it a step further. Immediately I felt a tug and I knew I would be jumping on that journey fast. So the Event team initially took up the “idea” and I brought it to one of the members of AgapeCare Cradle.

I knew one of the ladies well, as she had walked alongside my family and supported us at the end of our pregnancy through Logan’s passing. But as I sat there waiting to ask what I knew I needed to, I felt so much anxiety. This organization was their baby, and I in no way wanted to step on their toes or offend them. I simply wanted to help in anyway I could. Amazingly enough, they had been praying for another direction! With her blessing and guidance, we began brainstorming.

We had taken pictures of items and scripted paragraphs, but once I sat down to make the brochure, I realized I didn’t know what we would call ourselves. We were helping AgapeCare, but we weren’t AgapeCare. Asking the other 2 ladies helping me on this project, someone mentioned using Logan’s name. Honestly, I had thought about it for a brief second and decided against it. This after all isn’t all about me and Logan. This is about helping others. With persistence and validation that Logan was indeed the driving force behind my initiative in all this, I reached out to Agape to make sure they were okay with this. I was encouraged to use Logan’s name from them as well, believing that it is God calling me.

I never intended for an organization to be created out of my drive to serve others. But here I am, in the works for building a nonprofit organization in Logan’s memory, to serve God and his people. I have felt God moving through this entire road trip. Consistently at peace with no pressure for success. Just simply knowing what will be, will be. Until the other day, after speaking with a friend, I felt the overwhelming pressure begin to seep in. I was uneasy and began to doubt my purpose in this journey. I sat for a couple hours pondering my sinking stomach. Finally coming to the understanding that Satan was trying to get a stronghold on my heart. He was planting seeds of doubt. Up until now this had just been a planning process, but that day, things were finally becoming real and moving forward.

So for those of you who don’t already know, I am starting a nonprofit organization named L💙ve From Logan. A new friend of mine gave me the idea. It’s a play on words. As we prepared for Logan to arrive, we had L💙ve For Logan. And now as he has passed and his love is continuing to spread, we will use L💙ve From Logan. We will help families plan their funeral/memorial/celebration. We will lend/give them the supplies/decorations they’d like to use. We will offer to decorate for them, assist them, or simply allow them to do it themselves. We are here to cater to their needs. To make this one task on their surprise plate a little easier. To take the weight off their shoulders. To give them validation that they can plan whatever they want to memorialize/celebrate their child. But ultimately, serve them in whatever way we can.

I can remember vividly back to my planning process. In a way, we were lucky; we had time to plan Logan’s funeral. Or perhaps, I’m just a little odd. About a month before Logan was born, I told Josh that we needed to plan an outline for a funeral. A Plan B if you will. The odds for Logan living were very slim. But we didn’t know for sure. But I had this feeling that once he passed, we wouldn’t be in any shape to plan a funeral. I wanted to honor my baby. So we sat down and listened to I don’t know how many songs before we picked the ones we  wanted. I sat for a solid week looking at other families funeral programs trying to decide what I wanted in mine. Once Logan passed, the task of putting the finishing touches on his funeral was a drive I needed. It kept my mind off the fact my son had just died in my arms only hours earlier. I’m a doer, so projects are my thing and I strive off them. His funeral was no different. I made several changes to our plans after Logan had died. Some things that I felt revolted by before he died, transformed into the norm. We never would have done a funeral had it not been for AgapeCare Cradle. They provided the means to afford it. Being me, I decorated it, on my own. I wanted to be in control of every detail; set up and tear down. It was one of the only things I had control over. But what that funeral meant to me; the validation, the celebration of his incredible life, the opportunity to show off my beautiful baby to those who love us, and to share the only things we had for him – this is the reason I’m starting L💙ve From Logan.

I am in the process of creating a website. I have bought the domain name. I have asked a dear friend to be on my board of directors. And I have a long list of people/things I need to do. I’m not asking for money, as many of you have helped tremendously raise money for us while we were pregnant and shortly after Logan’s death. Instead, I am seeking individuals with skills they would like to donate to help get this organization out the gate.

And as always, I ask that you make a spot on your prayer list for us. For everyone involved in this journey. For guidance. For obedience. For patience.

job 34

Josh and I have been doing a Bible Study together (this is a first for us!) over Suffering and Sovereignty, which covers Job, Lamentations and Ecclesiastes. Currently we are in the book of Job. Job has been a blessing for so many continuous reasons. When I first began this study, I was doing it with a few of my loss mom friends. But as I read the first couple of chapters, I immediately thought, J needs to read this! Everything he has been struggling with, it’s written right here in the Word. There is not better instruction manual than this.

For months now Josh has continually asked me how I am managing life the way that I am. In my mind, it’s been simple: I am not in control. There is nothing I can do that will give me the power of control. Everything I have and everything I am is in God’s hands. He chooses to allow or deny. I do not believe I was being punished when Logan died. I know that I am a good person, and that I do my best to live by God’s standards. God chose to let this happen to us. I have what I believe are answers to that all famous question; “why?” But I also know that God has bigger plans for allowing this loss in our lives and ultimately other’s lives. But Josh still struggles with this. He is still looking for answers. And in turn I continually remind him to think of all the blessings that have come to our lives since Logan has died. To think of the positive outcomes. I have said many times before, that this feels like the most blessed season of my life, even with the loss of Logan. My connection with God isn’t always as clear. Sometimes our Wifi is buffering and I lose that connection for a brief second, even though it often times feels like forever. But I notice when the connection goes down. I feel the lag in every fiber of my being and the see the distortion everywhere I look. Losing Logan has redefined my relationship with God. It has taken this perfectly square relationship and transformed it into this messy, unsymmetrical, somewhat semblance of a circle. The beginning and the end meet for continuous circulation, but what lies in the middle gets all tangled. I have found new layers of our relationship together. I’m by no means an expert when it comes to God. I can’t quote you inspirational scripture at the drop of hat. I don’t like to publicly pray. I can’t give you stories from the Bible without researching them first. But I can tell you how the holy spirit has filled my heart. I can tell you how I’ve witnessed the Holy Spirit in presence at church. I can tell you how he’s transforming my marriage, my husband, my son, my life.

Josh calls me as he gets on the road, and I read to him our Bible chapter and the study that goes along with it. Today, happens to be Job 34, which is appropriately titled : Getting What We Don’t Deserve. In summary of what she writes, she basically states how Job’s friends view life in a “checkbook theology” where you deposit good things in your accounts and when you do bad things you get withdrawals and God punishes you based on your credits or debits. This theology is obviously not conducive to who we know God to be. She goes on to discuss how we are all undeserving. That we aren’t graded on a curve. No matter how vile or virtuous you are, you will always land on one side. There is no middle ground. She goes on to suggest that when we begin to focus on our pain to instead list all the things in life you are blessed with, but don’t deserve. Instead of asking why bad things happen to us, we can ask why good things happen to us and praise God even for the little blessings.

What I find significant about this chapter, is the spot on comparison to what I have been telling Josh for months now after Logan’s passing. What I know about Job from growing up in the church was simply that his children died and he lost everything. I have never read Job. I had no idea that this gem was within the Bible. It was just something that God had spoken to me during my pregnancy with Logan. And I chose to continue my pregnancy knowing I would have to say goodbye to my son after he was born, by being thankful for what blessings I did have. I got to spend 9 months feeling his life moving around in my belly. To feel him get excited when his brother  talked to him. To see his beautiful face pink with life after my c-section. To bring him home for a few days. I could make pages of the blessings I see and continue to see. Instead of focusing on the fact that Logan is no longer here, I chose to focus on what God continues to bless my life with. How amazing that God placed this Bible study in our hands, to walk right into this chapter. That’s not a coincidence. That was God doing his work behind the scenes.

new additions

“And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” Genesis 9:1

Josh and I are coming up to a crossroads on our journey. A fork in the road if you will. Highway 96 goes into Baby City. Highway 54 goes to Adoption Town. And Highway 99 goes to Continuance.

Logan is six and a half months old this week. I imagine he is a beautiful soul. If he is anything like his big brother, I can see him with little ringlet curls gathered at the nape of his neck. Wispy and blonde. Giggling and laughing with his grandparents while looking down on us with overwhelming pride. I don’t imagine him sitting upon Jesus lap, but rather running alongside him playing. Down here, he sits upon my dresser surrounded by things that are important to us in regards to Logan. His bedroom, no longer holds the significance it once did. It used to be my place to go to see Logan. It was a sanctuary. His funeral flowers still sit in the corner, although wilted and long without life now. The Pack N Play still perched against the wall, but no longer set up for an infant. It’s still Logan’s room, as Wyatt so very well noted on a sheet of paper taped to the wall outside his room ❤ From the moment I set this room up shortly after Logan’s death, I left the door open. Instead of this room becoming an addition to the house, it became a part of the house. Everyone was allowed to go in. Leaving the door open gave permission to make Logan apart of our everyday lives. Not just the sad parts.

We have friends, whose little boy just turned one. We’ve been apart of his life since he was born. Through my troubles in my pregnancy, this little boy still came to our home. He was the only little boy who came to see Logan at the hospital. In my mind, they will forever be friends. Even though Hudson will not remember Logan, I will remember. His mother and father will remember. And I will always remember Hudson as Logan’s friend. They were best buds and didn’t even know it. This little boy, has just a beautiful sweet heart. There is this instant connection between him and me, and him and my husband. I’ve loved this little boy since he was in his momma’s belly. And while babies have not been an issue for me since Logan’s passing, they have been for Josh. And this little boy, this one year old child, has been healing my husbands heart. A one year old. Can you believe that? What power does this little child hold? Would you believe it if I told you his power was from God? I whole heartedly believe children are innocents from God. This little boy, God is using him to heal my husband. One of Josh’s “homework” tasks from our therapist was to hold a baby, and guess which one came right to him? Hudson. Just when Josh thought he couldn’t hold Hudson any longer, he followed Josh into the house. He was not going to escape this little child. Fast forward to last weekend — our friends went on a date night, and Hudson spent from about 5pm-1am with us. Enough time to get do a nightly routine with him. To feel what it would’ve been like had Logan still been here. We went on a walk around the neighborhood. We ate dinner and watched a movie. I listened to Wyatt telling Hudson what he could and couldn’t touch in his bedroom, which ironically was music to my ears, I couldn’t help but to smile. We watched him roam around our house like he belonged here. Giggling, smiling, stumbling over himself and teaching me how unprepared my house is for a toddler. When it came time for bed, we placed him in Logan’s room. I didn’t think twice about it. It seemed only natural to place him in the nursery to sleep. He fussed and squealed. Understanding that this was his first night in our house, it was a different environment from his home and he was surely a little unsure and scared, I picked him up and rocked him in Logan’s chair. After placing him back in the Pack N Play, I sat there and rocked in the chair. Watching him; looking at the stars splayed out across the ceiling; listening to the lullaby music being drowned out by Hudson’s “I’m not going to bed” squeals. And as I sat there, taking in all these different sensors, I kept thinking, this is what it could’ve been like. This is what I want it to be like.

Now don’t get me wrong, I by no means am angry that Logan is not here anymore. Yes, I would love to have my child growing up with me. But I am happy he is in Heaven. The only thing that makes me sad is how I had to watch Logan fade away while he was here on earth. That was very painful, and still is to this day. But nothing literally brings me greater joy than knowing he is playing in Heaven. I know that sounds so odd, but once you come to peace with something and you fully understand the grander purpose of life, it’s so simple. I won’t be here on earth for ever. This is just a temporary life I’ve been given. I hope to do great things with it. But I will inevitably be going to Heaven to spend eternity. And guess who is there waiting for me, untainted? I will never be able to give my children a better life than the one Logan is enjoying right now.

When I think about what I want in life, as we are going through our daily routines, I always see a child with us. In what form, I’m not sure yet. Which is why Josh and I are at a crossroads in our life.

We agreed that once Logan turned 6 months old, we would have “the talk”. Baby or no baby? Try or not try again? We would love to have a child of our own. To watch my belly grow and move. The baby shower and the joys of buying new little things. The ultrasounds and smells of a newborn.

We recently went on a trip to NOLA. A gracious trip given to us by some amazing people. A trip that I believe God planned to use to prepare my heart.

For years after Wyatt was born, I have occasionally brought up the idea of adopting another child. I have such guilt about bringing another life into this dying world. But I could save the life of a child already living here. I’ve been in the system before, every child needs love. While we were in NOLA, I was struck by the level of poverty that was all around me. The children on Bourbon Street performing to collect money while their parents stood on the sidelines with their attention glued to their phones. And my heart ached. I thought about Logan, and what I had given him. Love. How he would never have to understand this kind of life. How all he knew was love. And I became angry with these parents. Tough times call for tough measures, but how tough are they if you have this fully equipped smart phone? I wanted to take every single one of those children and smother them in hugs and love. To take them around town in a different light instead of one that only makes money.

On our drive home (it was 14 hours so we got loads of time to talk) I brought up adoption once again. I have my reserves about it, I know what I don’t want for our family. Josh has his reserves as well. But we agreed to meet with some sweet friends of ours who recently finiazlied their adoptions (plural!) after fostering for a little over a year. They shared with us the struggles they went through, but the reward you get in return is worth the work. You provide a child with a stable loving home. Instead of them being tossed around. It doesn’t scare me. If anything the idea makes my heart swell. I have loads of love to give. I love my friends children as if they were my own. I think of the beautiful things it would teach my son. The joy he could have with a sibling old enough to play with him. The understanding that we love people, no matter where they come from. To teach him to love others even if they weren’t born into our family. To teach him to spread and share his love. I mean the reward is never ending.

Highway 99 to Continuance… well this Highway holds a beautiful paradise as well. Josh and I got married young, 19 and 20 to be exact. We found out we were pregnant 6 months llater. We never got to grow up, our mature in our marriage before starting a family. That took a blundering toll on our marriage, on our individual selves and in a sense on our parenting. We have overcome amazing obstacles. The enemy was there at every turn trying to demolish our marriage. And while he never succeeded in his demolition he definitely took us down. We have spent the last many years focusing on being parents and maturing into our individual selves. Continuance would be just that. To continue our lives without any new editions. To continue to help Wyatt grow into a Godly young man and once he goes off to college to start enjoying our life together, just Josh and me. To be young, fun and hip grandparents who spoil the heck out of our grandchildren. To be the grandparents we have often want for Wyatt to have.

Each Highway leads to a beautiful place. A place of happiness and sorrow. For every journey in life comes with both. Our church family recently lost an 11 year old girl to a drowning accident. And while I don’t know the family at all, my heart aches for them. To lose a child at any age is devastating. It is the most devastating thing you will ever go through as an individual. I’m disgusted by the media’s frequent segments and the outpouring of negative and parent shaming comments from people around our community. It is a true testament to show they have not been through just distress. This week at church our sermon was over Finding Joy in Tragedy. A part of me wished they could have covered that when we lost Logan, but we would have never heard it, since we took a break from our church for awhile. But I loved that he was teaching from Job. Which happens to be the independent Bible study Josh and I are currently doing together — Suffering and Sovereignty. From what I understand this family was well known in the church and many people were effected by the situation. As he was explaining how his week had played out, and how he was beside this family as they found the body and went the funeral home. His emotions he felt as this family was planning the funeral. It all resonated with me. I got very emotional. But then he began to read Job. And I remembered what an amazing thing death can be. While it means the end for us here on earth, it means eternity in Heaven. Everyone dies, there is no escaping death. But I’ve learned that’s how you view death that can make or break you. If you allow death to be final, it will break you. But if you allow death to be temporary, it will take you places you never knew existed. This little girl, while tragic her death is, is soaring in Heaven right now. She is comforting her parents as Logan does us. She is full of knowledge and understanding and peace about life, death and Heaven. While it is still hard for us here, we can take  comfort in knowing the peaceful side of death.

The pastor said something yesterday that stuck with me — God does not do sinful things to us for he is not sinful. But instead God allows sinful things to happen to us because sin entered this world. He allows them to happen to mature us. He allows tragedy to happen to us so that we can help others through their tragedy like he helped us. Listening to this young girls death I have the understanding that I cannot protect my children from death. If tragedy should strike my home again, I remind myself what the winning goal is: Heaven. How we get there may not be peaceful or beautiful, but as long as we get there, that is all that matters. Logan’s life was not a tragedy in my mind. But instead a beautiful journey with a huge legacy. He left me with knowledge and the strength to grow in who my God is. He left me with a heart full of love, hope and servanthood. I want to help others that perhaps might travel our Highway or one similar. I volunteer with Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep (NILMDTS) for this specific reason.

Highway 96, 54, 99 — whichever one God sends us down, we are more prepared today, then we were yesterday.

girlie boy

“There is something wrong with your baby’s head…”

I remember the day we learned there was something wrong with our baby. It was a Monday. We just had our 20 week ultrasound the week before. At 18 weeks, our OB did an ultrasound for Wyatt to see the baby, since he was already out of school. We were told we were having a girl. I remember the laughter that followed the Dr out of the room. He told us to wait to decorate our nursery until we had our official 20 week ultrasound. Wyatt’s face was lit up with pure excitement when the Dr handed him his very own copy of his baby ‘sister.’ We came home and of course decorated the nursery in pink. We planned a super cute and cheesy announcement photo. We wanted a girl; it was pure bliss.

My sister began to plan our baby shower. This was going to be THE baby experience, as this was going to be our last pregnancy. My friend and I were literally 3 weeks apart in our pregnancy. And she too was having a girl. We began to plan their futures together as best friends. She would do their hair and I would attempt to teach them about makeup.

At our 20 week ultrasound, the technician asked if we would like her to confirm the gender, and of course we said sure. As she swept over the baby’s legs, there was an extra body part that wasn’t supposed to be there. I immediately felt my skin begin to tingle. Surely that didn’t really mean what I knew it to mean. Little girl Cook, turned out to be little boy Cook. I tried to hide my disappointment. Josh adamantly repeated he was happy with either gender as long as the baby was healthy. Wyatt was even more excited because now he was going to have a brother. I walked out of the office shook up and a little bewildered.

I took the gender revelation very hard. In my mind, I had already planned this little girl’s future. She was an actual human being in my mind and in my heart. When I found out we were having a boy, I felt this loathing feeling towards this imposter in my womb. I felt like my little girl had just died, and this little boy was to blame. I felt like they were two completely different people, when in fact they were the same baby. But I had difficulty wrapping my head around that realization. And to make matters worse, my friends baby shower was that weekend. I thought about her opening her little girl gifts and being excited, as she should be. And I began to feel overwhelmed and emotional and began to cry. I cried because I wanted a girl. I cried because I knew I wouldn’t be able to watch her open her girlie gifts; that was supposed to be my journey. I knew I would cry at her shower. I didn’t want to become a spectacle. I didn’t want to be that friend. They had their own journey they were walking with their pregnancy. This was their first child. I didn’t want to take away from their joy. I apologized to her and headed to my mom’s house in Kansas City. The more miles I put between Wichita and myself, the lighter I felt.

While in Kansas City, I received love and support from my family. They helped me return the girl decor and replace it with boys. I returned home exhausted and unloaded my new decor into the baby’s room. I really wanted to set it all up, but there was this slight uneasy feeling. I thought, if this turns out to be a girl, I am not taking all this down again. If something goes wrong, I’m not taking this all down. So I left it unopened in the center of the room and shut the door.

Later that afternoon, my OB called. I had just crawled into bed for a little nap. My office was closed that Monday, so I was spending the day at home with my boys. I remember the first words I heard, “Your ultrasound, blah, blah, blah…” I smirked to myself, because I thought he was calling to personally apologize for the gender mishap. I thought, what a nice guy. But then he kept talking, and things started to register. “There is something on the back of your baby’s head. On the ultrasound, there is something wrong.” My heart immediately fell into my stomach. He kept talking. I couldn’t speak. The only word I could form, “Okay.”

“Encephalitis…. brain…..fluid…… hole…..”

“Okay.”

“We need you to come in, blah.. blah… blah..”

“Okay.”

“We recommend an amnio and a visit with a specialist tomorrow…. blah… blah.. blah..”

“Okay.”

“Do you have any questions?”

“No.”

My whole body was shaking. I knew if I spoke anything other than okay, I would totally lose it. I hung the phone up, hollered for Josh. I was shaking and started crying. We told Wyatt to go to his room. I was sitting on the side of the bed, and in between body wracking sobs I finally managed to tell Josh there was something wrong with the baby. How could this be happening? I sobbed for what seemed like hours. I curled up in a ball on the bed and just let the tears flow. Josh called his job and took the night off. We weren’t sure what this meant.

After an hour, I had calmed down. The shock had worn off, and I grabbed my laptop and did what they always tell you not to do, research. I researched every nook and cranny of the internet on encephalitis. But everything I came across made absolutely no sense. The causes for it were impossible for me. So I began to think the Dr was mistaken. After all, they had screwed up with Wyatt as a baby, and if I had continued to listen to those Dr’s back then, Wyatt would have died. I began to think, this will all be cleared up when I go in for my next ultrasound.

We went in the next day, apprehensive but in good spirits, until my OB started talking again. This time, baby Cook’s diagnosis became more clearer. We asked questions, and I cried silent tears. He was so gentle and kept positive. He took his time talking with us and we never felt rushed. We had hope. We had hope this would be minor. We had hope baby Cook would live a normal life. That this was just a blip on our radar.

Josh drove me back to my office, and as I walked in the girl at the front desk saw my tear stained face and tried asking me what was wrong. I simply shook my head at her, pierced my face and waved my hand no. My boss stepped out of the operatory room and I just lost it trying to tell him what was wrong with my baby. He hugged me and told me to go home. Our patient, overhearing our conversion, came over and gave me a deep hug and said she would pray for us.

This was just the beginning of this long road. But what I can remember to this day, was the support, encouragement and honest to goodness love that people poured into us.

friends

“Some friends play at friendship, but a true friend sticks closer than ones nearest kin.” -Proverbs 18:24

For much of our marriage, I have confided in Josh many times how I have felt like I don’t have any close friends. No on that I felt loved and supported by. No one that I could express my darkness and lightness to. It was a very isolated feeling. I’ve prayed for years about it. I would put myself out there and join different organizations, activities, groups, etc; trying to find this group I know was waiting for me.

I have been through a lot of heart ache with friendships in my life. I’m a giver, and I attract takers. I believe relationships need to be maintained at 50/50. And as life fluctuates, so does that percentage. Sometimes you’re down and you can only give 40%, it then becomes your friends duty to step up that 60%. And vice versa. Nobody is at 50% all the time. That’s life, it gives you curve balls.

I’m repeatedly telling people, I will always remember those who walked this journey with me, and those who exited the road. This journey is by no means easy for anyone. I have strangers who hear our story and weep in front of me. It is a grief that many parents can relate to, even if you haven’t lost a child. You might have come close to loss, you might be that parent who stresses about the horror of this world and imagine the things that could happen to your child. Whatever it may be, if the people who don’t know me are willing to carry a burden they have no connection to, why then can’t my close friends?

This is a thought that has plagued me for months. During the remainder of my pregnancy and the days/months following. I think back to the efforts I made on my part to maintain these relationships with my friends, even with everything I was going through. I wanted my friends to know I was apart of their lives even through my pain and sorrow. Several of my friends have young children, and I did my best to try and help them not feel uncomfortable around me. My key point here, is that I tried. I constantly tried. I put my journey aside, and tried to keep the goal of, my friends are important and my life isn’t the only life that mattered. These people mattered to me, and I wanted to make sure they knew it.

Despite my efforts, not every friendship stayed. Some got off the highway. For fear, uncertainty, pain, etc. Everyone had their reasons I’m sure, they always do. Am I bitter about it? Of course. Am I angry, heck yeah. Do I understand it, well… to an extent. Unless you have walked this journey, you truly do not know what to say to a person. Sometimes the things you think, come out so so stupid. I know I’m being blantanly honest. But it’s a truth everyone needs to hear. Sometimes what you say, does not help. It’s so dumb all I can do is look at you like a deer in headlights. I understand that people don’t fully understand. I get that people didn’t know what to say, so they chose not to say anything at all, because they didn’t want to hurt or offend. I understand that the pain I was going through was too unbearable for them. But, we didn’t have to always talk about Logan. I do have another child live and well, I have a husband, work, life etc still going on in addition to Logan’s journey. A quick, “hello” text would suffice. Come sit with me and watch a movie. I could’ve used a friend when taking Logan’s nursery down and returning it. That was a very hard day for me. It’s truly the simple things that these friends could have done.

“I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrows.” -Jeremiah 31:13

There has definitely been a lot of mourning. But, there has been a lot of comfort and true joy since Logan has passed. This beautiful child has left such a legacy. In 14 days, he has changed me as a woman, a mother, a friend, and a christian. I have been blessed through this whole journey in one way or another.

I have made friends along this journey, with other loss moms. With varying stories of loss. Some with similarities to mine, and others not. But loss nonetheless. While these other friendships exited my highway, new ones joined in. They don’t mind my cross country journey. They aren’t here for the short run across the city. They’re here for the long haul across the country. Visiting every nook and cranny this highway has to offer. I have read in many support books how this is a common trait in a loss journey. So I try not to take offense, even though it does hurt.

Last night I attended a meeting for an organization called Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep (NILMDTS).They provide pictures at no cost for families after loss. They are a non-profit organization. These pictures most don’t understand, but they are they only memories we get to keep. You look at the pictures of your newborn periodically through the years as he gets older, reminiscing. These will be the only photos we get to reminisce on. I did not utilize their services, as I wanted the whole birth photography experience with Logan. I didn’t want to miss one second of his life. But I know at least one of the photographers for the organization, and she is a beautiful creature with an honest soul.

I carpooled with a loss friend of mine because there were going to be a lot of people at this meeting and we wanted to save space on parking. The presence didn’t feel awkward at all. We’ve only known each other since our boys have died, but it felt like we’ve known each other a lot longer. There were no walls to break down. When we got there I saw several faces I recognized, either from Bridget’s Cradles work nights, other loss moms, or people who have followed my journey. We sat up front, well because there was a couch lol and nobody else sat there. But I didn’t feel uncomfortable. If anything it felt like I spend loads of time there, when in reality I’ve only been in Tiff’s studio once. Another loss mom friend of mine sat next to me. Most people don’t know me as Brandy. I introduce myself and I’m just any ole person. But when I say I’m Logan’s mom, it always surprises me how many people know who I am. Boy does this kid have a legacy. And it makes me SO proud.

I realized last night, that for the first time, I really felt like I have a good group of Godly women, who love, support and understand me. Who truly care about me. Accept me for my darkness as well as my lightness. I could tell them my about my deepest rabbit hole and would not be met with judgement. But love. Comfort. Encouragement. I left that meeting feeling whole. Logan did that for me. If Logan did not travel the journey he had, I would probably have never met these women. And if I had, we wouldn’t have the same experience and knowledge that we do. What a beautiful gift my son has given me.