Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Celebrating Our Son

Today is my due date.  The day Doug and I had dreamed for quite some time.  Instead of dwelling on the crushed hopes and dreams we had for Jackson Jeffrey, I decided I wanted to celebrate something.  I didn’t just want this day to go by.  However, I also know that even though he’s not right here….there IS something to celebrate.  The fact that one day Doug and I will be reunited with Jackson in heaven and be able to share our love for our Lord together. 

In honor of our dear boy, I had Mrs. Fields make a cake with angel’s wings. It came out beautiful!  Then We had a few balloons made and I added Jackson’s name, REAL birthdate and if found, our address.  Then we let the balloons sore into the sky.  It was a beautiful site.

One Red- To celebrate our unending love and Gods unending love for US

One White-representing Jackson’s trip heaven-bound

A Gold –representing Doug, Bright Green for Mommy (me) and baby blue for our darling boy. Which we tied together and sent up to represent our eternal bond thanks to Jesus Christ.

It was a bitter-sweet moment for Doug and I.  To let go of our hopes and dreams for Jackson here on earth, but to have also found  a sense of peace because through our Hope in Christ we WILL see our son again.  He IS alive.  He’s just in Heaven.

A Call From The Hospital On Our Due Date

So today, on what would have been Jackson Jeffrey's due date, I finally got a call from Crouse Hospital.

It seems that there was miscommunication between a couple of people and I  was missed.  I sat for just about an hour chatting with the Director Of Guest Services about things that needed to be changed concerning bureaving parents.  I let her know I wanted to help and would volunteer in any way.

I was floored when she mentioned our experience moved her in such a way that she wanted to make sure no other parent had to go through some of the things we went through. I now have an appointment with not only the Director Of Guest Services, but will be presenting our experience to The director of Chief Quality, The Director of Nursing, The Director of Billing, And a couple more I cannot remember.

I just about fainted!  I didn't think I'd get past customer service...but my story has already begun to bring faces and names to those in positions to make a CHANGE.  This has been my hope since the death of our son. That NO OTHER bereaving parent would have to go through what we have.  To change policies, bring communication and bring some compassion to a tragic event.

Believe it or not, having spoken with other bureaving famlies, our local Syracuse hospitals, while they need work in certain areas, have MUCH more than many smaller hospitals.  I've met a dear family who because the hospital wasn't equipped with neonatal care nor any labor and delivery units or Dr.'s, she and her husband were thrown in a utility closet to deliver preterm.  They had no camera's for pictures of their little baby, no blankets, no little hats, no fetal monitors, no way to tell when her childs heartbeat stopped.

This shouldn't happen in our hospitals here in America!  I know there are funding issues, but even this family took it upon themselves to create boxes filled with paper, ink for the infants feet, a box for the bureaving families as well as information for each hospital.  21 hospitals in her state of New Jersey.

I would like to take this Nationally to be sure no bureaving parent has to go through anymore than they must.  Right now I'm starting slow....and over time I have many ideas to honor our son's memory by helping others.  But never did I expect that we would be meeting with so many Directors in the same room.  To actually be a part of REAL CHANGE so that no other family endures what we have. 

It's a step in the right direction when a hospital cares about the quality of their care enough to meet and work together to create real change for their patients.  Especially the little ones who we advocate for.

I did fine until I hung up.  Tears fell as I whiped them away and prayed that little ol' me and my dear husband could make an impact on someone's life.  I'm really not anybody special.  I just don't want to leave this world having never helped to impact anothers life or bless someone and let them know we care.

What a final blessing of the day to get this phone call. I pray I can represent other families and the children we advocate for and that I come across with grace and intelligence.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

9 Years Ago...

I married my best friend.  Those days, Love was young and had no bounderies.  It was falling inlove with my friend and living happily ever after.

Pastor mentioned in our counseling session in the early days that Money and Selfishness can come between a marriage. At the time, what young kid thinks about that stuff when the strong feeling of LOVE overcomes you?

Today is much different.  I love my husband, but my perspective is MUCH, MUCH different than in the days of running free on emotions and fun, care-free dates.

As you get married, you start to find out that after the honeymoon phase, men think differently than women.  We are wired differently and have a need to feel safe financially, physically and emotionally and of course, most men have that need to provide for their families and the great need to be respected by their wives and children.

Later we run into LIFE.  Which doesn't turn out anything like the fairytale we as girls dream it would be.  What happened to wallowing in full happiness?  How is it that we are just managing to make ends meet?  This was us during my husbands college years.  He was going to college, interning and working full time.  It was THEN we decided that my prayer of being a homemaker would come to fruition before we had even planned.  I dropped my job at the time which made more during his school days, and I went home to provide my husband with homecooked meals, clean clothes, and someone to come home to on days that were stressful and chaotic. (there were lots of those at that time).  BUT we also knew that coming home, meant that we'd have to give up a WHOLE LOT.  We learned to live on his slightly above minimum wage job. I cut coupons, wrote manufacterers, found programs like Angelfoodministries, and cut costs in every imaginable place.

Those moments while some of the best, were FILLED with hills to climb because we gave up MONEY to be a family...or in our case a married couple.  One who were together when the other one was gone most hours in the day.

It was something we hadn't planned until we had children of our own, but in Gods own way, it became apparent that this was the right thing for us to do.

Then later, as we started getting used to things we moved BACK to Central NY where we're getting used to the higher cost of living once again and the taxes for everything under the son.
In the time we've been married, we've gone through financial destitution, to chaos of a HUGE school load, graduation, moving a million times, moving in with family and friends(which I will tell ya almost NEVER works), and most recently the loss of our infant child, our hopes and dreams went with him as did our heart.

As I began to reflect on our marriage...while there are many HAPPY moments, I recall those fairtale stories we see in the movies and thought how sad it is that most relationships and marriages are based on these unrealistic idea of what a marriage should be.

I think to myself, I don't want a marriage filled with a whole lot of happy moments.  I mean sure, who wouldn't want a life without trial? But If I think about it a bit closer I notice that  without those hills and mountains to climb how do you know the strength of your marriage?  How do you become who YOU are and not only find patience and strength, but through those things "lack in nothing" says God, without them? 

It's no surprise that we've had a rough year this past year.  As I fell to tears the other day wondering when things would change, praying for mercy and strength and hoping for someone to give me a guarantee, My husband not only grabbed my hand and prayed with me but shared the following with me:

February 9th 2001, I took your hand and married you. The woman I love.
During the times of financial struggle, I was there for you.
When we weren't sure how we would make it I held your hand.
When your grandmother passed away and you missed talking to her by an hour.  I held you and cryed with you.

When we walked through the parks, enjoyed our dear fosterdaughters as they played outside, when we laugh with the dogs each day or when you go crazy at the fair because there are sheep and goats....I hold your hand, laugh with you and smile.

When we weren't sure how we'd get through living with family and friends for the summer, when we didn't find the home we thought we'd buy, I held you close and reminded you that I love you and that God loves you.
When we found peace on our weekend trip to the Daks, when we found out that God blessed us with a child this summer and when we laughed as we picked our baby clothes and names.  I not only laughed with you, but loved you even more.
Finally, when we found out that you were dialating and we couldn't stop the inevitable, I jumped behind you, encouraged you and helped you bring our son into the world. When he was born, I smiled, As I cut the cord even when I knew he would die, I held our son with you kissed you both and with a tear in my eye, I helped you give our son Jackson's spirit unto the Lord.


No marriage is perfect.  But it is this year that I have been blessed to know that my friend I married so long ago, my husband.  I love him more and more with each new day.

God hand-picked us to be each others helpmeet. Through good times and through dark times. He knew there was no one else who could fit those shoes.  Nobody who could endure what we have endured together not just with our sons death, or the financial woes, moving strains, strains on relations but also with health issues. 

You see, while I strive to be that model wife and now mommy of a son in heaven, I fall short quite frequently.  More and more with age I'm learning it's OK to be different. NOT to fit the model.  I am quite expressive, my husband more analytical. I've never tried to be someone I'm not and looking back over the past 9 years.  Without these trials, without suffering...I'd never know who "I" was meant to be.  More importantly, in a marriage, how do you know how strong your marriage is when you only have the safety of happiness which is only a state of mind.  JOY is an "Attitude" of the heart, where happiness is a temporary emotion.

In conclusion, Today I celebrate my 9 year anniversary with the man I most-heartedly love.  His words of wisdom, his prayers at night, his laughs, his love unconditional, the way he loves Jesus and most importantly the way he forgives me in times I am not the Proverbs 31 Woman that says "her husband and family call themselves blessed".

God knew my heart, He knows my strengths and weaknesses and fit me perfectly with my husband.  I am his helpmeet, his wife.  The roll I play is special and I love it.

As my husband Continues to be the man God made him to be, I too continue to pray for strength, mercy, FAITH,  LOTS of love, to be kind, to listen, respect and honor the man I married 9 years ago.
 "Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies." Proverbs 31

With God as our center, who can come against such strength?!

My husband finished by saying that in life, there are joys and there are trials.  There will be times when a couple argues. There are sad times and there are times when we find that we disappoint ...but what we always find is that NO MATTER WHAT, by the grace and love of God we ALWAYS come back to each other.  We support each other through.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Climbing a HUGE Barrier One Step At A Time.

Today I called the hospital and spoke with the CEO's executive secretary Wendy. I did this to get the ball rolling on a promise I made when we watched our son go home to be with Jesus.

This is a HUGE emotional and spiritual obsticle for me as there have been MANY a hill to climb since October and the fact that I haven't much trust for Dr.s these days.  My heart longs to set things straight so that no other grieving parent ever has to endure what we have.

The past few months I've gone from a deep depression, to blaming myself, blaming others, anger, RAGE, and now while my heart still cries out for our son Jackson, my heart and spirit are finally able to do what my mind has told me needs to happen in order to move forward.

This is THE hardest part of the whole ordeal because I DON'T WANT to move forward without my baby! I don't want to leave my hopes and dreams for him behind. The fact that I would be holding him soon, playing with him as a toddler, watching him grow to be a man and cry at his wedding as he takes a vow to love, honor and charish his wife before God.

Truth is, Jackson is LIVING in heaven. So it's time to LIVE here on earth and find joy here on earth even in trials.

So as I held the phone close, shaking. Wondering what in the world I would say. Trying to keep myself calm and focused. I found the person on the other side of the phone (Wendy) to be a voice of compassion. I did not hollar, nor did I point a finger. I held myself exactly as I had hoped I'd be. We can't change things if we're not willing to be a part of that change.

I wrote a list of things along the way that happened, and rewrote (probably will do it again) in order to get my point across to change some policies to help other grieving families in the future. I have several other calls to make to be sure that I'm understanding some things correctly before I present them to the hospital staff.
THEN, I plan to offer my own experiences in helping to implant these new policies and volunteer if they need any help to do so.

I'm not quite sure HOW this will all play out in the end, but I DO hope that some new policies will be put in place and some organization in other areas.

I'm not God nor is there anything really special about me to think that "I" am some great person in all this. I know I'm not. In fact, many of you have seen a part of me that's not quite pleasant to be around. I'm not blind to this. But I see God working in my life and in my husbands life to bring healing and to teach. Faith, Trust and HOPE. Something while I "say" I have, a person with HOPE doesn't hold themselves in fear and hopelessness. God is a source of STRENGTH beyond measure and filled with HOPE.

I was reminded yesterday that Special Olympics is taking place soon. Lets look at these folks young and old and see that while they have disabilities of some sort, they look PAST them to be who they ARE. That is not only inspiring, but convicting as well. That they find HOPE and have much FAITH to overcome obsticles that are everyday for them. Yet they overcome victoriousely.

In the end, I can either hold on to the pain and anger, OR I can let it go and TRUELY make a difference in the lives of others which will enable me to find TRUE acceptance of a tragedy and change the course.
This month, I have taken the sock I wanted to knit in my grieving and took a class to finish it. I have the leg and foot done and now working on the toe.

I purchased two different materials to make Jackson's memorial quilt.
I called the hospital to make an appointment in order to share ways they can change with hopes to help other grieving families in the future.

There's more on my list to accomplish, but I'm well on my way and am quite proud of how far both my husband and I have come in such a short period of time.

Thought-Provoking Joyfulness

This weekend has been an interesting one. While I'm feeling more alert and having a less cloudy mind for the most part, I am so wired at night I can't sleep. Then by the time I start to feel sleepy, my husband is deeply sleeping and in snoring mode.

So the past few days I've been overtired and grumpy. Most of this I've noticed is because my bloodsugar is out of whack and I'm either way too low (hence the grumpy feeling) or way too high.  I also struggle with Seasonal Disorder as many Northerners face each year during the winter months.

Saturday was my last sock class for "knitting in the round" I had a great time with the women chatting while creating my own sock. Now I have a leg and am almost done with the foot then on to the toe. I'm quite pleased with the outcome. It's not totally bad, in fact it LOOKS like a sock. I must admit that I took on quite the project for a newbie. I mean, a scarf would have been much easier. But I'm SO grateful that I took this project on and finished it to the end without fear. I DID, however feel quite icky from the low I had from not sleeping the night before. It makes me quite proud that I pushed through it.

Sunday was a totally different story altogether. I DIDN'T make it to church. This is seeming to become more of a "spiritual battle" than anything. I think I've made it once or twice the past several weeks. All because there was either inability to sleep or I had severe anxiety and depression which caused an inability to sleep with all these things on my mind. I had my husband go without me this weekend. Church time is important to me because it's a way to be fed the Word of God. Oh, don't get me wrong, sitting in a pew doesn't make a person anymore Christian if they don't really KNOW Christ, but what it does do is strengthen your relationship with Him once you do. It enables me to grow in Gods word and teachings with an opportunity to share in friendship with those who also know Him. Lets face it, the world isn't necessarily a fun place to live. We see things happen to good people. Illnesses, natural occurances like what happened in Haiti or down south with Katrina where there was nobody to blame for a storm. It's those we surround ourselves with who know Jesus that enable us to remember Gods promises. They help where there is a need and are a delight in troubled times. It's good to surround ourselves with like-minded people who love the Lord.

So when something as simple as sleep or anxiety causes me to miss time in Gods presence in His house to learn more of His word, It's frustrating for me. I struggle with it. Unfortunately satan knows our weaknesses and plays on them. We can either allow him to or focus on Christ.

So here is my learning experience for the weekend...I'm finding "attitude" is the biggest issue. I've been noticing that my attitude isn't the most positive one. In fact, "worse case scenareo" plays in my mind most often. I want to protect myself from pain. The issue here is that in reality, bad things DO happen. It's the attitude we keep through it all that matters.

Finding joy in the midst of our sorrows. NOT happiness. I've learned that Happiness is derived from certain HAPPENINGS. Happiness is an emotion that lasts only temporarily. JOY is finding a positive attitude and focusing on something higher (God) with great HOPE. Joy is an attitude of the heart.
Going through a valley doesn't mean we have to pretend we are happy. We can be in a "valley" and still find a positive attitude of Great hope in our hearts.

It's something I'm really starting to understand. NOW if I can start putting that to practice. Isn't it sometimes hard putting things into practice? I'm finding that to have a healthy life, we must put body, mind and spirit in balance, not just visually injesting what we should be doing but actually putting them to practice.
One might say not just talking, but walking.

Rejoicing In Our Sufferings-Finding Acceptance In A Healthy Way

Today has been an interesting day emotionally. Counseling was emotionally exhausting. I'm not a fan of psychoanalysis. In fact, watching our foster teens as they were overdrugged instead of dealing with their underlying issues really put a bad taste in my mouth of the industry.

Christian Counseling though has been quite the different outcome though. I'm NOT drugged, in fact, dealing with issues like the death of our son, and some other private matters has made it quite confusing and in some cases, frustrating. It's a known fact that I'm afraid. Lately I see just how fear has changed my train of thought throughout the years. It's become a HUGE part of me and when I feel out of control with fear...I get ANGRY.

Todays session was about anger. Specifically about dealing with unmet expectaions, hurt and anger instead of in a NEGATIVE way...which is NEVER accepting that things can sometimes NOT be changed, -OR- in a POSITIVE way of acceptance Externally...i.e. maybe changing things physically, Internally the way we think, and finally spiritually.

In this case, the counselor not only deals with the emotional aspect of the problem but the SPIRITUAL as well as the physical. He gave the foundation as Romans 5:1-5

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. . .
((here's the part that is SO hard for me to sometimes comprehend))
Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
I mean, who wants to suffer ANY kind of trial?? Yet trials enable us to "grow up". To persevere. As the above scripture says, that when we persevere through a trial, we are building character.....who we become because of those trials. Who we become shows HOPE not hopelessness...but Triumph and HOPE. Which in the end, will NOT disappoint us because God LOVES us, not because He dislikes us, but because there is HOPE.

It's hard to grasp why we go through trials and even why some do and some don't. I guess looking at this scripture we must count it all joy in this growth. In the end, we find a sort of TRIUMPH. In living a life without trial, life would seem boring and there would be NOBODY with any sort of difference. We'd all think the same, be the same and NEVER have anything to share with the world.

I think of how many GREAT people came from trials and sacrifice.
-Lance Armstrong who not only overcame cancer, but used that opportunity to overcome other obsticles and help through his own experiences,
-Senator John McCain who was tortured and took that opportunity to serve his constituents ( no matter your politics, someone that overcomes torture in serving his country is Honorable),
-Jesus. Who in suffering and in HIS death and ressurection as well as His ascension into heaven...His sacrifice bridged the gap between heaven and hell for all believers.

Just to name a few.

So while working through some rough patches in my life, there is much to be thankful for. There IS peace and joy through the "valley". Just gotta have eyes, ears and the right attitude to find them.