Tuesday, July 23, 2013

One Year Ago

This day, last year, was Cora's due date.  This day, last year, she was still alive.  I feel a little numb today, honestly, so I don't have much to write.  No profound thoughts.  This week is just sad for us.  No way around it.
But, even as I miss Cora Lane and remember her short life in this world, I feel a nudge in my tummy.  It's the little boy whose arrival we are so anxiously awaiting.  He keeps reminding me of his presence with me.  His life is a miracle, and I am praising the Lord for Theodore Charles Nelson!  We can't wait to welcome him home in October.

A few days ago I felt compelled to write a letter of gratitude, for truly my heart overflows with thankfulness when I remember the events just one year ago....

Dear family and friends,

As you may be aware, we are fast approaching the one year anniversary of Cora Lane's due date, death and delivery.  It is hard to believe that a whole year has already passed.  In anticipation of July 23-27, I can't help reflecting on what life was like at this time one year ago.  My mom was visiting.  Showers were done. The nursery was ready.  We were all awaiting Cora's arrival and taking bets on her birth weight.  I think my dad's guess won!  I can think back on that time with bittersweet joy, remembering what it felt like to experience Cora alive and remembering how well you all loved her even before she was born.  

At the risk of making us all cry, allow me just to recap a little of what I experienced over those few days.  July 23, Cora's due date, came and went.  A few days later, I recall not having felt Cora move for quite a while.  At first I thought she was just sleeping; after all, she was running out of room for her squirming.  When we finally went in to the hospital and found out that her heart had stopped beating, I could have felt like I was falling, for certainly my heart was on the brink of despair, but instead I felt upheld in more ways than one.  Evan, both of my moms, Dad Nelson, their arms were around me, physically.  Spiritually, I felt and heard the prayers of those both near and far.  Even as I was swept into the delivery room and induction began, friends and family seemingly appeared out of nowhere.  Emotionally, I experienced not only my own disappointment, shock and pain, I felt and saw everyone else's as well.  And as sorry as I was that you were feeling that pain too, your sorrow ministered to Evan and me in a way that we had never experienced before.  You wept with those who weep and mourned with those who mourn.  You were Jesus to us in those dark hours. All you who had gathered in the outer waiting room-I couldn't see you, but I felt your presence.  The Lord's strength was being channeled to me by your prayers.   All in all, I know now that it was the love of God I felt, inside and out, embodied by you, his people. 

After Cora's body was delivered, I saw you hold her, cherish the sight of her, love her.  She has the most wonderful family, biologically and spiritually!  In the days that followed, Evan and I were surrounded by your love and care.  All of us were lifted to worship through grief during a beautiful service at First Pres.  The 500 person congregation that gathered there was an unexpected and overwhelming expression of the Body of Christ.  We laid her beautiful little body to rest.  We cried together as a family.  We ate together.  We lived together for a few days.  Grief is surprisingly physical as well as emotional and spiritual.  As strange as it is to say, you all grieve well!  And you gave me freedom to grieve intensely and openly.  I have a feeling this is not how all people in the world experience loss and grief.  

There were those who couldn't be here with us physically, but they ministered to us in gigantic ways....by taking care of family kids back in Pennsylvania, by sending money, by offering a place to get away, by sending flowers, cards, even cd's of comforting music.  These gifts and acts of service did not go unnoticed or unappreciated! 

In short, you blessed us.  Thank you.  As we approach this one year anniversary, I want to recognize that Cora Lane's death was your loss too.  You miss her too.  You cared for her too.   Even as I feel the loss of Cora acutely, I am compelled to zoom the lens out and perceive how well the Lord has loved me through you.  I thank God he gave us each other!  And I thank you for loving Cora so well and for being used by God to carry Evan and me through this year.

Blessings and love be to you this July 27 as you remember.

Joy Nelson

Monday, May 20, 2013

More of the journey

April 16, 2013
We have made it to eleven weeks.  Time moves as slow as sludge when you're pregnant.  This first trimester has seemed like an eternity!  One more week and I'll be in the second trimester with still a long way to go.

We've had two ultrasounds so far, and both times we were able to see the baby's little heartbeat.  There is life!  Praise God for life!  After one miscarriage and one stillbirth, life seems so improbable.  It's a miracle.  I pray this baby makes it out into the world alive and well.  I never thought I'd have to worry about that.

Even now, I have trouble imagining myself holding a live baby of my own.  My heart is still slow to go there.  It's terrible that I half expect to lose this child.  O me of little faith.  It's shameful.  Yet I'm learning that faith is having confidence in God's ability and power to do great and mighty (and even terrifying) things.  He is able.  I will trust.

May 1, 2013
A subsequent pregnancy after loss is a unique experience.  Thankfully, I have been surrounded by very excited and supportive people.  Not all have the blessing of such community.  Still, no matter how much support I have, this continues to be a very lonely valley through which no one can really journey but me.  Not even my beloved husband knows the full strain that pregnancy after loss inflicts physically, emotionally and spiritually.  He knows better than most, though.

When, God willing, this baby arrives, Cora would have been one year and three months old.  It's strange to be a mother and have no real concept of what raising a child is like.  I can't even successfully imagine having a three month old, much less a crawler or toddler.  My heart is sluggish to go there, and the scar tissue aches as it stretches to have hope.

This time last year, I was six months pregnant with Cora Lane.  We had just moved into a new house, and I was eagerly putting the nursery together.  Now I'm three months pregnant, and I haven't touched the nursery.   It represents a kind of certainty that I just don't have yet.  Dare I say that room may even represent my faith?  The emptiness of that little room convicts me daily.  Each day that my trust in the Lord grows stronger, I think more frequently about dusting off all the baby stuff and giving that room life again.  It will happen eventually.  Perhaps when we find out if the decor will be blue or pink.

I have heard this baby's heartbeat several times with our doppler.  It's such a comforting sound, but now that I've heard it, I fear not finding it one day.  I fear living a replay of that day when we failed to find Cora's heartbeat.  By the time we listened for it, she already had a heavenly pulse.  Even as we hope to welcome this baby into the world, we will be loving and missing you, precious Cora Lane.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

"What's in a name?"

March 17, 2013
I have made it to seven weeks exactly.  Lord, keep this baby safe!
Thoughts of Cora come much more often now.  I remember what it was like to feel her move.  I remember every bit of excitement at the thought of holding her.  Unfortunately, I also think often about those last days.  I keep going back to them, like somehow there's a secret to unlock or some clue to discover.

Evan and I have been mulling over baby names.  "What's in a name?"  -Ever so much (in my opinion anyway)!  We think Cora Lane was the absolute best, but this new baby has his or her own precious identity.  And the coming name will be just as sweet to us.  We have become big believers in naming early.  We named Cora as soon as we found out she was a girl, and by the end, her identity and personhood were firmly established in our lives.  And as soon as we said her name out loud, that was it.  There was no question.  It was as if the Lord named her, and I believe he did.  We'd like to do that part the same this time around.  I guess you'll just have to wait and find out what the next sweet name will be!

Everyday is a struggle for peace.  I realize fretting won't do any good, so I pray and wait.  Every day.  Pray and wait.
I've changed doctors, and I pray that my new Dr. will take great care.  I am anxious to first have an ultrasound to see if all looks okay so far.  I think then it may be easier to begin the bonding process.  I haven't really let myself dream of a future with this little one yet, and I know that's not fair.  Our dreams were so cruelly dashed with Cora.

I am thankful for each day I have with this baby, though.  Had I known what was to come, I would have cherished each moment of pregnancy with Cora.  Now I'm reminded daily to thank God for this baby and pray for thriving health and safety from danger.  I just can't wait to pray with his or her name in mind....a name soon to be determined.  The Lord knows what it will be.

Monday, May 6, 2013

New Developments

One morning, back in late February, Evan and I paced and gave each other nervous looks as we waited what seemed like an eternity for a digital pregnancy test to tell us what we already suspected.  And suddenly (pregnancy tests have no regard for nerves) in one instant, we both looked down and then back at each other, and big grins spread across our faces.  "Yes+" is what we saw.  That moment was so joyous, but no sooner had I smiled, laughed and said "Praise God" than I thought of Cora Lane.  Love and loss, sweet and bitter, peace and longing, joy and pain.  It's this tangled, beautiful, painful mess of life.  I remember getting the positive test that told me Cora was on the way, and now she has a sibling coming.  I will cherish both of these moments forever.

I have journaled since February, but for obvious reasons have not posted about my pregnancy.  Now that we're feeling a little more secure and the word is out, I can share with you some of my chronicles along the way.

February 26, 2013
Just a few days ago, Evan and I found out that we're pregnant again.  O Lord, have mercy.  Almost seven months ago exactly, we lost Cora.  It has been impossible for me to think about this new pregnancy and the precious little one growing inside without thinking of Cora and how ecstatic we were to be expecting her.  I cry every time all over again.

So the fears have already started cropping up.  I figure naming them is better than letting them fester.  I'm afraid I won't get past six weeks....another miscarriage like the very first, before Cora even.
I'm afraid that if we do get passed the first trimester we'll lose the baby somewhere along the road.
I'm afraid of some sort of abnormality -Downs Syndrome or Trysomy- not that we would love that baby any less.

Lord, have mercy.
There are more.

What I must figure out (and this sounds awful) is - am I afraid to lose this child for the baby's sake or for fear of another broken heart?  I think it's a little of both, but mostly the latter.  I firmly believe that babies who die go directly to our Savior's arms, so it's not necessarily for the child I fear.  I'm afraid of the engulfing and unbearable sadness and shock at losing a baby.  I know it so well.  It's breaks my heart and hurts my soul.  I'm afraid of once again falling into that harrowing chasm of emptiness and loss.  It's a selfish fear.  May not be right, but it's honest.

I do know now, though, that God in his love, does not relinquish me to the depths of dark despair.  He does not give me more than I can handle through his strength.  But, that does not mean I don't fear going there again.  And I may.  The truth of the matter is that I don't know what tomorrow holds...."but I know who holds my hand."

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Dear Cora, such beauty man has never known

Dear Cora,

How I miss you!  I'm at Grammy and Pop Pop's house in Pennsylvania.  You would love it here!  I woke up this morning to a heavy spring snow draping the trees, outlining every branch.  Exquisite beauty.  This is where I grew up, Cora.  Everything here makes my heart swell with memories, bitter and sweet....mostly sweet.

I saw some old friends today, my eighth grade teacher and his family.  Every time I step through their door it's like nothing has changed (and everything has changed), but I don't quite know how to describe it, Cora.  Visiting with them today, I was able to just BE and I felt so very loved for just existing.  It was a gift.  We laughed and sang together like old times.

Mr. Antonson, my teacher, has lately been inspired by the words to 'All Creatures of Our God and King,' a great old hymn and poem, the words of which were originally penned by Saint Francis.  I sang it for him.  The fifth and sixth verses (out of seven) hit me the most:

And all ye men of tender heart,
Forgiving others, take your part,
O sing ye! Alleluia!
Ye who long pain and sorrow bear,
Praise God and on Him cast your care!

And thou most kind and gentle Death,
Waiting to hush our latest breath,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou leadest home the child of God,
And Christ our Lord the way hath trod.

You were lead home, Cora.  You know the ultimate beauty.  My heart yearns to join you in that glorious praise.

Mr. Antonson inspired me when I was a child.  Music, art, history, culture, literature....you name it, I loved it all because he taught with such excitement.  He opened the door to a myriad of enriching opportunities for me, and those experiences formed much of who I am today.

After our visit, I went home craving a good old home video of my high school performance of Shakespeare's 'Much Ado About Nothing.'  My teacher's son, played Benedick, and I played Beatrice.  Oh the lines, Cora!  We were actually pretty good.

I've remembered tonight how much I LOVE the arts!  I guess I had forgotten how much.  I feel like I'm waking up and remembering a bit of who I am (or who I was) and who I'd like to become -someone who lives into the passion, love and creativity of God through beauty - someone who passes on and teaches that same love to young lives.  I want to give the same gift my teacher gave to me.
Then, Cora, to close out the night, your Pop Pop and I sat by the fire and talked about our mutual favorite hymn, 'O Love that Will Not Let Me Go.'  If could imagine hymn singing in heaven, this one would be sung there by all the rescued souls as a testimony to all God did for them on this fallen earth. It's a testimony to his redeeming work, the ultimate passion, the absolute beauty of saving souls.

  1. O Love that wilt not let me go,
    I rest my weary soul in thee;
    I give thee back the life I owe,
    That in thine ocean depths its flow
    May richer, fuller be.
  2. O light that foll’west all my way,
    I yield my flick’ring torch to thee;
    My heart restores its borrowed ray,
    That in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
    May brighter, fairer be.
  3. O Joy that seekest me through pain,
    I cannot close my heart to thee;
    I trace the rainbow through the rain,
    And feel the promise is not vain,
    That morn shall tearless be.
  4. O Cross that liftest up my head,
    I dare not ask to fly from thee;
    I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
    And from the ground there blossoms red
    Life that shall endless be.

Then Pop Pop and I listened to the most beautiful recording of it that I have ever heard.  It was sung by the Westminster Chorus.  Such beauty. I was in tears.  We sang this song at your funeral, Cora.
I bet you hear music more exquisite than that every day!

I wish you had been with me today, sweet girl.

I love you!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

A prayer, not for the faint of heart

A challenging prayer to pray, but it has been on constant repeat in my heart the past few days and weeks.

Lord Jesus,
You have hemmed me in, behind and before.  Thank you for bringing Evan and me to this place.  We have our eyes open to you, our hearts sensitive to your Spirit, our ears tuned to your word.  We wait for you.  We hold our hands open before you, offering all our hearts hold dear.  My timid hands tremble, Lord, for fear you may actually take what we place before you, again.  But, doggedly, I will trust you and throw myself on your mercy seat, knowing that where you are is the safest place I can dwell.
I love you,

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Jesus, Come

Outwardly, everything is fine.  Inwardly, it has been a rough week.  I think I have some latent anger simmering under the surface.  Bitterness isn't a foe you only have to beat once.  I struggle to defeat him every day or at least every week.
Every part of my life is different from what is was before we lost Cora.  Not a thing is the same.  I went from working in full time in ministry, which I loved, to now staying home and teaching from home, which I'm learning to love.  We moved to a new house.  I'm in a different church, different community.  Everything has changed.  'Out with the old' can sometimes be good, but out went my sense of hope and cheer and optimism too.  Evan and I are different people than we were one year ago (almost exactly) when we found out we were pregnant.  What good news that was!  I wish I could get some good news in 2012.  As it is, the new year can't come soon enough.
I know others out there who are hurting, just as badly, and some worse....physically.  And I weep for them.  I weep for all the hurts.  Because I know when hurt is staring you down and seemingly winning the battle, all you can do is cry.  And cry for help.  I'm training my ears to hear Jesus' rescuing answer.  I'm straining to catch the whisper of his voice.  I so look forward to the day when what we hear is a victory shout resounding, thundering through the eastern sky.  Jesus, come.