Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy 2nd Birthday little Gwenyth (and some rainbow talk...)

Many people seem to I wanted to share, that Gwen's birthday is an okay day. She is easy to celebrate. Would be of course, far better if she was here... But, the pain of her loss is now so familiar to me that it effects are different. It's no less. I can recall details in a split-second and my stomach sinks... the ache isn't less but with familiarity my heart can handle it better now - if that makes any sense.

Each loss from 2010 is hugely different - incomparable in every way. To be honest the tears come more easily these days when I think on my sister-in-law and brother-in-law. To be scientific and dry about it I can only guess that my heart could only take on one loss at a time and it's gotten to to them now. Eventually the familiarity of that pain will also find its settled place in my heart.

I miss them all - the blank places where they once each colored my life in their own unique ways are always apparent to me as it is to each who person that misses them. Everyone who loved them and counted on them in their lives lost something different, which is something I feel worth pointing out. Grief is so unique to each person for each personal loss. So, I don't claim to speak for anyone but myself when I say it is familiar in my life, whatever that really means.

I wish things were different - it will never make sense to me how this is what happened to each person- but it all is what is is now and missing them all is becoming familiar, that's just the best way I can describe it. Not easier. Just familiar.

Mostly all I feel today, on my little Gwen's birthday is deep it's a good day... and the reason for my general, over-all peace on her birthday is testimony to all supported us-  the love and care sent our way, it is is never forgotten, it sustains continually. The memories of her birthday and the amazing way so many people in my life stood by us, prayed for her, and hoped with us - they really do lend warmth and light...and always will. God blessed us ten times over with the people in our lives and Gwen's memory reflects that forever to me.

On her birthday, my mind settles around the many, many babies I saw that day when I went over to her little bed. I think on all the babies I saw over the weeks she spent at CHOP. I think about the "age of miracles" that we do live in - the babies who over-came odds like you wouldn't believe and yet even so, in this "age of miracles" there are still those whose parents had to say goodbye - like us.

It is a miracle the heart ever forms right, it is a miracle a baby's heart can be given a fighting chance, it is a miracle heart-ache like this doesn't just kill you...and my heart goes out to those who don't experience the support I did both before she was born, during her hospital stay, and after we lost her so suddenly.

As on think on this, I want everyone to know about PCHA and even Sister's By Heart for HLHS - I want to pay it forward, it is the least I can do to share the links to these organizations and promote them. As for supporting those living with this kind of deep sadness, the Sadie Rose foundation is one place here in Harrisonburg working hard to support those grieving the loss of a child. It is an amazing undertaking that Regina Harlow has embarked pray for SRF as you think of us... I think that's one of the most unsettling feelings left on my heart; knowing we are not alone in loosing a child yet knowing just what it feels like - you don't ever want anyone to experience this, ever.

I wrote this last year, Gifts of Gratitude and actually in my mental fog I was still in didn't follow through. I wrote it for me, my own little outline of how to pay-it-forward and honor Gwen's tiny-little life. I share it here just to let everyone know about ways to donate to/support causes that I can attest to, that Gwen's life attests to.

Finally, today I feel compelled share something by way of speaking of rainbows and miracles...

Of Rainbows - there is a quote I love that reads; "That gracious thing made of tears and light." I remember seeing a rainbow in our backyard last year the day after Gwen's birthday and again the day after May 14th. I liked the symbolism. It was just kinda neat - two rainbows the day after Gwen's two anniversary's.

The rainbow in my backyard on May 15th, 2010 with the quote I love.

About miracles, I'm going quote lyrics to a song.. "In the age of miracles. There's one on the way" (Mary C. Carpenter, "Age of Miracles.")

If you haven't figured it out from my cryptic quotes above  - this is my online announcement that we are hoping for/expecting a third child to love. I am just beginning my second trimester. Lillian and Gwen are going to have a baby brother or sister in September, God Willing! We will love and care for this child however we are called to. Of course we are hoping for ultrasounds that show nothing but a healthy baby and blood work after the baby is born that shows nothing wrong.
And yet, oddly I get sad for Gwen even as I'm happy to know we are expecting again. It's a funny place to be - emotion-wise. It's hard to explain. So I'm not going to try too hard now. But just, it feels both good and not-god to celebrate Gwen while expecting another baby and hoping for health... But I'll focus on the miracle that is life - which all three of my children claim. And I'll think on rainbows as I wait in Hope for what news that will be given to us on April 16th (our scheduled fetal echo at UVA). And I'll remember that wonderful St. Patrick's day two years ago... when I held my little Gwen for the first time and looked in those eyes.

This description of a "Rainbow Baby" says it perfectly (I cannot find the author of this quote to credit...wish I could). ; so I'll end with this (a Rainbow Baby, by the way, is a baby who is conceived after a miscarriage/still birth/infant death):

"Rainbow Babies" is the understanding that the beauty of a rainbow does not negate the ravages of the storm. When a rainbow appears, it doesn't mean the storm never happened or that the family is not still dealing with its aftermath. What it means is that something beautiful and full of light has appeared in the midst of the darkness and clouds. Storm clouds may still hover but the rainbow provides a counterbalance of color, energy and hope."


Happy Birthday Gwenyth! We love you!
Gwen with us soon after she was born.

Just before her open-heart surgery on the morning of March 19th, 2010.
Her sweet self, taken at our Philly Apartment soon after she was discharged (great capture Aunt Becca!)


  1. Laura, this is so absolutely beautiful. You are an extraordinary writer and I love reading your words. We love you, we love Lil, we love Gwen and we love the tiny baby being knit together in your womb as we speak. Praying for health, and for peace.

    Happy Birthday sweet Gwen.

    Amy, Dusk, Sierra & Bodie

  2. Oh, Laura... your words carry a beauty that resonate so well even for those of us who cannot fully understand or enter in to all you bear. This is lovely. And blessings to you, dear, on this new miracle... A sweet gift. You know we will be carrying y'all before the throne every day!

  3. What a beautifully expressed post! Thank you, Laura, for continuing to write about your journey through this Valley. I know that your gift of writing/communicating has helped others who read your posts through some of their own suffering. Words give wings to feelings.....and help them escape the suffocating capture of our hearts. Thank you for writing, for letting us see your heart, for letting us walk with you.

    I'm unspeakably joyful at hearing your news of a third child to come! I cannot express the joy......the rainbow baby metaphor is perfect--it's so "God." The rainbow is like Grace--the 4th leaf of the clover (remember?)--the reaching out of God's hand toward sinners--the gift of life after death. Praise God. You are loved!

    Hope we get to make it back east to meet this new little Carpenter!

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  5. I'm so happy to hear your news! Wishing both you and your baby health and happiness for a very long time to come.


Ten years loom and as always seems to be the case, I find myself struggling the most in the days ahead of the anniversary  - be it her birt...