Sunday, February 23, 2014

They That Be With Us Are More Than They That Be With Them


My blog post "Why I Didn't Murder My Baby" got over 125,000 views. Which is humbling but also strange because I felt like I knew maybe 30 people who would have taken the time to read it. Maybe 32.

125,000 people had my Gracie Belle's name on their lips. A miraculous feat for someone who lived such a short time.

So what does that mean? That people like reading about a good train wreck? That I used the right language to grab a small chunk of the internet's attention?

What I think it means is that she mattered. This one little girl in this one little corner of the world mattered.

And that's the point isn't it? Every single life matters. There aren't any that are more discardable or dispensable than others. I have no more worth than Gracie or you or the man begging in the street.

These lives we lead, these seemingly insignificant acts we do everyday matter. YOU matter.

And so did they. The billions of babies who have been aborted mattered. They still do, they just won't have a chance to show us how much on this side of life.

The songs they'll never sing, the hearts they'll never inspire, the people they'll never love. We are missing so many and we don't even know. We don't know how much we have lost and should all be grieving that.

I received hundreds and hundreds of comments and emails. Some were negative. Sure. Some people have lost sight of the value of life and all the light that goes with it. But it was tiny. It was barely worth my notice when compared to the army of people who cared, who recognized the devastation of life that our society is letting slip by unchallenged.

And I can only believe. No, I know that the souls of those so easily cast aside are rallying with us in Heaven. Billions of babies. BILLIONS.

As the Bible says, "Fear not; for they that be with us are more than they that be with them."

I know there are exceptions and I hope the readers of this and my last post know that I know that. I know people are sometimes forced to make unthinkable, impossible decisions and believe me I understand. I ache with you and for you. I mean that from the bottom of my heart.
But we cannot let the majority of our society be governed by the exceptions. We cannot look the other way. We cannot shrug and say that's the way the world is now. 

Because it isn't. That's not the way the world has to be.
We need to find courage. We need to be brave. We need to stand up to politicians and media outlets that pervert the sacredness of life and tell us that "the majority of the people feel this way".

They are wrong. There are more with us than be with them. There is more hope and strength and power than we can possibly imagine. There are more.

***i also wanted to add my deep and sincere gratitude for the outpouring of love and support. You'll never know how much it buoyed me up and helped me to feel hope and peace when my heart still breaks every other breath from missing my child.

                                          May The Lord bless you with that same peace.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Gracie Belle

Why I Didn't Murder My Baby


       Before I begin let me just say writing this was a long time coming. I had seen the umpteenth post about pro-life or pro-choice and I guess what astounds me is that we are even having this debate. It’s no wonder our country is going to hell in a hand-basket if we can’t even agree on whether or not it’s okay to murder the innocent and helpless. Should we have choices? Yes. Agency and freedom go hand in hand. Can you choose to shoot a man on the street? Sure. But it’s illegal and there are consequences. Can you choose to take the life of an infant? But of course! And bonus, it’s legal! Heck, it’s even encouraged. What happened to logic? What happened to morality?

        The title of the post may be shocking, but its essence is true. I was given the choice to abort my baby and I refrained. I suppose much of the world thinks that every time a man and a woman create a living human being we should have the “choice” to murder them—as long as they are inside a womb of course. But it had never really been presented to me as an option until I found out I was pregnant with my fourth.
        
        I already had three monkeys disguised as boys. I loved them with all of my heart. And finally. FINALLY. We were having a girl. But there was a catch.
                
       You see my fourth baby was, as so many doctors eloquently put, “defective”. She was diagnosed with the condition Trisomy 9. For those who have never heard of that, it’s a chromosomal disorder. A more commonly heard of chromosome disorder is Trisomy 21 or Down Syndrome’s. The lower the number, the more severe.
                
         Very few Trisomy 9 babies make it to term. In fact, it is so rare that every single doctor we dealt with in their long 30 plus year careers had never even seen a case. The few cases documented where the babies had made it to term were terrifying. Their bodies were disfigured. Some didn't have eyes or brains. It shocked us to the core.
            
          So. There I was. Fifteen or so weeks pregnant staring down the reality of what was now my life.
                
          The funny thing about these types of situations is, they crush you with the news and then, when you have dropped to your knees from the sheer weight of it all and are in the most incredibly vulnerable and least capable decision making frame of mind, they immediately expect you to make all sorts of decisions. Decisions that will affect you and probably haunt you the rest of your life.
                
          “So,” they said, “given the inevitability of the situation,” they said, “wouldn't you rather spare yourself and your body the pain and get rid of that defect?”
           
           Well not in those words. But basically.
                
           Let me pause for just a moment to say that this cynicism about doctors does not apply to all of the doctors we dealt with. My obstetrician, whom I adore, was loathe to even put it on the table. It was easy to tell the minute a doctor’s mouth started moving whether or not they were pro-life or pro-choice. Or maybe I’m not being fair. Maybe they are just so worn down by the indifference to human life they've lost feeling. Either way, it was disturbing.  
                
           My husband and I believe in God. Or at least I thought I believed in God before we were dealt this blow. We also believe that families are eternal so that even if we lose the ones we love in this life, we can be together with them one day. And quite suddenly I had to know. I desperately had to know if that was what I truly believed. For lack of a better way of phrasing it, I had to put up or shut up.
                
            I can’t speak for the entire population, but in my experience, the very second you find out you are pregnant, you become a mother. And even if you only carry that baby for three days or nine months, you are a mother. There is life inside your body and you will forever be connected.
                
           But it was true. She probably wouldn't make it to term. My body would have to go through the trauma, heck it was a c-section. My life would be at risk. The longer I was pregnant the harder it would be. And think of the baby! What about her? What would her quality of life be? What kind of a mother was I to force a baby to be born to a life of pain and imminent death?
                
            And so for the next few weeks I thought about it. It was a continual dialogue in my head. Yes or no, pros and cons, lists and lists and really it came down to one thing.
            
           Was it my decision?

Did it involve me? Yes. Absolutely. But was it my choice to make? Was it my choice to choose whether a spirit sent to us from our Father in Heaven should live or die? Should I kill this helpless little baby just because she was dealt a rotten hand of cards?

And for what? So I wouldn't get more stretch marks? So my “emotional attachment” as the physicians say, (though I like to refer to it as love) didn't get too strong? To spare myself the heartache? To spare ourselves the financial struggle?

I spoke the words out loud. I told my husband I was going to end the pregnancy. What was the point if it all ended in the same way? What did it matter if she died now or in a few months? He didn't argue or shame me he just said, I think you should pray about it. I think you should pray to know what she wants.

And reluctantly I did. But I didn't have any visions. She didn't come to me in a dream and make her wishes known. I didn't feel any closer to making a decision.

I had so many ultrasounds I can’t even number them and most of them are lost in a blur but for some reason I remember one in particular. I remember going in and lying on the table, waiting for the tech to squeeze the cold jelly on my stomach, and then I felt her move. And during the ultrasound she was active and it was like she was looking at me from that screen. She wiggled and stretched but all the while she was looking at me. And I knew.

She was a person. The phrase from that Doctor Seuss book, Horton Hears a Who, kept coming to my mind. “A person’s a person no matter how small” She was my baby no matter what. I knew she was a fighter. I couldn't betray her. I couldn't give up on her. I couldn't kill her.  
                
            Was the pregnancy hell? No doubt about it. Knowing that the little one you love is so close to being gone is one of the worst kinds of hell a person can go through. It pushed our marriage to its limits. It brought me to my knees, barely able to breathe, on almost a daily basis.
                
            But I didn't miscarry. At every appointment my doctor warned me to be prepared for the worst. And so I waited. I waited for blood. I waited for contractions. But they never came.

           Our family carved pumpkins for Halloween. Her grandpa carved one with a butterfly for her. She dressed up a skeleton. And I waited.

                
             I played my favorite music for her in the car during the hours and hours and hours of driving to the city for appointments and she responded. She danced. We danced together. And I waited.
                
             I told her secrets. I spoke to her all the time. I told her things I wanted her to know and remember. We watched chick flicks together and of course I had to eat every single one of my favorite foods because she needed to experience them. At least once. Even if was just in my mind.
                
             And I waited.
                
             I had a life with my baby girl. Nine beautiful and heart breaking, wonderful and terrible months. And then she was born. Our Gracie Belle. Our little sweetheart.

You look me in the eye and tell me we should have murdered our little girl when we had the chance. You tell me it was my body so it was my choice. You tell me that every single second of the two days God blessed us to have her wasn't worth it. To be able to smell her and kiss her nose. To feel her finger wrapped around mine. To hear her little mew of a cry. To watch as she sucked on a pacifier. To see her beautiful little eyes look back at me even if just for a moment.

Tell me it would have been better to end it and always wonder--To live with the what if’s and regrets. Tell me that it’s more important to value convenience and practicality over struggle and pain yes, but tremendous, life altering, love. If I had ended Gracie’s life that day it would have been the beginning of the end of mine.
I know every story is different. This is just mine. Abortion isn't the only way. You can choose hope. You can choose love. You can choose life.

                     
                   

                  

Sunday, September 23, 2012

It finally arrived.

I seriously doubt anyone at all still checks this thing. I sure don't come here much anymore. But I wanted to post a picture of her beautiful stone. I don't know if it's too tiny to read but it says,

Ray
Sleep in Heavenly Peace
Gracie Belle
Jan 9 2012-Jan 11 2012
Beloved daughter of Emily and Kendall

We love it.

In other news,

We are doing really well. Ups and downs for sure but for the most part things are stable. Every now and then, I will feel like the wind was knocked out of me, but we carry on.

I am working on a video of Gracie. When I finish it, hopefully I will be able to post it. We shall see.

I think I am internet fatigued because I just sent a bunch of e-mails and did some family website postings so I am fairly unmotivated to write much right now. Sorry, you are all just random victims of task order.

Also,
my oldest monkey, (who was fairly unhappy with mom and dad tonight), wrote us letters.

"Dear Mom,
You are doomed."

"Dear Dad,
Perhaps you are stupid."

Lovely, isn't he?

Friday, June 15, 2012

And We're Back.

It's been a rough couple of weeks. I'm not going to lie.

A couple of week ago I attended the funeral of the sweetest four year old boy that ever lived.

It was horrible. And the public part of me wants to write that I am glad he is at peace and the service was beautiful. And the service WAS beautiful but it was horrible. I felt like I was watching myself. My sweet friend was a mess and shaking and sobbing and I felt every sob rack through my heart.

These little ones.To be given a taste of heaven and then having it torn away. It's excruciating.

I wasn't going to go to the cemetery because honestly I didn't know if I had any more than the service in me. But we went. And I stood behind the casket and I could see my friend's face. And she had this stare. This stare I know intimately. The same absent, numb, stare on my face at Gracie's funeral.

And it broke my heart and it brought back waves and waves of feelings and memories that I can't say I care to relive. It is a wonder mothers can even walk at their child's funeral. It is a wonder our hearts can keep beating at all.

They had made these little rubber bracelets that said, "Angels for Atticus" on them. And I wore mine for days after. I went to Wal-Mart and all I could think was. They don't even know. They don't even know that an amazing little boy is gone. Missing from this Earth. And it was all I could do to push my cart down the aisle and not sob like a lunatic for some person's "people at Wal-Mart" photo montage.

The feeling of pain and loss isn't as intense for me as it was at first. But it is always there, stumbling around in the background.

When I braid my niece's hair, I wonder what Gracie's hair would have been like. Would it have been long enough for a ridiculous looking tiny little hair spike by now? Would it have stayed as dark as it was?

I don't even look at the girl's clothing section.

When I think about going to my boy's sporting events, (and I'll be honest I haven't really gone much at all), I sometimes feel resentment that I won't be going to any dance recitals. Won't be searching etsy for the cutest tutus.

I meet new people now and they don't even know. And right now I don't even tell them because I don't like the way it puts them off. Makes them frown and apologize. I don't want others to feel sad. I feel sad enough.

My hope chest is full of little pink things and smells and memories and I can't even bear to open it. I can barely stand that it is even in my room sometimes.

There is always a little baby girl that sticks her head up over the pews at church and I have to look away. I avoid baby blessings like the plague. It's hard to hear a blessing full of life and exciting expectation when I don't get to expect anything.


Okay. Sorry. Sometimes I get carried away but it feels good to just get it out sometimes. I do expect things. Great things. I know I will get to be with my little Belles again someday. I cannot wait for that day. Death is not such a scary thing to me now. I know I have my little baby girl just waiting there for me and that is a wonderful and peaceful thing to know.

I have an amazing husband who is STILL carrying bits and pieces of my heart for me. He is a rock and I sometimes wonder if I deserve someone so good and kind.

My monkeys are still crazy and probably will always be. I was at the grocery store today and I had just a few things left to get and I told the boys, "We're almost done. We're almost at the checkout. Just a few more minutes." And then I realized I was repeating to myself over and over and over, "We're almost done. We're almost there." Insane Mother aisle 8.

James prays that we can all be with Gracie again someday. Harrison prays that she will come back. Bennett just snuggles. I thank the Lord EVERY day for giving me that little boy. I believe He knew that I would need a little baby to love on. Every now and then I sneak into his room at night and pull him out of his crib just so I can rock him. It is all I can do to ease the ache in my heart sometimes.

Anyway. And last post I was telling you to check my other blog. Haha. Someday.





Friday, May 18, 2012

Room with a View

I haven't felt like there has been much to say lately. I had a little bit of a blue period which I wasn't entirely prepared for. I don't know, she passed and I was sad and it was a slap in the face but then I felt peace and closure and I thought, maybe I've survived this. Maybe I'm okay. And then I just sort of slipped. Partly me but mostly my husband and good friends kept me from slipping too deep.

I have one friend who for whatever reason is just acutely aware of me and my needs. (and lies).
a few weeks back I was supposed to be somewhere and I just told her I was tired/not feeling well/busy ALL at the same time so I wasn't going and she said, "me too. We should probably go to dinner and a movie instead."

And we did. And it pulled me back a little closer to the surface. And today I am good again. I guess that's how it will be. Ups and downs. I know people have told me that but for whatever reason I like to think I don't belong to THAT club. That's for OTHER people.

But maybe not.


But to the point....
Here is Gracie's place. Isn't it beautiful. In the spring Wildflowers are just EVERYWHERE. It is magical.

This is a headstone I really really wanted to replicate but we are finding it difficult to find a stone cutter that won't charge A LOT. We'll figure it out someday I guess.You can see Gracie's plot in the background with the pink flowers. I love this headstone because it is tiny and beautiful. At the bottom it says "Weep not papa and mama for me for I am in heaven waiting for thee" I love it. 

This is her spot. In the background you can see a little bell. My boys call it her door bell and when we go visit we ring the bell to tell her we're here and then she comes to be with us. At first it was kind of just a special story to tell the boys but I don't know. I ring it when I am alone and I can tell you that I know I have felt her spirit very close. A bell for our Belle.

I plan on continuing to write on here for thoughts on Gracie and this experience but I think I am going to try to start writing on my old blog again. www.ejray.blogspot.com I have three crazy monkeys disguised as boys to think of after all.
Love, Emma

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Brave Like Gracie

I've been into reading lately. Little portable escape routes.

But reading pre-Gracie and reading post-Gracie feels different to me. Like I understand something there that I didn't before.

I love to write. It is a hobby and it helps me escape a little. But I've always struggled with protagonists. Specifically protagonists in tough situations. I could just never really get behind them emotionally. For example, in a lot of these hero stories, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, pick your poison, I would read about these protagonists who were the "key" to saving whatever world they had to save.

They were the only ones who could do it. And to me, I was like "come on! Buck up Harry! YOU are the chosen one so just do it!"

And when they were frustrated or reluctant I always thought, Well geez. It's for the greater good you know. Pull it together.

Call me insensitive. Call me immature. I probably was both and more.

But I feel like I get it now.

I was the chosen one. I was chosen to be Gracie's mother, to be the vessel that got her here and back to her Father in Heaven. And I can say that many times I didn't want to be. I didn't want to carry that ring to Mordor.

I would sometimes lay there at night with my husband and throw a tantrum like a five year old and just keep saying, "I don't want to do this. I don't want to be this. I don't want to do this!"

Sometimes I would hope I would miscarry. They told me every dang appointment I was going to. Please, just end it, I thought. Or can't this be happening to anyone else? ANYONE else?

But it wasn't. It was me. It was happening to me. It was my "quest".

And now she's safe and sound and things are returning to that quiet stability I once knew. And I feel different about life. I feel older, sure, but I feel stronger. I feel sad, but I feel great hope.

I guess I can see now that I am the protagonist of my story. And I will get discouraged and I will get beaten down but I feel like I can be brave now, something I had never really felt before.