Staying High

 

staying-high

Labor Day 2016

Wednesday, January 25, 2017 marked one year since I both said ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ to my newborn son, Izzy, and what a year it’s been. My family will be walking and fundraising for the March of Dimes March for Babies again this year in Izzy’s honor, therefore, here I am starting a blog series on the lessons I’ve learned and the encouragement I have to offer one year post infant loss. I’ve had highs and lows, but most importantly, I’ve grown and learned to keep pressing on through it all.

 

One of the key truths I’ve learned over the past year is that life is both the pain and the joy, the despair and the hope, the tears and the laughter—all of it is entwined and it’s impossible to have one without soon having the other. Somebody once said that if you never have the valleys, you won’t know what the mountaintop feels like. Every day that I find myself smiling or laughing, I’m in awe of the glory of God and the mysteries of life because I remember days when I thought I would never be able to smile or laugh again.

One of my favorite songs right now is “Stay High” by Jonathan McReynolds. Bruh has helped get me through the storms this year. After a friend invited me to see him live, I’ve been hooked on his music. Let me know what you think in the comments!

My family and I will be walking in the March of Dimes March for Babies on Sunday, April 30, 2017 in honor of our angel. We’d love for you to donate to our campaign! Any amount no matter how small may help other families of premature infants. Click here and know that we’re so thankful for you!

 

Faith as the Ultimate Optimism

“He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.” Psalm 112:7

 

Sometimes it’s hard to remain optimistic—at least for me. One of my heart’s desires has always been to have at least 4 kids. I’m an only child who grew up wishing there was a sibling around that could relate to what it was like growing up in my household; I wanted someone I could say “Mommy [or Daddy] is crazy” and they would understand exactly what I was talking about! Even though, it’s too late for me on the sibling front, I want my daughter to have siblings that she can grow up with. After having each pregnancy after my daughter ending in miscarriage or infant loss due to a rare birth defect, for no apparent health-related reason, I began to wonder if it’s worth it to continue hoping or trying for the vision that I’ve always had for my family. It’s hard to not be afraid of bad news when I even consider trying to have another baby and I imagine for anyone else who feels like God is rejecting or, at the very least, delaying your heart’s desire that it is hard for you too.

Whether it’s just a central topic of Christian thought or because it’s the Holy Spirit at work, probably both, it seems like every sermon I hear talks about how God uses suffering and challenging circumstances to develop and refine us into the people we are meant to be, using our pain and trials to make us more like Him. No matter how many times I hear this, I still need to hear it over and over again until this truth marinates inside of me and replaces my anxiety with peace.

I’ve come to realize that maintaining faith that God is good, that He desires a bright future for me, and that all things really do work together for good is the ultimate form of optimism–and this is the type of optimism I seek when doubts enter my mind. For anyone else of faith that finds it hard to consistently believe that good things are to come despite past disappointments, here are some of the verses that I lean on when I need a refill on faith-based optimism:

When I get stuck on, why did/is this happening?

 “And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” John 9:2-3

Is God still good? Does He still love me?

“Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!” 1 Chronicles 16:34

What am I supposed to do with this pain?

“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” Romans 12:12

Will my feelings or circumstances always be this way?

 “Your righteousness, O God, reaches the high heavens. You who have done great things, O God, who is like you? You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again; from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again. You will increase my greatness and comfort me again.” Psalm 71:19-21

How do I find peace?

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” Isaiah 26:3

So…I’m definitely not a theologian and I’m a firm believer in doing your research on context when studying any Scripture, but the few above have helped me and continue to help me through many bleak moments and I hope they do the same for you. Selah.

 

Destiny

It’s 4 days until my husband and I will participate in the March of Dimes March for Babies in honor of the life and death of our son Izzy who passed away on January 25, 2016 due to bilateral renal agenesis, a fatal birth defect when a baby lacks kidneys. I’m pushing myself to write and post on the blog each day until the walk—some days a little and maybe some days a lot—in hopes of shedding light on issues like miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant loss so that other women who go through these types of things know that they’re not alone. Please share this post generously to spread awareness!

Destiny paragraph jakes

Currently reading, Destiny: Step into Your Purpose by T.D. Jakes to try to make sense out of my past, my present, and my hope for the future. I’ve never been into T. D. Jakes’ teachings and sermons as much as I have been during my current grief journey. Grateful for The Bishop.

My family and I would love for you to donate to our March for Babies campaign! Any amount no matter how small may help other families of premature infants. Click here and know that we’re so thankful for you!

Feelings and Actions

It’s 5 days until my husband and I will participate in the March of Dimes March for Babies in honor of the life and death of our son Izzy who passed away on January 25, 2016 due to bilateral renal agenesis, a fatal birth defect when a baby lacks kidneys. I’m pushing myself to write and post on the blog each day until the walk—some days a little and maybe some days a lot—in hopes of shedding light on issues like miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant loss so that other women who go through these types of things know that they’re not alone. Please share this post generously to spread awareness!

How you act quote td jakes

Feelings are important and must be acknowledged, but we all have those times when we know our feelings are contrary to what our head or our spirit tells us to do. Pretty much every time I write a post that’s deeply personal to me there’s a moment of hesitation before clicking “publish” or “share.” My feelings often tell me to keep my story to myself. It’s too precious to me. It’s too sacred to share with others that may only see it as entertainment or read it as something to gossip and snicker about. Yet, my spirit tells me that one of the reasons I went through the things that I’ve went through is to share my experience and what I’ve learned. Plus, there’s a boldness I feel now that I didn’t have before. Since I’ve been completely broken in spirit, there’s no where to go but up. People’s opinions won’t make or break me now because they won’t give me back what I’ve lost. Opinions are irrelevant and I definitely can’t cash them in at the bank.

It’s common for many women who’ve experienced miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss to feel like they are to blame in some way, like they’re inadequate, or like they have failed. There is nothing wrong with you, but everything right with you. Your heart has been broken, but it’s still beating and it’s stronger than its ever been. My encouragement to you is to share your story if you feel led to do so by some force that you can’t name. You may never feel like you are ready, but more than likely you will find greater peace if you release any shame you feel about your situation. Bad things happen to everyone and there is nothing you’ve done to deserve losing your baby. Choose to act on faith rather than not acting because of how you feel because you just might help someone else mend their heart as well.

My family and I would love for you to donate to our March for Babies campaign! Any amount no matter how small may help other families of premature infants. Click here and know that we’re so thankful for you!

No Sleeep

It’s 6 days until my husband and I will participate in the March of Dimes March for Babies in honor of the life and death of our son Izzy who passed away on January 25, 2016 due to bilateral renal agenesis, a fatal birth defect when a baby lacks kidneys. I’m pushing myself to write and post on the blog each day until the walk—some days a little and maybe some days a lot—in hopes of shedding light on issues like miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant loss so that other women who go through these types of things know that they’re not alone. Please share this post generously to spread awareness!

Unfortunately, I’m not about to write about the good kind of “No Sleeep” that Janet Jackson sings about in her song. My “No Sleeep” started the night that my newborn son died. The night that Izzy passed, I cried myself to sleep and slept for about 3 or 4 hours before I woke up again to cry and stare out of my hospital window. I could see Lake Michigan and I remember thinking how strange it was that the sun was coming up and the world was still going after everything that just happened. It’s been hard to sleep ever since that night.

Once I came home from the hospital, I was only able to sleep for a few hours at a time before waking up and staring into the darkness of my bedroom. Sometimes I could let out a good cry and go back to sleep, but other times I would just lay in bed with my eyes closed and my mind racing. A week from today will be 3 months since he was born and passed away and I still find myself feeling like a zombie most days because I’m not getting nearly as much sleep as I need to feel my best.

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Me, sleep-studying in college during my senior year

There are some people, like my husband for example, who are still able to thrive with very little sleep. He’s so used to being tired that for him it’s almost a nonissue. But I on the other hand have always been a person that needed at least 7-8 hours in order to have enough energy to even say “Good Morning” to someone without having an attitude. I’ve always not only needed sleep to feel ready to handle the day, but I’ve always just loved sleep. It was one of my favorite things to do. It was also a refuge for me when I was going through hard or stressful situations. I took so many naps in college after my Dad died from cancer that I wish napping was a major because I would’ve graduated summa cum laude. But this time, I can’t sleep away my grief. There’s this anxious feeling in the pit of my stomach that keeps me up even when I’m on the brink of exhaustion.

 

Grief itself is exhausting. Of course, grief affects every person differently. However, for me and for many other people from what I’ve read/heard, grief can physically wear you out. The pain of loss can feel like a weight that you carry around 24/7 without any relief and it just makes you tired—weary really. One of the toughest things about this is it’s when I’m the most tired that the sadness and pain of grief seems the most overwhelming. It’s hard to stand under the weight of it all mentally, when I’m physically void of energy.

Through it all, I’m trusting in God that I will get through this and for those of you that may be having your own physical or mental struggles from grief, I’m praying the same for you.

My family and I would love for you to donate to our March for Babies campaign! Any amount no matter how small may help other families of premature infants. Click here and know that we’re so thankful for you!

Love

It’s 12 days until my husband and I will participate in the March of Dimes March for Babies in honor of the life and death of our son Izzy who passed away on January 25, 2016 due to bilateral renal agenesis, a fatal birth defect when a baby lacks kidneys. I’m pushing myself to write and post on the blog each day until the walk—some days a little and maybe some days a lot—in hopes of shedding light on issues like miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant loss so that other women who go through these types of things know that they’re not alone. Please share this post generously to spread awareness!

This past weekend was rough emotionally. The gray skies and cold rain here in Chicago mimicked how I felt inside. I questioned how Izzy could be taken from me so soon when I felt such an overwhelming love for him. Every parent of an angel wonders how it’s possible to have lost a child that you would gladly trade your own life for when there are so many parents in the world that have child after child that they don’t want. It’s a question that I’m sure has been asked since the world began.

After taking time to sit in my pain, I began to think of how my love for Izzy must be shallow in comparison to the love that our Father in heaven has for His children. I love Izzy not because of anything he did or didn’t do, but simply because of who he was—my son. To think that God loves me simply because of who I am and to think that His love is perfect and complete unlike human love is too much for my mind to handle. It’s a love that comforts us in a way that no one else can. It’s a love that strengthens us when we feel like we cannot go on. It’s a love that allows us to hurt so that we can become who we are meant to be. Thank God for that level of love.

My family and I would love for you to donate to our March for Babies campaign! Any amount no matter how small may help other families of premature infants. Click here and know that we’re so thankful for you!

I Wanted an Abortion

It’s 16 days until my husband and I will participate in the March of Dimes March for Babies in honor of the life and death of our son Izzy who passed away on January 25, 2016 due to bilateral renal agenesis, a fatal birth defect when a baby lacks kidneys. I’m pushing myself to write and post on the blog each day until the walk—some days a little and maybe some days a lot—in hopes of shedding light on issues like miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant loss so that other women who go through these types of things know that they’re not alone. Please share this post generously to spread awareness!

On a Wednesday afternoon in January, a day before turning 31 weeks pregnant, I found myself on the telephone talking to a lady at an abortion clinic in Boulder, CO about how much it would cost to get an abortion.

This is worth writing about because I never wouldn’t imagined that I would seriously consider getting an abortion despite the fact that I have always been pro-choice. I never imagined this primarily because my faith tells me that every life has a purpose.

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

-Psalm 139:13-16 (ESV)

In my darkest moments, I clung to the fact that I wasn’t an accident. So how could there not be a purpose for the short life of this baby in my womb?

But, I was weary. And while the situation itself—knowingly carrying a baby with the 99% chance that it would not live apart from me—was torture enough, I was told that I had to find a new doctor and delivery hospital. This in itself wasn’t terribly bad, except that the doctors and hospitals that my OB recommended were not in my insurance network. So I was left on my own to find not only a doctor and hospital that my insurance would accept, but a doctor that would accept me. I called countless doctor offices in my insurance directory only to be told that they would not take me on as a patient. I was high-risk and too far along. I felt abandoned and alone–like the medical community (and the world really) washed its hands of my baby. I wondered if I should too.

Before the telephone call to the abortion clinic, I questioned if I could take any of it anymore. I was tired of people looking at my stomach and congratulating me. I felt like I had nothing to celebrate. I was tired of people asking if I was having a boy or a girl because I didn’t know. I didn’t know not because I wanted to be surprised, but because there was too little amniotic fluid to tell from an ultrasound. I was tired of people asking if I was excited because I was depressed. I was tired of people saying how great of a big sister my daughter would be because I knew that she would never get to grow up alongside this baby in my womb. I was angry and frustrated from being rejected by doctors and receiving conflicting information from the insurance company. It was all finally too damn much.

But when the lady over the phone told me it would cost at least $17,500 for the abortion, I just broke down and cried. I cried because I felt completely helpless and lost. I cried out of anger at the state of Illinois for not allowing abortion after 24 weeks.* I cried because I didn’t really want an abortion and felt guilty for even considering it. Every night I felt this baby kicking around inside of me even though it barely had amniotic fluid to move around in. How could I think about intentionally ending its life? It was a fighter and I knew I should be fighting as well.

IMG_0129Not long after that Wednesday afternoon, everything fell in place with the doctor, delivery hospital, and with the insurance. Less than 3 weeks after that Wednesday afternoon, as if feeling that it was ok to get out of his cramped little home, my little man introduced himself and I was in love. And grateful that I finally got to meet him and that I stuck it out.

I don’t say any of this to pass judgement on any woman that chooses to terminate a pregnancy due to a fatal birth defect. I know that it was better for me that I continued the pregnancy, but I know that for some women abortion would’ve seemed like the better option—whether it’s for work-related reasons, financial concerns, or simply for the sake of their mental health! It’s one of those experiences that you can’t really explain to someone that hasn’t gone through it, like most situations relating to pregnancy and childbirth when things don’t happen like they do in a Pampers commercial. No matter your decisions, I want you to know that you’re not alone.

 *In Illinois, you can’t terminate a pregnancy after the fetus is considered viable outside of the womb (around 23-24 weeks) unless continuing the pregnancy puts the mother’s life/health at risk. Many pregnant women don’t find out that their baby has bilateral renal agenesis until their mid-pregnancy ultrasound (usually around 20 weeks pregnant).

My family and I would love for you to donate to our March for Babies campaign! Any amount no matter how small may help other families of premature infants. Click here and know that we’re so thankful for you!

Guest Post: Pink Letter by Aaron Miles

It’s 17 days until my husband and I will participate in the March of Dimes March for Babies in honor of the life and death of our son Izzy who passed away on January 25, 2016 due to bilateral renal agenesis, a fatal birth defect when a baby lacks kidneys. I’m pushing myself to write and post on the blog each day until the walk—some days a little and maybe some days a lot—in hopes of shedding light on issues like miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant loss so that other women who go through these types of things know that they’re not alone. Please share this post generously to spread awareness!

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Tonight I decided to give my wife a break and contribute to her daily post leading up to the March of Dimes walk. Although I struggled to find a topic, I decided to talk about my wife and how she is such an inspiration to me.

I was fortunate enough to meet Carla during my senior in college. I was finishing up my last semester at UIC and when I was invited to attend the UIC fashion after party at Harold Washington Culture Center. My best friend Elijah was meeting a friend at the party and he wanted me to go and play third wheel. To be completely honest, the party was boring and lame (do they still use that word 🙂 ) I stood there looking at my phone and updating my Facebook status. It was not until the end of the party that something got my attention. Elijah hooked up with the friend he came to meet and she happen to bring her friend, which was Carla. Sitting in this Toyota corolla, was this beautiful fair skinned woman that I had to meet. I approached the driver side of the window and introduce myself in my deep voice. “Hi, my name is Aaron”. She cited her name was Carla. We fell immediately fell into a lively conversation about each other.  What really struck me about the conversation was that she was extremely intelligent and engaging. She was well-versed in politics, faith, music, and understanding her dreams. I realize then that I made a right choice in going to that party that night. We decided to exchange numbers and coordinate a date.

As I finished my last semester, we connected time to time over text message and email. It wasn’t until early summer after graduation that I decided to ask her out on a date. I picked her up on a Saturday afternoon and went out on the town. What really struck me was how vested she was in me and liking me for who I was. I coined that summer “Black Summer nights” In our honor of our favorite album that year by Maxwell. It was summer, in which I really felt alive and at peace with someone that really cared for me. I was finally with someone who wanted to love me for who I was. With the financial crisis 2008, finding a job was very difficult. Majority of the summer, I struggled and battled to find work. I remember Carla was on a study abroad trip in London, England and she sent me a letter on Facebook encouraging me and that better days will be ahead. I remember her texting me before countless job interviews and giving me a dose of hope. She always has and will continue to support me in my endeavors.

After a couple of years, we decided to get married. As I look back on this day, I realize that I found the greatest thing that ever happen to me. Carla means so much to me in my life. She is a wonderful wife and goes above and beyond the call for duty. She does such a fantastic job caring for our 2 year old daughter as well as her 29 year old husband 🙂 The most powerful vowel is for better and for worse. Carla and I has shared our moments of triumphs and tragedy. The loss of Israel, was a tragedy that is very difficult to overcome. Through it all, we learn to continue to get closer to God and each other. It is our divine order to become stronger, wiser, and better in God. Overall, I appreciate the journey with Carla and look forward to continue to the travel the roads less traveled with the love of my life.

My family and I would love for you to donate to our March for Babies campaign! Any amount no matter how small may help other families of premature infants. Click here and know that we’re so thankful for you!

About Falling Apart

It’s 18 days until my husband and I will participate in the March of Dimes March for Babies in honor of the life and death of our son Izzy who passed away on January 25, 2016 due to bilateral renal agenesis, a fatal birth defect when a baby lacks kidneys. I’m pushing myself to write and post on the blog each day until the walk—some days a little and maybe some days a lot—in hopes of shedding light on issues like miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant loss so that other women who go through these types of things know that they’re not alone. Please share this post generously to spread awareness!

There’s no avoiding it.

It may be after being on a motivational high all week. You may feel like you can conquer the world. You may feel like a true badass. You will refuse to be a tragedy. For 13 weeks you managed to carry a baby in your womb that you knew would die in your arms, if not before. You will pronounce yourself victorious because you have been through a type of hell on earth and survived. You will pat yourself on the back for being able to dream again instead of staring in the dark all night. You will declare yourself a survivor because your heart has been broken, but is still beating. You will praise God because you wanted to die, but found several reasons to live. You will tell yourself that you are the real M.V.P.

Then, out of nowhere, you will fall absolutely, ridiculously apart. Snot will run down into your mouth. Your eyes will be bloodshot. You will groan like a sick, old man on his death bed. You will hold your pillow desperate to hold your baby for a minute longer. You will want to crawl as far underneath a rock as humanly possible and completely disappear. You will feel like the trash at the very bottom of an Indiana landfill.

You will fall apart. And it’s ok.

“Rejoice not over me, O my enemy;
    when I fall, I shall rise;
when I sit in darkness,
    the Lord will be a light to me.”

                                 -Micah 7:8 ESV

My family and I would love for you to donate to our March for Babies campaign! Any amount no matter how small may help other families of premature infants. Click here and know that we’re so thankful for you!

Beloved

It’s 23 days until my husband and I will participate in the March of Dimes March for Babies in honor of the life and death of our son Izzy. I’m pushing myself to write and post on the blog each day until the walk—some days a little and maybe some days a lot—in hopes of shedding light on issues like miscarriage and infant loss so that other women who go through these types of things know that they’re not alone. Please share this post generously to spread awareness!

Israel=one who wrestles with God and man and prevails

David=beloved

 And He said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.” Genesis 32:28 (NKJV)

israel without hat memorial pic edited with name

Izzy’s name, Israel David, wasn’t decided upon until the day before he was born. Yet, the name fits him so perfectly. The doctors told us that there was a good chance that he wouldn’t be born alive at all because his condition, bilateral renal agenesis, caused very little amniotic fluid to surround him in the womb starting from the crucial period when his lungs were first developing, thus significantly stifling the growth and maturity of his lungs. Despite the odds, he fought with God and man just to briefly say “hello” to us on January 25, 2016–his grandma’s birthday of all days! We thank God that our “beloved” came to be with us even if just for a little while. This experience has shown me that every life is invaluable no matter how long it lasts.

My family and I would love for you to donate to our March for Babies campaign! Any amount no matter how small may help other families of premature infants. Click here and know that we’re so thankful for you!