Thursday, June 26, 2014


Up until now, I have lived a pretty protected life. Bad things haven't really haven't to us, but now something unthinkable has happened and it is difficult to not be afraid of everything.  I have an anxiety disorder after Harry I had postpartum anxiety, but that is nothing like what I have felt in the last few weeks.

For the first time in my life, I am afraid of people. I am afraid to leave my house. The first day I was alone, I tried to go to the grocery store and had a panic attack. Yesterday, I saw a former colleague at Applebee's. We were hired together, she left just this past year and I found it impossible to have a conversation with her. I was sweating. It was clear that she didn't know about our miscarriage, and I was terrified for her to ask about future babies.  I have nightmares. I find my closest friends and families to be scary. I want to be normal, but am struggling to find a way out.

So, how do you solve a problem like crippling anxiety? How do you get back to a rational place? The place where your son's fever isn't a sign of imminent catastrophe, or you can have a conversation without feeling like time has slowed and stopped. First, you tell your spouse, then you go to the doctor. This is an instance where prescriptions have helped.  I can now leave my house, and I am not overly terrified of seeing people. I still have moments. I still feel overwhelmed. It is still a struggle to see a pregnant stranger or run across a newborn, but the edge is gone. Sanity is ensured. The wild eyed fear has calmed down.

How do I rationalize crippling anxiety with faith that God will take care of me? I don't. I recognize that anxiety is a lack of faith. Fear is a lack of faith. God offers peace that passes all understanding, he doesn't offer paralyzing anxiety and yet here I am. I am a weak human. I am not perfect. I am striving to be faithful. I am striving to have hope, but I am not always successful. That is ok.  All of this is an opportunity for God to do great things in me. Great things take time. "For it is God who works within in you to will and act in order to fulfill his good purpose" Phillipians 2:13

I have a lot of fear. I have a lot of anxiety. I need medication and counseling to deal with it, but that does not mean my faith is weak or God is not here for me. It means I am human, and I am having trouble faithfully embracing God's plan. I can only see the pebble, but God is crafting the mountain.  I am going to give myself some grace to be broken and take the time to allow God to heal me. Fear is temporary and it will not win. Faith is process of growth and time, and by faithfully allowing God to guide me to his plan I will find peace.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Learning to Breathe Again

A week ago, I was in a hospital knowing that my son was about to be stillborn and the world felt as if it was crashing down around us. Today, we decided to find a way to say goodbye. We were given time to say goodbye at the hospital, but we wanted to find a way that we controlled. The most frustrating part of all of this is how little we controlled. We couldn't stop our son's birth defect, we didn't control how much time we spent in ultrasounds, or when he would be born, the hospital staff was compassionate, but we didn't have any control over what happened there. I still remember the man who kept making jokes as we walked into pre-op. He had no idea why we were there, but every joke felt like a knife.

Today, with clearance from the doctor, we set off to Drift Creek Falls. For me, water is holy. River, ocean, or waterfall and I feel connected to God and the world in a way I don't anywhere else. The falls were beautiful, but I was struck by a small flower growing on the side of the falls. There, on the sheer face of the cliff, in a small crag grew a beautiful purple bell flower. It bloomed out of rock. There were no other flowers or plants around it. Its sheer survival was a miracle. Against all odds, this seed found a home in an inhospitable place. It fought to survive, and now blooms next to the monstrous force of the waterfall. I took it as a sign to keep hoping. If that flower can bloom there, God will help me find a way to bloom again too. 

When all of this started, we thought we would have a memorial, but we realized we weren't ready to share our chance of saying goodbye with others. Being in presence of a such glorious beauty, marveling at the wonder of Creator who can let a flower bloom from a cliff and manage a powerful and raging ocean, we were able to find the words we needed to say goodbye. We will still mourn, we are still working through, but today we got to say goodbye in our own way. I am thankful for that. I am thankful for my husband, who hiked down and back with me. I am thankful for a body that can heal and move. I am thankful to live in a place were awesome beauty is less than an hour away. I am thankful that I am slowly losing that numbness and learning how to breathe again. 

Breathing is hard and life still feels overwhelming, but I am holding onto the image of that flower, and following it's plan:"Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don't work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are."  I will continue to have faith and hope that God has us in his hands. No matter how sheer the cliff, no matter how powerful the roaring waterfall, we will find a way to bloom and grow. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Milk, Anger and Rejoicing

My milk came in Saturday night. Let me say that again, my milk came in Saturday night. It felt like a cruel joke. When Harrison was first born, I had to work for hours to literally create a drop of milk and I was engorged Saturday night. With no baby and some intense rage, I approached this situation with irrational stomping, uncontrollable crying, and general insanity. In the moment that I thought I was starting to get a handle on everything, I was reminded that I have a handle on nothing. Nothing. I am in charge of nothing. Though my body thinks it is going through all the steps of post delivery, I have nothing. There is no baby. My body figured out how to make milk and there is no baby. 

Following this glorious Saturday night came Sunday, or Father's Day. An entire day dedicated to celebrating fatherhood. My husband is an amazing father, but Sunday was too early for that. The urge to curl up and  hide was large in the Lindemann household. However, we decided to go out to eat. I am not sure why, maybe just to pretend like we were  normal? Maybe to avoid being the "sad" people? Maybe because if we don't make ourselves leave we will never leave? Dinner was awkward. I have forgotten how to have a normal conversation. The world kept moving while ours stopped. We came home and cried. 

This crying was a bit different, less mournful and more life sucks and I am angry. This could be because life does suck and I am angry. But wait, what about that last post about faith and God's plan? What was that about? How can life suck? You found peace in Christ! The truth is, I did find peace, and I continue to find peace, but faith is choice and it isn't always easy. Anger is easy. Rage is easy. Bitterness and jealousy are easy. Faith is hard. It is the hardest thing  I have ever done. Faith is choosing to turn to God and say "I am angry and bitter, and why did you make my milk come in?" Faith is stopping the rant in your head and breathing. Faith is reaching out to your partner and realizing their pain is just as deep. Faith is stopping to list the things you are thankful for when you are struggling to find something to be thankful for. 

I have been angry from the moment I realized there was no "miracle" coming my way. From the moment I saw that my son had no brain, a part of me has been very angry. Why would God do this? The day that I sat by the river and raged at God, I truly raged at him. I yelled and cried out loud, and in the midst of the yelling and crying a song came into my head. "Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice." Why? Why was this stupid song in my head? This was not a time for rejoicing, it still isn't a time. I don't want to rejoice. However, the song came again and again and again. It kept coming until I was sitting by the edge of river signing this song again and again. 

It made me feel better. Why? Why would I feel better? Romans 5:3-4 says " Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,". 
Rejoicing brings hope. I need hope. We need hope. Hope that this is going to get easier. Hope that our son's death wasn't an inconsequential thing. Hope that God's plan will prove to be the best. It is hard to have faith without hope, so therefore I find a way to rejoice. Rejoice in the Lord always, means always. I sing the song and suddenly I find something to actually be thankful for. Even it is just that someone brought me delicious white chocolate chunk cream cheese brownies. 

Saturday night my milk came in, and it felt like a cruel joke. I cried, I got angry, I was generally insane, and then I sat down and sang "Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice." I was once again the crazy lady. Last night, as I lay in bed and felt terrified about our slow return to "normal" life, and felt waves of anxiety at thought of two friends who love me dearly coming to stay with me-I didn't want them to think I was the "sad" friend, and I recognize the stupidity-I sang this song. I sang it until I fell asleep, and I felt hope. I will take all the hope I can get right now. 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Thoughts on a Week of Loss

1. Your whole life can change in 15 seconds. I thought that was cliche, but it is true. On Monday our world crashed in the time it took for the doctor to say "there is something wrong with his head." That was the phrase. We had gone in for a confirmation on the sex of the baby and my final DC med clearance, but we left heading to the hospital to confirm the worst of our fears. It took one minute to go from "It's a boy!" to "there is something wrong with his head." I forgot to breath, or to feel, or to know. All I could do was look at the screen and my baby sucking his thumb.

2. I hate the word Ancephaly, because it was took my son away. There is nothing you can do to stop it. It comes before you even know you are pregnant, and prevents the top of the skull from forming. By the time our doctor saw it his poor brain was gone, all but the stem had been washed away by the amniotic fluid.  Even if she had seen it sooner, we couldn't have stopped it. There is no cure and it is always fatal. I will hate that word and disease for the rest of my life.

3. I have never been so helpless. I couldn't stop what was happening, and I couldn't protect my son, and I couldn't protect my husband, and I couldn't save myself. I never understood hopelessness, until I found myself falling asleep and waking up crying.

4. Tuesday, I had a whole day to wait for doctors to confer and discuss, and Justin had to go to school. I walked Minto Brown for hours, and found myself sitting by the Willamette with my bible and my journal. I  always find it easier to connect with God in nature, perhaps it all those summer camps, but there I met and raged against God. I hated Him, and needed Him, and lost it all to Him. I came away knowing that God had known this before he formed me in my Mother's womb. I walked away choosing to faithfully believe that God's plan was better than mine and his love for my son was greater than mine.  I chose faith. Faith is not easy. I don't have what it takes to do this alone. I chose to ask God to do it for me. I gave my life, my son's life, and my family to Him. I cried out to him and he came to me. He has carried me all week.

5. I am eternally thankful for the kindness the OHSU staff showed us. From the first moment we entered the confusing maze of a hospital they treated us as if we were the only people there. They ordered more ultrasounds, which were agonizing and amazing, explained things in detail, answered all of our questions and never once pressured us towards any decisions. They gave us the best information they could and let us decide what was best for our family.  Once they confirmed that Teddy's diagnosis was correct, they gave us time to cry. No one rushed us or seemed annoyed. They treated us with such grace and kindness, that I felt truly cared for.

6. My LaCreole/Dallas family demonstrated an unprecedented amount of love for us. I have always believed my district was special, but this week proved to me that I have the kindest and most generous co-workers. From the cards, the meals, to the text messages, we were uplifted. A special thanks to Jared for taking on my classes, and being the communicator. I am proud to be blessed to work where I do.

7. Our family and friends loved us and grieved with us. They proved that distance can't defeat love and their support was and is so important. Mostly, we never felt alone or abandoned. To those of you who reached out to share your own stories about losing your child, Thank You. We cry with you.

8. I don't know what the next step is, or how I will feel tomorrow. At the moment I feel it all at once. Angry, sad, anxious, depressed, okay, my emotions are a pendulum. What I do know is that "the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness does not overcome it." John 1:5.  My son will never suffer, he will never know fear, or anger, or depression, or guilt, but he will know love, and peace, and eternal joy. He will know that he was made by a glorious God, who holds him close to his heart. I know that our goodbye isn't forever, and waiting a lifetime to hold him is a blink in eye of eternity.

9. Justin and I had big dreams for Teddy. Baby snuggles, and family pictures, Harrison teaching him his favorite songs, family road trips, first day of school, countless holidays and sunny summer days. My sons playing soccer in the backyard. Father & Sons camping trips, his first school dance, the first time he fell in love, high school graduation, deciding what he wanted to be. Being proud of the man he became, loving the person he chose to spend his life with, thrilled with our grandchildren. Safe in the knowledge that when we went, Harrison and he would have one another. You start dreaming these things the moment you know your baby is coming. They are hard to let go of.

10. I am nothing, but a weak and broken woman who is bringing her pain to her creator. Any peace I have found, any hope I can see, any love I can rest in comes from Christ. He has surrounded us with love this week. He has gently guided us, and carried us. He has used our community to remind us we have much to be thankful for and are not alone. He found moments to let us know that there is other suffering. Tuesday, a local high school was the center of a shooting and two families lost their sons to incomprehensible violence. We had a chance to say goodbye to our son. He wasn't ripped from us. We have heard stories of people who lost their baby and never knew why. They have no disease to hate, no clear answer. Most of all, unlike many couples who suffer the loss of a child, we came home to our first miracle. He still needed us to parent him, he didn't complain when we held him tighter, and kissed him longer, and when we least expect it he makes us laugh. Thank God, for Harrison. Thank God, for the short time we had with Teddy. Thank God, we got to say goodbye. Thank God, for such a loving husband, who held me while he broke. Thank God, for all who have lifted us up. Thank God, we don't have to do this alone. Thank God, for continuing to carry us.