Dreams & Rainbows

The night before Father’s Day I had a dream about my sweet Jackson. I’ve had a handful of dreams with him in them despite praying for them more frequently than they happen.  I dreamed that Jackson had not actually been dead this whole time, but asleep. We had realized we just needed to give him some medicine to help him stay awake and essentially, be alive. The feelings I felt in that dream were amazing; It was so vivid and real. I remember him looking right at me and beaming this beautiful smile and saying  “we figured it out mommy”. Then I woke up. I was crushed beneath the weight of his death all over. The eternal application I like to think about is that one day he will say that to me, and it will be true. It will not be a dream but our reality. We will be reunited and not separated again. That’s comforting to me, but I will say that the dream I had put me in a really hard, painful, emotional place for most of the week.

On the next weekend, I was driving with the boys to my parent’s house. My sister, her husband and my niece are visiting from Peru and we are having so much fun being together! The night before I left we had a huge storm with a lot of rain. On the drive I was thinking about the summer before Jackson died. It was the best summer we ever had all together. He felt really the best he ever had and Harry wasn’t so much of a baby so we were able to do a lot of fun things and make so many good memories. I was thinking about the time we went to play at the playground but it had stormed the night before so the playground was still really wet. Instead of playing on the playground, I told the boys they could just play in the puddles in the parking lot. They had so much fun!

 

 

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J with his beloved Fireman Sam firetruck

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That evening at my parents house, we were fixing dinner and we had a huge thunderstorm. At some point, we all ended up on my parent’s front porch watching the storm. The storm settled down after a few minutes and while I went inside for a minute, Harry ended up on the sidewalk in the rain. As I was coming back outside, August, my  almost 2 year old niece, joined Harry. That was hilarious because she had not experienced the rain that way and made the funniest faces as she got wet, but she loved it. Watching them play in the rain just made my day!

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Then a few minutes later the sun came out. I looked for a rainbow because it was still raining a little. I was delighted to see the biggest rainbow I’ve ever seen at my parents home. You can faintly see the double rainbow above it.

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I think I’ve said this before, but I can’t quite remember. I don’t really believe in coincidences like this. I believe they in God-made coincidences. How else would these things just fall into place like this randomly? God is good, and he loves us. God is kind, and he comforts us. This was just what my heart needed after a week full of grieving.

Thank you, Abba.

Jackson died 5 days before his 5th birthday, Feb 23rd. I’m honestly glad the two dates are within the same week. That way we only have one really hard week instead of having his death anniversary and then a birthday too. We grieved our loss of him on the 19th, but we celebrated him on the 23rd. Harry and I picked out two balloons to “send to Heaven”. I don’t know where those balloons really end up, but it was cathartic. Sweet Harry truly believes they made it all the way to Heaven, to Jackson. Harry also blew several kisses to Heaven & told me he knew that Jackson caught them. Sweet, sweet brother. After we let the balloons go and right before we went inside I looked up one more time. Instead of the balloons, I saw an airplane. Of course I started to tear up. I’ve written about airplanes before, in One Year. Jackson and I loved to sit on our front porch staring up into the night sky looking and listening for airplanes.

 

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Ballons we let go on Jackson’s Birthday

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I picked out the firetruck since that was one of Jackson’s favorite things

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The day Jackson died, we made his birthday cake. He really enjoyed baking and loved putting the ingredients together. He was really good at cracking eggs! That cake has been in my freezer for two years now. I couldn’t stand to get rid of it. Sometimes I would feel frustrated because it was in the way and sometimes I would just look at it and cry. I decided I was ready to deal with it this year. I find that in grief it’s helpful to not rush things in regards to dealing with sentimental items. One day I decided I was ready to empty Jackson’s drawers of all his clothing. It was kind of spur of the moment, but it felt right. I boxed them up, smelled the clothes, and cried. It felt right.

Can you find the cake? I got it out and I still wasn’t sure what to do with it. Jackson was cremated so it’s not like I have a gravesite I could take it to. So I decided to take a picture of it with his angel statue I have in our garden.

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7 candle

 

We celebrated Jackson’s birthday by eating his favorite snack and making a new cake with his favorite cake/icing.

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This is what the cake looked like when I got it out of the oven. See the “7”. Cool, huh?

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We sang Happy Birthday to Jackson and Harry blew out the candle.

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Happy 7th Birthday to you Jackson! We love you and miss you!

There is a clock that we live by.
It’s there ticking on the wall or on a wrist or bed side table.
There is the clock that tells us when to get up, when to leave, when to stay, when to eat, sleep, drink, exercise, when to work and when to play.
There is the clock that guides us from one moment to the next, from one day to the next. It steer us to some degree. Keeps us on track, on time, on schedule.

Then there is the clock that started when you stopped.

That is the clock that ticks for me now. It doesn’t seem to sync with the other clocks that surround me. It keeps imperfect time, the alarm going off in unexpected places and at unexpected times. I can’t seem to set this clock or control its hours. It wakes me when sleep should be here and tells me to lay down when there is so much to do.

I don’t know how to keep time with this clock or to tell others what time it is either. Is it crying time? Or quiet time? Is it time to seem normal and fine? Is it hide in the shower and scream time? Or calmly read to the kids as if nothing has happened time?

I don’t know how to tell when it is a right time to do the right thing or say the right thing or feel the right thing.

This is the clock that grief built. It ticks in a rhythm that has no beat and its sound is of tears hitting the table top. It keeps imperfect time, makes no sense yet it is the clock that suits me the best right now and I have a hard time reading any other timepiece. Others around me can’t understand this clock but that is only because they live in a different time zone than me. A time zone where grief doesn’t exist. A time zone where I once lived.

This is the clock that started when you died. And until this clock stops ticking or I can find a way to return to the time zone I once lived in, I will just have to learn how to understand this new time, this new rhythm, this new pace my life has taken. And know that in each tick of this time . . . there is you.

-unknown

 

 

 

Jackson Eli Hewitt

February 23, 2011-February 19, 2016

Happy Two Year Anniversary in Heaven, my love. I miss you every day. One day we will be together again. I love you my sweet Jackson.
i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart)
i am never without it

Family Photo

I always wanted that traditional family photo after having my babies in the hospital. You know, the one where the mom is holding the new baby in the hospital bed with doting dad with his arms around them both? Then I would add siblings to the photo someday with their “big brother or sister” shirt.

Jackson was whisked away from me as he was born at 36 weeks so the doctors could make sure he was ok. Although we got to hold him the night he was born, he ended up in the NICU before we could get that picture. Instead, we took a celebratory picture of the day he came home.

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So I thought with Harrison we would get that picture, and it would be extra cute because we would have big brother Jackson with us this time. Harrison and I were healthy, there was no NICU involved, but big brother Jackson was NOT getting into that hospital bed with me. By 2 1/2 he had already been through so much medically he was scared to sit with me. Not to mention, the night before Harrison was born Jackson had completed his first IVIG at home so when he saw my IV in my arm he was afraid to get near any kind of tubes. The day Harrison came home, Jackson did decide to sit with me when my IV was out for just a minute or two and we were able to snap a few photos, but Chris was behind the camera.

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So with Kellan, I was going to get my picture! But I knew it would be bittersweet from the beginning because our Jackson was not going to be in this photo with us. Kellan went straight to the NICU about 2 minutes after he was born and was there for 69 days, so no traditional family photo for us. Instead, we got one in his NICU, E Pod-Room #35.

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I thought we might get a picture on the front porch similar to the one with Jackson (and we do have one with Harry coming home somewhere!), but it was cold & raining so we hurried inside. My heart winced a little thinking we didn’t get a picture.

My life looks nothing like what I thought it would be. Life hasn’t been easy for us in so many ways. I could focus on all the sad, tragic and completely unfair things that have happened. Completely honest, there are some days I do. I don’t understand why Jackson had to die or why Kellan had to be born so early and all the struggles that created. It’s important to grieve Jackson and to give myself permission to even grieve the things in my life that didn’t turn out the way I would have liked. If I stayed in that mindset, if I dwelled on those things, I would certainly miss out on the blessings that I do have. So somedays when I feel despair, I allow it. Then I get up, wipe my face off, and find the joy in my life, because it is there.

*I got {5 days short of} 5 years with the blue eyed, blonde haired Jackson who made me a mommy. I cherish the memories of the special days that were filled with just me and him. He loved to paint and to bake with me. He taught me so many things in his short life that I will carry with me all of my days. Above all, I’m thankful that he is in God’s safekeeping. Of course, I’d rather him be with me but he is where I wanted him to be ultimately. Although it breaks my heart pretty much daily, knowing he is with God gives me peace.

*I have my rambunctious, silly, and super sweet Harrison. This boy is so hilarious, and he keeps ups laughing and on our toes constantly. I got to witness the precious love between him and Jackson that really does make me smile . His antics and snuggles kept me grounded after Jackson’s death. Despite the reason why, I’m thankful that we also have had almost two years of time of just me and him. I love his love for music and dancing. I’m excited to see what life holds for this guy!

*I have our newest babe, Kellan. Before a new baby is born it’s hard for me to see how they will fit into our family, but now I can’t imagine our life without him! I’m in love all over again. He’s so snuggly and I’m excited to do all the new baby things again (minus the not sleeping part). I’m so excited to watch the love develop between him and Harrison. His new life brings us a slight redemption from grief, if you will. He is a most precious gift!

I have Chris, my husband, my ultimate teammate for life.  To say we’ve had a lot of stress in the 10 years we’ve been married would be an understatement. It’s not always easy and we don’t always get along perfectly. However, we love each other, we are committed to each other, our family, and the Lord. I cannot imagine life without him!

I have my family. My family is completely self-less when it comes to helping us, supporting us and loving us. I don’t take them for granted ever. Also, I have my little sister who I can talk to about anything and everything with. She is so loyal, wise and funny!

I have my friends. I have the BEST friends! Seriously! I have so many great friends in my life, old & new, close by & far away. I have friends who love Harry & Harry loves too and I am so, so thankful for them & their relationship with me & our family. I have a really special group of 5 girls that I have been friends with for over 20 years. We group chat almost daily (thank you facebook messenger) about things great and small that keeps me halfway sane.

I have my church. Our church family is so important to us and they feed us spiritually so much. The support we receive from our church is extraordinary. I don’t know how people go through life without their church family!

I have an ever faithful God. He is unchanging in the world of chaos. I know that no matter what I have gone through and will go through that he stays the same, a loving & forgiving father, Abba. He gives me strength, love, blessings, and ultimately, eternity with him in Heaven.

So if I have all that, is a traditional family photo really what I needed?

 

Kellan Liel

So we have had some major life changes since I last wrote. To call it a whirlwind would be an understatement! Our third son, Kellan Liel Hewitt, was born early on November 29, 2017 at 30 weeks & 2 days old!

 

So the Wednesday before Thanksgiving I woke up feeling really crummy. I was going to take Harry to get his hair cut, but couldn’t muster the energy to leave the house. Who knew a week later our little Kellan would be born?! I was in the hospital Thanksgiving Day for monitoring and then again Friday night to Sunday to try to get my blood pressure stable. Monday I had some doctor appointments. By that point I had been diagnosed with mild preeclampsia and was told to be on a modified bedrest. However, I woke up Tuesday morning and took my blood pressure (the other part of preeclampsia I had to monitor), and it was ridiculously high. I called the OB, and they wanted me to come in. Between Monday evening and Tuesday morning the protein in my body (one of the other parts of preeclampsia) had skyrocketed and my blood pressure was no longer stable. I was transferred from Martha Jefferson Hospital to UVA because of Kellan’s gestational age & their NICU capabilities that Tuesday evening. Once preeclampsia becomes severe, there is no benefit to either the mother or baby to prolonging the pregnancy so they starting inducing me sometime early on Wednesday morning. Our sweet little boy was born at 10:38pm on Wednesday night. It all happened so quickly and still feels a little surreal that I had him!

Being pregnant and preparing for a baby after losing a child was much more difficult than I anticipated. The anxieties and fears were more magnified than in my other pregnancies. My worst fear was that either myself or the baby would die. My second worst fear was that I would have complications that would harm the baby. So if you can imagine, getting diagnosed with preeclampsia at 29 weeks was terrifying. I was very scared once I was transferred to UVA because it was all becoming real that I was going to deliver a 30 week old baby. Not to mention, I felt terribly sick from the preeclampsia and the medication given to me to prevent seizures. I was so swollen that I couldn’t even grip my phone or respond to any text messages and my vision was blurry so that didn’t help either.

Being induced, especially so early, can often take a long time. I was lucky it only took 18 hours or so from beginning to end. It was actually a slow process until a doctor broke my water at 6 cm and within 10 minutes of breaking my water, little Kellan was born. Those ten minutes were the some of the scariest moments of my life. The nurse had a hard time monitoring his heart beat externally and his heartbeat had started to decrease meaning he was in distress. The doctor was trying to some kind of doppler on his head, but the nurse couldn’t find the right cord for it and was kind of frantically looking for it. All during this time I knew he was in some distress and I was kind of panicking. I realized during all of this time I was feeling the pressure to push and with the next contraction and two tiny pushes, he was born crying! I kept asking Chris if he was ok and Chris just kept saying “yes, he is crying, he’s ok” but I remember asking him several times anyway. Then I kept asking if I was ok. I was worried about hemorrhaging like I did with Harry, but I was ok too. 🙂 Kellan had a NICU team of about 7 or 8 people working with him within a minute or two and I had about 4 working with me. It was kind of a crazy experience!

I got to go home on Friday. It was a little hard to leave our littlest buddy, but I know he is in great hands. The UVA NICU docs, nurses, and staff have all been so wonderful. Jackson was in the NICU at Martha Jefferson for a week after he was born, and as a first time mom it was all very sad and traumatic having to be home without him.  My perspective has definitely changed now and having Kellan in the NICU is a little sad and a little stressful at times, but ultimately I’m just thankful that he is alive, has access to all his health care needs, and is growing well. We are planning on him being there until his due date of Feb. 5th & if he does well, we *might* get to bring him home before that. I’m sure in a year his NICU stay will be a distant memory.

Chris & I agreed on the name Kellan when I was around 9 weeks pregnant, before we even knew he was a boy. THAT is a miracle in and of itself! I threw out a few names, and we both liked Kellan. I half held my breath during my pregnancy because we don’t normally agree on a name so effortlessly. Of course, we had our own ideas about how to spell Kellan and I won’t tell you whose spelling one but it wasn’t Chris’s. hehe We had thought about using Davis for a middle name, my maiden name. We kind of liked it and I guess we were waiting for him to be closer to being born before we decided completely.  The night before Kellan was born, Chris wrote on a piece of napkin “Kellan Liel”. Liel is pronounced “Lee-El”. I was kind of confused because we had kind of decided on Davis. During my pregnancy, I had looked at several names trying to find one with a special meaning. Because Kellan is a special  baby boy. If Jackson had not passed away, we would not know our little Kellan. I wanted a spiritual name that reflected that sentiment, but I couldn’t find anything I really liked. I didn’t even tell Chris about that because we had already decided on his name, and I didn’t have any other options to share. I know it was God’s handiwork when Chris shared with me what the name Liel means. Chris looked up some names meaning “God’s gift/blessing” and he found Liel. It has origins in Hebrew and it means “God gave me” or “God’s present/gift”. Further research showed us that it was a name with this associated story “My brother was born against all odds, but very ill, so my mother decided to call him LiEl.” Also, Jackson’s middle name was Eli and Liel is somewhat similar so I liked that. And so, Kellan meaning “mighty warrior” Liel meaning “God’s present” was named!

We have a long road ahead of us with visits to the NICU, but I’m thankful that UVA is only about 40 minutes away, and we are able to go visit and hold our baby each day. We have been showered with so much love and support from so many friends, old and new! So thank you for everything you’ve done for us and thank you for all the prayers on our behalf!

 

 

“That’s just something I’m going to have to deal with the rest of my life. The happiest moments will also be a little sad” -This Is Us

I know some of you watch the TV show “This Is Us”. The characters are all pretty relatable in different ways as they navigate their messy lives. I just catch up with it when I can and let me tell you the last episode I watched really got me.

Holidays and special days, like Halloween, are hard for me. It’s so much fun to experience things with Harrison and watch him have a great time, but it’s always sad to because Jackson is painfully missing. Lately I have been thinking about how amazing it will be to welcome our new baby boy into our family, but again, one piece of our family will not be there. And it’s so true, the happiest moments of my life are also going to be  sad, too. Besides just missing Jackson that is just about one of the hardest issues with learning to live without your child. It’s been on my mind a lot the last week probably in anticipation of Halloween.  I’m not even into Halloween all that much, but it’s just another day with its painfully obvious we are missing our biggest buddy.

Sometimes I feel guilty that I feel a little sad on fun days because I feel like it’s not fair to Harrison. So as we enter in our second “holiday season” without Jackson, I just pray that I can be fully present with Harrison and enjoy so many fun things with him, as well as, allowing myself to grieve and miss Jackson when I need to knowing it’s all ok to feel both happy and sad. That’s just life.

 

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Our last Halloween with Jackson. 2015
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Halloween 2017

Battle

The summer has been a battle for me. I can’t say that I expected it nor did I realize the struggles were an attack until now that I am on the other side. Depression, anxiety, pregnancy and even grief have all oppressed me. I have recently started a bible study of the satan and of evil. At first, I was hesitant to think about or study the subject because it’s a little scary. However, the more I thought about it I realized it’s hard to fight something that maybe I am not viewing as evil or from the satan. My enemy, your enemy, the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour! Revelations says that our enemy is “filled with fury because he knows his time is short”.  I imagine our enemy like a lion, prowling, whispering words of sadness, guilt, shame, self doubt into our ears in such a way that it will devour us. He plants one little thought in our mind and we can do the rest of the damage ourselves!

I am guilty of asking “God, where were you?” when bad things have happened to me or around me. Although this last year and a half I struggled more with knowing God is near to me, but not understanding why he has let things happen the way they have. I’ve realized I might need to be asking “where was the devil?” instead. I know where God is and it’s the same place he always has been and always will be. Near to me, loving me, and waiting for me to come to Him.  I’m not saying that I think the devil did/did not have anything to do with Jackson’s death. I don’t understand why Jackson died at such an early age and I probably never will while I’m on this earth. However, I don’t doubt for one second that the devil didn’t delight in my pain and try to use it to turn me away from God. However, Jackson’s death has made me feel closer to God that ever. Satan knows this so he tried other tactics such as depression and anxiety while I was already super vulnerable, struggling with the ceaseless morning sickness and vomiting. Whispering to me endless concerns and fears for my unborn child and for my own health, feelings of guilt, and of hopelessness. Even turning my grief over Jackson into something I could not and refused to face at times.

I felt like I was fading into this shell of a person. I was miserably sick and didn’t have a lot of energy to do the things that I enjoy. I never consciously pulled away from God although I know that there were times I didn’t have energy to pray. I was kind of wallowing at times honestly. I prayed for God to take away my sickness, but I also spent a lot of time just dwelling on how miserable I was, how hopeless I was to make it to the end of this pregnancy. Just as the pregnancy sickness started to subside, depression and anxiety increased leaving me in a very gloomy place.

Then about 6 weeks ago, I took some steps to help myself and started to emerge from underneath it all. I am slowly getting back to a better place. It’s not been the easiest but I do feel like I’m making progress. I am trying to enjoy being pregnant instead of just thinking of it as a miserable means to an end. It’s not always easy. Pregnancy after child loss is a whole other beast I could write about. My depression has eased and some of my anxieties have lessened. I really think that the more I acknowledge that those things *could* be from satan the more I feel inclined to defeat it. And he has already been defeated so I know I can do it with God’s help!

I have written and re-written this blog post many times. I really felt it on my heart to share about the struggles I’ve had, but am apprehensive to put it all out there at the same time. If you and I were in person and this came up, I would most likely tell you all about this and in more detail, but it’s weird writing and not knowing exactly who is reading this. So I’m just going to be brave and put it out there anyway. My hope is that in some way it can encourage someone, support someone, and ultimately help.  I know that the satan will use all the tools in his arsenal to defeat us and it’s ok to acknowledge he does have power. However, even with all his power he IS NOT and WILL NEVER BE all-powerful like our loving father and Lord!