First Easter

This will be our first Easter without our Addy Grace. I remember when she was born we didn’t even know if she would make it to her first Easter just weeks after her birth. After all she beat I really didn’t think last year was going to be our last one with her here. I miss her so much every single day, but when any holiday or special event rolls around it intensifies. Family pictures are hard to do, but we continue to do them. We have to keep living and making memories with those who are still with us. With every picture it’s more obvious that a piece of our family is missing and always will be, along with a piece of my heart until I join her in heaven.

I know many people can’t understand longing for heaven, but it’s ok and actually what we’re supposed to do (it doesn’t mean someone is suicidal or not living as fully as they can). We went to a retreat in Tennessee for couples who have “lost” a child (that would be in quotes since I know exactly where she is…there’s nothing about Addy that’s lost). It’s always hard and emotionally draining to share about when Addalyn died, but then to hear about other children as well who have gone on to heaven was exhausting. It was also an incredibly amazing weekend with couples who know how to continue enjoying life with a deep pain always following them. We were able to share our struggles that most of the world doesn’t quite understand and encourage one another in our faith. The isolation you feel after burying your child can be so hard. It helps to connect with others who know the heartache of living daily without their child. Someone shared the first part of this verse right before we left and I don’t remember hearing it before, but it’s now one of my favorites:

“It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart. Frustration is better than laughter, because a sad face is good for the heart. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure.” Ecclesiastes 7:2-4

I also thought it was very fitting for today since it’s Good Friday. I can’t even imagine the hopelessness and mourning that must have gone on right after Jesus died. They thought He came to save them in a very different way. But, I also can’t quite imagine the amount of joy when they saw Him after He was resurrected. I can’t wait for the day when I experience that joy, when I see my Savior and get to be with my baby girl again. As I continue to long for heaven and for the pain and heartache of this world to melt away, don’t worry about me and my mental or spiritual health. We should all be longing for that day. This world was not meant to satisfy us; it never can satisfy as Christ can. Our only purpose here is to point others to Christ and give Him the glory He deserves in everything, and that includes suffering.

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

Romans 5:3-4

Emotional Rollercoaster

We celebrated Addalyn’s 3rd birthday (first in heaven) this month with a 5k for Hope for Trisomy. This month is also Trisomy Awareness Month. A daily reminder (as if I needed that) that my baby girl isn’t here. I’m inundated by extra pics of Trisomy kids that are living this month and “beating the odds” and I so wish I was on that side of it still. I’ve connected with lots of new Trisomy moms because of Hope for Trisomy and have been able to help them in the first days of receiving a diagnosis, while still pregnant. I absolutely love talking to them and helping them get connected to other families, find resources, and locate doctors that are willing to help, but I also hate that I’m doing it from the experience of a mom who has buried her child. I want to be able to tell them that Addy just turned 3 and is doing amazing, but instead I share that she died at 26 months, which is still more hope than their doctors give, I just wish I could give more hope that their child will in fact live and thrive and that their child will be one of the ones to make it past that first year and beyond. But, the reality is that so many things can go wrong and take their baby from them, despite having doctors eager to help.

We’ve also decided to take the plunge into adoption this month. We were planning to foster to adopt before Addy died, but we’ve decided that will be too hard for our hearts at this point. I still want to do it, but I want to do it when I have a child at home that can’t be taken back to give to their family (because that’s what foster care is really about-giving parents time to get their act together so they can care for their own child). We did fertility treatments before deciding on this route, to see if having a biological child would be possible (using a donor since Jay is a carrier for T18), but after 4 attempts at IUI and IVF we’ve realized my body is done and we spent so much money that could have gone towards an adoption. But, I’m glad we tried, so I will never have those “what if” thoughts about it later. It’s hard to accept that I won’t get to be pregnant again or ever experience my child growing in me, but we have accepted that God’s plans for us are not always what we try to plan. While it’s upsetting, I also remember how sick I was almost the entire pregnancy with Addy and the fact that my c-section scar will always be a reminder of her only.

“You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.” Proverbs 19:21

I’m super excited about adopting and Addalyn still becoming a big sister. I’m looking forward to the day when there are the sounds of a child in our home again. With that also comes the daunting task of getting all the money we need together. It’s not cheap to adopt, but we’re committed and are praying for God to provide.

So, to say the past couple months have been an emotional rollercoaster is a drastic understatement. So many things to be excited about and so many things that bring me down too. It’s hard to find that balance and not be on an emotional high or low. But, I think this is just how life is going to be now. No matter how excited or what good may come, there’s always that deep sadness and heartache that comes along with it.

We so appreciate prayers as we embark on the adoption journey and as the one year of Addy’s death approaches (May 21).

If you would like to contribute to helping us bring another child into our family, we have a fundraising site that you can donate to. Www.youcaring/froehnerfour

Pity party for one

Some days I feel like I’m the only one who has struggle after struggle going on in my life. I know the devil likes to make me feel like I’m alone…and to be honest, he wins more than I’d like to admit.

My first blow of isolation came when Addy died and I had to bury my only child. The next one came about a month later when I found out I had nodules on my vocal cord and one vocal cord paralyzed- I was told it could be a tumor (after an MRI we found that it wasn’t s tumor causing it at least). The next blow was after I got a cyst on my ovary and after doing blood work found I will go through an early menopause (I’m 34). The most recent blow we found out today. Most people don’t know this, but before Addy died we were about to have a home study to foster to adopt, but after she died decided to put that off for now. We were going to attempt to conceive through fertility treatments (Jay is a carrier for Trisomy 18), using a donor. After multiple inseminations failed and failed IVF we have realized that we can’t keep throwing money away for something my body doesn’t want to accept. My body does not want to conceive as much as we long for another child, and my AMH (egg production) continues to decrease even with fertility med injections. I walk by Addy’s empty bedroom and an empty baby room every single day (it’s been ready for a baby brother or sister since before Addy died).

I know I’m not alone in my struggles. Infertility is something that lots of people go through and I am friends with many people who have buried their child. But, sometimes I just want to have my pity party and cry about how unfair life is and how it sucks that it’s so hard for us, while so many others have it easier. Every child’s birthday celebration and pregnancy announcement is a stab to my soul. I don’t know how to be happy for others when they have what I don’t have (and may never have). I don’t want to be bitter about others getting pregnant without even trying. I want to be happy for others celebrating their child’s birthday. But right now I don’t know how to be. Right now I need to have my pity party. I also need to fight Satan telling me I’m alone and nobody knows or cares about what I’m feeling.

I don’t know what the future holds for us, but I do know I have to actively fight the lies the devil feeds me on a regular basis.

“So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw close to God, and God will draw close to you.” James 4:8

If you read this far, please pray for my acceptance of the path God has put me on and to find ways to glorify Him in all our circumstances. I don’t want to stay in my pity parties. I want to move past them and keep living the life God intended for me with a joyful heart.

The world goes on

As time passes it feels like others have forgotten about my Addy Grace. Sure, she is mentioned from time to time but usually only if I bring her up. I know people have busy lives and the world keeps turning, but when all you have left of your child is memories, you desperately want others to remember and talk about her. I could talk about her all the time and look at her pictures or watch videos of her nonstop, but at some point I do have to keep living as well.

I hate that I have to keep going and doing the “normal” everyday things without her. They don’t feel normal anymore; they feel empty and pointless most of the time. My house is a mess most of the time, more so than it was when Addy was here. You would think with more time you could stay on top of the cleaning and cooking, but it’s harder to do those things now than it ever had been. Many days I just feel numb to everything because if I let myself really feel, I couldn’t make it through the day. I would be back on the floor crying nonstop, not eating again, and having no strength to stand without help again. I don’t want to always feel this way. I want to be able to laugh at the memories with Addy more than I cry about how much I miss her and how much I want to feel her little arms around my neck. People who don’t know will tell you time will heal, but those who know tell you they’re sorry and that you will learn to live with this pain and that the crying will one day not be as frequent.

I so badly want to be able to say that my joy is found in the Lord and that despite burying my only child, I’m still joyful. But as of now, I can’t say that. Right now any little thing not going how I want can turn my world upside down. I can be doing great with eating right, running regularly, and doing my daily devotional, and then something happens and I go into self-sabotage mode. I sit on the couch eating candy, I don’t run, and I skip my devotional and by the end of the week I feel even worse. The hardest part is getting myself back out of it. I managed this week to get back to running (twice at least) and have only missed one day with my devotional, but I haven’t gotten the not eating candy and junk part down again. I hate that the smallest hitch can effect me like that. I hate that I’m essentially throwing a tantrum over life not going my way. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I never laugh, if you’ve been with me through this crappy journey (and before) you know laughter is a part of my everyday. It’s just not the same joy behind the laughter like it used to be.

If you managed to read this far, please pray for me to find my joy in the Lord and not in my circumstances. Because this life will always disappoint and the only thing that is sure is that God is with me and he mourns with those who mourn, but He is also the reason I should have joy in knowing this life isn’t all there is for me. He sacrificed more than I have so that I won’t face eternal separation and darkness.

I want the joy of the Lord to be my strength, and until then I will keep trying to lean on Him and not on my own understanding of this broken world.

Lightning bugs

There’s something about light that’s mesmerizing, but even more so when that light is coming from a tiny insect that’s dancing in the sky. I wasn’t one to try and catch them in a jar. I loved watching them flash in the sky any chance I got, but to trap them didn’t seem right to me. Some things were just meant to enjoy for a short time.

Addalyn Grace was like a lightning bug. She was only here for a short time but brought joy and wonder to so many. She brought hope to more people in her 26 months than most of us do in our entire lives. I thought if I did enough and found all the right doctors that I could keep her here longer. I tried so hard. I did everything in my power. But I don’t really have that kind of control. God had a plan for her life and knew the day she would leave me before I even knew her. It’s hard to accept God’s plans when they don’t go the way you want them to. It’s hard to continue saying God is good when it doesn’t feel good. But feelings can’t be trusted. They will change at the drop of a hat and can leave you confused. God and the truth of His word are the only things that remain constant and won’t leave me. I can always rely on the truth of His word. Whenever everything feels dark and like the world is closing in on me I know that God is beside me, because He is near the broken hearted. He will be the light I need to see me through the darkest days.

“Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Psalm 119:105

As amazing as the light that my Addy Grace gave, I can only imagine how much more amazing the light of God truly is. While I will always long for my baby and to see her again, I also long for the day I will be face to face with my savior and no longer have my feelings lead me astray. I will have no more pain and all this pain I’m feeling now will make sense. I will finally see that my suffering is for a purpose. I may never see the beauty rise from the ashes while here on earth, but I will definitely see it when He calls me home. It’s hard to imagine or even comprehend anything being worth this pain, but I know God is working it in some way to bring Him glory. I just pray that when I do finish this race He will tell me “well done my good and faithful servant.” I know He said those words to Addy because she definitely fulfilled her purpose in giving hope and bringing others to Christ.

When life gives you more than you can stand

Im thankful that I’m not expected to be able to handle it all in life. If I was able, there would be no need for God to help me through.

Everyone handles grief differently. I try to cry in private; I don’t even cry in front of my husband that often. He will want to try to fix it, but he can’t, and I don’t want him to feel bad that he can’t make it better. I don’t like falling apart in front of others all the time, but believe me I have many times since Addy died. I’ve always been an “I got this” person. I take care of what needs to be done and I don’t count on others to do things for me. While it’s great to have others to help you through, they will at some point let you down. The only one you can truly rely on when it is all too much to handle, is God.

When this world becomes too much to handle I often find myself on the ground; crying out to God to give me the strength to get back up again, because when you’ve buried your child, getting up is the last thing you want to do. I’ve noticed that people who don’t know the pain like to tell you time will heal, but those who have been through it know that time doesn’t heal. You learn to live with this limp and you learn to hide it as you walk through the rest of your life. I don’t like being told that I’m strong and brave (I’m not mad or upset if you told me this); it’s just not the truth. I’m not brave. I’m not strong. I’m doing what everyone has to do…take the next step. If you were in my shoes you would do the same. You would put on a face for going out in public and save most of your falling apart for at home. God is my strength and without Him I would be nothing and would probably stay on the floor more often.

Every time I find myself on the floor crying out to God, He always comes through. He reminds me that He is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18), He was a man of sorrow and acquainted with grief too (Isaiah 53:3), the spirit helps us in our weakness when we don’t know what to pray for by interceding for us through wordless groans (Romans 8:26), and He will never leave me or abandon me (Hebrews 13:5). He helps me get off the floor again and again with a peace that’s unexplainable. That doesn’t mean I no longer hurt, but He comforts me in my pain. He walks beside me and holds me up when I can’t do it myself.

I don’t just hope I will see Addy again. I have a hope that isn’t a wish for what I want but a confidence in what I know will come. I can’t wait until the day I get to see Addy again and I fall to my knees for a different reason. On that day I will fall to my knees out of joy and worship, not out of pain and sorrow.

A season of grief

People talk about going through various seasons in your life and how they will eventually pass (which is true!) whether you want it to or not. The thing about grief is that it doesn’t pass until you join the one you’re missing. I am going through a season of grief, except this season will last the rest of my life. In the grand scheme of things my lifetime isn’t that long, but when you’re in the midst of it, it feels like an eternity. Thinking about the rest of your life without the child you love and fought so hard for is hard to grasp. There’s just something so unnatural about living without a piece of your heart.

I’ve never been a fan of winter. I hate the cold and lack of sunshine. This “season” of grief feels like I’m stuck in winter. Some days feel hopeless and dark, but occasionally the sun does shine. I know my grief won’t always feel exactly the same (it comes in waves and at times knocks you off your feet and drowns you). I know God has a plan in all of this; I know He has never left my side even as I walk through the darkest days; I know I will see my baby again. As the seasons pass I have fewer days that send me to the floor in tears, but it’s not because it doesn’t still hurt immensely. It’s because I’ve had to harden myself so as to not always feel all the pain that is ready to break out at any moment, and often without warning. I have learned to compartmentalize my feelings so that I can function and make it through another day without breaking down in public.

Grief sucks. It completely transforms who you are and redefines how you see the world.

You find that things that would annoy you before are “non issues”and not worth the time and things you could easily handle before become very overwhelming. I’ve made decisions that would shock the previous me!

As the seasons pass others expect you to be better and they look with anticipation when they ask how you’re doing, as if this time it’s going to be “great.” Someday might be a “great day” again, but it could be years before it feels that way. Until then I wait with anticipation and seek out the beauty God will bring out of the mess this world is. I’m not home yet.