Mother’s Day with Empty Arms

I had every intention to stay home for my first Mother’s Day without Addy. I was going to stay in bed all day and pretend it wasn’t happening. That’s my go-to: avoidance. If I pretend it’s not happening, just maybe I can make it through the day without falling apart. The only problem with that is the holiday will roll around again, and will I avoid it forever or let the next one be when I finally face it and fall apart? There’s no good answer on how to get through a holiday when your child has died. No matter what you do, it’s going to hurt like hell, and you will keep breathing, because that’s about all you can do. I’ve already been an emotional wreck this month, with the one year of Addy dying approaching next week.

I have learned to avoid certain triggers so that I’m not out in public with a full-on meltdown, and I don’t know exactly why I changed my mind and decided on going to church, but I did. I’ve also learned to avoid eye contact with people, so they won’t say anything to me and I can pretend like it’s just another day, which it is, but another day that is a painful reminder that my arms are empty. Our church does a great job addressing Mother’s Day for those who are hurting, they’ve always been great about it. I was doing ok, until they asked for moms to stand so they could bring us a charm for our bracelets (they give out a charm each year to go with the sermon), I honestly didn’t want to stand, but I did. I don’t even know why. My charm bracelet is still in its little bag that it’s been in since I got my charm last year about a week before Addy died. That was when it hit me and I couldn’t stand anymore. I did exactly what I hate doing in public. I was crying, and not just a tear or two rolling down my cheek. I was full on sobbing and couldn’t catch my breath. They asked the moms who are hurting this year to come to the front so they could pray over us, another thing I wasn’t planning to do. But my friend who is having her first Mother’s Day without her mom came to get me to go with her. We cried together and made it through. It was all a blur after the sobbing started, but what I do know is I felt better after other women who care about me put their hands on me with a prayer and offered a hug. That doesn’t mean I don’t completely miss my girl every single day, but I find comfort in knowing where she is. I don’t have to worry about her, I don’t have to worry about whether she will accept Christ as her savior, I don’t have to worry about what would happen with her if something effected me being able to care for her, I don’t have any of the worries so many moms have (that I long to still have).

I was asking God again recently (I ask him every time I’m missing her really bad) why he took her from me, why she couldn’t stay longer, why it had to be the result of a surgery we took her in for, and why I have to live with a broken heart the rest of my life. Like always, I didn’t get an answer, but He did ask me if I would want her back now if I could have her back. I tried to ignore the question, because it’s pointless, since I can’t have her back anyway. But I couldn’t ignore it for long…it needed an answer. The answer is, I don’t want her back now. I don’t want to take her away from heaven where she is running, playing, praising our savior, and free from any pain or heartache this world can bring. The hardest thing in the world is to admit while my arms are empty and I miss my baby girl so much, I want her to stay where she is. I will endure the pain and heartache of missing her for now while she enjoys the joy and freedom of heaven.

“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13

Still a mom?

I’ve been looking forward to this month coming, because it means school will be out and summer begins in a couple weeks. I’ve also dreaded this month coming. May is the month that Addy left this world and it’s also the month of Mother’s Day.

It’s hard to believe I’ve managed to keep living and going on without my baby girl. I miss her more every day. I miss feeling her put her little arm around my neck, I miss listening to her laugh herself to sleep every night, I miss snuggling with her and reading her books, I miss watching her roll around the living room, I miss blending her food in bulk and freezing it so she could have real food, I miss singing with her and acting silly, and most of all I just miss being her mom. She made everything about life better, she reminded me to lean on Christ at all times and she taught me to slow down and appreciate every moment with those you love.

As Mother’s Day approaches I’m reminded again that I’m not really a mom anymore. I don’t have a child to care for or love on every day. I will forever be Addy’s mom, but saying your a mom without a child sounds silly. I wanted to be a mom for so long, and once it finally happened, it slipped away as quickly as it happened and took a piece of my heart with it. As everyone celebrates Mother’s Day this year, don’t forget the grieving moms, those who don’t have their moms, and those who desperately want to be a mom. Mother’s Day is hard for so many people. It’s just another reminder of the heartache you carry with you every single day.

I remember my first Mother’s Day so vividly. We shared our Addy Grace with our church by telling our story and having her dedicated. I got 3 Mother’s Days with her here, which is more than we ever thought we would get, but it doesn’t make it any easier to face this one without her. I pray this is the only Mother’s Day that I have to get through without a child, even though no child can ever replace Addy, I look forward to the day when I can hold a child in my arms and be called a mom again.

This picture was from my first Mother’s Day with my perfect baby girl.

Why I Cry

Besides the super obvious reason of missing my Addy Grace, there are other reasons why I cry. I cry every day and I never know what is going to trigger it. Sometimes it’s walking past Addalyn’s room, coming across something of hers in an unexpected place, hearing a toddler laugh or cry, taking a family picture, seeing my niece and nephew hurting, not seeing her in the backseat mirror while driving, seeing an outfit that I would have bought her if she was here, but the one thing that gets me almost every time without fail is when I’m singing praise songs. Yes, I miss my baby girl so incredibly much, but that’s not why I cry when I’m praising my Savior.

I cry when singing praise because certain songs remind me of what has been done for me, despite what I really deserve. Grace isn’t just God giving me a gift I don’t deserve, it’s Him giving me a gift when I deserve to be punished. He died for me, He accepted suffering for me, God gave His only son as a sacrifice for me, and most importantly, He conquered the grave. It’s hard to understand a willingness to suffer for those who aren’t worthy of it because I would forgo suffering in a heartbeat, if I could. I know that if I had to give Addy up to save others, I wouldn’t have done it. To see your child suffer and die is the most excruciating pain, even when you know what will happen in the end. When I’m praising I cry because God knows the pain of watching his only child die, I cry because I’m not alone- Jesus knows what true suffering is, I cry because I am loved more than I could ever love, and I cry because this pain will end and the image of the joy that is to come brings tears to my eyes.

They say misery loves company and it’s true, I find comfort in those who understand this pain. Often it’s connections online, but through it all my biggest comfort is Jesus. That doesn’t mean I’ve been okay with Him allowing Addy to die or that I’ve stayed in the word and prayer nonstop. I had a couple months when I couldn’t read His word or talk to Him, other than telling Him he owes me something good (in case you’re wondering, that doesn’t work). I know it might sound cliché, but when you’ve experienced deep pain, you connect on a deeper level to others who know sorrow and suffering. “He was despised and rejected-a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief…(Isaiah 53:3). I know He didn’t take joy in allowing Addy to die. He doesn’t enjoy watching us suffer, He is near the broken-hearted. He does allow suffering though, because of the sin in this world. We live in a fallen, broken world and we were never promised a life without suffering. In fact, He told us we would experience suffering and trials in this world until we are called home. “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast.” (1 Peter 5:10). Suffering in this world is meant to stop us and God’s plans for us, by Satan. But, I refuse to allow Satan to stop what God has in store. I want my suffering to produce perseverance and strengthen my faith. I want to persevere in this life and continue on the path God has in store for me.

“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)

As we approach the one year mark since Addalyn went to be with Jesus we are also getting back on track to grow our family. Addy will be a big sister, just not the way we had planned (just one more way God reminds us we aren’t in control). We’ve had a baby room ready for over a year and look forward to the day when it’s no longer another empty room. We could use lots of prayers as we continue this journey. Prayers for our hearts, raising the funds we need for adopting, perseverance to follow the path God leads us on (it could take a while for anything to happen for us), and prayers for the child that will be joining our family.

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.