If you know what this is, you probably already have it or someone in your family does. So, You may be wondering what is osteoporosis (OP)? In short, it’s a weakening of the bones where they are becoming less dense. If you took a crosssection of a healthy bone, you will find that there are small holes throughout it; however, when you have OP, these holes get larger and larger (less density) causing your bones to more easily fracture or break.
So what causes osteoporosis (OP)?
I would like to share a bit about this because I recently received a diagnosis of severe osteoporosis. I was shocked. Being a dairy farmer’s girl, I have always loved my dairy foods. And even though it has been many years since I was on the farm, I still eat plenty of it. I have also, always had great posture. So why did my bones get weaker? What else may have been causing the problem?
When I was first hit with Chronic Pain (Story Here), prednisone turned out to be my best friend. It was amazing stuff that removed all my pain. I had not felt that great in a long time. I didn’t even experience any side effects while taking the medication. But ten years later, I have some warnings to share with you. I hope you will take heed of them because as I learned, your doctors aren’t going to warn you or even express concern.
If you knew me in my young years, you know that I could have been the Dairy Poster Child. I grew up on a family dairy farm. Once I left the farm, it seemed that there was nothing to talk about but cows. There was nothing like a tall glass of fresh milk right from the bulk tank. It’s what I missed the most, I think. It took me a while to get past the taste of pasteurized milk and I didn’t dare drink 2% milk. When I visited a friend’s home, they offered milk, I would ask, “Is it whole milk?”
So when I learned that I have osteoporosis. It was quite a shock to me. For a day or two, I really could not grasp how it could be that my bones are not strong; that I was at risk for fractures and breakage. Adding this to all my other diagnoses was more than I could bear. Like David, I cried out to God, “How long, oh Lord? I can’t take any more problems. Please no more pain.”
Since I had morning appointments that day, I didn’t get to sit down with the Lord until that afternoon. (Maybe that is why I was so shaken… I had not invited Him into my day yet.) Anyway, God began giving me messages all day. As I did my study with Gracefully Truthful, He said to me, “I will not leave you as an orphan. I will come to you.” (John 14:18) Thank you, Lord, for this reassurance. I began singing this song the rest of the day.
Encouragement from Friends
“Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones”
Proverbs 16:24 NIV
They may have not known that what they shared was for me, but it was. All through the day, I received gracious words just at the right time. Have you ever seen a cross-section of a bone? It’s like a honeycomb. Unless you have osteoporosis… then it’s more like swiss cheese. See National Osteoporosis Foundation
The words of my friends were like a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Friends offered up prayers. Sometimes it was just sharing a quote or scripture. They had no idea that God inspired them to share it for my purpose. That night my dear friend at Alabaster Girls post this prayer.
Father, I am loved by You, an extraordinary God, a good, good Father. Your love makes life worth living. Because of You I don’t have to be afraid of tomorrow.
You are my peace.
Thank You for Your grace that truly is sufficient to carry me through the difficult places. I don’t like the difficult places, Lord — You know that. And yet I find You there. You draw near and strengthen me. You pour out Your love on me and it quiets me, giving me strength.Help me keep my eyes on You, Lord.
In Your presence I find joy, courage, and the tenacity I need to keep moving forward.
Bless You, Lord. What a wonderful God You are.
In the Name of Jesus I pray, amen.
Nan Trammel Jones, The Alabaster Girls
But I Still Tossed and Turned for Many Nights
All these things and more I have known since my youth. I know that God will not abandon me. I know He will see me through. But I am tired and my pain has been unbearable lately. Just the pain alone was waking me up and then my mind would start running away wondering what would happen next.
One of the girls from The Alabaster Girls group had friended me earlier that week but I was not “in the mood” to talk with a new person. She was from halfway around the world. And I wasn’t sure of her connection to me at that point. She kept gently prodding me to respond to her. But I like being the encourager and I didn’t have it in me to chat with someone new. Then she sent an audio clip… She sang “Pass me not, oh gentle Savior, Hear my humble cry. While on others thou art calling, do not pass me by.” And tears came to my eyes. It was my prayer. We chatted and I shared a bit of my story. She promised to pray for me.
Preaching to myself
On the second day, I saw the writing prompt for Five Minute Fridays – “STRONG”. I wondered, “Could I write about strong bones when it was so raw to me?” In the past, I have looked through my old posts to see if there was anything I could update and share. And there it was “When I am weak, He is Strong”. As part of that post, I shared an old hymn written by Annie Johnson Flint. I didn’t know it then, but Annie was orphaned as a child, and by her teens suffered severe arthritis and was soon wheelchair-bound. I’m learning more and more that it is those who go through great trials that have the most beautiful poetry and songs. Do you know her hymn, He Giveth More Grace”. That’s the grace God is giving me.
When we have exhausted our store of endurance
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done
when we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving is only begun
He GIveth More Grace, Annie Johnson Flint
I Will Not be Shaken
Finally, I stumbled on this scripture which woke me up to realize that God has got this. I do not need to be shaken. It is quite appropriate with words like: “even at night”, “my thoughts trouble me”, “I will not be shaken”, “my whole being rejoices”, “my body rests securely”, “You will not abandon me”, “You will not allow your faithful one to see decay”.
7 I will bless the Lord who counsels me— even at night when my thoughts trouble me. 8 I always let the Lord guide me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
9 Therefore my heart is glad and my whole being rejoices; my body also rests securely. 10 For you will not abandon me to Sheol; you will not allow your faithful one to see decay. 11 You reveal the path of life to me; in your presence is abundant joy; at your right hand are eternal pleasures.
I Need to Memorize This Verse and Quote it in my Bed at Night
My first mammogram was one of the worst days of my life. To make matters worse, it was my anniversary. It was so traumatic for me that I spent the whole next year dreading the next mammogram. I did everything I could do to skip having mammograms. This is NOT a good idea. I didn’t know it at the time but I have fibromyalgia – a sensitivity syndrome that makes everything more painful than it should be. But I have learned that I have options, so now I share these with you.
Mammogram: An X-ray of the breast that is taken with a device that compresses and flattens the breast. A mammogram can help a health professional decide whether a lump in the breast is a gland, a harmless cyst, or a tumor. A mammogram can cause pressure, discomfort, and some soreness that lasts for a little while after the procedure.
That’s the medical description. Here’s my description…. they place your breast between two plates. The plates come together and squeeze your breast to take a picture of the tissue. I’m not sure this was the cause, but I am short and I think that the machine was not only squeezing my breast but also pulling it upward. It doesn’t take that long but, for me, it was way too long.
Genius™ 3D Mammography
A 3D mammogram (breast tomosynthesis) is an imaging test that combines multiple breast X-rays to create a three-dimensional picture of the breast.
A 3D mammogram is used to look for breast cancer in people who have no signs or symptoms. It can also be used to investigate the cause of breast problems, such as a breast mass, pain, and nipple discharge.
When used for breast cancer screening, 3D mammogram machines create 3D images and standard 2D mammogram images. Studies show that combining 3D mammograms with standard mammograms reduces the need for additional imaging and slightly increases the number of cancers detected during screening. But more study is needed to understand whether 3D mammograms may reduce the risk of dying of breast cancer more than a standard mammogram alone.
I have heard of these but didn’t realize that it may be a more comfortable way to get your imaging completed. Looks like something to look into. It takes a bit longer to get the image, so this would be something to consider for those of use with pain issues. How long can you deal with the pain?
Thermography is a test that uses an infrared camera to detect heat patterns and blood flow in body tissues.
Digital infrared thermal imaging (DITI) is the type of thermography that’s used to diagnose breast cancer. DITI reveals temperature differences on the surface of the breasts to diagnose breast cancer.
The idea behind this test is that, as cancer cells multiply, they need more oxygen-rich blood to grow. When blood flow to the tumor increases, the temperature around it rises.
One advantage is that thermography doesn’t give off radiation like mammography, which uses low-dose X-rays to take pictures from inside the breasts. However, thermography isn’t as effective Trusted Source as mammography at detecting breast cancer.
Not considered a good way to detect cancer. False-positive results can sometimes result because other issues could be causing the inflammation. Suggested only for women under 50 who have dense tissue. This is obviously a non-evasive procedure unlike the mammogram but the mammogram is a much better detector. You will find it difficult to get insurance to cover this procedure and probably have to drive a few hours to find a place that has the thermograph.
Since it shows changes in your breast. I’ve thought it would be good to start early in your twenties to have a base picture to look at. But again, read more at Healthline for more information.
Ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves rather than radiation to produce pictures of the breast.
For the procedure, some gel will be placed on your skin. Then a small transducer will be guided over your breast. The pictures will appear on a screen.
This is a painless procedure that typically doesn’t cause side effects.
Ultrasound of the breast may be used after an abnormal mammogram or in women with dense breast tissue. It’s not usually used in routine breast cancer screening for women at average risk.
I have opted for this one the past two years. No pain to speak of. Since Fibro is an issue where pain arises from pressure, one can feel some tenderness in some parts of the breast. But this option is much better for my situation. Your insurance will probably approve the procedure but you may have a deductible or co-pay.
Check into Herscan that travels around some states doing this procedure. They have a fee which is about what your co-pay for an ultrasound would be.
You’re lying face down on a massage table, your breast encased in a water bath through an opening in the table. Tiny ports from a surrounding ring fire ultrasound waves. There are no X-rays and no pain. There is no holding still for 20 minutes or more.
Water Mammogram is a relatively new option. My PCP told me about it. I haven’t tried it yet. The above link is an article about it. It seems to be just as helpful as the traditional mammogram. I may try it next time.
Other Options for Mammogram
As I researched these options today, I saw that Mayo Clinic has an article on Molecular Breast imaging. I’ve not heard about this one before. It seems to use dye and imaging. See more info at Mayo Clinic article.
I recently had an Occipital Nerve Block done. It can be a bit scary to think about having a long needle stuck into your neck going upward toward your brain. I have had about a dozen of these and they are so helpful for me. So… I thought maybe I should explain what it is and share my experience.
Why Do I Get Occipital Nerve Blocks?
I have rheumatoid arthritis (also known as R.A.). One day I will write more about that but just a quick explanation. R.A. attacks the small joints, such as your hands and fingers, feet, and toes. But it also goes after the C1-C2 joint in your neck. Mine is deteriorating which is causing pain from the base of my head radiating upward to the top of my head. These nerve blocks have worked exceptionally for me. I get one every 6-9 months.
What is an Occipital Nerve Block?
An occipital nerve block is a safe procedure that may be performed in a doctor’s office or pain clinic. The occipital nerve block technique is relatively quick and convenient, and is done with minimal invasion (i.e. intrusion into tissues with medical equipment). For the procedure, you’ll be seated or lying down. The injection itself only takes a few minutes, and is done without full sedation.
During the procedure:
A local anesthetic may be applied to your skin above the occipital nerve to be targeted in order to avoid discomfort during the procedure.
Then, a fine needle (like a hypodermic) is inserted, until it is in an appropriate position near the nerve.
Next, steroid medications are injected. These drugs reduce inflammation and block the transmission of pain signals to the brain, thus inhibiting the sensation of headache pain.
If an occipital nerve block has been successful, you may feel that the side of your head that has been injected has gone numb. Your physician or pain specialist may request that you stay in the clinic or office for a brief period, during which the actual degree of your pain relief may become apparent. The time elapsed before you experience pain relief does vary from person to person; it may be nearly instantaneous for one individual, but take a day or more for another.
An occipital nerve block does not often interfere with normal function or routines following a procedure. The patient may not notice the full effect of the intervention until a few days after the procedure. This may last a month or more, at which point the patient may arrange for a repeat injection. However, some patients may require two injections in quick succession to elicit an optimal effect.
I am so fortunate to have Mayo Clinic as part of my medical team. This place is amazing. After about 2 years of diagnosis and care for my Central Sensitivity Syndrome and R.A., it was discovered that my C1-C2 disks were already deteriorating. I was experiencing quite a bit of pain in my head, neck, and shoulders. SoI was sent to the Pain Clinic.
One of the biggest advantages of Mayo Clinic is everything under the same roof. The doctors all work together on your health. No matter which doctor you see, they can pull up all my records and see what the other doctors are doing and thinking.
So back to the topic at hand…
This procedure is done right in the office. Mayo Clinic just remodeled this part of the clinic and the clinic now has a beautiful procedure area. First, the nurse will sit down with you and talk to you about the side effects and wound care. She will ask the level of pain you are experiencing at the moment.
Then you just “pull up” to a gurnie with a pillow and lay your head down. (If you have long hair, bring a scuncii to pull your hair up our of the way.) The injection is going in right at your hair line.
The doctor arrives by this time and he and the assistant set up the ultrasound and find the greater occipital nerve. They find precisely where they want that needle to go. Then the injection area is cleaned and prepped.
Just a quick plug for my doctor.
Dr. Mark Hurdle is amazing. So understanding and compassionate and very personable. When my daughter was getting married, I asked if we could go ahead and schedule my next injection just before the wedding so that I could (hopefully) be pain-free that day. It was no problem. We scheduled the procedure that day. And as hoped the injection did its thing and I was pain-free for the wedding. My appointment following the wedding, he came in asking how the wedding went. I share that to show that he is involved in his patients’ lives.
On the professional side, Dr. Hurdle is THE expert on this procedure. He goes all over the world teaching doctors how to do this procedure. That factalone makes me very calm about the injection.
And now the injection
An anesthetic injection is given. I noticed above that it says “A local anesthetic may be applied to your skin”. NOTE: I would ask about this because I actually get an injection for numbing. I’ve had others say that this procedure was VERY painful. Some even said they had the doctor stop. This must be why my experience has not been terribly painful.
We wait for the numbing to take over (just a couple of minutes) and then the procedure begins. It’s a long needle (so my husband says) and it is worked in along the occipital nerve using the ultrasound. Then he begins to inject the medicine. At times, I can feel the burn of it entering but it really isn’t that bad for me. Not any worse than going to the dentist.
To divert my attention, I recite scripture in my head or sing a song. Before long, it’s all done. And immediately I have lots of pain relief. I sit up and they let me wait to get my senses back. You can feel kind of woozy for a bit, but I have some balance issues anyway.
I let my hair back down and we are done. The worst effects are goo in your hair and a bandaid in your hairline that can be a challenge to get out the next day. You can take a shower that night, but don’t get in a jacuzzi or soak in a tub.
They sent me home with a page of instructions for wound care and things to watch for. This most recent injection, I woke the following morning with a flushed face. I shot off a message to the clinic and got an immediate response that this is normal and not to worry.
Two weeks later, I received a call or message to ask how my pain is doing. I recall one time that my pain had returned to some extent and again they called immediately with questions and instructions.
I totally recommend this procedure if you experience severe migraines or head and neck pain. Just be sure to find a doctor who knows what they are doing. We drive the 2 hours to Jacksonville, FL to have this done though I am certain there are doctors here in Savannah that would do it. It’s a long day trip but worth the drive. Plan to take the next day off to rest.
I’ve had this done about a dozen times. (every 6-9 months) This is a procedure that can be done indefinitely until it doesn’t work. And the alternatives (neck fusion surgery taking a good year to recover) are not desirable.
When you get to my age, you can probably expect to get doctors’ orders for a stress test. After all, we have all got to keep a check on our hearts. Heart attacks, strokes, and other issues can easily sneak up on us without even a clue. To learn more about the why of stress tests, go to this Mayo Clinic page
Two Types of Stress Tests
There are two types of stress tests, the regular treadmill test and then there is the nuclear test. Ironically, both my husband and I have had to go in for a stress test in the past month. My DH had the treadmill test. He came home saying that he wouldn’t wish that on anyone. It was a tough test. basically, they hook you up with nodes and then watch your heart while you walk the treadmill.
My mind first went to the Bill Cosby clip where he is basically dancing and playing on the treadmill, but listen … This thing starts hard and gets worse. The treadmill is elevated while you walk. You do this until your heart gets up to a certain rate. DH said that the technician indicated for those who are in “great shape”, it could take 20 minutes to get your heart rate up to where they want to see it. [It didn’t take near that long for DH]. The whole process for him was about an hour.
The Nuclear Stress Test
On the other hand, I am disabled, so I was given a nuclear test. I have had other nuclear tests where they inject “stuff” into your veins and then scan the body part of interest. I had a nuclear body scan as part of my diagnosis plan at Mayo Clinic. The nuclear stress test was very similar.
The paperwork I carried home from meeting with the cardiologist said that the whole thing would take about 4 hours. There were actually several different procedures they would be doing.
Insertion of IV port
ultrasound of the heart
actual nuclear stress test
There were waiting times between all these, so I was in and out of the waiting room. [You may want to bring a book with you.] With the COVID-19 scare. I wasn’t able to bring my husband with me. We do all our appointments together. Going without him was unnerving for me and I was a bit concerned after his stress test experience.
I knew it would be different, but it was not at all like I expected. I expected to feel my heart rate rise and have my heart pounding out of my chest. It was none of that.
So, Let’s begin at the first of the day.
I was required to fast from caffeine for a full 24 hours and a full fast with nothing but water for four hours. As it turns out, this may have been the hardest part of the test. Thankfully, I was instructed to bring a snack and juice with me so that I could eat as soon as possible. I was also instructed to wear comfortable clothes. This is especially necessary if you are doing the treadmill test. I wore my favorite LulaRoes and a thick t-shirt.
I was also informed that I would have to remove my bra for these tests. This was fine because with my fibro a bra is NOT comfortable; however, being cold natured as I am, I about froze to death. You might ask if you can bring a sweater or a lap quilt/prayer blanket. I think it would be workable, it would just be one more thing that you are carrying around all morning.
IVs and EKGs
To begin the process, I was called back to have an IV port placed in my arm and those sticky nodes for EKGs. This technician talked with me about what all would be happening. He was very kind and understanding when I shared about my fibro pain. I told him I could not have my BP measured on my left arm. He said that was fine and that I could actually have the monitor placed on my lower arm of my right arm. This was a great relief to me.
Is was straight in to have my heart ultrasound at this point. Another lady took over and I went to another room. Here I had to remove my T-shirt and bra and put on a paper gown. Then she came in and did the ultrasound. No problem here. It is the same as getting an ultrasound anywhere else.
She placed warm “gooo” on me and pressed the gadget against my chest. It was a bit tender which she said was very normal; although remember I have fibromyalgia, I am tender everywhere. This whole process took maybe ten minutes. Then it was out to the waiting room until they were ready to do the next part. This is where I got the coldest and why you should wear a thick shirt and maybe have that sweater or blanket.
After about a 30-minute wait, they called me back for the imaging. This is similar to a CT scan or MRI. You sit in a recliner type chair and the machine is brought up close to your chest. The biggest challenge was that I have a bad shoulder and I needed to raise both arms above my head to bring the machine in. I can’t raise my left arm on its own, but I was able to grab my wrist and pick up my arm. Once the machine was in place, I rested my arms on top of it. This process took about 8 minutes. Then back to the waiting room for maybe 15 minutes.
Nuclear (or Chemical) Stress Test
It was now time for more nodes and wires hooked up to me. (Like an EKG) In another corner of the same room was a treadmill and a computer and reclining chair. I sat in the recliner and they injected me with the chemical. It burned as it went in and I had an instant headache. They tell you to let them know of any symptoms because they can help that. For the headache, I was given a Coca-cola. (Remember that I still haven’t had anything to eat since the night before.) The coke helped a bit.
The paperwork I was given said that people can various side effects:
numbness and tingling
As I mentioned the headache was the only one that I noticed. I truly expected to experience nausea and chest pain. I really expected that I would feel my heart trying to jump out of my chest, but I didn’t feel any of that, only the headache. This whole process didn’t even take 30 minutes.
There was about a 30-40 minute wait, but I was now allowed to have that pack of crackers and juice I brought with me. I managed to read a couple chapters in my book and then they called me back for another echocardiogram. Same procedure, just a couple minutes shorter.
All finished but removing the sticky nodes. Ouch! and Putting yoru bra back on.
One More Thing
My doctor had also ordered a heart monitor halter to be worn for three days. So I waited again in the waiting room until someone from the doctor’s office side was ready to install the monitor. We’ll talk about that another day.
The nurse called me in a day or so with preliminary results on the stress test. But I have a three-week wait until my appointment for the treatment plan.
This month on the blog, we have been sharing journeys with grief. Today, I want to share a few resources for grief that I have found this month.
Personally, I am not on a journey with grief; however, there are many ways to suffer a loss that requires a grieving process. I (Mandy) have lost much in recent years including my health, my ministry with my husband, our home, our bank account, and our small annuity. I shared more specifically on this two years ago with my friend and fellow blogger, Nan Jones.
In searching for what to share this month, I discovered a new book just getting ready to release in November. It was on a list of books to preview and review so I picked it up.
A book release, Loss, Survive, Thrive
We may earn a small commission for our endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this website. Your purchase helps support our work in bringing you spiritual encouragement and other favorite product reviews. Thank you.
Mark Twain, always a master at painting pictures with words, was left utterly speechless when attempting to express how he felt after the death of his twenty-four-year-old Susie. He wrote, “To do so would bankrupt the vocabulary of all the languages.” To this day, that is the best description of grief I have come across.
Susan Whitmore, Loss, Survive, Thrive
These stories will tear at your soul and tug at your heartstrings. They will bring tears to your eyes. But still, no words come to mind to make the journeys easier.
However, this book is not all sadness because these families also walked through the strife into thriving. Each family found a way to make sense of it all, if only slightly. They found ways to speak this child’s name for eternity; a way to remove the senseless reasons behind the grief. Of course, grief journeys will always seem senseless but if we look closely, we can find a way to keep them from being useless.
These families have found that in sharing their journeys with grief they are able to help others travel through similar sorrows. In doing so, they found that their own grief became just a tinge easier to bear because now we can all bear it together.
C.S. Lewis says, “We read to know that we are not alone.” Anyone striving through a journey of grief can read this collection of stories and maybe, just maybe it will hold them up a bit.
Susan Whitmore, Loss, Survive, Thrive
Finding Ways to Thrive
Someone once said to never let a trial be wasted. Grief works in ways that teach us to help others. When I lived far from home and would get lonely, my mother always told me to reach out and help someone else. It really does make a difference and somehow brings joy into any situation.
Some of the ways these families have found to pay something forward include establishing groups or foundations that can help support others in the same place.
If you need some grief support, maybe their actions will be the place you find peace in your sorrow. Here are a few resources for grief shared in the book.
Just writing/blogging can be therapeutic. Here is one blog from the book luminousblue5.com
Giving of Gifts to celebrate special days
Expressions through art, writing, and poetry
“In some ways suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning.”
-Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
Thank you, NetGalley, Meryl Hershey Beck, & publisher, Rowman & Littlefield for giving me a copy and allowing me the opportunity to read and review this new book.
But something was missing
I found this above-mentioned book excellent for finding connection with others who have lost children. Also, it is encouraging for finding a way to thrive beyond the grief; however, for me as a Christian, I found something missing.
While some did mention God, I found it quite lacking in stories of faith. Families that leaned hard into the hope that comes only from God. So I went looking for another option for you. I remembered my author/blogger/friend, Karen Sebastian who writes about the hope she has found in the dark places of her own life.
Ride the Waves to Comfort
I realized that I already had purchased two of Karen’s books and they were waiting for me right on my Kindle:
The Power of Hope in Mourning: Ride the Waves to Comfort
Relating to our day-to-day, even moment-by-moment, journey through grief Karen will walk with you through your pain. She “rides the wave” with you as you, knowing that God is there carrying you through.
You will find her guidance towards hope neatly put together with lessons from her own journey with grief, practical advice, and spiritual guidance. This Hope that is missing from the aforementioned book review is everywhere in this book.
A thought of my own
We often hear others say that God will not allow us to go through more than we can bear. However, this statement is not Biblical. The truth is that you WILL go through much more than you can bear. But the joy in this is: GOD CAN BEAR IT! Just rest in Him and His comfort.
Rabbi Harold Kushner reminds us “We can endure much more than we think we can; all human experience testifies to that. All we need to do is learn not to be afraid of pain. Grit your teeth and let it hurt. Don’t deny it, don’t be overwhelmed by it. It will not last forever. One day, the pain will be gone and you will still be there.“
Additionally, I must add to Kushner’s thought; lean hard into God. He promises to take care of us. He promises to go through the high waters with us. And when we come out on the other end, we will be stronger, wiser, more understanding, and probably a bunch more.
Nothing could have prepared me for the events of October 28th, 1992. I dropped my son off at the babysitter and headed to the high school where I taught English and Speech. What started as a typical day ended in one of my worst nightmares.
Earlier that day I had visited my OBGYN because of some light spotting while teaching school. As I lie in the hospital bed that night, my 20-week old daughter kicking and squirming within me, I grieved. “Better safe than sorry” were the nurse’s words on the phone. So, I called my husband and we headed to the doctor.
Little did I know that I was five centimeters dilated and the amniotic sac was bulging out of my cervix! My doctor explained that emergency surgery was required in hopes of gently nudging the birth sac back inside and sewing the cervix closed. If the surgery was unsuccessful, she would be born the next day and was not expected to live. As I was prepped for surgery, I could only find the presence of mind to repeat one prayer, “Please God, don’t take my baby”. This was my incessant prayer as I was wheeled into the surgical unit. My husband’s hand tightly gripped my own until they separated us.
Where Faith and Reality Meet
I had been a follower of Christ for about fifteen years. In previous years, I had even traveled full time on an evangelistic team as a singer and team evangelist. I believed in prayer and I also believed in the sovereignty of God. If my daughter lived, it was God’s will; his good plan. And we would rejoice and be thankful. If my daughter died, it was God’s will; His good plan. We would grieve our loss on this side of heaven and look for His good plan through many tears. My prayers were answered, but not as I had hoped.
The surgery was unsuccessful. The birth sac had ruptured and our daughter would be born alive the next day; only to pass from this life shortly after. I gave birth to our precious Lacey Victoria in a quiet, dimly lit hospital room with my husband by my side. The grief that had begun the night before as I experienced her last movements inside of me, washed over me in great waves.
My faith was being tested. I believed that if God had wanted to, he could have saved my baby’s life. My only conclusion was one that I did not want to readily admit—God chose not to save her life. For reasons unexplained, He allowed her to be born and subsequently, die. This mystery would take years to unfold in my heart.
Facing the Grip of Grief
The hospital staff helped us put her footprints on a birth certificate, dress her, and place a tiny white knitted hat on her head. We asked for a minister to come and pray with us and we had a name blessing ceremony. We held her, wrapped in a receiving blanket, and we welcomed our family as they came.
My mother arrived along with our son, Danny. My husband’s parents came as well. Aunts and Uncles, brothers and sisters, we welcomed them all. It was comforting to see them, to let them see Lacey, to share our grief.
Two days later we were driving home; our precious babe in a fourteen-inch long casket set on the backseat of our car. We would deliver her ourselves to the funeral home (run by a dear friend’s parents) where she would await burial.
The days between her birth and her burial were quiet, somber, and sad. My arms physically ached to hold my baby. I felt broken, wounded, raw. I worried about placing my infant in a cold, hard plastic box into the ground. It felt so harsh.
Sewing in Love and Grief
My mom suggested we spend the next couple of days sewing a quilt in which to wrap her tiny casket. So we sewed and we talked and we cried for hours each day. We sewed our love and our grief into that quilt. It was therapeutic, to say the least. A few months later, my mom handed me an exact replica of that quilt as a memorial. I treasure it.
On November first, I stood beside an open grave clutching Lacey’s tiny casket to my chest trying to coax myself to hand it over to my husband so he could place it in the grave dug for her. She would be buried with my father who had passed just five years before.
It was a dark and dreary day with a biting, cold wind and the weather mimicked my emotions perfectly. The cold gripped my heart and refused to let go. Lacey Victoria was gone before we even had the chance to get to know her. My head told me she was now in heaven with Jesus. However, my heart ached with the knowledge that I would never have the privilege of raising this precious little girl.
There would be no little dresses and shoes, no curls to catch up in bright ribbons, no middle school crush, no high school prom, no engagement ring, no wedding, no grandchildren. I have heard it said that when an adult dies, you lose a piece of your past; but, when a child dies, you lose a piece of your future. This rang hauntingly true for me. The reality of this enormous loss weighed heavily on my heart.
I entertained an irrational fear that she would be forgotten not only by others but by even ourselves. I feared we would never hear her beautiful name again because no one would remember it. This fear, however, became the catalyst for my desire to assure that she remains a part of our family. That her name and short life was remembered.
I believed her short life had a purpose. It was clear to me already that we, as a family, had been forever changed by the birth and death of our sweet Lacey Victoria. I chose to lean into my grief and learn from it all the lessons it had to teach me; about valuing life (no matter how brief); appreciating family and loved ones; learning how this loss would teach me to trust God more. Little did I realize I had so much to learn. And it would take me my entire life to learn it!
Grieving Through the Holidays
As the holidays approached, I dreaded them. Christmas, especially, is all about a baby. The stores seemed packed with mothers with babes in arms or in strollers. Let’s face it, a lot of our Christmas traditions center around children. All of this just seemed to accentuate my loss. My baby was not here to celebrate Christmas. However, I had been blessed a little over a year before with a precious son, Danny; and I was determined that his little sister would be a part of his life, his Christmas.
To that end, we labeled Christmas presents to and from Lacey that year (which we, of course, had purchased ourselves) to give to one another– special gifts that held meaning; a special teddy bear, a figurine of a mother and child, a father/daughter snow globe. Gifts that gave us the opportunity to include her, to say her name and remember her.
I also prepared, for grandparents and aunts and uncles, a Christmas ornament engraved with her beautiful name. I wrapped them beautifully and looked forward to presenting them; knowing I would hear her name once more and she would be remembered. That Christmas was bittersweet as we celebrated together. But, our hearts were warmed in the remembering. And I felt that cold hard grip of grief weakening ever so slightly.
As with any great loss, it was a long year of firsts without our daughter. The grip of grief was difficult and as her birthday neared I desired to start a tradition that we could carry on through the years to assure our son would feel a connection to this sister that he would never know this side of heaven. Perpetuating her memory was a healing balm for my heart and I enjoyed creating new ways to remember her.
With that in mind, on her birthday, Danny and I made Funfetti cupcakes with bright pink frosting. As we baked I talked with him about his sister and how we love and miss her; that she lives in heaven now with Jesus and that we will see her again there. Once Dan returned home from work; we told him that we had cupcakes for Lacey and we needed to go to the cemetery.
So we took our cupcakes and drove to the cemetery where we placed one on her grave marker. We lit the candle, stood arm in arm and sang happy birthday to her. Tears fell and hugs shared. As we left the cemetery, I reminded Danny that Lacey would not eat the cupcake herself. But the bunnies and deer would come along and eat it for her to help celebrate her birthday. This picture always seemed to make him happy.
The rest of the day/week, we enjoyed Lacey’s cupcakes, thought about her and talked about her and repeated her beautiful name. A tradition we have carried on annually for 26 years.
The Grip of Grief Loosens
Our family has since grown to include a second daughter, Isabella, who is an answer to many years of prayer. Sometimes both of the children are not available to come to the cemetery on October 29th. But still, we go and we take a pink cupcake, light a candle, sing “Happy Birthday” and we remember.
Legacy Link-up for October is waiting for your link. What story of legacy will you share with us today? This link-up is open until the end of the month. Add your link and read some of those in front of yours. Your will be blessed. I am sure. Just click on the image on the left to go to the link-up.
Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond my control, the original post has been closed to public viewing. Suffice it to say that a journey through grief can leave scars that are too tender to approach.
Let this be a reminder to each of us that the loss of a child is not only a mother’s grief but the whole family grieves as well. Thankfully, most of society now sees that grief counseling is very important for everyone involved.
If you are interested in other stories of bereavement and healing. This book will be released on November 8, 2019. I will be reviewing it later this month.
Loss, Survive, Thrive
Bereaved Parents Share Their Stories of Healing and Hope
by Meryl Hershey Beck – Contributions by Rukiye Z. Abdul-Mutakillim; Alice Adams; Laura Mathes Arshonsky; Michelle Barbuto; Vickie Bodner; Heidi Bright; Robert R. Burdt; Lynda Crane; Janice Crowder-Torrez; Tim deZarn; Kelly Farley; Tamara Gabriel; Shoshana Garfield; Suzanne Giesemann; Marla Grant; Kelley Ireland; Ernie Jackson; Jo-Anne Joseph; Mary Langford; Lucia Maya; Tammy McDonnell; Sandy Peckinpah; Sharon Gabriel Rossy; Laurie Savoie; Michele Wollert and Tina Zarlenga
October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month.
Today and every day, let’s remember: All the babies born sleeping. Those carried but never held. Those held that could not be taken home. Those taken home that could not stay. We remember. Always.
Let’s pray for each family we know that has taken this journey through grief. Even if many years have gone by, the pain is many times still very real. Place a family’s name (last name only) in the comments below and then pray for the name(s) in the comment above yours.
We have kept the Legacy Link-up live so feel free to participate below.
LEGACY LINK-UP TIME!
We would love to read your legacy stories, also. Share your links to your posts below. It’s doesn’t have to be about grief; how about how God has helped you through any trial. I love hearing how God triumphs in our lives.