Stella's Story: Part 1

Here is the beginning of Stella's Story: Stella's Story: Part 1
The rest is coming soon!

Routine Emotions

My heart is heavy today. 

It's not because anything really bad happened.  It is the normal routine events that make me think, and thinking makes me sad.  I guess that's why I've tried not to deal with my feelings for awhile now.  I'm realizing, though, that there are so many unresolved emotions that I haven't worked through.  But I need to, so I am.

Finn had his two-week checkup today.  It was kind of comical how excited Mike and I both were to take him to the doctor.  We had a bet on how much he would weigh.  I won.  Again.  (I also won how much he would weigh at birth).  I guessed 8lbs 5oz, and the scale said 8lbs 4.6oz. Victory! Finn's head also gained three-and-a-half centimeters.  Wow!  No wonder his hats are already getting small. Finn has his first chin roll, and he's smiling randomly.

When I think about our visit and how well Finn is growing, I get all choked up.  I know it sounds ridiculous, but I take absolutely nothing for granted.  Nothing.  "Routine" growth checks and milestones are anything but.   I want to shout from the rooftops that our son is healthy!

And at the same time my tears of joy flow freely, they are mingled with tears of sorrow.  Every little routine event with Finn is a painful reminder that our daughter isn't here with us. 

Sitting at McDonald's tonight, I watched an adorable one-year-old girl with feathery flaxen hair, fluffy from the static electricity of the slides, toddle around in her cute little pink-embroidered jeans.   My heart hurt. 

I heard a dad call out "Finn," from across the room, and I did a double-take.  Was there really another boy with the same name as my son in the same place when I had never met another "Finn"?  He was there with his sister.  His sister.  My Finn has a sister, too.  But he'll never know her, only of her.

I glanced at my sweet boy sleeping soundly in his carseat, and having him felt surreal.  Sometimes, I still can't believe he's here, and he's mine.  But, because he's here, she isn't, and she isn't coming back: quite a heavy reality for a mother who's lost a child. 

I have friends who have offered this reality as a comfort of sorts...that Finn wouldn't be here if Stella hadn't died.  I try not to get upset at friends who say this, but I don't find it comforting AT ALL that Finn is here because Stella is not.  If your parents were in a fatal car crash and your mom survived because your dad died, I wouldn't say, "Well, at least you have your mom."  Sure, you will be thankful that your mom survived, but NEVER at the expense of your dad passing away...It's the same situation with my Stella.  Logically, Finn wouldn't be here as a  newborn right now if Stella hadn't passed away when she did, but even still, I imagine her as a wobbly one-year-old babbling away and discovering her world as one-year-olds do.

Early today, my sons "routinely" wrecked chaos when told to play in their downstairs playroom.  Well, they were supposed to be in their playroom.  Apparently, they got bored of playing with their toys as intended (a hot wheels race track) and decided to get creative.  They snuck into the downstairs kitchen; Milo found a pair of scissors, and Ely found some fresh eggs from our feathered ladies.  I can just see the wheels spinning in Ely's head.  His train of thought probably went something like this: cars can roll down the track...that's boring...eggs can roll...let's see what happens when we roll eggs down the track...oops! egg's broken...I wonder if that will happen again...let's try it...oops!...two eggs broken...Daddy!  I didn't mean to... 

Sure, it's hilarious now, and it makes a great story, but my sons' "creativity" is quite a common occurence.  After hearing all the details from Mike, I looked at Finn and sighed.  Believe me, I'm head over heels in love with my little guy, but sometimes all the shenanigans (both present and past) serve as a painful reminder of the reality of boys, boys, and more boys.  And no girls.  No Stella. 

I am overcome with the fullness of my heart..full of the joy and wonder of a new baby boy and at the same time equally full of sorrow because I miss my daughter.  My heart feels heavy and ready to burst.

I Give Thanks

I don't take a single moment with my precious Finn for granted.  Not a single detail of his existance, either. 

I give thanks for every cry.  As soon as Finn was out, he cried. And cried.  And cried some more.  And I smiled.  I couldn't stop smiling. 

When Stella was born, she let out two tiny cries, and that was it.  I never heard a peep from her again. 

I give thanks for pee.  Minutes after Finn was born, before I even saw his precious face, he peed all over the nurse.  It was quite funny (and in the middle of a C-section, much unexpected comical relief), but even more than that, it was a sigh of relief for us.  His kidneys were working! 

We weren't sure Stella even had two kidneys; it turned out she did, but they were half the size they should be and were functioning at less 50%.  She hardly peed at all in her short little life. 

I give thanks for every diaper change.   Before Finn was born, Mike told me quite a few times that he was looking forward to changing diapers.   From this simple statement, I knew that my husband was just as grateful as I for a healthy baby boy and wouldn't take a single thing for granted, even something as mundane as diaper changes.  We are so grateful that all of Finn's parts work. :)

It probably sounds strange, but one of the regrets I have is that I never got to change Stella's diaper.  Mike didn't either. 

I give thanks for Finn's perfectly formed round little head and his adorable little ears.  These were the first two parts of Finn I examined when they handed him to me. 

Stella's head was lopsided, and her ears were malformed and low-set.  Not that I didn't think she was beautiful anyway, but these features were a constant reminder of her (fatal) genetic condition.

I give thanks for every little baby sigh, grunt, and coo. 

And I'm reminded of how very silent and still Stella was. 

I give thanks for being woken up at night by cranky squirms and lip smacking.  Seeing clear, bright dark blue eyes staring up at me as he nurses. 

What a comforting difference from half-open hurting eyes and tiny squirms of agony. 

I give thanks for being able to cuddle my newborn, warm and soft and content, against my chest. 

When Stella's tubes were removed on the last day of her life, and I lifted her to snuggle her close to my heart, she was swollen, stiff, and growing cold. There was no nuzzling of her tiny face or scunching up of her tiny legs beneath her belly. 

I give thanks that I can feel Finn gaining weight, outgrowing his newborn sleepers. 

The first outfit Stella wore was her last.  I had no beautiful gown for her to wear; only a preemie sleeper I bought secondhand at a consignment store "just in case."

I give thanks to God for our new little one.

Phineas Jude

For thirteen days now, I've been more than blessed by the seven-pound-eleven-ounce sweetheart that I've anticipated for so long. 

We agonized for months over what to name him. 

For sixteen weeks, we had the perfect girl's name picked out, and we were 100% agreed on what to call the much-prayed-for, much-hoped-for "her."  Our dreams were dashed even before the twenty-week ultrasound when our sixteen-week growth check showed the unmistakeable turtle between our baby's legs.

I struggled for months with the disappointment of carrying a third son while I watched friends rejoice over the births and anticipated births of healthy baby girls.  I missed my daughter, and more than anything, I wanted another daughter.  Even still, I can't fully reconcile my heart's desire with God's choice to bless us with another son.  Today, I again felt the all too familiar pangs of heartache when a facebook friend announced (after her twenty-week-ultrasound), "Our prayers have been answered! It's a girl!" 

What about our prayers?  We prayed for the same thing...a healthy baby girl.  Were our prayers not answered?  Of course I know little about the ways of God, but I really thought if anyone deserved a baby girl, it was us. I believed God would add another daughter to our family to help us in our healing process.  Why did God not answer our prayers?

I think He did answer our prayers,  just not with "our answer."  One of my Dad's favorite Bible verses is Proverbs 16:9 "In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps."  I still have no idea why God didn't agree with our "plan" to have another daughter, and He chose not to bless us in this way.   During my pregnancy with our little boy, I wrestled with God's determination of our steps.  More than anything, I wanted to be fully accepting of this wrench in my plans...another son and not the daughter I longed for.

And so, I was determined that this little boy scheduled to arrive on November 9th would have the perfect name.  His name had to have a deep meaning which reminded me that his presence in our lives was planned, predestined by God, and not something I could argue with. 

We chose the name Phineas because it means "oracle."  If you look up the meaning of oracle, one of the definitions is "God-given message: a message believed to come from God in response to a request, plea, or petition."  We believe that our little Phineas is God's answer to our prayers.  Was he the answer we would have chosen?  No, but God did answer our prayers.  I don't think it is fair to say that God answers our prayers only when it's the answer we wanted.  I don't pretend to understand why God didn't feel that another daughter was in our best interest, but one of God's many lessons to me over the past year has been to "lean not on your own understanding."  Our baby boy's name reminds me that his birth was not an accident, not something I should regret; nor should I daydream about a different outcome. 

I saw a vinyl quote that I plan to plaster on my wall.  Since I first read it, it has stuck with me, and I purposefully remember it every day.  It says, "Happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have."  Amen. 

What I have is a beautiful baby boy whose seven-pound body has been perfectly formed in my womb.  THAT is incredible.  There are no words that can express my gratitude for the gift of this little boy's life...that God has entrusted him to us to hold, to love, and to raise in His ways.  Phineas' middle name is Jude, which means PRAISE.  I chose Jude as a reminder to me to praise God daily for my third son.

Phineas Jude...a message from God, an answer to our plea, and for whom we give God PRAISE.  God who answers prayer.  What better name could there be for our little boy?

Even his nickname, Finn, reminds me that God's plan is better than my own.  Finn means "fair."  Yes, I supposed the connotation of "fair" could refer to color, but I am reminded that God didn't even have to give us another child after losing Stella, yet He did, and our baby boy is perfect and beautiful. 

Thank you, God, for answering our prayers and giving us Phineas Jude.  We praise you for him.


About This Blog

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This is the story of our daughter, Stella Rose, who went to be with Jesus after five days here on this earth. Stella was born with multiple birth defects due to a severe case of Wolf Hirschhorn Syndrome. Although Stella is no longer with us in person, she has changed us forever. Stella's legacy is my journey on a new road without my daughter, and how God is working in our hearts.

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