A Bump and a Tree… and a Video. A Girl.

It was September 19th, three years ago today, that a beautiful friend wrote out her words to tell my story on her blog… a story I could not yet bring myself to tell. And with her words, she shared the photos she’d so lovingly took of my belly for the maternity shoot I asked her to do (which she did just days earlier). When I was not ready to come out of my shell of grief and the private, protective covering of pondering I’d been under, she was able to share, for anyone who might see it, what we were going through and what were about to go through. I’d been able to privately let friends into the story. But I couldn’t yet bring myself to tell the world… so to speak.

Her post there was shared as my last post on my old blog, but it wouldn’t be published there for another few months, at which point I started this blog.

All that to say, I sort of wanted to reshare the post in its entirety here today, but now I’m thinking the link to it will suffice.

Instead, I’m sharing something I have wanted to write about for a very long time here, and it includes one of the photos my friend Stacey took three years ago. Like Stacey, who lives in Minnesota, I also met another dear friend from Minnesota over the internet. But instead of knowing her going into my pregnancy with Anysia, I met her as a result of my pregnancy. Her name is Amy Kuebelbeck, and she is a dear woman and champion for the growing and important movement that is sweeping through our world which favors perinatal hospice and palliative care provisions for parents and babies who find themselves in similar times as we did over three years ago when we were told our daughter, still in my womb, had Trisomy 18.

Amy started and has been running an organization called Perinatal Hospice and Palliative Care. She’s written two important, informative and helpful books about this type of care, but also about her own similar loss of her son Gabriel (whose life is celebrated in Waiting with Gabriel), and the losses/experiences of many other parents.

Never did I think I would come to speak with her personally when I started reading her book A Gift of Time (cowritten with Deborah L. Davis) while I was pregnant, but we were graciously connected by a caring mutual friend who knew of both our losses and has known her own loss of her baby, Peter. After connecting with Amy, I came to discover that she’d already been following my story because she found my blog after I linked to her book in one of my first posts.

In fact, it was in that post that I used my favorite-ever photo… one taken by Stacey during the shoot mentioned above. After that point, Amy and I became friends… friends who’ve never met in person yet, but who are (and will always be) connected by our stories… or the stories of my Anysia and her Gabriel.

Fast forward a couple of years to last spring when Amy reached out to me to ask for permission to use that photo (which she also has loved since she saw it) for a video she was putting together for her organization.

I was honored, of course, and gave my permission without hesitation. It meant the world to me to know that Anysia’s name would be there in it… for all who would view it throughout its existence… for her name to be remembered as long as the video will get played. It gave her memory the longevity I have so longed for it to have.

But what I could never have expected was to be so moved by every other photo in the video… almost as much as the one Amy used to honor Anysia. It’s such a powerful video, as well as touching. Sad, but joyful. It pretty much stirs the gamut of emotions that we felt the day Anysia came and left.

So, I’m so honored and happy, yet heartbroken… but still very glad… to finally share this video here today.

Anysia… or rather, my belly with her in it, is in the first screen in the video that appears with a photo and name of the babies remembered in the video (at :26, just after the screen that says “waiting with your baby”).

I LOVE to see her name… anywhere, anytime, and especially here. It’s what sets the tears flowing from the get-go. What keeps them flowing are the other photos, and the tender music heard as each one appears. It was a personal friend of Amy’s who wrote the absolutely perfect, in name and tone, music that is used in the video, which makes it seem even more special. And toward the end, there is a photo of her baby, Gabriel, in her arms. How special to be a part of this in even a small way… and to be connected with such an advocate for these families like Amy.

I hope that any parent out there who might be afraid and/or unsure about carrying his or her child to term, even though the baby’s life is expected to be brief, will see this and be assured of the gift they’ll be getting and giving by doing so.

September 19th isn’t just a special day for us and Anysia because of the photo shoot that my friend did for me and wrote about on the 19th three years ago. It’s also very special because it is the day we chose to plant a tree in our back yard for Anysia… two years ago. Her tree is something that I have written about before on this blog, and I posted the photos I took of our planting when I did. (Click here to see those.)

But what I didn’t realize until today (or perhaps just forgot) was that those two things happened on the same day, and it was not even planned that way. I was so happy to find out today, via the Facebook memories that popped up in my feed, that the 19th is the anniversary for both.

We chose the 19th to plant her tree because it was 9 months after she was born and died… her birthday was December 19th.

The 19th made sense, and it was the right time.

But what I couldn’t know three months before she was born is that she would be born on the 19th, so it’s a special thing to me… one of the many kisses from God in all this… that my friend’s post of her shoot, in which she shared our hurting secret for the first time, happened to be on the 19th, and so falls on the same date as the day we planted the tree.

Tonight, just as I wrapped up my post with the window open in the office (a room near that tree), I heard the briefest rain come down. It couldn’t have been falling for more than a minute… two at the most. It was as if the rain was sent just for her tree as if to water it… and just for me to hear.

And then the rain left as quickly as it came.

So peculiar… in the best way.

So special to me.