Monday, October 14, 2013

Happy Birthday, sweet baby boy.

One year ago today I got to hold the most beautiful baby boy I have ever seen.  He had the sweetest little face with his button nose, pursed lips, and dimpled chin identical to his Daddy's.  Though I didn't get to meet this precious one or see his sweet little eyes, I knew him.  I had known him for 9 months and was blessed with small glimpses of his little life to carry in my heart.

Today, October 14th, would be my sweet Ezra James' first birthday.  My first precious child.  The beautiful baby boy I got to love and carry for 9 joyful months.   In some ways it feels like just yesterday we were in that hospital room cuddling our son and in other ways it seems like an eternity ago that we had to let him go.  Those days we spent at the hospital were some of the most difficult days I have ever walked through.  There is nothing that can prepare you for the news that your sweet child is gone.  But as I think back to those days, I also remember the awe of holding this beautiful baby boy the Lord had so carefully and intricately formed within me.

As we handed our sweet baby Ezra to our nurse and forced ourselves to walk out of Salem Hospital, we had no idea the path the Lord had ahead of us.  In those initial moments all you can think about is surviving.  I can honestly tell you that I have never had a year in my life where I have had to run to Jesus and cling to Him more so than this one.  So many moments of praying, trusting, and learning how to remember the joy amidst so much pain.  This year has taught me so much about loving without holding back, even if it means it may hurt.  We could choose to walk through life holding back our emotions or love for fear of experiencing pain, but that would be robbing the Lord of the joy He wants to give us when we love.  I loved Ezra so deeply in those 9 months and, though it hurts so much to have lost him, I would never trade the time I spent with him.  Those 9 months of complete happiness were worth it and the love that grew and grew during that pregnancy will never go away.

As we have navigated the intense season of grief this past year, we have felt the Lord walking so closely and intimately with us.  Grief is a process that cannot be rushed and marked by so many moments of remembering and continuing to love.  It has taught me so much about the value of a life, no matter how long or short it may be.  Though I wouldn't have chosen for Ezra's life to have been so brief, I know that his 9 months here on earth had purpose and continue to have purpose.  His little life has touched people in ways I had never imagined.

Like any expecting Mom and Dad, we had so many dreams of what Ezra's life would be like.  We had dreamt about what he would look like, what personality he would have, what would be his strengths and weaknesses, what would interest him.  One of our biggest dreams was always about how God would use our son.  I prayed those 9 months that my son's life, above all else, would point others to the Lord.  That is what drew us to his name.  In Nehemiah, Ezra brought the people back to God's scriptures and pointed them back to the Lord.  We loved that his name meant "helper".  Though I had anticipated years and years of growing with Ezra and seeing the ways God would use him during a lifetime lived, I am so thankful that we have opportunities to see how his sweet little life is being used to minister and how he truly is a "helper" from up in Heaven.  There will never be an answer for why we lost Ezra so soon, but it gives me so much comfort to see how his life will continue to be used and was completely worth it.

The Lord has blessed us in so many ways this year.  So many people have walked this road so intimately with us and have shown us such compassionate love.  We have been blown away by the ways people have given financially to help us pay off our medical and funeral expenses and gave us the opportunity to have a beautiful headstone put in at BelCrest Cemetery to remember our sweet Ezra by.  We are so thankful for the relationships that God has blessed us with.  Family and friends who have cried with us, prayed with us, celebrated the little moments and allowed us to remember and talk about our baby boy.  And the biggest blessing of this year is that the Lord so graciously blessed with a precious baby girl to be with us on this journey of grieving our first child.  Her little growing life has brought so much joy and hope during these difficult moments and has taught us even more about depending on and trusting the Lord.  In less than two weeks we will be back at the hospital meeting this sweet baby girl.  All we can say is that God is SO good.

As I walk through this birthday weekend, there are definitely tears and an overwhelming amount of emotions, but through all of it there is also peace.  A peace that I can trust God and lean on him, even in moments I don't understand.    Though I would love for this 1st birthday to be filled with memories of our sweet baby boy perhaps taking his first steps, cutting a new tooth, smashing his first birthday cake, and getting ready to meet his baby sister, I am trusting the Lord, knowing that He is using our sweet little son.  What better place could there be to celebrate your first birthday than in the arms of our precious Savior?  We love you so much, sweet Ezra James, and are so thankful you were and always will be our first baby.  Happy Birthday, sweet baby boy.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Sweet Baby Girl

June 14th has always been a special day in my's my birthday.  But these past two years it has held a much greater significance.  On June 14th, 2012 we found out that the precious baby I was carrying was an active little boy who would be named Ezra James.  Exactly a year later on June 14, 2013 we found out that our second baby was a sweet, mellow little girl.

The morning of my birthday we were filled with such a mix of emotions: complete excitement to see our precious baby, anticipation to learn more about who God was creating this child to be, fear that something could be wrong, yet a peace knowing that God was holding this sweet baby's future in His hands.

As the ultrasound began the first image we saw was the top of a head and two little hands wiggling around in front of it.  At that first sight of movement and life, Tim and I were amazed once again at God's beautiful design and the tears started flowing.  I can't help but cry through every ultrasound.  The sight of that little person growing, moving, and being formed leaves me in complete awe and wonder.  The technician took her list of pictures to check on our sweet baby's development and everything was looking good.

And then came the moment we had been waiting for.  Was this baby a boy or a girl? We knew before the technician even told us...this precious baby was definitely a sweet little girl.  My heart was overcome with so much emotion.  This little girl was making me a mommy a second time.  I now had a son and a daughter.  My heart was so full of love and joy at the sight of my sweet daughter.

This little girl was calm and mellow throughout the entire ultrasound.  She stayed in a curled up position on her back for almost 40 minutes and would move her hands up in front of her face every so often.  We got to see her little chest mimicking breathing and her cute little lips sucking.  How incredible to be able to see what she is doing to cause the movement I feel.

Here are a few pictures of our darling daughter measuring right on track during her 19th week at 11 ounces...

As soon as I saw her little profile I knew without a doubt she was a baby girl.  I had felt that way from early on in the pregnancy, but her sweet little face looked so much like Ezra's except with more delicate, petite features.  The 3-D pictures were incredible.  What a blessing to be able to see our entire baby girl all curled up inside of me and even appearing to have a little smirk on her sweet face.  Thank you, Lord, for these moments of seeing our baby girl living life already.

We could not stop smiling and crying the rest of the day.  We were having a baby girl!  We spent the day at the beach and purchased her first outfit (Daddy picked it out).  It was such a beautiful day filled with peace, knowing that our baby girl was growing and doing well.

Two days later we celebrated Father's Day by throwing a party to tell our family the baby's gender.  We did the same party a year before for Ezra, except we waited to find out with our family that he was a baby boy.  Ezra's party is a moment I will cherish forever.  It was a time where we celebrated the life that little Ezra was living with us.  We will always view these moments of pregnancy so differently.  We know they are not to be taken for granted and we want to celebrate every moment that the Lord gives us with them.

Here are a few pictures of our evening telling our family about our sweet baby girl..

What a sweet evening this was! So many moments have been shared with these people throughout this past year.  What a blessing to be able to celebrate this moment of life and look forward to a baby girl with our family.

We so appreciate all the prayers and support everyone has been and continues to be as we walk this journey.  In just over 14 weeks our baby girl should be here.  Your continued prayers mean so much to us.  Everyday is a new process of trusting our sweet daughter and this journey to the Lord.  Thank you so much for praying for our baby girl!

Monday, April 22, 2013

2 & 2=4

We are finally ready to share a new piece of our story...

We are pregnant with Baby Saffeels #2!

We are so thankful that the Lord has graciously blessed us with this second pregnancy and another sweet baby to pray and wait for!  We are 12 weeks along and due Nov. 3rd.  Today we got to hear this little babies heartbeat for the first was one of the most precious sounds we had ever heard!  We are trusting the Lord with this precious life.

We would so appreciate your prayers as we continue this journey of parenthood that God began 14 months ago.  We pray everyday for a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby, but also that we would live each day without fear and rest in the peace we have in the Lord.

We still miss our sweet little Ezra so much and continue to heal from the loss of our precious firstborn, but we are so hopeful with this blessing of new life.  We are thanking the Lord for His provision, knowing that these babies are truly His.

Thanks for the prayers and much love from the Saffeels Family of 4

Monday, January 21, 2013

Ezra James Saffeels

I think about Ezra a lot.  I don't even know how many times a day I realize I've been sitting in the same place just caught up in my thoughts about my sweet baby.  Last week I walked to the cemetery.  I was having a hard day and wanted to be as close to him as possible.  I'm so thankful we chose to bury him in Belcrest cemetery.  It really is a beautiful place.  I was sitting on the grass looking at his little resting spot.  There is a temporary placard that says Ezra J. Saffeels at the top.  There is a little green cup filled with white daisies from my in-laws.  There is a cute little rubber duck dressed in a pumpkin, put there by my Dad, and a tiny ceramic pumpkin from my sister.  Pumpkins will always make me think of Ezra.  He was our little October pumpkin baby.

As I sat by his grave, I couldn't stop thinking about how different the end of 2012 and beginning of 2013 have been.  It's been the new year for almost a month and everyone's been talking about the fresh start and new goals that come with this time of year.  Parts of my life are beginning to settle into a new routine.  As January has come and is almost gone, some normal activity has returned.  But a huge part of my heart, the mommy part, is having the most difficult time letting go of  2012.  My heart is still so deeply wrapped up in the moments of joy and anticipation.  In the moments of saddness and sorrow.  It is so hard to think about moving forward when all my heart wants to do is go back and remember.  The further I get from Oct. 14th, the more I desperately want to cling to every moment I spent with my sweet baby.

As I sat by his grave I looked around.  A tall, leafless tree towered above his little spot.  When we picked the plot it was so important to me that it was by a tree.  I don't know why, but for some reason it comforted me that he wouldn't be buried out in the wide open space of the cemetery.  Belcrest is unlike any other cemetery I've ever seen.  It has rolling slopes, is spattered with clusters of trees, and has a small pond surrounded by benches and shrubs.  It sometimes reminds me of a park.  And though
it isn't my baby's home, it's the place I can go and sit and be close to where he lays.  It holds the memory of the last moments I spent with my baby.  The last time I got to hold him and kiss his sweet little nose.  The last moment I got to see his sweet little face and cuddle him close to me. The moment we said goodbye here on earth until we truly meet him for the first time in Heaven.

As I sat there in the quiet fog I kept thinking about all the life I experienced with my little Ezra in those 9 months.  Before I even knew he was there, my body was already changing and working hard to grow that sweet little boy.  I remember the incredible feeling of awe I felt when I saw the words pregnant on the home test I took that Sunday in February.  Pregnant.  That one word changed my life forever.  I was a mom, even in that early moment.

Throughout those 9 months I was continually amazed to watch the life of my baby boy form and grow.  I loved the numerous ultrasound appointments, where Ezra went from looking like a little jelly bean to a fully formed precious baby.  I loved seeing his little profile and watching his sweet little fingers reaching to touch his toes.  I thank The Lord for those amazing, tearful moments where we got to sit and watch our sweet little boy living life already.  Ezra was so active.  From the first time I felt Ezra moving at 16 weeks, he made his presence known with little wiggles and kicks everyday.  I loved every squirm I felt.  He was an early mover and Tim was able to feel him a week after I did in week 17.  I will always cherish our nightly ritual of laying in bed and watching Ezra kick and push and seeing my belly move.  What a sweet, precious life God gave us to watch in those moments.

This is the first time I've been able to write anything since we lost Ezra.  I've sat down numerous times to try and have always been at a loss for what to say.  In these past few months, I've been in a place I never thought I'd be.  I've been trying to live life a day at a time with a broken heart and a hole in my life that I thought would be filled with Ezra.  The words of many songs hold a
new meaning after losing him.  In those days we spent at the hospital, the lyrics from the song, "It is Well" kept playing through our heads.  The line, "when sorrows like sea billows roll" is such an accurate description of grief.  It really does roll over you like the motion of waves.  Sometimes it is like a small, calm wave.  Definitely present, but not enough to drown you.  And other moments it's unharnessed power crashes over you and makes you feel helpless and pinned down by it's strength.  But through every wave of grief we know we can hold tightly to our Savior, our only hope in those moments, and be able to say, " It is well".

Over these past 3 months God has been teaching me so much as I grieve and miss my precious son.  It is a tricky phase to navigate.  Life and people are normal around you, but you feel anything but normal.  How do you function in your life when you don't feel like the same person you were 3 months ago.  You lean hard on Jesus, that's how.  I am a different person and I will never be the same as I was before.   And I know that is okay.  We have a long road of healing ahead of us.  I don't expect closure from this loss.  There will never be closure and I will always miss my baby, even though I know I will reach a point where it becomes less painful to live each day without him.  Ezra will forever be a part of our life, a part of our story.  My sweet little boy came into my life and changed me.  Are there moments that I wish I could go back and at least get to meet him in person?  To be able to see his sweet little eyes open, to feel him move in my arms instead of inside me, to hear his sweet little cries and coos?  Everyday I battle those thoughts and would love to have those memories.  But do I trust that God is good and that He will, "work all things for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose"?  Yes, I do.  Losing Ezra was the most awful and painful thing I have ever gone through, but I know God will use this terrible experience for good in my life and others.  It is not what I would have chosen, but I trust that God has good yet to come.

Sweet Ezra James, you taught me so much in your short 9 months.  You left your mommy in awe of the miracle of life.  As I held you in my arms in the hospital and saw your sweet little face, your tiny fingers and toes, and your cute little nose, Psalm 139 meant so much more.  Each little life truly is "fearfully and wonderfully made".  I have learned not to take a single moment for granted that God has given me with the people I love.  Life is a precious gift.  You also taught me that this is not my home.  You have already met our precious Savior and experienced your true home sooner than we expected.  Though I wish so badly that I could have held you longer, I am so thankful to know that someday when I reach my true home in Heaven, I will not only meet my Savior, but I will get to truly meet you face to face.  I've loved you from the moment I found out about you, Ezra, and will continue to love you each day of my life.