Unbumped.

This blog has been sitting in a notebook since the summer. These scribbled notes have been crossed out, highlighted and binned.
I have been drawn this week to revisit my scribbles, to try and unpick what I want to say.
We are in the middle of baby loss awareness week, It’s a special opportunity to mark the lives of babies lost in pregnancy or at or soon after birth.
Social media / news stories supporting baby loss week tell of the indescribable pain and heartbreak of loosing a baby.
It’s is a pain that never goes away: it changes shape, it produces less tears, it slowly makes way for laughter and a different life, but it stays.
We celebrate pregnancy we share our scan pictures, our milestones we share our joys.
Their is no room for celebrations when a pregnancy ends early, It robs you of your dreams and the baby you never got to hold . Its a silent painful loss, often unspoken, not shared.
The Unbearable pain of repeated miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies has consumed me for many years. Each loss became another story in my dark twisted fairy tale. Happy every after was not in my story, a dark fear and disbelief left me empty and morning.
Twenty Two years latter I celebrated these precious lives by being “unbumped”
The unbumping as we called it took the form of a body painting. A work of art, not on paper, but on skin, my not so flat stomach provided us with a wobbly canvas. A stomach stretched by pregnancy, scared by pregnancy loss and the emergency surgery to save my life, ending the life of my unborn child.
It’s taken me along time to have come this far, to understand that the answer to infertility is not always healed by the arrival of a baby. Our journeys though grief are unique to us, time is not a factor. Letting go of love was only made possible for me when I found my faith.
My faith has helped me to hand over of my grief and pain. To ask God to deal with it for me / with me. Understanding and trusting that God will hold onto our children forever, hold them so I can let them go.
Spending time reading and reflecting on psalm 139 has helped me to see just how much our unborn children are loved by God. How much love went into making each and every one of them. How beautifully wonderfully made they are.
It was from those reflections the unbump celebration became a creative visual celebration of the six children that grew in my womb.
My companion in this unbumping was a trusted creative friend. Putting time aside from our busy lives we spent a weekend together on our own mini retreat . A prayerful time guided by the Holy spirt, a creative space that allowed us to pray through art.
We focused on the gifts that pregnancy has brought to each of us . My wobbly skin canvas was being transformed by the flutter of brush stokes. These butterfly fluttering strokes painted 6 little perfect hearts into a heart shaped womb.
Each heart was joined to one another and woven into my life story.
The painting was more than I could have hoped for, the bitter sweet emotions that surfaced during the day where mixed with friendship and prayer.
Unlike a tattoo this beautiful work of art was only temporary. One of many moments that have helped in the healing process. Praying and reflecting on the day I showered my skin soothed and comforted by the heat of the water . The painted images slowly started to run and mix into each other. Watching these colours swirl and fade away I realised just how healing the process had been. Thankful for the opportunity to have celebrated their being in such a perfect and beautiful way. These little people have made my heart bigger, taught me how fragile life is, how precious each moment is.
The Bible is filled with stories about normal everyday humans who struggle, whose stories of pain and suffering are part of their journey.
I have yet to read all these stories, the ones that I have read tell of journeys full of pain, but in that pain is purpose and hope. We only see that purpose when we look back. I can only know see just how much God was a part of my life when I look back. God was with me I was just looking in the wrong direction.
The more I learn about a life walking with Jesus the more I start to realise It’s not always for us understand why . I will never why I could not carry our babies to term or why I suffered infertility after my last pregnancy.
Today I understand my life is richer for their being. It’s a life lived today as a christian filled with hope and love.
It’s a love that has started to free me from the grief of pregnancy loss, To embrace a future knowing I am loved by the one who created me
We are loved and stay loved, we are not measured on our success in carrying a baby to term. We are not measured by our failure to conceive . We are just loved and watched over, as we grow into the person we become.
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Psalm 139:13-18

13For You formed my inward parts;

You covered me in my mother’s womb.

14I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

Marvelous are Your works,

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Back to School.

It’s the last week of the school holidays. For many it’s a time of joy, relief and “ getting back to normal “.
For some it’s a difficult time. It’s a time when we can feel really empty and alone.
It’s a time when we mark mile stones for the children that we no longer hold.
It’s a tough time and often a forgotten time. The prayer below is for all of those that feel the grief and pain of back to school.

Dear lord
Be with those who cannot sleep and those
who weep.
Be with those with restless empty arms that cannot settle.
Give rest to the tired and broken hearted.
Calm our muddled minds, realise us from the burdens that we carry.
Tonight lord we hold onto you and trust you.
May we great the dawn with hope and a world full of possibles.
Amen
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The school run, Pie Jesu and Henry King.

Day 32- lent Challenge – Remain.

Today’s blog is for my head of house.
When my mum was recently asked. Which four people would she have round for a dinner party (dead or alive) and why? She choose; her granddaughter, her grandfather, a personal friend, and her old English teacher (who went onto be my head of house at school).

I recently asked my mum why she choose him. The main reason was she felt valued. She went on to say that he cared and taught passionately. His love for poetry was something he wanted to pass onto others.
That passion for poetry has stayed with my mum. It’s a beautiful gift, that she has passed onto my daughter.
As children we grew up with my mum reciting poems at any opportunity. This was normally Sunday after lunch. We would all stay sat at the table listening to my mum performing poetry. ( Her owl and pussycat adds a whole new dimension to spoken word poetry) .
Our family favourite poem was the “ Chief Defect Of Henry King “ by Hilaire Belloc. We still all love this silly nonsense poem about little bits of string.
Mothering Sunday afternoon Henry King made an unexpected visit, accompanied by my mum sister and nephew. We spent a blessed hour together. A rare hour full of joy and laughter.
My mum sat on the sofa reciting poems. My 7-year-old nephew adding his own silly words. We all laughed so much.
So a huge thank you to this wonderful teacher for making my mum feel valued. For Teaching her poetry that remains with us and has been passed onto future generations.

My turn.
This wonderful teacher was getting near retirement when he became my head of house.  He held house assembley three times a week, this was a mix of school notices, poetry and prayer.
He always played a track of classical music at the start of assembly, during which he would walk with purpose into the assembly hall.
One morning he walked into the hall to the music “Pie Jesu”. The mood was somber as he gently broke the news to us that our much-loved tutor had been killed in a car crash. The music played on quietly as he spoke soft sincere words of grief and pain. I remember how we felt valued and loved by this teacher, he felt our pain.

Many years later listening to the same piece of music God spoke to me. I was not aware of this at the time. I was not completely listening, not yet ready. A little spark of faith very dimly ignited for a few seconds.
All this happened a few days after 9/11. I was driving to collect my daughter from school. Listening to my new cd of “Pie Jesu” that I felt compelled to buy only hours earlier. I had never even thought about this music until the tragic events of 9/11. The grief I felt connected me with that school assembley so many years before.
Listening to the music I ended up driving and parking near the church. With time to spare before my daughter finished school, I walked into the empty church. Sitting down very very briefly before leaving.
I look back on that day and see it as a wobbly God moment. I often wonder how close I was that day to a prayer. How close I was to opening my heart to God.

Last year “Pie Jesu” was sung at the saying goodbye service at Exeter Cathedral ( you can read more about it here). The service that offered me great comfort and support. Little steps in healing the pain caused by pregnancy loss. Giving my pain to God. It was such a powerful and moving day. Powerful emotions of a journey travelled.

It’s looking back that I see God showing up in my lifetime and time again. Showing up in the ordinary. I love the ordinary amazing things that Holy spirit does for us. Giving space and vision in our lives to turn the ordinary into something extra extraordinary.
Personally for me that’s so awesome, powerful and wonderful. God revealing himself to me in my ordinary routines. The school run, Pie Jesu and Henry King.

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Romans 12:1-2 The Message (MSG)
Place Your Life Before God
12 1-2 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

Greek Holiday 1989.

Day 14 – Lent Challenege 2018- Journey.

This year I am following a 12-month Bible reading plan.
The Journey through Acts sent me on a physical journey to the loft. After lots of rummaging through suitcases I finally found my Greek holiday journal from 1989.
This Journal is full of memories of a fabulous trip to Athens followed by a cruise around the islands.
It’s great to see my photos of the places mentioned in my Bible readings . The places I visited as a teenager are helping me today. Joining up my worlds making the Bible come alive .

Years later my travelling companion introduced me to my husband, supported me through pregnancy loss. When her beautiful baby daughter was baptised she choose me to be one of her God parents.
It’s a massive hug of thanks to my friend of many many years.

Acts 17:16 Good News Translation
While Paul was waiting in Athens for Silas and Timothy, he was greatly upset when he noticed how full of idols the city was.

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Acts 21:1 Good News Translation
We said good-bye to them and left. After sailing straight across, we came to Cos; the next day we reached Rhodes, and from there we went on to Patara.

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Acts 19 Good News Translation
While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul traveled through the interior of the province and arrived in Ephesus.

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Revelation 1 Good News Translation
9 I am John, your brother, and as a follower of Jesus I am your partner in patiently enduring the suffering that comes to those who belong to his Kingdom. I was put on the island of Patmos because I had proclaimed God’s word and the truth that Jesus revealed.

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Five little glimmers of hope.

Day Three – Lent Challnge 2018 – Breathe.

Today’s Lent challenge prompt is “breathe ” and I chose to share and say thank you, to  my five little glimmers of hope that never took their first breath.
Pregnancy loss is devastating and lonely.
It was a time when I had no faith, a time when prayer offered no comfort.
All the excitement and joy I had for the precious life I carried was instantly gone.

When God came into my life I have been able to find the peace and comfort that I needed to let go of 20 years of emotional pain. Focus on what I have rather than what I have not.
Our five little glimmers of hope. Taught me how precious life is. How we cannot take it for granted. Sometimes something’s are just beyond our control.

This verse is one that I need to remind myself of every now and again. They were wonderfully fearfully made. The one who creates all and provides all.
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Psalm 139 – 13-16
For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.[a]
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.

Missing This Christmas.

Dad won’t be sat at the Christmas table today.
Joanne will not turn up overloaded with beautifully wrapped grifts.
Dad won’t complain the sprouts are overdone.
Joanne won’t delight us with her stories .
But they will be with us this Christmas .

Our little boy won’t run down stairs to see if Santa has been.
Our little girl will not ask if it’s morning yet.
But presents will be brought.
Santa will come
They will be with us this Christmas.

Mum won’t sit at the head of the table.
Our large family of children will not cause chaos.
Mum won’t refuse us ice-cream and custard.
Children’s delightful faces will never be seen.
But they will be with us this Christmas.

I keep them all alive .
In ways that others might not see.
My prayers today are for them the ones I and cannot see.

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I will Never.

Day Thirty Five – Imagine  – lent Challenge

I never imagined I would be able to say goodbye to my babies that died, I never imagined there would be the right place, or the right time.
I never imagined I would have the strength to let them go, the courage to face the realisation that I can’t hold on to them for ever. This was all made possible by the faith I never imagined I would have .
The right place was the Lady’s Chapel in Exeter cathedral, the right time was 8th of April 2017.
The strength and courage came from God and prayers.

The service was beautiful and very moving acknowledging baby loss as something you never get over but something you need to learn to live with.
The poem ” I will Never ” by Clark- Coates / Fossberry was read out and afterwards a hand bell was passed around during the playing of Pie Jesu recorded by Katherine Jenkins .

I held the bell knowing I would chime it 5 times, a chime for each precious life, it felt for the first time that they were babies .
I prayed for God to care for them until I can be with them again, I looked at the candles burning in the chapel, as the flame flickered it reminded me that although they are gone the flame in my heart will never go out but remain lit and burn brightly.
The chimes allowed me to let go and pass my pain to God, I have carried this pain for a very long time and the time has come to allow God to carry the pain and leave me with warmth and love .
The beautiful stained glass window In the chapel showed Mary holding Jesus as a baby cradled lovingly in her arms. The little baby that she had once held in her arms died crucified on a wooden cross, and pierced her heart. Jesus was her son and she was his mother .

In the presence of God I said my goodbyes, God who knows my needs, hears my cries and heals my wounds .
The hymn Amazing Grace was sung and radiated around the little chapel, the light of the spring day cast colourful shadows of light over us as we sang. The warmth of this sun gently soothing my pain and drying my tears .

I Will Never

I will never get to hold your hand through a storm.
I will never get to wipe your sticky fingers.
I will never get to teach you to tie your shoelaces.

I will never get to watch you catch your first snowflake.
I will never get to know who your best friend would have been.
I will never get to see you fall in love.
I will never get to hear you tell me about your first day at work.
I will never get to hear you tell me ” l’m going to be a grandparent.
But always know ……..
I will never be too proud to ask for help.
I will never be too scared to say this hurts.
I will never be too frightened to declare you matter.
I will never be too afraid to carry on living .
And
I will never forget you
I will never stop saying your name.
I will never stop wondering who you would have been.
I will never stop loving you.
I will never stop remembering the sound of this bell, rung in memory of you.
By Clark – Coates / Fosberry.

1 Peter 5:7Good News Translation
Leave all your worries with him, because he cares for you.

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