Here We Are

I never know how to start a post when it’s been a while. I really don’t know how to start a post when it’s been a loooong while, but oh well, here we are.

Last time I wrote, River had just been born. I will spare you the excruciatingly long details of my excruciatingly long labor, and just tell you the important parts: I did it!!! Thanks to the grace of God, an incredible doctor, nursing staff, and doula (heeeey Briana!!!), and a lot of personal determination – I had a successful VBAC and out popped the monstrosity of a child named River Righteousness Murdock. A few days after giving birth, I wrote out every single part of my labor and delivery, and I am so glad I did. I may never read it again, but just in case, it’s cool to know I have it.

Today, River is seven months old and so much fun. His life has brought so much joy, and so many giggles. <side note, I just spent 20 minutes trying to upload a photo of him but I’m having trouble… so that will have to wait until next time!>

With Branch, parenting is so different :: holding love and loss, curating his memory, doing our best to ensure he is not forgotten and his name is spoken regularly. With River, I don’t have to express love and grief at the same time. I get to snuggle him every day, I get to watch him grow instead of imagining what he would look like, and I get to be the person who knows and sees his little personality developing every day. I am oh so grateful for the precious boys God has given me.

A few months before giving birth, I somehow convinced my mother-in-law to train for a half marathon with me. She has never done one, and anytime I had asked in the past she was *very* un-interested. Maybe I was less intimidating this time, maybe she was sick of me asking, or maybe she realized spending every Saturday morning with me would actually be pretty darn fun… whatever it was, she said YES and we signed up for the Tinkerbell Half Marathon, taking place May 8th. We have been training since the end of July, and we are SO ready. I am excited for her to experience the thrill of a big race, and excited for us to finish this thing together.  It is honestly a huge accomplishment for both of us – this is her first time doing this type of distance, and my first race since having River. Also, we are going to wear matching tutu’s, so there’s that.

That’s it for today, but I will leave you with this little tidbit :: I drink iced Americano’s now. Black.

That’s right. No cream. No sugar. Just espresso, water, and ice. I think this is what people refer to as “growing up.”

Talk to you soon, my little raccoons!

Why I Don’t Want to Tell the Internet I’m Pregnant

Since the title basically gave it away, it will come as no surprise to you when I say : I’m pregnant!

I’m a little over halfway there, five and a half months to be exact.

The baby is really healthy so far.

I am having a hard time sleeping (someone is practicing their jabs, kicks, and somersaults), and experiencing all sorts of those normal, but still brutal, pregnancy pains.

It’s a boy!

We are, truly, thrilled. {here I am this morning. bump can not be hidden any longer!}

prego pic

Now, onto why I was resisting telling you, even though though I knew you would all be so excited to know.

Here’s the thing: words truly can not describe the gift we have been given.  We have one perfect son that we had to say goodbye to, and now we will, barring some horrible unforeseen circumstance, have another perfect child that we will get to actually raise and watch grow up. But pregnancy, babies, parenting, children… these are very tender spots in our hearts.

We long for Branch to be here, welcoming this new baby with us. With every good thing that happens with this baby, we are reminded of all we lost when Branch died, and how our family will not be whole again until we are in Heaven. We want this child to grow up knowing his brother, and have ideas of how we will do that in our family, but right now — while we wait to meet him – interacting with others who are on the outside can be hard.

When people say “Congratulations!” I feel weird. I know it’s good that they are congratulating me, and I am so grateful they are, but something stirs in my soul and makes me sad, too. You see, people didn’t congratulate me when I was pregnant with Branch. Some of these same people who are congratulating me now actually avoided me while I was carrying Branch and in the months after.  I do not hold this against them, I really don’t, because it makes perfect sense. We each have our own capacities, and many lovely people who love me, just could not carry any of the weight of my grief : and that’s ok. But in my heart, this spot is tender.

It is a reminder that my first baby, who is just as much my son as this baby is, carries much sadness with his story. It is a reminder that some people, even though they love me, can not talk about Branch — even now. It is a reminder that pregnancy is tough for us. I think it’s tough for everyone, or so I hear, but I know it is particularly tough for those who have lost.  It is a reminder of just how long, an unimaginable amount of time if I am being honest, we will have to wait to hold Branch again.

I sent Glenn a text this morning, telling him I was working on a post about being pregnant and why I didn’t want to tell the word-wide-web. I told him I felt like it all sounded kind of negative. I loved his response:

“You lost a baby. That’s just reality. You have to work through the negative thoughts to get to the positives.”

So wise, that Glenn. He’s also very encouraging, and fights for spiritual and emotional health above all else – something many people do not do. Through everything we have been through in our lifetimes, and particularly the past couple of years with losing Branch, I am most grateful for God’s mercy and love that has been expressed so clearly and personally to each of us.  I am second-most grateful for Glenn. I could write a whole book on how great he is. Maybe someday I will. Though I am not sure if many people are interested in reading how great someone else’s husband is. I guess I’ll find out.

I feel like this post is coming to a close. I have said enough for one day.  Opened the box, bared some more of my soul, which I think is what you all have come to expect here. After getting this part out, maybe I will start blogging all pregnancy related thoughts. Buckle up, internet, we’re in for quite a ride. My current obsession is baby boy swim trunks. Could those things be any cuter?!?!

Much love to each and every one of you. The ones I know and the ones I don’t. The ones who have been nudging me to post and the ones who have told me to hold it sacredly. And a special dose of love to those of you who are held in a special part of my heart – those who are in the middle of a story of child loss, those who have buried their children, and those who are pregnant with healthy babies after hoping for one for so long. I see you. God sees you. We are so, so loved.

Psalm 86:15 “But You. LORD, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.”

May we bask in His compassion and grace today.

~Kristin and BSquared

Lately :: March 2015

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I spent the morning at Disneyland with my sister Kimberly a couple of  weeks ago, which was super fun. I don’t get too many Disneyland trips in anymore, now that I am working full time, but spending a Saturday morning there was a blast. We had corn dogs, ice cream, and rode a couple of rides. The ideal day at the park, if you ask me.

 

Glenn and I finalized and officially ordered Branch’s headstone. You may recall us working on his headstone and thinking we were in the final stages months ago. It is honestly surprising how difficult that entire process was. I never would have guessed it would have taken us over a year to order it, but it did.  I am glad to have the ordering finished, but am also grateful we took our time. I am sure it will be hard to see it in the ground once it is there, but I think it will also be nice in some ways — his name will be seen by all who walk by, and that is special in a way. I hope the gravestone will be a way that his legacy continues.

 

I feel like I do three things: work, walk, sleep. Maybe four things: I cook, too. My soul is in this strange spot, where grief is taking up less space, but is still taking up a good deal of my energy.  I imagine this is a frustrating place when you are a friend of mine, or an acquaintance even. I sense a desire from some for me to return to my former self:  the pre-grief Kristin they were used to.  Honestly, I get it.  I would probably feel the same way if I were them.

 

I try to show myself grace, to be gentle, to hold myself to no one’s expectations. It is hard, though. It is hard to disappoint friends. It is hard when relationships change. It is hard to be the only one in the room who has lost a child.

 

I went to a women’s event with some friends the other night. It was an enjoyable event and I was with safe people, and am so glad I was able to attend. As the evening began, we were all sitting in a circle, and the leader asked us to introduce ourselves by saying our name and how many children we have.  This was a first for me, but I think I handled it ok. It was a small enough group that I didn’t feel the need to hide, but my heart was palpitating as it got closer to my turn. I said my name, and said that I have no living children but my son Branch passed away a little over a year ago.  It was received well, as far as I could tell.

 

There is a new pair of jeans in my closet, and I am mildly obsessed with them.  My favorite jeans (before these ones) were the Madewell high-riser skinny. This latest pair are the AG legging jean. They might as well be sweatpants, they are so comfortable and awesome. And yet, somehow they are significantly more flattering than sweats. I love them!

 

That seems like enough of an update for today! Maybe I will write again in a few days, but I guess we’ll just have to see. 🙂

Much love,

~Kristin

 

Isaiah 66:12-13

For this is what the LORD says: “I will extend peace to her like a river, and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream; you will nurse and be carried on her arm and dandled on her knees. As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.”

 

Dreams for 2015

The first week of January, as we were still celebrating the Twelve Days of Christmas, I created a little space for myself to do something I hadn’t done in a year :: I gave myself space to dream.

At the beginning of last year, 2014,  I remember feeling like hope, and any chance of happiness, died when Branch died. I felt as if all life were lost, and not just for a season, but forever. It seemed the only form of mercy would be God returning and ending my pain. For a full twelve months, maybe more, dreaming became something sweet, innocent, well-meaning friends did, or suggested I do. Dreams, for me, were impossible. In my inmost being, sometimes they still are.

At the beginning of this year, 2015, I found myself ready, waiting, wanting to dream again, even if just a little.  And so, on January 4th, I sat on the leather chair in our living room, I used my colorful pens, I let the dreams flow — big and small. Here is what I came up with.

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Have a healthy baby. Write on my blog every week. Re-design my blog. Run 3 miles in 30 minutes. Travel to Europe. Eat at The French Laundry.

Dreams are different than goals. Dreams don’t need check-lists or priorities. Dreams don’t even need to happen. They are simply dreams. A picture of what the future could be, without any hidden agenda or judgement.  Dreams.

May God’s grace be sufficient for you today, whether you are able to dream or if the dreaming will just have to wait. You and I are so very loved.

~Kristin

Romans 8:32  “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”

December 14th, 2014

I wrote this last week, on December 14th (hence the title), and read it at an annual event The Elizabeth Hospice puts together called Light Up A Life. We were so honored to have been asked to speak at Light Up A Life, and to share a little bit more about Branch. I could sing The Elizabeth Hospice’s praises for hours on end … truly. I can not imagine better people exist in the world than the people who work with The Elizabeth Hospice. 

I decided to post this piece today, Christmas Eve, because it sums up how we feel this week, too. Christmas is a tender time. All holidays are, really, but Christmas has always been my favorite holiday, which makes it particularly bittersweet now. I have had to work hard at reminding myself of God’s love for me, of how He sees me, that He knows me, and how He welcomes my sorrow with open arms.  

I hope you enjoy this little writing. Merry Christmas, friends. xoxo

 

I feel sad.

I have felt sad every day in 2014.

Every night — every single night — as the lights turn out, I turn to Glenn and tell him how much I miss our baby. Every night — every single night — he squeezes me tight and tells me that he knows.  Because he misses our boy every day, too.

As many of you know, Branch died on December 10th, 2013. Just over a year ago.  Now that his first birthday and the first anniversary of his death are over, part of me feels victorious. We did it.  We are alive. We got out of bed, at least for a few moments, every day for the past 365 days. We still laugh a lot. Even now.

Today, though, most of me feels sad.

2014 has been really hard.

Wouldn’t it be great if I could tell you that now, a year later, things are just hunky-dory and we are totally fine, we don’t have a care in the world, and we never have trouble relating to anyone and yes, even though I buried my son, I am definitely making every meal at home and working out constantly.

The truth is that, a year after death, I find comfort in the Jack in the Box drive-through.  I go on walks, and sometimes I run. I feel lonely all the time. I am just barely beginning to breathe again.

And I guess, in some ways, that is comforting.  Because we ARE doing it. We ARE breathing again. We are taking it slow. We are welcoming the pain, the loneliness, the sorrow, and the joy.

We grieve because we love. And my love for Branch, which is the one thing that is so sacred it is impossible to describe, will never die.

May you feel that kind of love today.

 

Tenderness

The word “tender” has been circling my thoughts, heart, inner spaces.

Tender like meat after it has been beaten. Tender like a soft touch. Tender like wounded skin that is healing.

 

This week we celebrated, and mourned, nine months since our little love was born and died. I do not think I am more tender, actually I know for certain I am not, but I am aware of the little spaces that are so fresh — just beginning to heal.

I am aware of the pang of loss that accompanies joy when I see brand new baby boys.

I am aware of the loneliness of grief.

I am aware of other’s uncomfortableness with my sorrow, my loss, my son and his story. This one is very tender.

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“Tender” has three definitions.

1. very loving and gentle, showing affection and love

2. easy to chew or bite, not tough

3. painful when touched

 

In my tenderness, may God guide my broken heart, as I surrender to Him.

Psalm 9:10
“Those who know your name trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.”

 

~Kristin

 

 

 

 

Summer Breeze

I took this picture a few minutes ago. I was sitting in the large, beat-up leather chair in our living room that belonged to an elderly woman up until about a month ago when Glenn drove to Poway to buy it, along with the matching ottoman, for $100. My legs were draped over one of the chair’s large arms, facing the open window. The summer sun had warmed up our living room, making it muggy enough to feel like I had walked through a light dew, but not so hot that beads of sweat were actually running down my face.

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I was, and still am, sipping Gerolsteiner sparkling mineral water. The sparkles in Gerolsteiner are tiny, firm, almost potent, if sparkles can be potent. They remind me of the season of life where I was introduced to Gerolsteiner – nannying a little boy who was adopted from Russia, with the sweetest, kindest German mother, and an elderly American father. I was a senior in college and they chose me as their nanny because I spoke German. They took me with them on their family vacation to Bermuda. That was a good season.

I noticed the tan on my legs. More than noticed — I admired it, actually. That tan is the result of many hours of walking, running, and hiking around the county. I noticed a slightly slimmer outline to my legs and admired that, too, again the product of many hours of walking, running, and hiking around the county.

My mind went from my legs to this month, July, and the uncertainty it holds. My parents in town. Financial changes. Job interviews. Seven months of life without Branch.

God, take me, hold me, guide me when I do not have the strength to go on.

I took another sip of Gerolsteiner, and the ocean breeze rushed through the window, over my legs, and all around the room. It was refreshing, peaceful, kind, cool. I thought of God. Isn’t that just like Him, to provide a breeze when He knows it will feel be the most refreshing. I thought of church. Of how I cry, at least a little, every week. And wouldn’t you know what brings more tears than anything isn’t sorrow or loss or death — it’s the tugs on my wounded heart.  It’s the kind little nudges that tell me God is who He says He is, even in my brokenness. He is kind. He is good. He is gracious. He provides. His promises are true. He sees me. He sees Glenn. He sees Branch.

I got two letters today. One was handed to me by my sister, Kimberly, #3. Beautiful penmanship spoke Angela Miller’s sweet words of comfort: “So breathe, mama, keep breathing. Believe mama, keep believing. Fight mama, keep fighting, for this truth to uproot the lies in your heart – you didn’t fail. Not even a little.” I cried when I read it, and cried again when I wrote it down here.

The other letter came a few days ago from my friend Laura, to be opened today, containing much kindness. She shared Nahum 1:7.

“The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him.”

May July bring refreshment, peace, kindness, and a cool break from the heat. Because a break from the heat of a broken heart sounds oh so refreshing to my soul.

Seven months.

~Kristin

Empty

Today, Branch would have been six months old.

In honor of his half-birthday, I will post this piece I wrote yesterday for my writing class. Hope you enjoy.

~Kristin

 

EMPTY

I am in a writing class, and yet I cannot seem to write.

 

I stare at the blank sheet. Nothing. Emtpy. It reminds me of my arms: where he should be, but instead they are empty. Nothing.

 

I have been more sorrowful in recent weeks. More emotional. More fearful of the future. More hesitant to celebrate, and needing more time to mourn. I suppose this is part of it all. Life, loss, story.

 

I do not want this to be my story. I’m done. Hasn’t this gone on long enough? The pain that floods every ounce of my being, missing him and wanting nothing if I can not hold him again, this time forever.

 

Sometimes I lie in bed and I am angry.  Angry that my little boy is in the ground. Angry that life goes on all around me. Angry at the Devil for finding satisfaction in my torment.

 

I’ve had enough.

 

I am reading a book that talks about how the only way to truly know Jesus and be close to His heart is to experience sorrow and allow Him to meet us there. I agree with this book, but it’s still hard.

 

I met with Linsey the other day. I always love meeting with her. She speaks kindness and truth, and she listens to me.  In our meeting, Linsey talked about the ‘wrestle’ I am experiencing. There are so many things I know, I believe, I experience about God and His character, and yet I cannot seem to figure out how Branch’s death fits in.  I am wrestling.  Linsey says it is the wrestling that keeps my heart alive. I loved that picture :: of my wounded heart fighting for its life every day.

 

I’m doing it.

 

Tomorrow will be six months since Branch was born. Half a year. In some ways so little time, in some ways so long. It’s unbelievable, really.  I think it always will be.

 

We went to his grave this morning. The grass is growing and it looks slightly less “freshly dug” than it did before.  There were jacaranda flowers that had fallen from the surrounding trees, and I took one and pressed it into his book of letters.  We saw three or four hummingbirds. We saw the groundskeeper begin to dig a new little grave for another baby.

 

Just like that, I find myself here again, staring at the blank part of the page.  There are no more words I can add.  This part will stay empty.

I Remember You

Here is a “List Poem” I wrote for my writing workshop and wanted to share with you.

Hope this Tuesday brings sunshine and butterflies. And if not, then maybe just a glimmer of hope.

~Kristin

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I remember you when I lie in bed

In the middle of the night

In the wee hours of the morning

As I lay my head down on the pillow and my eyes begin to droop

 

I remember you when I wake up

Suddenly, from a deep sleep

As the alarm chirps at me from beside my bed

In the return of consciousness after a nap

When my mind has been fuzzy and numb

 

I remember you when I am walking

At the bay

At the beach

At Balboa Park

Through and in and around gardens

From the bedroom to the bathroom

Down the row of chairs at church

Past the baby clothes at Target

From the refrigerator to the stove

Up and down Aloha Drive

Out the big Nordstrom door and into the mall

 

I remember you on holidays

On Christmas when I could still smell you

On New Year’s when we talked about our goals and told the waitress about you

On my birthday when the pain of missing you made my muscles want to stop

On Valentines Day when hearts flooded the shops

On St Patrick’s Day when everyone wore green

On Easter when we sang of life and death and graves and Heaven

On Mother’s Day when I was shown great love

 

I remember you in the mundane

I remember you in the elaborate

I remember you in sorrow

I remember you in tears

I remember you when I am happy

I remember you when I hug your Daddy

I remember you when I see Mister Lion

I remember you when I think of the future

I remember you at your grave

I remember you at dinner parties

 

You are the apple of my eye

I remember you

Hummingbirds

This past Monday I attended the first of a four-week writing workshop that is being offered by The Elizabeth Hospice. The workshop is called “Writing Through the Grief Journey”, which obviously seemed right up my alley. I have basically turned into The Elizabeth Hospice’s biggest fan, and will gladly be their spokesperson for the rest of my life. These people are incredible!!! God’s gift, in the flesh, to the mourner.

I haven’t decided how many of the things I write through this workshop that I will want to share here, but today I wanted to share this piece. The assignment was to write about a small thing that reminds you of someone you lost. I decided to write about hummingbirds.

Hope you enjoy. Love to you all!

~Kristin

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Nothing reminds me more of Branch than hummingbirds.

Thursday, June 27th 2013. Glenn and I were eagerly anticipating finding out if our first baby was a boy or girl. I was 17 weeks pregnant, and thrilled!

We started off the day at Bread and Cie,  followed by a stroll through Balboa Park and a stop at the Coy Pond. I remember Glenn taking a video of the fish, and posting it to Instagram. We looked for little boy and little girl outfits at Baby Gap and Nordstrom. We couldn’t find anything we wanted to buy, so we left the mall empty handed and headed to Sonohealth for our ultrasound.

We were so excited. Looking back now we seem young, innocent.

We paid all sorts of money just to find out the gender of our baby earlier than the doctor would tell us. Sergio was kind. He told us our baby’s heart was beating. And then he told us there was a problem with our baby’s brain. Anencephaly. Not compatible with life.  I remember clutching Glenn, crying, shaking. I knew exactly what it was because Mara had gone through this a year before. I remember wanting to know if our baby was a boy or girl, and Sergio told us he hadn’t looked.

We left Sonohealth, after they refunded our money, which is both kind and odd, and went across the street to Old Trolley Barn Park. There are benches there, in the back corner of the park, that overlook the freeway and valley. We sat on those benches and cried and prayed and told our families and friends what we had just heard. Our baby was going to die. This life inside of me would be just fine until the day it was born, and then it would not be able to stay on earth any longer. It was heartbreaking.

Old Trolley Barn Park is a beautiful park. It is simple : a playground, some picnic tables, a few grassy areas, and a handful of benches. As we sat there, in the shock and horror of a fatal diagnosis, life swirled around us. Butterflies, lizards, little kids playing, sunshine, bees, and hummingbirds. There were so many hummingbirds.

I don’t know what it was about the hummingbirds, but Glenn and I were both struck by them. They were beautiful. They were peaceful but always fluttering. They would come close but never stay.  It was as if God were saying “I Am Here.”

Two days later, after hibernating at Glenn’s parents house, we returned home. The fig tree in our backyard had started to bloom, and the first thing we noticed was a handful of hummingbirds that seemed to surround that tree. “I Am Here.”

We unlocked the front door and saw a package had been delivered while we were away. From April and Jordan : a hummingbird feeder, and lots of hummingbird food. We started crying – how could we not? “I Am Here.” It was almost as if He were screaming it from all around us. Reminding us of His promise that He will never leave us or forsake us. That in the darkness, His light remains.

I remember a few weeks ago, while on a very long walk over by the airport with Jessica, I saw a few hummingbirds. Pointing them out, we started talking about reminders of Branch, and how some people would like to say that Branch is IN those hummingbirds. We talked about how we are grateful Branch is in Heaven, and not fluttering around the earth aimlessly in the body of a bird.

In between giggles, Jessica said “Little boy! You are WAY too close to that oncoming traffic!” as if she were scolding Branch himself. It was so sweet. A reminder of all I have lost, but an acknowledgement that my baby boy matters to my friends and family. He will not be forgotten. I will not be abandoned. God promised :: “I Am Here.”