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!}

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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

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.

 

One Year

Today would have been Branch’s first birthday.

It IS his first birthday still, but we don’t get to celebrate with him in the flesh. Obviously.

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I have watched a few one year olds grow over this past year. They are all so funny, so spunky, so silly, so full of life. I think a one year old would be pretty fun.

If Branch were still here, I probably would have spent less money on myself, but a lot more money on him. I would be up to my elbows in diapers and drool. I would be thinking it was a real tragedy how little sleep I was getting. I would be wondering if we were out-growing our little home. I would be frustrated that the baby weight hadn’t just “fallen off”. I would watch him grow every day and be fascinated by his little face discovering things for the first time.

When I think about this past year, it is almost a blur. Some of it went by quickly, especially the last few months. Some of it went by painfully slow. It was so painful, actually, that it is almost hard to remember just how bad it was. As we enter into this season and are now only 7 days away from the anniversary of Branch’s death, some of the fog is lifting and we are starting to remember a few details from the early weeks. Many of the details are happy, others are just really sad.

Life and death, so close together.

December 3rd, 2013, the day Branch Lionheart Murdock was born, is the day that made me a Mom. What a wonderful joy it was to meet him face to face. His cheeks were soft, his legs were long, and he snuggled like nobody’s business. I am so grateful for him. Even in the pain. What a treasured life he is.

Happy Birthday, baby Branch. I can’t wait to see you again. I hope me and your Daddy do a good job celebrating and remembering you today. We love you to the moon and back.

My prayer for today is that Branch is honored, that his life is validated, and that Glenn and I can show ourselves kindness and grace as we step out into the world in all of our woundedness. May God’s face shine on us, and on you, this December 3rd.

Revelation 21:3-5

3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

All my love, and a special dose of love to those of you who have buried your babies, too. We see 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

Happy Father’s Day!

In honor of Father’s Day, Glenn is letting me share the letter I wrote him.

Much love to all you Daddy’s out there!  And to those who are hoping to be Daddy’s soon: We love you.

~K&G

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Glenny,

I picked this paper out when we were in Tokyo – one of our many adventures.  You liked it because you like the coy… just like the ones at Balboa Park, where we go often and went right before finding out our baby boy would have to die. What an adventure.

You, my love, are the perfect partner in adventure. The grandest of all of our adventures so far was the creation, sustaining, and giving up of Branch. Oh, how I wanted to keep him! His feet were just like yours, and I knew they would love life and lead many to God, just like his Daddy’s.

I know the past year has not been easy for you, either. And still you press on. You fight. For me. For Branch. For God.

I will never forget the tenderness you showed me on that June day when we got the diagnosis. I felt safe even though everything around me was being destroyed. You held me, and God held us.

You are a great Dad, Glenn. I hope we get to raise kids together here — the world is truly in DESPERATE need of more of you. And that’s our job, right, to change the world?

I love you oh so much. You are absolutely the greatest gift God has ever shown me. Thanks for being my best friend ever in life, and my baby daddy.

Happy Father’s Day!

Love, 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.”

 

Branch’s Video

Happy Saturday, friends!

Today I want to share Branch’s video with you. It is an 11-minute slideshow Glenn put together for Branch’s memorial service back in December, telling his story of our time with him. It has taken us a while, but it’s finally ready to be shared with the world!

I hope you like it! My favorite part is when we meet Branch in person for the first time. Such cool memories and moments to have on camera.

Branch Movie Official from Glenn Murdock on Vimeo.

Much love,

Kristin

 

Grief — What It Looks Like {Part Two}

This photo was taken three months ago today. Branch was still with us. We were taking him home. We didn’t know how much longer he would hang on. We were living in a bubble of comfort, provision, joy, and looming sorrow.

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What is my life like now, three months later? I am writing today to share with you all, because some of you have asked, and also for my future self :: to remember all that these days contained.

I am always sad. Always. It has been helpful to be reminded that three months is still FRESH. It’s ok that life is still a blur. It will likely get worse before it gets better. My soul is raw, and the only salve is tears, kindness, and gentleness.

Meeting new people is hard. I am authentic by nature, sometimes to a fault, which makes it very difficult to navigate conversations with strangers and acquaintances. What do I say? How do I say it? Do I tell them about Branch? Do I pretend I don’t have children? Trying to figure all of this out is quite difficult.

When I see pregnant women, I pray that their baby will be ok.

The act of mourning takes up most of my energy. According to our grief counselor, it is supposed to. There is a reason people of cultures past wore all black, or a band around their arm, or a torn cloak. Losing a child is, quite simply, awful. It is something that will never go away until we get to Heaven. I often find myself wishing we had a daily “symbol” of mourning to put on. Maybe I will bring the black armband back. As a badge of honor, a reminder to have grace with myself, and a warning to those I come in contact with :: in mourning. beware. be gentle.

I long for Heaven. For Christ’s return. For healing and restoration. For all to be made right.

It seems we can not find success. I am sure this is mostly due to our grief, but it seems like we are being thrashed in the waves. I am ready for a “win”. Financially, physically, relationally, emotionally. Anything — can it just be success for once?!

Truth be told, it’s kind of depressing to be me right now.

And yet…

In all of this sorrow, the buckets full of tears, the heart-wrenching agony and coming to grips with the finality of death — I see glimmers of hope every day. I long for the day when there is more hope than there are tears, but that day is not today. It will come, slowly, as I do my part and step out each day.  Actively mourning. Asking God to show up in each space. Remembering and rebuilding.

Our grief counselor introduced me to this quote by Dietrich Bonhoffer, and I absolutely love it. I feel he paints a perfect picture of hope without dismissing the pain, and of remembering the precious life that was lost while we wait to be re-united for Eternity.

“There is nothing that can replace the absence of someone dear to us, and one should not even attempt to do so. One must simply hold out and endure it. At first that sounds very hard, but at the same time it is also a great comfort. For to the extent the emptiness truly remains unfilled one remains connected to the other person through it. It is wrong to say that God fills the emptiness. God in no way fills it but much more leaves it precisely unfilled and thus helps us preserve — even in pain — the authentic relationship. Further more, the more beautiful and full the remembrances, the more difficult the separation. But gratitude transforms the torment of memory into silent joy. One bears what was lovely in the past not as a thorn but as a precious gift deep within, a hidden treasure of which one can always be certain.”

May we be grateful, even in the midsts of our pain, for He is so good.

~Kristin

Branch Lionheart Murdock Fund