Saturday, December 27, 2008

Seeing All We'll Miss

Well, Christmas has come and gone, and our trip to Utah is more than halfway over. For the most part I've done pretty good with keeping my emotions in check, but still letting myself feel the longing for my son on what have been his first Christmas. Don't get me wrong, I've had my faucet moments (the tears just come...sometimes harder than others, and sometimes I feel like a water faucet that is turned on and off). It's crazy, how at times, moments I imagine would be very difficult aren't as hard as I thought they might be, and moments I thought I would be just fine...I loose it...last night I had one of those moments!

My dad has been working really hard on getting all of our family film strips and videos put into DVD format so that we, as a family, can enjoy watching them more often. We've known about it for a while because one of our good friends has been doing a lot of the work on them. One day last month my dad called Rob after previewing one of the early filmstrip DVD's that had pictures and silent video of me and my two older brothers when we were just small. He was so excited for us to come home and see these darling moments of us being so cute and Innocent. After the phone call, we too were excited to watch the DVD's and see me as a little girl. This is one of those moments we imagined thoroughly enjoying, and not for one second did I imagine it being hard or difficult.

So, last night after opening gifts with my family we put in the first DVD and started watching. Right at the beginning was video of my mom when she was pregnant with my oldest brother. Initially I thought...oh, how cute! I hadn't see many pictures of my mom while pregnant with any of us. However, it didn't take too long for me to see the similarities between my mom and me when I was pregnant with Branson...and suddenly I could feel some very strong emotions beginning to build. Then, the next segment of the video was at the hospital shortly after my brother was born...the doctor holding him up proudly for my mom to behold her son for the very first time...he was screaming, filling his lungs with air, being weighed and measured, swaddled in a new receiving blanket, and passed to my mother's arms...things I never got see and experience with Branson. And...I lost it!

Tears started to freely flow down my cheeks and I began to feel sobs building inside my chest. However, not wanting to distract the rest of my family, I tried really hard to keep those sobs inside. I hate the feeling when I do that. It feels like there is a giant boulder sitting on my heart...the weight of that boulder is heavy and almost unbearable. It's like trying to keep a boulder that's hanging on the edge from rolling down a steep hill, and with one person pushing against the weight of that boulder, it can't be stopped for long.

I'm guessing my parents noticed the tears, and felt like they should change the they put in the second DVD, and I thought, oh the boulder will go away. Boy was I wrong. This video was filled with images of my brothers in the bathtub together, darling birthday cakes made by my mom, birthday parties, proud parents showing off their sons, Christmas's, crawling, cute outfits, baby waves, first days of school, and camping trips...and the boulder felt heavier than ever!

Until now I had mostly missed the baby things about Branson....stroller rides, bath time, breast feeding, cooing, swaddling, rocking, sleepless nights, and changing diapers just to name a few. I had pictured him only in the baby clothes that adorned his closet, and I had only "seen" him sleeping in the cradle and crib we had set up for him in his nursery. However, like a giant suname wave, I began to "see" all the things we'll miss in years to come.

My "loss" was being multiplied right in front of my eyes. We'll never get to see Branson in that way, or doing all those "little boy" bath time with younger siblings, no birthday parties, no first day of school, no helping daddy in the yard, no playing cowboys and Indians, no crawling...none of it. I couldn't help but notice how much my older brothers looked like their sons, and my boulder began to roll...I wanted everyone to say...I can't believe how much Branson looks like you Nat. But, most of my family has only seen pictures...and that's all they'll ever see.

I had to get up and leave the room...I had to let the boulder fall. I couldn't support it's weight anymore. I hadn't even noticed that Rob too had left the room, but as I walked into my bedroom, I saw him lying on the bed with a tear stained face. I said, Are you okay? And that's all it took for both of us to loose it once again.

We just held each other and cried...letting the sobs flow freely. Somehow, in my husbands arms I felt strong although moments before I had felt weak. We talked about why it was so hard to watch that, and how it just isn't fair that we have to miss out on all of those moments with Branson. We commented on the fact that the only video we have is special to us, but not fun to's finding out Branson's heartbeat had stopped, it's filming the tears as I got ready to go to the hospital, it's a lifeless body being held in his mother's arms, it's daddy giving the only bath Branson would ever's hard to watch, and even harder to think that it's the only video we'll ever have of him.

We got up and drove to the cemetery where our little boy's body is laid. We just sat there in silence letting some of the scare tissue build where the boulder had ripped our hearts apart. Once again we had to learn how to "deal with it", for what else could we do? I told Rob, Even when we have other children, I think part of my heart will still ache for Branson. I imagine that even experiencing these moments with our other children will be bitter/sweet.
I felt last night, more than I've felt before, that a permanent piece of my heart will always belong to him...and a chunk of my soul will be gone until that day the miracle will replace it.

So today as I sit here and type, the one thing that gets me through is knowing that someday we'll sit on a couch in Heaven with our eternal family, and there together we'll watch a most incredible video. We'll watch the video of our Earthly experience and we'll see how Branson has truly been a part of all of these moral moments in a Heavenly way. We'll see his influence wind through our lives, and we'll say to ourselves, we wouldn't have made it without his help. Then, we'll put in the second video and we'll see what Branson's been doing up there. We'll see all the people he's touched, and the lives he's changed. We'll see the knowledge he's gained, and the difference he's made. We'll see the missionary he's been and the valiant son of God he's remained. We'll see him come down to check on us, and help us over hurdles we'd face.

One day, together, we'll see our lives come full circle with day we'll see we haven't missed anything, because we'll have it all. Until that day, we'll keep missing you Branson...but we'll look foward to the best movie night we'll ever have!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas With Jesus


I see the countless Christmas trees
Around the world below.
With tiny lights, like heaven’s stars
Reflecting on the snow.

The sight is so spectacular,
please wipe away that tear,
for I’m spending Christmas
With Jesus Christ this year.

I hear the many Christmas songs
That people hold so dear.
But the sounds of music can’t compare
With the Christmas choir up here.

For I have no words to tell you
The joy their voices bring.
For it is beyond description
to hear the angels sing.

I know how much you miss me,
I see the pain inside your heart.
For I’m spending Christmas
With Jesus Christ this year.

I can’t tell you of the splendor
Or the peace here in this place
Can you just imagine Christmas,
With our Savior, face to face?

I’ll ask Him to light your spirit
As I tell Him of your love.
So then pray for one another
As you lift your eyes above.

So please let your hearts be joyful
And let your Spirit sing,
For I’m spending Christmas in heaven
And I’m walking with the King!

--Author Unknown--

Merry Christmas little guy...we miss you more than words can say, but we take comfort in knowing that you'll be having a spectacular Christmas with Jesus this year! We know that you'll be consumed with love, joy, and peace as you celebrate this special birth in Heaven. I pray that we'll feel you close as we too celebrate the birth of a king! We love you!

Thank you Heather for this beautiful poem that has brought me so much peace at this time of year.

Friday, December 19, 2008

In Everything I Do

My dear Branson, as I go throughout the days, I can't help but be amazed that everything I do, everything I see, everyone I talk everything...I think of you, feel you, and see you. From small, seemingly insignificant things to the big, monumental things of everyday life...every where I turn, there you are!
I can't help but see you in our home. The cradle in our bedroom, the swing in the family room, our new, beautiful family pictures, your bath robe hanging behind the bathroom door. 
I can't help but feel of your pure, sweet spirit as I walk past your nursery and stop to take a peek. Or as I enter there to read or just sit in the rocker to sooth my aching heart.
I see you in the beautiful flowers daddy planted for you this spring. The flowers that were meant to make our home perfect for you to come home to.
In the stretch marks that beautifully mark your life upon me forever.
I think of you every time I see an infant. Every time I hear a baby giggle, cry, or coo...a giggle, cry, and coo I never heard from you.
I wonder what your up to every time I find myself bored. I think to myself, "I bet Branson's not bored...what would he have me do?"
I see you in your daddy's eyes, and your grandpa's hair. 
I can't help but yearn for you as my heart pulls when I see other new moms cuddling their little ones. 
I miss you at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
I can't help but compare every other baby to you, and think that they're just not quite as perfect handsome, or cute as you. 
I feel you in the missing piece of my soul and the expansion of my heart. 
I can't help but miss you as I feel Christmas creeping closer. As I see a stocking hung, and presents wrapped. As I hear Santa's "ho, ho, ho" and as daddy reads our favorite Christmas stories to only me. As I anticipate my first Christmas without you, and every other "first" this year. 
I see you in our Christmas village, and your special nativity from Dustin and Kim.
I feel you as daddy and I cuddle each morning and wonder what our next hug with you will be like. 
I see your light in the lives you've touched, and feel you in the hearts you've softened. 
I can't help but see you as I look at your cute little cousins and see you in them.
I miss you every time I wake up and realize I had another full nights sleep...another night without a crying baby.
I feel you as I let my tears fall and my heart swell with loneliness and pain.
I miss you tremendously every time I walk into the garage and see your stroller standing there covered with a plastic bag, a bag to protect it from gathering dust.
I see you in the missionaries that serve in our ward, and I wonder who you've taught today.
I am grateful for you as I learn new things, and gain a new perspective on life. 
I think of you with every breath I take because I never got to see your lungs filled with air.
I think of you, see you, miss you, long for everything I do!
You have changed my heart, my eyes, and my life forever. I will truly never be the same. I love you!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Mary, the Mother of Jesus

A dear friend sent me this beautiful picture that was in the back of the Ensign this month, with a touching letter. Since I received it, I have been thinking a lot about Mary and her beautiful baby boy. I love how closely Mary is holding baby Jesus in her arms. And I love the emotions that are portrayed on her face, "concern and peace...concern for what lies ahead for her child, yet peace in knowing that this Child's Father in Heaven is over all" as my friend put it.
For as long as I can remember I have stood in awe of Mary...her worthiness, beauty, care, obedience, tenderness, love, selflessness, and purity. She was blessed to have the privilege of carrying and giving birth to her little boy, and the Savior of man kind. She had the opportunity to love him, to teach him, and to be his Earthly mother. She was able to see her baby grow into manhood and watch him choose a beautiful path and live a perfect life. I imagine she was filled with pride as her son paved the way and made it possible for all of God's children to make it back to Heaven to dwell eternally with him.
However, this year Mary means much more to me than a beautiful mother that brought the Savior into the world. She is now an extraordinary example of a valiant daughter of God who not only did these beautiful things, but a valiant daughter that did some very hard things.
I'm not sure, but I can imagine that growing up Mary might have pictured the path of her life taking a different course than it did. I can't imagine the heartache Mary felt as she was looked down upon by society for carrying this heaven sent son of God while being espoused to Joseph. While Mary had the joy of feeling her sweet baby grow and come to life inside her womb, she was faced with ridicule and judgement by those that surrounded her. Although the timing may have been difficult, she willingly accepted the call to be the mother of Jesus.
As the baby grew and the date of Jesus' arrival grew near, I imagine that just like me, Mary was filled with great anticipation and excitement at the thought of meeting her first born son, and bringing the greatest gift the Earth has ever known into the world. As she planned and prepared, I am not sure that the thought ever crossed her mind that she would bring her baby into the world in such humble circumstance. I've been wondering what Mary thought as she learned there was no room for them in the inn...was she disappointed, worried, or concerned? Regardless of how she felt, she went forward in faith. She followed her loving husband to the stable where she would soon give birth and lie her newborn son in a manger of hay. She took the most modest of circumstances and made the best of what she had. I wish I could go back to that night and see the light...the love that surrounded them.
I can't even comprehend the pain Mary must have felt as she watched a ruthless crowd shout at her son, mock him, beat him, place a crown of thorns on his head, and nail him to a cross. I don't understand the anguish that must have consumed Mary as she learned that her son was to be crucified, and that he would be leaving her so soon. I am sure there was a wrenching of her heart that was intense and real. And although I think Mary knew this part of his life had a special purpose, and that her son would be okay....I don't think it took away any of that pain. I'm sure that she too did a lot of crying, and I think she must have missed her son every day she was here without him.
Mary had to "let her son go". I am thankful for her valiant example. I am thankful that she accepted hard things that she may not have wanted or pictured for herself, and followed the plan God had for her. The beautiful, joyous moments Mary shared with her son, combined with the painful, heart-wrenching trials she faced turned out to be the most beautiful Christmas gift we celebrate. The birth of her son, his perfect example and teachings, his sacrifice in Gethsemane, his Crucifixion on the cross, and his resurrection from the tomb...all the things that make it possible for me to return to live with my Branson forever!
I pray I can be more like Mary. I hope that like her, I too can accept every part of the plan God has for me, even the parts I had pictured differently. I'm grateful beyond description for my first born son. I am filled with pride because of the path he choose, and I pray I might be the kind of mother to him that Mary was to Jesus.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Is This Really Happening?

Tonight I can't sleep. As I laid in bed, tears streaming down my face, my body seemed so numb. Numb to the idea that this is all really me! Sometimes as I replay the events of the past 5 months over and over in my head, I have a hard time believing that they really happened. The shocking news that our son's heart had stopped beating, a birth, a death, a funeral, unbearable heartbreak, shattered dreams, unfulfilled visions, an empty nursery, a constant aching soul...all of this is mine.
I try so hard to keep the numbness from consuming me. It makes me feel forgotten, robbed, and left behind. It clouds my vision and takes hold of my heart.
I never wanted to accept that even though I've always tried my hardest to do what's right, that life would still be incredibly hard sometimes. I always knew there would be stumbling blocks and rolling hills to cross, but I never imagined the steep cliffs I would fall down and have to climb back up. I never heard a talk in church that explained that my family might look different from every one else, come in different timing than most, or come only to be taken away. I never had a young women lesson that impressed upon me the need to prepare for future heartaches, or a Sunday school lesson that helped me feel that infertility is real and that it doesn't mean somethings wrong with me.
I did hear a lot about preparing to be a homemaker and the importance of trying to be a stay at home mom. I heard over and over again about my divine destiny and nature as a women to be a mother. I always perceived that this role, this gift would be mine...mine to acquire with ease.
So, it's been my "mind game" over the past few months to sort all of this out in my head...and I guess I'm still working it out. I realize that the lessons probably did teach me those things, I just didn't "hear" them. I just wish, that someone would have sat me down and said "Ya know Natalie, even though you may do all in your power to do what's asked of you, life will be very hard! Even though you want to be a mom more than anything in the world, you might not get that when or how you have dreamed." But then again, maybe I'm glad they didn't...I don't know.
My heart and my mind wrestle between what I feel and what I know. It truly is a double edged sword right now. One edge is so sharp and painful. On this edge I question and doubt, fear and tremble, weep and feel paralyzed. This edge is Mortal agony and disbelief.
In contrast, the other edge is full of new insights and light. The things it's taught are beautiful. It's patient and full of perspective. It's eternal joy and unwavering love.
I guess tonight I'm praying that one day the mortal edge of the sword won't be so sharp. Tonight I am trying to grasp that this is happening and that although it was never part of the plan I had pictured for myself, it is part of His plan for me. I am loving that I am a mother...a mother to an angel. And although it's not what I've always pictured, it's more than I've ever deserved.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

We'd Love to Have You Join Us!

Dear Family and Friends,
Happy Holidays! We hope all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and that you’re enjoying the Christmas season as it comes into full swing. Especially at this time of year we think of you often and count you as some of our greatest blessings.
As Rob and I have thought about what we could do this year to celebrate and honor our sweet Branson, we have decided to start a new family tradition…and we would love to have you join us!
Since we can’t give Branson any “Earthly” gifts, we’ve decided to do something that we hope will help us stay focused on the real reason for this beautiful season and honor our little guy at the same time.
We purchased a stocking and had it personalized with Branson’s name. We have decided that for the remainder of the Christmas season we are going to make an extra effort to perform small acts of service. As we do so, we are going to record these small acts on strips of Holiday paper and put them in his stocking. On Christmas Eve we are going to wrap all of these strips in a box and put it under the tree as our gift to Branson…a gift of pure love shown to those in need.
Our goal is to fill his stocking to the brim with the love that is given and the peace and true joy that is received by doing service for others. We would love to have your family participate, and help us with our goal. So…if you’d like to, simply perform an act of service in honor of Branson’s memory. It can be anything…big or small…taking a plate of cookies to your neighbor, helping an elderly person our with their groceries, donating a toy to a charity organization, giving someone a hug, or a stranger a smile…the possibilities are endless! After you’ve done your act of kindness, we would love to have you email us, leaving your name, the service given, and where your family is currently living. We will print these out and add it to his stocking. My email address is:
Our hope is that with your help we can spread pure love across the nation in remembrance of our Savior and sweet little boy, Branson. We pray that as you do this you will in turn be blessed with all the things your hearts desire.
We love you and cherish the relationships we have with you. Merry Christmas!
All Our Love,
Rob . Natalie . Branson

Sunday, November 30, 2008


Many years ago our theme at girls camp was "Lay up for yourselves Treasure in Heaven". I don't remember much about camp, or any specifics of the things we were taught. What I do remember is that I came with the idea that if I did what was right, and made it back to live with my Heavenly Father that I would, in the process secure for myself treasure in Heaven. I still believe that to be true.
At the time however, the treasure I had pictured in my mind was that of a somewhat naive, innocent, young women. I imagined I would have a beautiful castle where I would reside "happily ever after" with my husband. I assumed that this treasure would resemble what I considered to be Earthly treasure. Beauty, jewels, riches, ect. I didn't put too much thought or consideration into the significance of this Heavenly treasure, how it was truly aquired, or what it really was.
Soon after having Branson I read this scripture: Matthew 6: 19-21

19 ¶ Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

As I read this scripture my mind adopted a new understanding of Heavenly treasure. My previous imaginations have been replaced with beautiful glimpses of my celestial son. Although I've only seen him as a baby with my earthly eyes, I often picture him as a young man, a missionary. Handsome, tall, and full of light. I can easily picture a smile that brightens my heart more than any Earthly jewel or treasure ever could. When I "look" at this image in my mind, I am met by the most brilliant, understanding, loving eyes. At times I even try to run towards my son and embrace the person I have imagined. A large piece of my heart longs to be with him, and therefore, where my heart is...there my treasure is also!
I still hold on to the imaginations of my young heart. However, now I don't mind so much if it's a cottage rather than a castle...a cottage where I can be with Rob, Branson, and my other children. A cottage where the Heavenly treasures can be held in my arms.
Although the journey along the way to the treasure is difficult, I know how this story will end, and it's "happily ever after"! I pray I can do all in my power to receive the treasure that awaits! Branson, thank you for being my tiny little boy that is now my biggest Heavenly treasure. I love you!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Last night Rob and I created a list of things we are thankful for. It really brought to a remembrance all the things that we count as blessings in our lives. We have so much to be thankful for! We are truly blessed with great things, things that are helping us find joy in this journey. Although we came up with over a 150 things (and we keep adding to it)...I wanted to record my "top ten" for this year.

1. The Savior
I am so grateful for the new found love and appreciation I have for the Savior. I am thankful for the new perspective I have on the atonement, and his sacrifice in my behalf. I am grateful that these things combined with his Resurrection, will enable me to be reunited with my son and spend eternity with my family. I am so grateful for the gift he has given me of the Holy Ghost. I am thankful for his understanding, patience, and continued unconditional love. I am thankful for his perfect example of how to live in an imperfect world.

2. Rob
I am so thankful for the way in which Rob loves me completely. I am grateful for his desire to make my life full and happy. His selfless love for me is truly amazing! I couldn't live without his adorable little songs that he makes up and sings each morning, or our cuddle time each afternoon when he gets home from school. I don't know what I'd do if I didn't have him here to make me laugh and enjoy the good moments, and provide a shoulder to cry on during the hard, lonely moments. I feel truly blessed to be able to come home to my best friend every day, and I'm most certainly grateful for eternity, an eternity with him...even that sometimes doesn't seem long enough to be with my sweetheart!

3. Branson
What an incredible blessing our little boy has been to us this year! I am so thankful for this pure, celestial son. I am truly amazed at how much he has taught us, and how many lives he's touched as he serves his mission on the other side at this time. I am so grateful for the expansion of my heart that enables me to feel more love for him than I even imagined possible. I am inspired by his obedient example, and grateful that he chose to follow God's plan for him. I dream often of the day that our reunion will take place...oh, I can't wait for that embrace!

4. Family
Rob and I have come to appreciate even more the love and support of our incredible families. We are so blessed to have families who do all they can to be there for us every step of the way. We are grateful they understand how important our little guy is to us, and for the added strength that their testimonies bring to us in moments of heartache and fear. We will be forever indebted to them for all acts of service they have rendered in our behalf. I love that God's plan is centered around families...for isn't that what it's truly all about?

5. Friends
We couldn't help but think and talk about all of our amazing friends. Like our families, they too have helped us through some of our darkest days. We are truly humbled by the love that has been shown to us, and the continued support we receive from all of them. Being so far from home has required us to rely on this great network of friends. We are thankful for each one of them for the prayers they offer in our behalf, and for the acts of kindness that they show forth!

6. Time
Although I struggle to accept the timing of things in God's plan, I am grateful for the time I've been given. Time, six years, to build an incredible foundation of love and friendship with my husband. Time, nine months, to carry Branson with me during his short time on this Earth. Time, twenty six years, to experience learn and grow from all it offers. Time, every day, to look at my life and realize how blessed I am because of the things I have, and the things that will come. Time.

7. July
We've had some hard July's...2 miscarriages have occurred in July, and Branson slipped from our arms in July. However, the two greatest things in my life happened in July...I married my eternal companion on July 12th, and I met my son on July 1st. So I'm choosing today to love July instead looking back at July's with fear.

8. Emotions
I am so grateful for my ability to feel emotions. I have never felt such strong feelings of love, anger, despair, joy, loneliness, companionship, confusion, understanding, sadness, pain, heartache, peace...there is something to be said about opposition in all things! I am thankful that I'm learning that these emotions are meant to be felt, meant to be learned from, meant to be real, meant to be intense. These emotions help us become more like our Savior, for he truly felt all things. The key, is learning how to bridle these emotions and channel them in a positive direction...I'm still working on that.

9. Christmas
I am so grateful for my favorite time of year. A time to celebrate Christ, family, friends, and traditions. I am thankful for the gift of enjoying this season. I am thankful for the lights, the decorations, the yummy food, the smells, the music, the trees, the smiles, the warmth, the glow, the joy...the season! I love it because my older brother Dustin and I share this infatuation. I have spent a lot of time pondering why I love this holiday so much and I have come to the conclusion that it is because it is perhaps the easiest time of year to give and receive the pure love of Christ, and what a beautiful thing that love is!

10. Puciini's
Yes, my new favorite restaurant. I could literally eat there every night and be just fine with that...I might be a hundred pounds heavier by next Christmas, but every pound would be enjoyed! I love, love, love the twice baked pizza...yummy! Thank you Heather for introducing me to the "adventurous" new pizza place, and thank you Rob for taking me there for every date night the past two months! I am thankful for yummy food.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Does He Know

One of my greatest fears is that Branson doesn't know how much I love him. Most mothers get a life time to show their children how much they love them through physical acts, and tell them through verbal words everyday. I never got that chance.
However, I know that the love I feel for Branson is just as real and just as intense as it would be if he were still here with me today. So I've often wondered..."Does he know and feel of that love?"
This intense love for Branson started to develop the instant we discovered he would be joining our family. It continued to grow as we prepared for his arrival, felt the reality of his existence in fetal movements, and as we dreamed of all the things we would do with him. That love was magnified the instant we met our son and felt of his pure spirit. I have truly never felt a love so complete and all consuming.
I have spent many nights crying myself to sleep as I yearn to tell my little boy of that love. In every simple physical act, I find myself wanting Branson here to do those very things for him. One day I was loading a batch of laundry, and I found myself bent over the washer sobbing, not wanting to go on. I kept thinking how unfair it was that I was still having to do the monotonose little things without him here. It may sound trivial, but even laundry was something I pictured myself doing with Branson at my side. He should've been there at my hip, making things a little more difficult as I tried to pick up clothing with only one free arm. I shouldn't be able to do a whole days worth of laundry without having to stop for a feeding, or to change a diaper. I had even pictured myself having to put him on the dryer as it might be just the thing to lull him to sleep.
As I stood there, the weight of not knowing for sure if he knew of my love, was almost more than I could bear. I gathered myself up and began to walk towards the family room. As I did so I passed this picture in the hallway. I stopped and just stared at the beautiful depiction of the Savior holding my little boy. I leaned against the wall and just stood there for quite some time. As I did so, the spirit did some talking.
First, it said, "The Savior feels the same way". I came to the realization that this must be similar to how the Savior felt as we left his presence for our mortal experience. I'm sure he wondered then, and I know he often wonders now..."Do they know of my love for them?" I strongly felt that perhaps at that very instant the Savior was wondering the same thing about me. Does Natalie remember how much I love her? Even though she's doing some very hard things, does she feel it? In the hardest moments does she know it? I felt very impressed that the Savior and my Heavenly Father wanted me to know that their love for me is just as real and intense as the love I feel for my son.
I was then assured that Branson knows of my love for him. Although I've never spent time with the Savior during my mortal journey... I know he loves me, and in a similar fashion I know Branson feels of my love for him. I'm not sure how it works, but I know our spirits can remember that love from the time we spent together previously. I don't know how to explain it to others in a way to help people understand, but the day that we met our son, my spirit recognized his spirit. It was almost as if my spirit rejoiced in the long awaited reunion. Now, I just endure a form of "homesickness" to feel it again!
I pray that I might always remember the things I learned that day. I plead with Heavenly Father to let my son know of the love I feel for him, and how much I miss him. I like to think that once in a while he lets Branson listen in on those prayers!
I thank all my sweet brothers for giving us this picture that beautifully depicts where our little guy is until we meet again. Thanks means the world to us!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I Know Enough

Today I am grateful for what I know. There are certainly many things I don't know and don't understand. However, the things I do know are the things that get me through each moment, each day.
Last night we read a talk in the Ensign from the most recent General Conference. It is entitled, "You Know Enough". As Rob and I read this talk together, the spirit testified of the truth that Elder Andersen shared. I felt that what he said was just for me...isn't it amazing how conference talks have that affect? One part of his talk has been on my mind all day:
"...we each have moments of spiritual power, moments of inspiration and revelation. We must sink them deep into the chambers of our souls. As we do, we prepare our spiritual home storage for moments of personal difficulty."
After reading this I remembered something my dad said to me shortly after having Branson. What he said to me made sense that night, but last night after reading this article it seemed to come full circle for me.
My dad and I were talking about timing. I was very frusterated and angry about not understanding the Lord's timing of things. After all, we had "patiently" waited for six years to have Branson, only to have him taken from our arms. Where was the justice in that? I wondered, "If this experience was meant to be ours, then why not a year after trying to get pregnant? Why six?" In a fit of rage and confusion I wanted answers, I wanted an explanation...I wanted what I couldn't have.
In the wisdom that my father has, he listened to me without judgment. He didn't try to stop me, or tell me I shouldn't think that way...he just listened. When I was finished, he told me that my questions were real and justified, he told me he understood...and then he asked if he could share his point of view on a few things.
He asked me to think over the last six years...all the good times, the bad times, the moments of spirital growth, church callings, and opportunities to share my testimony. At that moment, my mind was flooded with countless opportunities I've had to tesitfy of the very things that were the glue holding me together at that moment. I can't count or even remeber how often I was able to bear testimony to my young women of eternal families, and the reality of the knowledge that I am a daughter of God with a divine nature and destiny. As a Sunday school teacher, I was able to teach about the atonement and resurection that will someday enable me to be reunited with my son. I have had powerful moments of spiritual confirmation that the Lord is aware of my life, and that he loves me. That night I was blessed to "see" that those six years were a time of prepartion...a time that I was able to compile a "spiritual home storage" for my moments of personal difficulty.
My dad proposed that perhaps if it had been one year instead of six, I wouldn't be spiritually prepared to face the winds of adversity that are now raging against the very foundation on which I stand.
So, tonight I am grateful for what I know. Grateful that what I know if getting me through. Grateful for those moments of spiritual power, inspiration and revelation that built up my spirital home storage. Grateful that the Lord, in his mercy, gave me the gift of six years. Grateful that he presented opportunities for me to learn and come to know enough. I pray I've done enough, learned enough, and "stored" enough to see me through the dificult days ahead.
I don't know where I'd be, or how I'd get through this whithout the things I know. I look forward to learning the things I don't know
"...At times, the Lord's answer will be, "You don't know everything, but you know enough"- enough to keep the commandments and to do what is right."
I am positvie I don't know everything. However, I am confident I know enough to get me through tonight.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I'll Be Home for Christmas

Over the past few days as Rob and I have been decorating for Christmas, we have had the Christmas music streaming loud and clear. I love the sounds of this time of year. It's almost as if these songs fill the air with joy and put a spring in my step. I heard the song "I'll Be Home for Christmas" many times as we decorated. I love this song because of the nostalgia that I feel as I reminisce about going home for the holidays.
My parents and grandparents have always done so much to make Christmas a magical time of year. Ever since I can remember I have enjoyed all the simple things that fill the holidays with anticipation and excitement about the birth of the Savior and the visit from Santa. There is always beautiful lights, yummy food, special decorations, Grandma's homemade chocolates, fresh cut trees, and plenty of fun to be had with family.
Moving away has made me appreciate even more all that happened at my home during the holidays, and Rob and I have tried our best to replicate the love and joy that abounded in our homes. We look forward each year to returning home for Christmas to spend time with family and participate in long running traditions. This year is no exception.
However, this year as we hung ornaments on the tree I couldn't help but think of a different home that I've been dreaming of even more than I usually Heavenly home, and this song took on a beautiful new meaning. I couldn't help but imagine the special preparations that must take place in Heaven as they anticipate the celebration of the Savior's birth. I imagine the colors are beautifully saturated and the halls are decked with boughs of holly. Can you imagine the magical sound of the angels singing the beautiful carols? I am sure that our little Branson inherited the love of this season from us, and as I contemplated this idea of the Heaven's preparing for Christmas I couldn't help but envision him being the master tree decorator just like his daddy. I'm sure he's right in the thick of these preparations.
As the words "I'll be home for Christmas, you can count on me. I'll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams" sounded in my ears, I felt an intense yearning to be truly "home" for Christmas. Although I can't return there this year, or even next,I will be there in my dreams! My son and I walking in a winter wonderland, exclaiming to all the world that the Savior was born and that he still lives today. Branson, one day daddy and I will be "home for Christmas" can count on us! What a joyous, magical Christmas that will be.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Painful Visit

Today I had a doctors appointment. This was to be the second post-op visit since my surgery 2 1/2 months ago in which my doctor removed the fibroids that they think may have played a part in the tragic cord accident. The main purpose of the visit today was to have an ultra sound so that the doctor could look at my uterus and see how things are healing. He wanted to be able to gage for us how much longer it would be until he would give us the "go ahead" to start trying to get pregnant.
It has been one of the hardest days in a while. I knew that today's salt would sting, but I wasn't ready for the painful memories that accompanied it.
In his office they just have one ultrasound room, and for me it is "the room". The room that brought my world to a screeching halt. The room that haunts my memory, and pulls at my heart. The room that I hate. The room where a mother's worst fears were made a reality. The room where I saw a still heart, and a lifeless body just four short months ago.
I did pretty good at keeping my emotions in check as the tender nurse led me back to the room and went through the routine instructions. However, as soon as she shut the door I pretty much lost it. As I stood there my mind was flooded with the events of June 30th. The whole day replayed in my mind, and it was as if I re-lived the all of the emotions of that day.
I was finally able to put on the robe and climb up on the table to wait for the doctor to come in. As I sat there, tears streaming down my face, I kept trying to prepare myself to see an empty screen heartbeat, no movement, no baby. It was such an empty feeling. I tried to remember what it was like when that screen was full of life, and that room full of joy.
As the doctor began the ultrasound, he said he wanted to take a look at the uterus, it's lining, and the insicion sites. As he did this he commented on how happy he was with how things seemed to be healing, and he said that he was hopeful for our future.
I couldn't hardly even ask any questions because I was so choked up with emotion, but I was able to talk to him about when we could start trying to get pregnant, and then came another blow...March, yes March! I know that to most people three and a half months doesn't seem that long, but it seems like an eternity to us. Time seems to just crawl by when we think about how long it will be until we can hold another baby in our arms. This news brought on another wave of emotion and thoughts. It's the hardest thing in the world to be told that you have to "prevent" a pregnancy when that is the thing you desire most.
I was thankful to come home tonight to the warm, loving, understanding arms of Rob. It is with him that I am completly open. I appreciate him so much for the love he unconditionally shows. I am grateful that he understands my pain, and yearns to help me through the hard times. I am thankful for the tears we shed as we cuddled our "squishies" and reminiced about our son. I am blessed to have such an incredible companion that is in this with me all the way.
Although today was hard and painful, I look forward to the fresh start tomorrow offers. Branson, I love you and miss you more than words can express! I miss your movement, the sound of your heartbeat, and your hicups. I'll be loving you tonight and forever.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Worth a Thousand Words...

This picture is truly worth a thousand words. Rob's brother Trevor drew it and gave it to us the night before Branson's memorial service. I now have it hanging in our Hallway.
This picture says it perfectly without saying anything at all. I love how Trevor was able to capture some of the many emotions we felt that day. Love, pain, joy, sadness, heartache, pride, and parental care. I feel as though the Saviors face also portrays his understanding and acceptance of all these emotions, as it almost beckons our patience and promises that one day he will make us whole as this miracle will come full circle.
Perhaps my favorite part about this picture is that Christ's robe falls down and surrounds Branson as we hold him in our arms. There is no doubt that Christ was with us every step of the way those few first, heartbreaking days. We especially felt his love and peace that day when we met our eternal, celestial son.
I have thought often about the exchange that took place that day. We know without a doubt Branson's spirit was with us. I have never felt anything so pure and real in my life. People have often said to us "You look so at peace in your pictures." I'm not quite sure how to explain the intense emotions and feelings of that day to those who weren't there. Although there were moments of great sorrow, and letting our son go was definitely the hardest thing we've ever done physically, spiritually, and emotionally, there was a constant feeling of peace and an assuring spirit that this was right and we would be okay.
I often find myself wanting to go back to that day for many reasons. I want more than anything to hold my little boy in my arms again. I want to look at his perfect little nose, and tiny little ears. I want to rub his little toes, and put my cheek against his once more. I want to see Rob holding his son again and looking like the proudest daddy in the world. I also want to go back to that day and capture the peace that was with us in a bottle. Perhaps if I could do that I could open it and partake of a little of that peace on the hard days. That day was perfect and tragic...if that's even possible.
However, there was a very poignant moment when Branson's spirit returned to his Heavenly home. I imagine, just as this picture depicts, that as Branson left our arms, he was returned to the loving arms of the Savior. I find a lot of peace in knowing that Branson is being taken care of by the best "babysitters" there is, and although the mortal mother in me is a little jealous, I know that he is completely consumed with love and peace.
I look forward to the day that this exchange will occur once again. However, this time the exchange will be permanent...eternal. I can't even begin to imagine the joy that will overcome us as we approach the Savior and see our little boy swaddled in his loving arms. As Branson is returned to our arms, I am sure we will want to hold him close and never let go. In that moment our eternal family will be reunited, never to be separated again. I believe our eyes will be opened to the awesome mission that he has performed during this time of separation. I imagine that I'll thank the Savior for taking care of my son and embrace him with the love that only a mother could have for someone who has watched over and taken care of her son. I hope that as my gaze meets the Savior's that he can say, "Daughter, be of good comfort; they faith hath made thee whole."
Trevor, thank you for depicting perfectly what my eternal eyes behold when I think about my son and the love the Savior feels for me, Rob, and Branson. Your portrayal of this special day says it all!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Tear Soup

A few weeks ago my brother shared some insight with me about mourning that I found to be very helpful.
I read a book called "Tear Soup" that was so full of warmth and understanding. It put into words perfectly the way that I have felt through many of the differnt emotions and stages of greif. It compares this process to one of making 'tear soup'. It relates that most people are willing to share in one cup of our tear soup. When a tragedy occurs, people want to help in that moment. But, as life would have it, most people are so busy with life, and carrying their own burdens that they move on quickly and don't find it appetizing to consume more than a cup. However, as the books states, and as I have found, there are people who are willing to share in more than a cup of my soup. In fact, there are a few people who have probably had a full pot of it! They have a desire to sit down at my table of greif and partake of my soup when I need to share it. They are those who truly "mourn" with me. Jed shed some light on the difference between grieving and mourning:
The dictionary states: To Grieve is to suffer and endure anguish ALONE. To Mourn is to feel deep sorrow, sadness, and regret, but to be "more public" to share it with others, to not let it stew and grow toxic by keeping it inside.
In 3 Nephi chapter 12 Christ is teaching the people the beattitudes and verse 4 says "And again, blessed are those that mourn, for they shall be comforted."
Mosiah 18:8,9 ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort,...
I don't think the order of the words in these scriptures are coinsidence. For as I have found, when people are willing to take more than a cup of my soup and mourn with me, I inturn find comfort and my heart finds peace.
In the process of making my soup those first few weeks my pot was filled as tears flowed, questions of doubt were asked, pain clouded my vision, my heartstrings were wrenched, and my soul felt empty. The beginnings of my soup were personal and could only be prepared by me.
However, it was through the taste-tasting of my soup that I first realized my soup was becoming very bitter and hard to get down. I new I couldn't stop making my soup and let is simmer as it was. If that I happened, I knew my soup would eventually be scorched and I wouldn't be able to tolerate it all.
I began to find glimpses of an eternal perspective, and spoonfulls of peace as I realized that it was in the sharing of this soup with others that I'm able to learn and grow...that I am able to go back to my pot and add new ingredients to my soup to make it more sweet. A tablespoon of patience, a cup of understanding, a dash of other's tears, a quart of love, and a handful of joy.
I have learned from all different types of chefs. There are those who have shared parts of their recipe with me because they are making a similar soup, just farther along in their cook time. There are cooks that started their soup around the same time I did, and we're learning together. There are cooks that have made soups from completely different recipes that are willing to share some of their secret ingredients with me. And there are those chefs who have almost perfected their soups that are patient as I ask them for guidance. Every type of chef has something to offer.
I continue to revise my soup, and some days when I taste it I still find it bitter, but I guess my recipe is becoming more balanced because somedays it is especially sweet and enjoyable.
My heart is full of gratitude to those that have lent a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, and a hug. I have learned so much much by the wisdom others have shared and the examples of those I love. Thank you to those who have contributed to my soup, and who are willing to partake of more than a cup.
It is my hope that I'll be able to share parts of my recipe with others...that someday I can contribute some sweetness to another's pot. It is in this process that we do as the Savior has asked: mourn with those that mourn, and comort those who stand in need of comfort!
I can't wait for the day that I get to share my completed soup with Branson. I hope by then that I'll have perfected my recipe, and that as we share the soup we will be "filled" with joy!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

My Miracle

Well, this post is about four months in the making. The principle of miracles has weighed a lot on my mind since the moment that we discovered that Branson's heart had stopped beating. It's something I've spent a lot of time reading, pondering, and praying about. For me this principle is a "big" one. Just a couple of days ago, my understanding was enlightened and my spirit recognized truth.
It's amazing to me that most times, and especially in this case, the answer to many prayers, and numerous questions was right there in the scriptures...the same place they've been for the past 4 months as I have contemplated this principle. I am sure now that my spirit and my heart were being prepared to find the answer and accept it when it came.
In the New Testament and throughout 3rd Nephi there are many accounts of Christ performing miracles while he was physically on the Earth. Ever since I can remember, I have believed in the ability that Christ has to perform miracles. I have never questioned the accounts that are recorded in the scriptures, and I have always believed that Christ, although not physically here with me, has the power to perform miracles in my life...Rob being the perfect example.
However, the instant we found out that Branson's heart had stopped beating, I wanted a miracle. I knew that Christ had the power to breathe life back into my little boy's body, and I wanted it more than anything I've ever wanted before. We spent so much time on our knees that day, asking for this miracle. Rob laid his hands on my head and blessed that life would be restored to our son, if it was God's will. I believed with all my heart that it was possible.
As we all know, that miracle wasn't meant to be ours. That has been one of the hardest things for me to accept and come to grips with. Everyone kept saying; "This trial is just meant for you to grow and learn from." "This is all part of the plan." "Endure this trial and you will be rewarded." "The timing of this just wasn't meant to be, just be a little more patient." Well, quite frankly, I wanted to know why!
Why didn't Christ ever say any of those things to anyone while he was on the Earth. I couldn't find one example from the scriptures of when Christ was personally on the Earth that he didn't perform the miracle that had been asked of him. Healing the sick, giving sight to the blind, forgiving sins, cleansing the lepers, calming the sea, and yes...even raising the dead. I wondered... "Why didn't Christ ever say to someone, 'I'm sorry, this trial is just meant to be yours'...or 'I could perform this miracle for you, but it's just not right at this time." It seemed to me that when people asked, they received.
I felt as though we had asked for this miracle...the miracle of having life restored to our child. A very pure and righteous desire. I felt like we had done all we could, and that Christ should do the rest. He'd one it for so many others...why not us! We had waited for six years to receive this miracle of having a child, and I wasn't prepared to let that miracle go so soon. Suddenly the heartache we'd felt over infertility was now multiplied ten fold.
I asked many people their opinions, I read many talks, and said many prayers but the answers I received never seemed like what I was looking for. Then last Sunday in church our Sunday School lesson was on the Chapters in 3rd Nephi where Christ asks for the people to be brought forward:
"...all the multitude with one accord, did go forth with their sick and their afflicted, and their lame, and with their blind, and with their dumb, and with all these that were afflicted in any manner and he did heal them every one.."
A very clear knowledge came to my mind that I had never thought about before. It was true, Christ did heal these people, every single one. However, they had been sick, blind, or other wise afflicted for a period of time previous to the healing. They DID carry their trials and afflictions for a time. They too had to endure heartache, sickness, and pain until their faith in Christ made them complete at the time of his visit. Although it's not recorded, I would guess that they too had been praying for a miracle, such as the ones they received that day, for many years. Like us, they probably wondered when their miracle would come.
This got me thinking in a totally different direction, and I went home to read from the New Testament. I opened to Matthew Chapter 9:20 and read:
"And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him and touched the hem of his garment...Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; they faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour."
Twelve Years! Twelve years that I am sure probably seemed like an eternity to this woman who had been sick. Twelve years of enduring suffering and pain. And although she had to endure her trial for a long period of time, she was able to remain faithful enough, that eventually it was that faith that made her whole. This was the part that I was missing all along. These people didn't get sick, or carry heartache for one night and then were healed the next. The trial of their faith was a process through the refiners fire of time.
I too have a trial to carry and endure. It is painful, it causes a lot of heartache, and I want to be healed. I want to spend time with my miracle, Branson. It is from my enlightened knowledge that I find a new hope and reason to endure with faith. I believer that it will be this faith that will make me whole again.
I don't know if this healing and the miracle of being with my son will come in a few years, or even in this lifetime. However I do know that one day I will be made whole through the healing powers of Jesus Christ. One day he will call me forward and perform my miracle. One day through Christ we will be together again. Until then I move forward in faith.
Although Branson's life wasn't restored as we'd wanted, I know that his life, his mission, is a miracle in and of it's self. So today I am grateful for that miracle. The miracle of a perfect son. The miracle of eternal families, and the miracle of feeling love for a child. I am at peace with the knowledge that Christ could have performed the miracle of bringing Branson back to us, but that in his love and eternal perspective, Christ knew it just wasn't part of our plan.
Branson, thank you for being our little miracle. The example you've set, the lessons you've taught, and the lives you've touched has been truly miraculous!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Mortal Eyes

Today as I sat at the back of Sacrament Meeting, my eyes filled with tears. From where I sat I could see 10 newborns, 6 pregnant women, and 3 rows full of a family there to witness a baby blessing. I heard testimonies born about the joys of being a parent, and sang songs about teaching our children. The ache was almost unbearable as the strings of my heart were wrenched once again. I couldn't help but think to myself, "Why them and not me?" More than anything I wanted Branson to be there, dressed in his cute little church outfit, snuggled in my arms. I wanted people to stop at our pew, to take a peek at our cute little guy, instead of passing us by. I wanted to bear my testimony and thank my family for attending the blessing of our little boy. I wanted to verbalize my knowledge of the gospel and my love of Christ to him. I wanted to sneak out of the meeting to sit in the mother's lounge. Instead I found myself thinking...this just isn't fair! Today's salt was especially painful.
As I sat there crying, I kept thinking that I didn't want my "mortal eyes" anymore! When I see the view that my mortal eyes provide, it's bleak and at times hopeless. My mortal eyes allow me to feel self-pity, jealousy, and anger. They allow me to question myself and the Lord. They limit my view to here and now...what I wanted, and what I "gave up". I wanted to tear away my mortal view and see this room, these people, and myself in a new way.
As soon as the prayer was said, I slipped out the back door and down to the bathroom. I put myself in a stall and had a good, hard cry. The mortal inside me said, "Just go would be easier, safer." Instantly I thought back in my mind to one of my blogs from last week about how this pain and stinging is all part of the healing process. I told myself "no".
Standing in the stall, I offered a silent but heartfelt prayer. I asked the Lord to clear my mortal view and allow me to think and see with "eternal eyes". As I asked for this gift for today, for that moment, I felt peace.
When I can look at this experience and see my son through eternal eyes, what I behold is indescribably beautiful. During the moments that my eternal perspective clears away my mortal view, I have renewed strength. I find purpose. I am overcome with love. With my eternal eyes I see how much the Lord loves me, I trust in his plan, and I feel an intense desire to return to him and my son.
As I continue on this journey, I pray that the Lord may allow me to discern between the views that I behold. I hope that I can learn from the mortal view and find joy in the eternal perspective. I pray more than anything that the Lord might give me the courage to face this mortal experience with eternal eyes.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Branson's 1st Halloween

Rob and I have talked a lot about how the holidays, especially this first year, will feel incomplete and lonely. As we listened to General Conference this October, we felt impressed with the message to find joy in our journey, even when the journey isn't easy. We knew that ultimately we had two choices: We could let these holidays be filled with anger, sadness, and empty memories...or we could be human and let it hurt, but still fill these holidays with treasured memories. We have decided that we would like to try and find an appropriate balance in our efforts to remember our son, keep his spirit alive, and allow ourselves to mourn our separation from him...but to also allow ourselves to feel the joy that comes from celebrating. We have a great desire to start some new family traditions this year that can be carried on throughout time as we welcome new members to our eternal family and teach them about their older brother.
We know that Branson especially would want us to find and share this joy in the journey. I'm sure that he knows how much his mom and dad enjoy decorating and preparing for holidays, and how much we looked forward to spending all the "firsts" with him...the 1st Christmas, the first Thanksgiving, the 1st Birthday, and the first fireworks show.
Well, tonight would have been Branson's first Halloween. This is just one of the many nights we had "dreamed" about spending with our son. Had Branson been with us tonight we would have dressed him up, carved pumpkins with him, and taken him around to friends and neighbors homes to show him off. However, since he's not with us...what could we do to make this "first" memorable and special to us?
Every time we went somewhere we would keep an eye out for just the right thing to help us face this difficult hurdle, something that would help us create a memory, a tradition that we could share with our future children. One afternoon while shopping, we found this adorable little pumpkin man. It was originally just the stand without the head. When we saw this, we immediately new that this would be the perfect thing. It just screamed "Branson" to us.
So tonight, we started a new family tradition, a tradition that will be carried on for many years to come. A tradition that we believe has the power to help us remember Branson, and still enjoy the festivities of the season. We bought one of those artificial, carvable pumpkins, and tonight we spent time carving this pumpkin for our little guy...didn't it turn out cute?
I can't think of any better way to spend our time tonight, the time we would have spent trick-or-treating with him. Time spent with my awesome husband and Branson's daddy, creating a physical reresentation of the love we have for our son. From now on, each year when we decorate, we'll pull out our little pumpkin man and remember Branson's first Halloween.
Happy Halloween buddy...we love you!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My Squishy

Tonight as I lie here in my bed, tears streaming down my face, I can see this picture across the room on my dresser. I love this picture because it stirs so many emotions inside my heart and soul. I love the way Branson looks in this picture, as though he is sleeping in the safety of my arms. I love the look on Rob's face, one of a proud father. I love the way that my eyes seem full of peace. I think that you can see many emotions in our, sorrow, pride, loss, misunderstanding, and peace.
Tonight as I look at this picture I feel very lonely and a little empty. I wish with all the energy of my being that I could be holding Branson in my arms again like that right now, that I could whisper words of love in his ear, and feel his spirit envelope mine again like it did that day. Instead, I lie here with aching arms and an empty cradle next to my bed.
I am grateful however for my "squishy". In this picture Branson is wrapped in a soft, blue blanket that we brought to the hospital with us that day. He spent most of the day swaddled in that blanket. He also spent time in a plush, brown blanket that he was wrapped in when the nurse took Branson from us. We were able to get both blankets back from the hospital...and they have now become our "squishies". I'm not sure where they got their name, but Rob and I each have one. We have slept with our squishies since the day we had Branson. Each night we both cuddle up to one and hold it, along with each other, as we fall asleep. I don't think that either one of us will ever forget the day we held our son in these blankets, for a short time they held the child that we have grown to love so intensely over the last year. They are a symbol of that love.
I find myself holding my squishy during the lonely times, as it is one of the very few "physical" things I have that was part of our short time with Branson. I think of all the tears that have been shed on it, all the loving words that have been whispered into it, all the heartfelt prayers that have been offered while holding it, and all the love that has been "squished" into it, and I am so grateful that it's mine to have forever.
I have wondered if there will come a day or a night that I won't feel the need to hold it close, but for now I can't imagine it. For now I'll hold it tight and share a few more tears with "my squishy".

Monday, October 27, 2008

Salt in the Wound

When I was talking to a friend recently who also had a stillborn child, she commented to me that sometimes the only way to heal from the emotional, mental, and spiritual scars is to pour salt into those open wounds.
As I know from experience, pouring salt on an open wound is a very literal way to help clean and heal an open, physical wound. It can be extremely painful and almost unbearable when the salt penetrates the wound as it burns and stings on contact. Salt has many healing properties and kills most germs on contact. Therefore, it would kill any bacteria in and around the wound.
As I began to think about my friends comment, I began to realize how much truth there was in her statement. It is so tempting to want to run away, or hide from all the hard things that I have to face each day...instead of meeting those hurdles head on and pouring the "stinging salt" into my open wounds. I decided at that moment that I would try, a little at a time, to face some of the hard things and see if the "salt" would have the same effect on my emotional, spiritual, and mental wounds that it has on physical wounds. I prayed to my Heavenly Father that as I put forth the effort, that the Holy Ghost might be able to assist in cleaning the wounds I would open and face.
It has been extremely hard at times to face these blessings, holding a newborn infant, hearing pregnant women wish their pregnancy was over, face people in public who aren't tender about our situation, the list could go on and on. However, as I have faced a few of my fears, and poured a small amounts of salt on my wounds, I have felt some healing begin to take place.
The other day I went over to a dear friends house. She had recently given birth to a little boy. I had delayed my visit for several weeks because I was afraid of what my emotional reaction might be. However, with my new determination, I decided I would try a little bit of that salt. That night as I snuggled her little boy to my chest, listened to his tiny breaths of air, and felt the warmth of his body in my heart did sting, the empty hole in my soul did ache, and that night when I left I did cry myself to sleep. The next day however, I found myself wanting to hold her little guy that moment, I paused and realized that although the salt had been painful, it had performed a small amount of healing.
I have a lot of healing that still needs to take place. I know that it can't come all at once or overnight. It is my hope that I can continue to find the courage to jump the hurdles that I face instead of passing them by saying, that I'll come back to them later. I know that through the healing power of the Holy Ghost and with some work on my part... peace and joy will at some time mend the open wounds of my heart. The love I have for Branson will forever be in my heart, his life permanently impressed upon my soul.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


"...for behold, ye are free; ye are permitted to act for yourselves; for behold, God hath given unto you a knowledge and he hath made
you free.
Helaman 14:30

Today in Sacrament meeting the topic was on agency. This brought to my mind a remembrance of something Rob and I have discussed on a number of occasions since meeting our son. We believe that agency is one of the greatest gifts that we were granted from God by choosing to follow Jesus Christ. With this great gift comes great responsibility. We are free to choose and act for ourselves in every situation we face. We had agency in the pre-existence, and when we were presented with God's plan we choose to accept it. We saw that it was right and perfect. We saw the love that God had for us because he provided the opportunity to choose for ourselves.
We feel that this was no different for our Branson. We have felt very impressed that Branson was also presented with God's plan for him, and he was given a choice...A choice to follow God's plan to be with us for only a short time to gain his body for progression, and then return to him to perform a sacred mission... or to stay on this Earth with us at this time for a mortal experience. We know that Branson choose to follow God's plan for him.
We had a very special experience when Rob gave Branson his name and blessing. Rob said that it was revealed to him that had we had the opportunity to get to know our son on this Earth, we would have found "obedience" to be his strongest personality trait. The selfish, mortal mother in me is jealous at times that he "choose" not to be with us at this time because that is what I wanted most. However, when we put our "eternal perspective" in view, we are so grateful that Branson was valiant enough to do what was asked of him.
In reality, Branson was given knowledge and it has made him free. Branson was so selfless in making the right decision. We know that Branson choose to be with us eternaly, and that fills our temporary, mortal existence with hope. We know that his choice was best for him and our family eternally. We have developed a great sense of pride in knowing that our son followed God's plan for him. It is our prayer that as we are presented with truth and knowledge from God, that we too can use it to make us free. It is that knowledge, and that freedom that I find peace for now and a great sense of anticipation in knowing that we will get to, as Joseph Smith said, raise our son from his infancy in a perfect world, if we can but use that agency to make the choices that align with God's will and plan for us. It is in that freedom that we will be reunited with our son, in that freedom and love is where as a family, we can be together forever!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Missing my Little Guy

So today, I got to play full-time aunt! My sister-in-law Kim had a jewelry show to attend this weekend, and they gave me the opportunity to stay with them for a couple of nights to help her get ready for the show and then watch the kids for her today. I don't get to see my niece and nephews very often, so it was a lot of fun to be with them. We had a good time eating, bathing, reading books, doing hair, watching a movie, doing homework, and even taking a nap together. They are so cute, and I really enjoyed getting to do some of the "motherly" things with them today.
Well, tonight when Kim got home from her show, all the kids needed to bath and get ready for bed. Since Jed was gone, Kim and I did the tag team (which works out really nice). I got Grady and Halie bathed and dressed, and then Gavin wanted mommy to get him ready for bed. So while Kim got him ready, she asked if I wouldn't mind feeding Grady his bedtime bottle.
This is my favorite thing to do with babies... I love snuggling little ones close, wrapping them up, and feeding them. This is one of the things I really looked forward to doing with Branson in our recliner at night...rocking, feeding, singing, cuddling, just being together during those minutes each day. I've heard that feeding time is when a lot of the bonding occurs between mom and baby, and I was so excited for that. In fact, my arms have been so empty at times since we had Branson that they have literally ached. So I was grateful for the chance to snuggle little Grady close one more time. As the two of us sat on the couch tonight all alone, I could see a little bit of Branson in him, the big Anderson head, the cute little nose, the perfect little ears. As I longed for my son I couldn't help shedding tears of lonliness and feel the tug of my heartstrings as they ached for my little guy. As Grady reached up with his precious little hand to touch my nose while he ate, like many little babies do, I couldn't help but picture my little Branson and wish that I would have had that moment with him.
I am grateful to Kim for letting me have some time with just Grady to love him and feel the warmth of a baby in my arms. Kim, thank you for not worrying about leaving me with a baby, thank you for not telling me not to cry. It was nice to be able to shed tears and not have the "watchful, wondering" eyes upon me as I did so. It's what I needed tonight before I go back to my house and see my nursery still waiting. I miss my sweet Branson more than words can say!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


"Adam fell that man might be, and men are that they might have Joy."
2 Nephi 2:25

Since we had Branson I have thought a lot about this scripture. God wants us to experience joy. I've wondered, "Why then are we going through all of this pain, loneliness, and grief?" There have been "joyous" moments through having our son, but there have definitely been moments of great sorrow and days full of heartache as well.
I, like many others, read the book "The Secret". I believe that many of it's principles are true when aligned with gospel principles. However, because of what it teaches, I have repeatedly questioned myself if Rob and I "attracted" this experience. Was I too worried about my pregnancy, was I too concerned about the health of my little boy, did I fear the worst too often? This has really bothered me a lot and for a long time it put a lot of extra weight to the burdens we've carried. I felt like we must be responsible in some way for this "tragedy" that had occured, and that we must have done something to bring this experience upon us.
One day imparticular this was weighing especially heavy on my mind and heart. I went over to a friends house and confided my feelings and thoughts to her. Her response was simple, but has completely changed my perspective on this aspect of this experience. She said, "So what if you did attract this Natalie, look at what you've eternal, celestial son! Ya know Natalie, God is concerned with making us holy, more than he is concerned with making us happy."
I loved that! We talked about how Rob and I are experiencing earthly sorrow and mortal pain, but that if we had "attracted" this, we had attracted eternal joy! I felt the spirit so strong. I was amazed at the beauty of the truth she shared with me that day.
There are many things that bring us Earhtly happiness... but there are only a few things we do in this life that can bring us eternal joy, and having an eternal family is one of them! As I reflect now on this concept and the scripture about us experiencing joy, I can see that God has provided that joy for Rob and I in a very real way. I feel now that my concerns and worries about Branson during my pregnancy we probably very normal and motherly. I am thankful for the joyous eternal perspective I've gained. It helps see me through the hard days I face. It gives me hope. I can hardly imagine the joy we'll feel when we are reunited with our sweet are that they might have joy!

Monday, October 20, 2008


Perhaps one of the hardest parts of this experience has been being around people that act as though nothing has happened in our lives, that Branson was never apart of us. I am working on accepting and appreciating that these people probably just don't know what to say, or they think that in not mentioning him or talking about this experience that it will help us, save us from more heartache. However, it's a hard thing to accept when Branson is so real to us, such a huge part of who we are. It's not that I want people to medle around us in sorrow or unhappiness, but when people walk into our home for the first time since we were seperated from Branson, and they see our beautiful pictures of him up and see his nursery right off of our family room, it would be nice to just have them mention what a beautiful baby he is, or how cute his nursery is... just something so it doesn't feel as though there is an elephant in the room. Like I mentioned before, when I talk to people about it for the first time, the thing I love to talk about is him...not our heartache. I was thinking the other day if anyone would ever say "congratulations" to us on having a little boy...I don't know that day will ever come because of the heartache involved. However, at times I do feel like rejoicing that we have an eternal family, celebrating that we are parents.
Rob and I feel really strongly that this experiecne serves a purpose, that there are many things that we can learn from it. So as I feel these emotions and have these thoughts, I try to reflect and learn from each one. So as I was thinking about this, I started to think about God and his son Jesus Christ. I imagine that at times God may feel something similar as we, here on Earth, go about our lives as though "nothing has happened". That his son was never here, that he didn't atone for our sins, or give his life that we might live again. I wondered how many times I personaly have forgotten these life changing events, not used them for what purpose they were done, or have gone long periods of time without expressing gratitude to God that he let his son come, that he was and is real, and that the things he did while he was here are important to me.
While we have only faced a few people who have acted as though nothing has happened, millions of people every day go about life as though Jesus Christ never happened. It is my prayer that I might do better at remembering him every day, use the atonement to bring peace to my mind, and rejoice in the recsurection... that it may bring joy to my heart in knowing that because Christ is real, that he was here I will be reunited with my son for eternity!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Little Things

"Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things." Robert Brault
I think that this is one of my all time favorite quotes. In the last few years, and especially the last few months, I have really felt that it is the little things that make life what it is. The little things happen every day, every moment. It is the little things that compile together over time that make up the "big things" in our past...our memories. I feel it is the little things in every relationship that lend to it being whole and complete. My husband Rob, for example, is so good at doing the little things for me. It is in the little things that he completes me. It is in the little things that I feel most loved, the most special, and the most important to him. It is in the simple emails from family members and the small messages in cards that we know how much people care. It is in the simpleness of life that we create the memories of yesterday.
Since the day we were separated from Branson I have thought a lot about the little things that made those nine months we had with him so special, so complete. It is the little things that we did for him each day during our time with him that bring me comfort in knowing that he knew he was loved. We said a "little" prayer for him each night, and it is in those simple words that we expressed our concern for his well being, the excitement we felt for his arrival, and the deep love we already felt for him as his parents. It was the small thoughts every second of the day, the mention of him in almost every conversation...long or short. It's in the few minutes I took each day to rest that I got to concentrate on his lively movements, and the amazing feeling of having another living person inside me. It is in the simple, small clothing that hang in his closet, the few small hours we spent painting his room, the few moments we spent picking out the fabric for his bedding, the time I spent organizing his diapers, wipes, and blankets, it is these simple acts of love for my son that made those nine months so sweet and memorable.
All the little things that other new parents might take for granted meant so much to us the day that we spent with Branson in the hospital. The simple act of bathing our son, dressing him, putting a diaper on him, and wrapping him up, are forever imprinted on our minds and hearts. His tiny little hand and foot prints are treasures that we hold dear. The few short hours that Rob and I got to hold our sweet boy and rub his little toes, have his fingers curl around ours, and snuggle him close to us are the small moments that we'll hold on to forever. And so, it is in the "little" things, the "small" moments that have created the "big" memories of the time we spent with our son.

Friday, October 17, 2008


This word has been on my mind a lot lately, "lost". It is a word used to describe this trial, "When we lost Branson." "We are so sorry about your loss." "What day did you find out you had lost Branson?" These are things that we have said to others, and that others have said to us. I wish we could find a better way of saying it though because in reality we haven't "lost" anything...we have found so much! We have found our sweet little boy, and the remembrance of his sweet spirit. We have discovered an intense love for our son that has awakened our souls. We have found and come to know another member of our eternal family. We have found a new perspective on the atonement, the love that God has for us, and the pain he must have felt as he "lost" his son to a much harsher crowd. We have found a greater appreciation for each other and the strength and faith that it takes to lean on each other during the difficult times. We have found within ourselves the ability to endure, and through the gift of the Holy Ghost to endure with faith. We have found a great motivation to do all we can to make it back to our son. So in our "loss" we have truly discovered so much!
I am not sure there is a better way to say it, or describe it. To me it makes more sense to say that we have been separated from our little boy for a short time. However, when talking to people it just doesn't seem to come out that way. I had an experience a short time after Branson's memorial service that fostered these feelings as well. We were visiting Rob's family, and we were all gathered in the family/dining area of there beautiful home. His brother had just returned from serving a mission and this was the first time that we had been able to spend time with him. His brother was standing in the kitchen and Rob and I were sitting at the dining table. As I watched him and listened to him talk, I turned to Rob and said: "It feels like Michael was never gone." It truly felt like he had never left and that time of separation from him had never occur ed. As I said and thought that, the strongest impression came to my mind. Words as clear as a person talking stated, "That is exactly how you will feel about Branson." This time on Earth seems like such a long time to us as we sojourn upon it, but I was reminded that day that in the eternal scheme of things this life is so short. I feel that when we are reunited with Branson that we will have a full remembrance of the time we spent with him in the premortal life, and that our separation from him will feel like it never happened. I am grateful to the Lord that he allowed me to gain a better eternal perspective that day, and I look forward to the day that I can turn to Rob and say, "It feels like we never left Branson!"

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Kind Words

"Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echos are truly endless." Mother Teresa

Today I am grateful for kind words. As Rob and I go through the trial of loosing our son, we have been blessed to have great family and friends beside us. I am not sure that anyone will know how much the power of love and support we have felt has done for us. Amongst the many cards, letters and phone calls, I seem to recall the simple, loving, kind words most often. "Just wanted you to know we care," or "We are thinking of you and your beautiful son," or "You are in our prayers." Simple, but kind words that have helped so much. It was and is the visitors and phone calls that are short, but sincere that I don't dread answering. I appreciate the people who just listen at times, and understand at other times that I don't want to talk at all. It's the people that want to hear about our sweet Branson that I love to talk to, "Tell me about Branson, how big was he? What did he look like? What feature do you remember most? What was your favorite moment with him?" These are just a few of the things I love to talk about. So as I reflect on the kind words that "echo" in my mind, I am grateful for all the awesome people in my life who love me, Rob, and Branson. Thank you!