Thursday, December 3, 2009

We'd Love to Have You Join Us!

Dear Family and Friends,

What a wonderful time of the year! The Christmas season is once again upon us and we find ourselves fully immersed in the festivities of the holidays. We hope that this letter finds each and everyone of you and your families happy, healthy, and enjoying the things that make this time of year so memorable.

Last year, many of you joined our family as we started a very special tradition, and we invite each of you and many more to join us once again!

Christmas of 2008 was our first Christmas without little Branson here to join us in our holiday celebrations. Rob and I wanted to start a tradition that would honor his memory and allow his sweet, pure spirit to be a part of this special time of year. We decided to buy a stocking, with his name embroidered on it...and fill it completely full...with love. How you might ask, with simple acts of love given to those around us through acts of service.

Together Rob and I really focused on having our eyes and our hearts open to people around us in need, and then perform a small act of service in Branson's memory for them. Each night we would write those small acts down on paper and put them in Branson's stocking. We also decided to invite our family and friends to join us in the effort of filling his stocking to the brim.

We were humbled and amazed as we received emails throughout the holiday season from people we've known for years, and even strangers we've never met. The acts of love ranged from giving a hug to someone having a hard day, a little boy letting his brother play with his favorite toy, to people donating money in Branson's name to a charity, or making goodies for a friend.

On Christmas eve we sat down together and pulled our each little strip of paper and read them, and then after the holidays were over I made a special Christmas Memories book where we scrap booked pages and pages with each little piece. Each time we look at the book we are filled with joy and peace. We were so honored that all of you would participate with us in such selfless ways! It was a Christmas to remember for sure!

So we invite you once again to join us as we begin to add those small acts of love to our little boy's stocking. We know that all of you do so many good things, especially during this season. What we ask, is that you choose one time specifically to perform an act of service for someone and do it with Branson in mind. Then, email me explaining what you did, your name, and location. Then I will print it and it to his stocking and eventually his memory book.

We hope that as you do this your heart will be filled with love and your holiday season will be brightened. We love each of you and appreciate your continued friendship, love, and support. Merry Christmas!

Love, Rob.Natalie.Branson.Brooklyn Call

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Being Rescued

Today in Sunday School our discussion was on the handcart pioneers that traveled from the East to Salt Lake City to join the saints already in the valley, and more specifically, the Martin and Willey Handcart Companies. Needless to say, I was moved and touched by the accounts of their journey that were shared. I was humbled by the unconditional faith that was shown during this difficult, and what seems to me overwhelming circumstances, and their unwavering commitment to follow the call of a prophet.

Many people lost their loved ones along the journey, and many of those were mothers who lost their little ones. Little ones that were buried in frozen, shallow graves. No stone to mark their resting spot.

Perhaps this is why I sat in tears today, because in a special way I can somewhat relate to those mothers and the heartache they felt at loosing their little ones. Perhaps I sat there in tears because although I can relate to the heartache, I can't imagine the circumstances they lost them and eventually buried them in. I can't imagine lying my baby in one of those shallow graves only to leave it behind hours later, knowing I would never see that place again, and even worse that wolves would most likely find, and dig through the ground to the little body that lie below.

Those lives that were spared were eventually rescued by saints from the Salt Lake Valley, who upon hearing of the perilous situation these saints faced as winter drew near, immediately left to offer food, clothing, and aid that was so desperately needed. They rescued these people by doing for them what they could not do on their own.

Perhaps I sat there in tears as I questioned why? Why is it that bad things happen to good people...good people following the Lord's command to make this journey? Good people who had done all in their power to do what was right. Good people who had already sacrificed physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Good people who had righteous desires.

Like these pioneers, there are good people around us that suffer sorrow, heartache, and pain. Good people who like these pioneers do all in their power to do what's asked of them, to follow the Lord's plan, and people who have righteous desires.

As I sat there, overcome with emotion in class, asking the spirit to teach me...the teacher posed just this question...

"Why does God allow good people to experience sorrow?"

I continued to contemplate this question in my mind and these are the thoughts that came....

There will undoubtedly come times in our lives when we will not be able to do something on our own...there will be trials that put us in the middle of our own "handcart" journey. There will come a time when we will need to be rescued...perhaps not physically like these pioneers were, but emotionally or spiritually speaking we will need to be rescued.

Like the saints that brought aid to these destitute pioneers, the Lord will send people to rescue us and provide things we can not provide for ourselves. As we allow others to offer aid, to teach us, to help us, and to love us... we begin to grow...we grow into someone and something more refined than before. We enter the "refiners fire", the fire that allows us to become more like the people God knows we can become.

But perhaps the most powerful reason God "allows" good people to experience hard things is because the only person who can truly and completely "rescue" us is the Savior...and having the opportunity to decide for ourselves if we'll let that rescue occur is vital part of our mortal journey.

Unfortunately, often times as humans, it takes these seemingly insurmountable trials to humble us enough to a point where we can see for ourselves that we need to be rescued...humble enough that we allow Him in to do the rescuing that can come only through His personal atonement.

I believe that God knows that each of us need to experience the atonement in a very real, personal way. Whether it's through the repenting and forsaking of sin, finding strength and comfort through loosing a loved one, finding the courage to fight the battle of cancer, or whatever our "handcart journey" maybe...we need to experience the Savior's atoning sacrifice.

We need to experience the beauty of his love, and the tenderness of his care. We need to experience the healing he provides and the peace he offers. We need to see the beauty that resides behind the cloud and the completeness of the plan he has for us.

So, I think that we're "allowed" to pass through the hard, to experience become more.

Although I miss Branson more today than I did yesterday, I am thankful for the reason I have to be rescued. Healing from the loss of our son is something I can not do on my own. I don't have the strength, the power, or all the answers to even attempt to rescue myself. However, I'm learning that as Christ and I work together, healing can happen. I see more and more each day that it is through his atonement that my heart and soul can be rescued from the pain.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Love This

Today while I was doing some studying, I came across this quote on grief...and I love it!

"First, please know that grief is the natural by-product of love. One cannot selflessly love another person and not grieve at his suffering or eventual death. The only way to avoid the grief would be to not experience the love; and it is love that gives life its richness and meaning. Hence, what a grieving parent can expect to receive from the Lord in response to earnest supplication may not necessarily be an elimination of grief so much as a sweet reassurance that, whatever his or her circumstances, one’s child is in the tender care of a loving Heavenly Father."
Lance B. Wickman

This describes perfectly why grief is such an important part of healing from the loss of a child. I have often wanted the Lord to take away the grief and the pain associated with it, however, after reading this and coming to a realization that the only way to avoid the grief that we have felt over the last 12 months would be to have never experienced the love...

I can't imagine my life now without the love I have for little boy. I am amazed so often at the simple ways Heavenly Father reminds me that although the loss of our little one is heart-wrenching, painful, and hard to accept...that it was done, ultimately, out of love for us and Branson. I open my arms wide to welcome the grief, for with that grief comes the incredible, powerful love that only a mother can have for her child. I would never forgo the grief if it meant forgoing our experience with Branson.

So today, I'll pray for that "sweet assurance" to know that our child "is in the tender care of a loving Heavenly Father".

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

We Remember

Today, we remember...remember the day we spent with Branson...remember the moments we shared, the emotions we felt...remember how it felt to hold him in our arms. Some of those moments are so fresh, it seems as if it was yesterday, and others have slowly started to fade. One thing is for sure...we love him more today than we did yesterday, and we have no doubt we'll love him more tomorrow than we do today.

There are no words to express how much we miss Branson. There's not a day that goes by that we don't think about him, and wonder what might have been...

We woke up this morning with heaviness in our hearts and an aching in our arms. We drove to a beautiful park nearby where we spent an hour walking and talking. We shed tears as we shared our favorite memories of that day, and smiled as we remembered how perfect and beautiful he was. There were moments that day that were full of sorrow, and others where we were consumed by peace. If I could relive it again...I would. But, because I can't, I just cherish what we had that day.

Our goal over the last year has been to celebrate what was, and not let ourselves get lost in what was not. At times, that's been extremely hard to do...and there have been days when I've let the "what if's" and "why me's" win. But, there have been many days and many moments when we've been able to start amazing traditions and celebrate his short life.

As his birthday approached, we again wanted it to be a day we could remember the heartache, sorrow, and lonliness we've felt...but a day we could celebrate the hope, joy, and anticipation we feel in knowing that we'll be with him again. We wanted to start a tradition we can carry on in future years with our other children.

So, on Sunday, we were in Richfield with many family members and friends...and we wanted all of them to be a part of his party. We planned to have a BBQ at my parents home and a balloon release at his graveside. It was hard to accept that this was cake being destroyed by a little boy, or presents being torn open... However, it was beautiful for what it was.

Family BBQ

At the Graveside
Our dear friend Tyler put together this beautiful video of that day for us.
(Make sure your sound is on, and give it a few minutest to load. If you have problems loading, the video can also be seen on Branson's website by clicking on the Happy Birthday Button at the top.))

Thank you Tyler for putting together such a touching tribute.

My little brother Ryan wrote the song that's playing in the background for Branson's funeral. It's called "Waiting"...amazing and perfect. He sang it at the graveside after we let the balloons go. Thanks Ry.

Thank you to all of our family and friends who were there, some of them drove long distances and it meant so much to have you there. Thank you for realizing and validating how real and special Branson is.

And last...Happy Birthday Branson...we love you more than you'll ever know.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Some Great Give Aways

Having so many, friends, and people we've never even met...reach out to our family in such a selfless way through our "Peace of Mind Fund" has been truly amazing. We stand in awe at the goodness of others, and we are truly humbled by the outpouring of love and support we have received. There are no words to express the love and gratitude we feel toward each one of you.

Being able to visit Dr. Collins in August would be a dream come true. A dream that would stay just that, a dream without all of you. Having the peace of mind that will come from knowing a specialist is monitoring the health and well-being of our baby girl will be truly priceless. We look forward to sharing this journey with each of you, through this blog, as we make the trip to Louisianna to visit Dr. Collins, and venture home with the monitoring system. We'll be sure to post lots of pictures and updates on our progress as we go along, as we now feel that each of you deserve to be part of that special journey.

As part of this amazing blog, people have recently donated some amazingly cute things that you can get in on. If you've already donated you can put your name in, and if you'd like to donate you can have the chance to win some of these things as well. Click on the button below to find out more about how it all works.

We'd like to send out a big thank you to all the talented people that have made something to donate on our behalf. You are amazing people with so much to share!

We want you to know that every night we pray that God's choicest blessings will be yours...we plead that each of you, in a personal...specific way, will be blessed for your generous contribution. We also pray that we'll be blessed with opportunities now...and in the future that will allow us to pay your kindness forward to others.

All our Love- Rob and Natalie Call

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Overcoming Fear

Emotions are a powerful thing aren't they? Each and every one real...raw. Experiencing the loss of a child has magnified every emotion. Some emotions I have welcomed with open arms, and others I have wanted to push away.

During the months since Branson's passing, I have spent a lot of time thinking about emotions. I have concluded that we experience them all...the good, the bad, the hard...for a reason, and I personally think that reason is so we can become more like Jesus Christ.

The mission we choose to accept by coming to this Earth was to learn, to grow, and to become more like Him and our Father in Heaven.

"Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect."
St. Matthew 5:48

This is our ultimate goal after all isn't it? To become perfect even as he is? For me, this process will take much longer than the time I will be given here on Earth. At times that charge seems daunting, impossible, and downright unachievable. The beautiful thing about our Father, is that he doesn't expect us to do it alone. He sent his son.

His son is our exemplar...the only human being to walk the Earth in utter perfection. His son is our truest friend...there for us every step of the way. His son is our mediator...our personal link to the father. His son is our is only through him that this perfection can be reached. For, through his atonement, he has made up where we will assuredly fall short.

So, in time spent thinking about the Savior, I have learned a few things about emotion. First, he has felt and experienced every single emotion so he could perfectly understand us, but he also "overcame" them...mastered them to a perfect continue in his perfection.

So, as I've struggled with such emotions as anger, doubt, disbelief, abandonment, loneliness, and emptiness I have tried to do a few things. First, let myself experience those emotions...for they are real. Bottling them up inside, or pretending they aren't there, would only deceive myself...but for how long?

Second, allow myself to "process" each emotion...why am I feeling that way?...what lead me to this emotion? do I function when I feel this way?...what purpose does this emotion serve for me right now?

Third, don't let myself get "stuck" there. Although I believe each emotion is a gift from God, they can also be a tool of Satan's. He wants me to get "stuck" in the negative, to dwell there.

Fourth, and perhaps the hardest step for me, is to let my faith and trust in God help me overcome the emotion...instead of letting the emotion overcome me.

These four things have helped me tremendously in the past. Yet, lately I am facing a new...but very strong emotion...fear. And, I am having a very difficult time not letting that emotion overcome me.

Fear in itself scares me...isn't that ironic? I am filled with fear that his baby girl won't be able to stay with us...that once again I'll be left with empty arms. I fear that I'll do something to harm her. I fear that her heart will stop beating. I fear that I'll never hear her scream, or see smile. But perhaps what I fear most is not knowing what God's will is for us and this little one.

This is the hardest emotion for me to move past...I feel like I'm getting stuck. Yet, I also feel myself wanting to pull away from it...but how?

I have been able to find examples in the scriptures where Christ felt many of these different emotions, but was there an example when Christ felt fear? As I thought about it, a scripture came to mind:

"And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt."
St. Matthew 26:39

I believe that Christ knew that suffering for our sins and feeling every pain, emotion, and sickness we would be asked to bear was part of his purpose. Yet, as I thought about this scripture the other day, I wondered as that moment arrived in the Garden of Gethsemane if Christ might have felt a little fear...anxiety of not knowing the full extent of the suffering he was about to endure. Perhaps it was that fear that led Him to ask the Father to "let this cup pass from me".

So yes, I think Christ felt fear...he experienced it, he felt it's power.

Yet he refused to let that fear overcome him and his purpose...he overcame it with his faith and trust in His Father..."not as I will, but as thou wilt". He may have feared what lay before him, but he never doubted that His Father knew best. I believe that it was through this submission and show of faith that he overcame his fear.

It's strange, because I feel closer to my Father in Heaven than ever before...yet, I think that perhaps I still lack complete trust in his plan for me...that complete trust that the Savior obviously had. That's where I need to work...I need to use the knowledge that I have about God's perfect love, about his eternal purposes, and about my personal relationship with him to make that trust complete.

In the meantime, I'll find peace in the Savior's understanding and comfort through knowing he's there, and I'll enjoy the love, excitement, joy and hope that I feel when she's stirring inside.

"Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you..."
D&C 68:6

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Another Earthly Angel

As we've began the journey down a new road, a road that involves a new pregnancy, and a new life stirring inside, we've felt a range of emotion from elation, joy, hope, and anticipation to emotions of doubt, anxiety, and fear. Wanting and hoping so badly that this little spirit will be able to stay with us, we have spent time on our knees as we plead with our Heavenly Father that our will and his will be one.

We know that Branson died due to a cord accident, however, we also know that his death was no accident. We have found peace and hope in that knowledge. 

Yet, as we wait for October to come,  we can't just sit by and hope for something different. Doing nothing won't calm the worries, or put an end to our fears. We feel that it is after we "do" all that we can, that the Savior is able to take us in his hands and make up the create a miracle in the form of a kicking, screaming, healthy baby girl. 

And so, we have read and researched...we have learned. In that learning we have come to know of a Dr. Collins in Louisiana who specializes in infant death due to cord accidents. His work is amazing and his mission important. He works to educate those in the medical profession about the reality of being able to prevent fatal cord accidents with the right training and proper monitoring of expectant mothers. 

He offers a service in which mothers who have previously lost a child to a cord accident, fly toLouisiana between the 28-30 weeks of a subsequent pregnancy, where he performs an extensive ultrasound. During that time he studies the baby and the cord, and he is able to determine if the cord is wrapped or knotted at that time. Then, he sends each mother home with a "home monitoring system". Each night, the mother wraps this monitor around the belly while sleeping and a machine records the baby's heartbeat and any contractions that you may be having. Then the information is emailed to Dr. Collins each morning. As he watches and analyzes the data that is sent to him, he is able to detect problems with the cord before those problems cause fatality. 

Since learning about this, I have had a great desire to participate in Dr. Collins work. The peace of Mind that would come from knowing that someone who is trained to recognize any potential problems is monitoring the health of my sweet baby would be truly priceless. Unfortunately, this program has a price tag. 

A dear friend, Amy, that also lost a beautiful little girl, Alexis, due to a cord accident is the one that sent me the information about Dr. Collins. She has been an amazing friend through everything, as she understands and relates so personally to what we face each day. She has set up a miraculous blog on our behalf. A blog called "A Peace of Mind". She emailed me just a few days ago, saying that she wanted to help make this visit with Dr. Collins happen...and that there are so many people who want to help in some small way. She invites you to visit the blog where you can find out more about Dr. Collins and some different ways you can help. 

My hope is that as others learn about Dr. Collins, more lives may be saved, more doctors will become educated, and more mothers will have a peace of mind.
Thank you Amy for being an Earthly Angel, and for serving a friend in such a selfless way. 

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Beautiful Promise

I have been missing my little boy a lot lately. I was lying in bed a few days ago, just wishing that I could have just even 15 min. with him. 15 min to hug. 15 min for him to give me added insight and a broader eternal perspective. 15 min for me to express my love to my little boy. 15 min for him to comfort his mommy. As I shed tears of loneliness, I felt impressed to read my
patriarchal blessing.
(Follow this link to learn more about this)

Since receiving my beautiful blessing at the age of 14, it has provided comfort, instruction, and direction in my life. However, since Branson's passing, it has been a gift I have grown to treasure and appreciate more than almost anything. It has become something that my heart and mind cling to, as I know that it comes from my Heavenly Father, filled with words of love and encouragement. It speaks to my soul.

It is filled with beautiful blessings that are promised to be mine as I seek to align my life's path with the will of the Lord and the commandments of God. At different times in my life, different parts of my blessing have been especially meaningful and helpful. Each time I read it, I find something's been there all along, but it's meaning and significance has changed. As I read through it the other night, there was one phrase that brought me the added peace and assurance I was seeking.

It stands as a paragraph of it's own:
"I bless you, Natalie, that your Guardian Angel will always be close to you."

I was overcome with the feeling that Branson is that Guardian Angel...that I get much more than those 15 min I was wishing for...I get a beautiful, angel son to watch over me and my family. An angel that has been promised to always be close.

Since that day, when I start to wonder "what if", I remember that beautiful blessing and I'm reminded of the love my Heavenly Father has for me. I love so perfect, that he saw fit to add a simple, one line promise some 13 years ago that would change my life today.

This promise got me through my first Mother's Day without my little boy, as I knew he would be close.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Our Angel Sent...

Dear Branson,

Daddy and I can't tell you how excited we are to meet the newest member of our family that will be joining us at the end of October! Since the beginning of our marriage, our greatest desire has been to have a family. As you know, that road has been a difficult one. We waited, what seemed to be, five very long years to discover that you would be joining our family.

Although our time with you was much shorter than we had hoped and planned...we have felt so blessed to have our dreams of having a family come true through your miraculous life. We feel the love of parents, I experience the worry of a mother, and we find it truly amazing to be parents of such a valiant spirit. We are continually humbled as we recognize and come to appreciate what we have gained, what we've learned, and what we've shared with you despite the heartbreaking loss we have experienced.

Even during your time with us in my belly, daddy and I would talk about what it would be like meet you and what it would be like to someday meet your younger brothers and sisters. We both come from amazing families and have close relationships with our siblings, and we desired that for you.

Since your passing, daddy and I have had empty arms and aching hearts. There have been moments that all I've wanted is another be pregnant again. There have also been times when all I want is you back...I don't want another baby, I just want you. We've worried we won't be able to love another child like we love you... we've worried that our next baby won't be nearly as cute as you are... we've just worried.

Through time, we are learning to accept your life and mission and we have become more and more excited at the thoughts of welcoming another member into our eternal family.

Every night daddy and I pray for you. We pray that you'll be close to us...we pray that you will be continually valiant and courageous as you fulfill your mission at this time...we pray that you'll feel of our love for you...and we pray that you'll never forget that we're here trying our best to get back to you.

Ever night we have also prayed that when the timing was right that we would be blessed with another baby. We've put a lot of trust in the Lord to know when that time would be. We've prayed that you might be able to play a special role in this miracle when it would come.

The day that I took the pregnancy test, I fell to my knees in gratitude and love for the miracle we were witnessing. I talked to you and to Heavenly Father about my excitement, my gratitude, and my overwhelming love for both you. I just couldn't wait to tell daddy the great news when he got home that night.

As daddy opened the lost box that had the pregnancy test wrapped inside, his eyes filled with tears, and together we shed tears of joy.

Throughout the time that I've been pregnant, I have felt you close. There have been days when I find myself reminiscing about you and how I felt at this time when you were with me. I find myself missing you so much. I also find myself filled with amazement at this gift that I'm sure you were a part of.

Daddy and I now pray that this new little spirit will be allowed to stay with us here on the Earth. However, we also pray that this spirit will be special...special enough to feel you close to them throughout their life...special enough to recognize what an incredible older brother they have...special enough to realize that although daddy and I will have bitter/sweet moments as we watch them grow and miss you at the same time, that it's because we love you both so much...special enough to know we are sad your not with us, but elated that they are.

Branson...thank you for playing a part in this miraculous gift. Thank you for watching out for us. Thank you for being such a special part of our family. Enjoy all the time you'll have with your little brother/sister before they join us...cause lots of trouble, do lots of good, and make lots of memories together.

We can't wait to meet them. We can only hope the baby is as special and beautiful as you are.

All My Love,

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Just What We Needed

A couple of weeks ago, we went to the mailbox, expecting the usual bills, credit card applications, and sale adds. As we shuffled through the pile however, we found a card from my dad. It was just what we needed.

The card read:
" Remember,
when the going gets tough....

(open) can always
come over and hide in the closet
with me!"

The message inside really touched us, it said:

"Dear Rob and Natalie,
Been thinking about ya today. I've had Branson on my mind-wondering what if... Wish I could take him on a wheeler ride and take his picture, wish I could hold him and teach him to say "gompa"... Another day, another time.
Sure hope you both are doing good.
Love, Dad"

Simple, but perfect. It brought tears to our eyes, for we yearn for those moments as well. It brought us happiness to know that Branson is thought of in specific, tender ways. It was just what we needed that day!

Thank you mom and dad for being so good to send cards full of love and thoughtfulness every few weeks. We look forward to them. They mean more than you'll ever know!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


Back in November, during our stake conference, we had the awesome opportunity of having a visiting apostle and member of the quorum of the twelve...Elder Richard G. Scott. Rob and I were very excited for this rare visit with one of the Lord's special witnesses.

We have actually had the opportunity to meet him previous to this occasion in Navuoo while on a LDS church history tour with my parents. He spoke at a sacrament meeting that we attended. Although I don't remember the specifics of his sermon, the testimony that he bore that day had a profound impact upon my heart and mind. He bore witness that he knew without doubt and with complete assurity that Jesus lives. That He is our Savior and that He loves each and everyone of us with a complete, unconditional love. I had the distinct impression that perhaps he has been in the presence of the Savior. His witness that day was powerful, and my love and admiration for him grew with that experience.

Then, almost three and a half years later we were blessed to hear him speak again, this time directly to our stake. We attended the Saturday evening session where he shared some personal insights on trials, on marriage, on faith, on courage, and on what it means to endure. It was a rare opportunity to hear an apostle of the Lord speak so personally and share some of his personal thoughts and feelings about life, the gospel, and his love for the Savior. The next day, at the general session, he spoke about the importance of families...and the importance of doing the "little things" with our children. He bore testimony that these "little things" are the things that make the biggest difference in the end. I specifically remember him addressing family prayer, family scripture study, and family home evening. I left that session with a renewed determination to live these principles more fully.

Shortly after the general session, we had an incredibly touching, sacred experience. Rob was asked by a close friend to stand in on a priesthood blessing that Elder Scott would be performing. This young friend was fighting a battle with cancer and had the faith to ask for this special blessing.

A small group of us gathered in the Stake President's office and waited while Elder Scott shook hands and greeted hundreds of other people. We talked about how busy he is, how much he had done in the last three days, and what a special experience is was to be able to spend some time with him. A while later, Elder Scott came into the small office, and instantly a special spirit filled the room. He greeted each person individually, asked their name, and how they new our young friend. I was so touched by his genuine interest, by his radiating love, and by his warm smile.

As he came to our friend, he got down on one knee and looked straight into his eyes. I will never forget the feeling that overcame me at that moment. He asked this young man if he had faith that Christ could heal his body, and explained that it would be this faith of his, combined with the power of the priesthood that could cause this healing to occur.

As Rob gathered with this small group, in a circle around this young man, I was impressed again by the love that emanated from each of them. The blessing was special, beautiful, and very personal.

After the blessing, Elder Scott again went around the room to shake each hand, and offer his love to each of us. As I waited for my turn, I kept thinking over and over that I too wanted a blessing from this incredible man. A blessing that would tell me Branson was okay, that I was going to be okay, and that someday we would have children upon this Earth. However, ever so gently, the spirit reminded me that my husband posesses the same priesthood as this apostle of the Lord, and that he is worthy at anytime to give me a blessing such as this.

This time as he took my hand, we paused and he looked straight into my eyes. Time stood still for a few moments. I told Rob later, that it was as if he was looking through my eyes into my soul. I didn't know how, but it felt like he understood some of the burdens I was carrying at that time with the passing of our son. No words were exchanged, but it seemed as if we shared something special.

Each encounter with Elder Scott has left me filled with more love and admiration for him than I previously had.

Now fast forward to this April General Conference of the Church....

Elder Scott spoke on the blessings of the temple (I am paraphrasing here). He taught so much about why the things that happen within the walls of this sacred place are so important to us as mortals in this life and as immortals in the life to come. Near the end of his talk, he said that he desired to share why these temple covenants, that bind our families together forever...even beyond the grave, are so special to him personally.

He first talked about the love that he has for his wife that passed away some thirteen years ago. He talked of the joy that has come to his life with the knowledge that they are a family unit for the eternities to come, and that although she is gone for now, that he looks forward to the day they will be reunited. He bore testimony that he knew the Lord had taken her for a wise purpose and that he believes she carries on this work on the other side of the veil.

Next, he shared that he and his wife had always desired to have a family. They welcomed three children into their home...a daughter, a son, and then a third (I think another daughter). However, he shared that this third child had died only minutes after birth....what? I was totally caught off guard, and the tears began to fall. He shared of the sadness they felt at the passing of this little one, but he also expressed the peace they felt through the knowledge that their family would one day be whole and complete again. Then, just six months later their second child, a son, needed to have a heart surgery. The surgery, if successful, would prolong the life of this child. They went ahead with the surgery. The doctor came out and told them that the surgery had been successful...that their son would be okay.

Elder Scott shared that he and his wife had just gotten on their knees to offer thanks to the Lord, when not ten minutes later, the doctor returned to deliver the devastating news that their son in fact had passed away, that his body was too weak to endure.

There I sat....tears streaming down my face as I thought about this incredible burden that Elder Scott and his wife had carried.

There I sat....humbled that this servant of the Lord had endured...with faith and complete trust...a trial similar to mine.

There I sat...with an increasing love and respect.

There I sat...with admiration of the person he's become...even though it was very tough along the way.

There I awe of this man as he expressed the joy he felt as he knew his wife was with these two children, and that he knew someday he would join them.

Was it this knowledge I knew nothing about that spoke to my soul that day after the blessing? I don't know, and perhaps I never will. What I do know is that the Lord softened my heart, increased my understanding, spoke peace to my mind, and has put extra courage in my steps as I move forward continually. I am thankful that Elder Scott shared this personal testimony with us. It gives me hope.

To find out more about our church, or this apostle of the Lord, visit the official church website at

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Earthly Angels

"But when we speak of those who are instruments in the hand of God, we are reminded that not all angels are from the other side of the veil. Some of them we walk with and talk with—here, now, every day. Some of them reside in our own neighborhoods. Some of them gave birth to us, and in my case, one of them consented to marry me. Indeed heaven never seems closer than when we see the love of God manifested in the kindness and devotion of people so good and so pure that angelic is the only word that comes to mind." Jeffery R. Holland

Over the last 8 months we have encountered many "earthly angels". They have been sent in times of need, they have provided love and support...light and direction, they have brought peace and comfort, they sent words of encouragement, and they have spent time on their knees on our behalf. We know that in God's love and wisdom, he could see that we would need these angels as we would embark on this journey.

Two of these angels are Michelle and Amber. Strangers in our lives until June 30th, 2008 ...angels ever since.

On Monday, June 30th, we learned the heartbreaking news that Branson's heart was no longer beating. Our world stopped with that news. We were in shock. Sometimes I think back to that day and wonder how our lungs even managed to keep pumping air, how our hearts had the strength to keep beating, or how our legs had the courage to keep walking.

I remember coming home that night, our minds in a fog....what?....why? I remember these questions circling over and over again though my mind. As we sat on the couch in our living room we couldn't do anything but hold each other with tear stained faces and broken hearts.

Luckily, my parents had been with us that day at the hospital when the news came. They made the difficult phone calls to family and friends, they coordinated things with the doctor and hospital, and kept our world afloat.

Later that evening I remember my dad came into the room to tell us about a phone call he had just received. Someone from Utah had called to tell us about an organization of photographers who offer their services free of charge to families who's babies are born still. My initial reaction was..."what? Wouldn't that be weird? Am I going to want people I don't even know in my hospital room taking pictures of my with my baby who's dead?...I couldn't quite wrap my mind around it. I wasn't quite sure how to respond.

Then we brought Rob's computer into the room and went to the website that told more about these incredible, and we were able to see some of the beautiful pictures that they had taken of other families...and something spoke to my heart...yes, this was something we needed to do.

We found the phone number of one of the photographers in our area, and my dad made the call and set up a time with them for the next afternoon. On such short notice, they must have dropped whatever else they had going that day...families, their businesses, their help someone in need.


At 4:00 the next day, their was a light knock at the door...and two people walked into our lives...Michelle and Amber. They entered the room with quiet respect, an understanding smile, and countenances full of love and light. We introduced them to Branson, and they made us feel like we had the most beautiful baby they'd ever seen.

They went about setting up their lighting, and they had even brought their backdrop along with them. They just started snapping photos. They didn't pose us, or ask us to do anything that we hadn't been doing all day...we just held our little one...and they captured it!

They captured his every feature...his toes, his hands, his perfect little ears, his long feet, his cute little nose. They captured the love and loss that his grandparents felt. They captured pictures of him in all three outfits we had him dressed in that day. They captured a proud daddy, and a new mommy. They captured the sweet, tendure moments that we shared with him...but best of all, they captured our family...just the three of us.

They took their time...they didn't rush. It almost seemed as if we were the only people in the world that mattered to them at that moment. They finished up and said their goodbyes, and left as quietly as they'd come.

Even at that time, I didn't realize what a gift we'd just been given. I didn't fully appreciate or understand how much those pictures would mean to us, or how precious they would become. We had taken our own photos at the hospital that we developed quickly and cherished very much, but we waited anxiously for the email that had some of the professional images attached.

About a week and a half later (very fast for how many shots they had taken, and considering they still had full time businesses to run) we received that email. Rob and I sat together on the couch and opened the first attachment....and we were was the most beautiful picture I had ever seen in my life. Branson looked so perfect, just like the angel he was.

Since then there hasn't been day go by that I don't look at the pictures these two women took of our little one. They make up his website, his memorial video, his scrapbook...they fill many frames, and adorn our walls.

There also hasn't been a day go by that I haven't thought about these two earthly angels, and offered thanks to God that they shared this beautiful gift with us. They touched our lives in a way that no one else could. They've helped us heal through their work, they've helped us remember just what Branson looked liked, they've met our angel....they've changed our lives.

I can't think of a more selfless act than capturing the moments shared with families and their babies who've had to leave too soon. Michelle and Amber...thank you! These two words seem so inadequate to explain the gratitude we feel towards you. We love you.

Members of this organization won't take any money for their services, however, they do take donations at their website. Please visit it to find out more about them and this incredible service. Please tell everyone you know about this...for you never know when someone will need this information...
Follow this link to their website

There was also an aritcle written about the organization lately in Newsweek...
Follow this link to read the article.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

My Precious Child

Today I have felt...well...lonely. I woke up this morning, and just felt that emptiness resurfacing again stronger than usual. I haven't been motivated to do much but lie around. I've tied to get up and clean, get ready for the day, or for that matter...just brush my teeth. However, when I try, I just find myself lying on the couch or my bed once again.

I finally decided to sit down and work on my blog...something I haven't had much motivation to do lately. Usually writing helps me process the emotion I'm feeling and it's healing for me to get it down in words. However, as I sat down to write, I found myself not wanting to face the loneliness, the emptiness. I didn't want to acknowledge the aching inside. I didn't want to muster up the courage to let it all out, because at times it feels better to keep it all in.

So, instead of going straight to my blog, I danced around other blogs. Reading about friends, family, and other angel babies. I then opened my friend Michelle's blog who also had this song playing. Instantly I started to sob.

This is a song I heard shortly after Branson's birth. It's a song that's part of his memorial video. It's a song that's special. It's a song that's painful. As I sat here today listening to this song, I was overcome with grief...with loss. I wanted my baby back in my arms so bad...wanted to see his beautiful face and touch his little toes.

Today this song captures my emotions...the pain, the hope, the longing, the remembering, the loneliness...the love.

"In my soul there is a hole that can never be filled.

In my heart you live on, always there...never gone.

Precious child, you left too soon.

Though it may be true that we're apart, you will live forever in my heart."

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Door

The other day I was walking into the post office. I had my hands quite full with my purse, a bag with some items I needed to mail, and a large box full of packaging noodles. Walking in front of me was an older gentlemen. Assuming that he had probably noticed me and my full load, I also assumed that he would hold the hinged door open for me as I entered. So, I looked down once more just to make sure I had grabbed everything I needed from the car...not for a second worrying about the door.

Next thing I knew, there was the door...and there was me running right into it as it closed. In my assumptions, I hadn't even thought to look and make sure this older gentlemen had seen me, or that he was holding the door open for me. Instead, I found myself juggling my packages, trying not to drop any of them.

My first thoughts were those of could he have been so rude? Surely he had seen me..did he just have no common courtesy? As I finally pulled the door open and got myself inside where I could set down my packages (muttering and complaining to myself the whole way), I had a chance to look at this man with whom I was so angry. He was old and had that warn look of life. However, he was smiling at me and his eyes were full of love.

I was instantly humbled. Here was the beautiful old man, with absolutely no malice in his heart who hadn't seen me entering behind him. I was sure that had he known I was there, he would have held the door open wide for me to enter, and guessing from his smile he probably would have allowed me to go ahead of him in line.

On the way home, I couldn't get this incident out of my mind. I wondered, how many times I too had unknowingly let the door shut on someone behind me? Then almost as soon as that thought came into my mind, so did this scripture and picture...

"Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and him with me."
Revelation 3:20

This is a scripture and a picture that I am very familiar with. I have seen it many times before. I've always noticed that there was no door handle on Christ's side of the door, because it is up to us to turn the knob and let him enter our lives. However, as I pondered this picture now, I couldn't help but think that this door too must have hinges.

In order for a hinged door to remain open, it takes work. Someone has to stand at the door, holding it open...or it closes on it's own...and I was impressed that day that we are the only ones able to hold open the door to our lives. No one else can do that work for us. If and when we decide to step away, or leave the door...if even for a moment, it closes.

I've thought a lot about this since that day. I know that too often, I have been like that older gentlemen at the post office. At times, especially with the passing of Branson, I am unaware that Christ is right there beside me, waiting to come in. I go on with my life...absorbed in my grief and sorrow, my busy-ness, my anger, my questions, and at times...flat out laziness. Then, without realizing what I'm doing, I let the door shut behind me and leave Christ standing on the other side. I'm afraid that too often He's just about to enter...just about to answer a prayer...just about to abide with me in my darkest hour...or just about to comfort me with peace, and I, being impatient...not wanting to do the work, let go of the door and it shuts.

Before, I looked at the door in this picture like the front door to our homes...staying open after we answer, unless we purposefully shut it. Now, I am convinced that this door has hinges, and that because it has hinges, we have to constantly work at keeping it open. Opening the door once isn't good enough.

I am dedicated now to doing more each day to keep my door open. I am not sure exactly what keeps it open completely all the time, but doing things like scripture study, visiting the temple, praying, walking forward with faith and not fear, fulfilling my church calling, and having the courage to keep moving are some of the small things that I think at least keep it ajar.

The amazing thing about Christ, is that even when we stop working...or we become discouraged or impatient...and we let our door shut...he still waits on the other side... full of love, and understanding. As soon as we open the door again he is there. He never leaves. He is always at the door to our lives...knocking...waiting to enter.

I know that I will feel the presence of Christ, his peace, and his love more fully in my life as I work at keeping my door open.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Does Greif Have Legs?

We had an interesting experience a few days ago.

Rob and I have recently been called to serve in a small branch of the church located about an hour and 15 min from our house. It's been a great experience so far, and we feel blessed to be part of the Lord's work in this area. The people there are so humble, and so willing to do what is asked of them. They have so much love, and have willing shared it with us.

We have been fortunate enough to develop a great friendship with the Branch President and his wife. They are close to us in age, and they are so much fun to be with. We have been so impressed by them and their desire and ability to carry the responsibilities that have been placed upon them because of this calling. We feel blessed to be a part of their lives right now. We are learning so much from their example of love and service.

Just 15 days ago they welcomed their first child, a little girl into their lives. We were so excited for them to experience the intense love that comes from having a child! So, last week after church we decided to stop by their house for a little while and meet their sweet girl for the first time.

I have to admit, that as always, I was a little apprehensive about seeing them in their home with a thriving, breathing, kicking, baby. It's always hard to see someone else that got to bring their baby home...when I never did. I did my usual "emotional preparation" before going in, telling myself that I would be okay, that I could be strong, that I could be happy for them.

As we walked into their house, I was filled with a sense of peace. Mom was cradling her little girl and offered to let me hold her. I took this little bundle into my arms and just let the warmth consume me. I studied her every feature...she is so perfect and beautiful! I let her little fingers wrap around mine, I took off one of her socks and adored her little toes, and I felt her little lungs expand with air as she curled up on my chest.

Inside I was thinking, "this should be hurting, but it's not. I should be shedding tears, but there's no tears to cry."

Then dad pulled out their digital camera and plugged it into the TV, to play a slide show of their first few family pictures with her at the hospital....and yes, panic struck! I knew I was about to see pictures of moments we never had...and inside I was full of fear... fear that I was about to totally loose it in front of all of these people. Yet, I didn't want to get up and walk out of the room either, fearing that doing so would only make the situation uncomfortable.

So, I sat there and watched these pictures scroll across the screen. I sat there waiting...waiting for the tears...for the sobs that typically come at moments such as this. I kept looking at Rob, who was holding the baby at the moment, and he too was doing pretty good. I sat there confused at my reaction.

We left without one tear shed.

On the drive home, I turned to Rob, and said, "Why wasn't that as hard as I thought it would be? Why didn't we cry? Why didn't I feel angry that they had what we don't?" After conversing, we decided that yes, grief (in our case) does have legs. It moves with us.

At first it was so hard for us to see newborns, to hold little babies, to see families bring home their little ones from the hospital, and to see people doing those things we didn't get to do with Branson shortly after birth...those things were hard, because Branson would have been a newborn. Yet, as time has has our grief.

Now instead of grieving the loss of a newborn, we now grieve the loss of a growing, developing little baby. It's harder now to see babies around the age of 8 months because that's how old Branson would be now. Branson wouldn't be a newborn any more. He'd be learning how to roll over, he'd be eating solid foods, he'd be laughing, he'd be cooing, he'd be smiling. Those are the things we miss now.

I'm guessing that our grief won't stop here either. In a few months we won't miss the 8 month old, we'll miss our little boy who should be learning to walk and talk. In a few years we will miss a little boy who should be having his first day of school, and playing his first T-ball game. We'll see children his age play high school ball, go to prom, serve missions, get married, and have families of their own...and all along the way we'll miss him.

So we're learning...learning that grief will be our walking partner. Sometimes the hill's we'll climb together will be hard, but at the summit of these hills we'll always be able to look back at road we've traveled and the road that lies ahead. We'll remember the heartache of the past, we'll see that we still have some hard days ahead, but we'll be blessed to recognize that there's joy scattered all along the way!

I pray that as grief walks with us, we can make it to the end of our journey where our little boy will be waiting.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Our Own Little Warriors

Yesterday, Rob and I had the opportunity of attending the temple. We said a special prayer together before going in that we might feel close to Branson, and to have an added amount of peace while we were there. Since Branson's passing, I yearn to be in the temple, for it is where I feel the closest to him...away from the distractions of the world, and freed from the negative thoughts that Satan tempts me to believe.

All day I had been thinking about Branson, and what he's doing during this time that we are spending apart. I often try to envision him...what he looks like, what he's doing during the day, what his mission in the spirit world is. During his name and blessing at the hospital, we had a strong confirmation from the spirit that Branson had in fact been called on a special mission at this time, and I have had that confirmation many times since then. I don't know exactly what he's doing, or why he was needed...I just know that it's real, it's important, and that he was valiant enough to be called and obedient enough to answer it.

During the session, the story of Helaman's 2,000 Stripling Warrior's (Chapters 53 and 56 in the Book of Alma, Book of Mormon) kept coming to my mind. This has always been one of the most inspiring and motivating stories in the Book of Mormon for me. Over and over during the two hours we were in the temple, I thought of these young men who so willingly and courageously accepted the call to serve, and vowed to protect their liberty, their families, and the lives of their people.

I wasn't exactly sure why this story kept coming to mind, when I had prayed to feel close to Branson, and we were also seeking direction to another situation in our lives. Yet, I couldn't ignore that the thoughts were there.

So, first thing this morning after eating breakfast, I sat down at the table and opened up to the book of Alma. I started to read the story of these stripling warriors, and as I read, I felt the spirit so strong and it all started to come together.

Over the past 7 months, and particularly the last 2 months, I have been able to meet (via the Internet) hundreds of mothers who have also had to say goodbye to their little ones too soon. All of these mothers...these families, are good, loving people. Parents who would have provided a wonderful home and a life full of love to these little spirits. As I have learned about each child and each family that they are a part of, I have been so amazed and inspired by each one. Every single little life, no matter how short, has already made a difference in so many so many lives! I have often wondered why so many of them had to leave these beautiful families...why weren't they allowed to stay?

And it hit me...all of these spirits were needed for something special...important. They have been called home to be a part of something great. Like these young men in Alma "...they were exceedingly valiant for courage, and also for strength and activity; but behold this was not all-they were men/women who were true at all times in whatsoever thing they were entrusted. Yea, they were men/women of truth and soberness, for they had been taught to keep the commandments of God and to walk uprightly before him." Alma 53:20-21

The spirit whispered...they are all Heavenly stripling warriors.

What an incredible thought! These spirits, working together, comprise perhaps one of the greatest "armies" ever known. Although their call is not to defend in a mortal battle, it's a call to defend in a time of spiritual unrest. They do not fight with weapons of war, but with the power of God. They don't have to defend the liberty of their land, but perhaps they defend the truthfulness of the gospel and the beauty of the plan of salvation. They don't make preparations for a physical battle, but perhaps they do make preparations for the second coming. They don't stand guard with weapons to protect their leader, but perhaps they do protect and prompt their families, friends, and loved ones on both sides of the veil. They don't teach others the methods of battle, but perhaps they do teach other spirits about Christ and the joy they can find through living his gospel. Perhaps these are just a few of their duties as warriors of truth.

The stripling warriors of the Book of Mormon succeed in their mission to protect, and I have no doubt our warriors will do the same.
"...they fought as if with the strength of God; yea, never were men known to have fought with such miraculous strength; and with such mighty power" Alma 56:56

I am thankful that I received an answer to my prayer, for the thoughts I had in temple have helped me feel closer to Branson, and they have brought an added measure of peace.

It is my prayer, that although I still grieve the separation from Branson...that I still have days full of tears and a heart full of longing...that Branson will someday be able to reply as the Stripling Warriors did...
"We do not doubt our mothers knew it"

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Love For Our Little Guy

"A mother's love begins when new life is stirring inside...when a tiny heartbeat is heard for the first time, and a playful kick reminds her that she will never be alone."

Dear Branson,
Happy Valentines Day little buddy! On this day when we take extra time to express our affection to those we love most, you and daddy were at the top of my list! It's hard to put into words the intense love I have for you...I am continually amazed that my heart has the ability to expand in such a way! Through the heartache, sorrow, and pain of having to say "goodbye" to you so soon, daddy and I have grown so much...we have lost...we have gained. But, perhaps the greatest thing we've gained is a deeper, stronger love for each other; an intense, unconditional love for you; and a humbled heart full of gratitude and love for the Savior.

From the moment that we discovered you would be joining our family I began to love you. Actually, I think I have loved you my whole the idea of you and the hope I always had of being a mother! I'll never forget the first time I felt you stir inside me...what an incredible thing! Suddenly you became so real...and my love continued to increase. Our favorite thing to do was cuddle with each other on the couch and together, feel you kick and stretch. Sometimes at night we would just lie in bed, feeling you move, and marvel together at how we could love someone so much that we hadn't even met.

We tried to enjoy the moments we shared with you, as we decorated your nursery, picked out your little outfits, planned for your arrival, and as we dreamed about what life with you would be like. As soon as we finished your nursery, daddy and I would go in their every night. I would sit in the rocker and daddy next to me on the floor. He would read to you from one of the many books we had for you, and then most nights we would sing to you. We talked to you, and daddy loved to kiss my belly! Every night we prayed for you. We prayed that you would be well and healthy. That you would know of our love for you, and that we could prepare to be the best parents possible for you.

The day we met you was the most incredible day of our lives. It was filled with moments of great sorrow and heartache, but having your spirit there with us that day was special, unforgettable! I couldn't get over how beautifully perfect you were in every way! You had the cutest stinkin toes I've ever seen, the longest little fingers, a perfect nose, the cutest round were cuter than I ever imagined possible! I have to admit, that you did take after mommy a lot, but as I study your pictures each day, I can see daddy within you too.

Oh, Branson, I'm glad you were there with us in spirit so you could see the smile on daddy's face. He was so proud to have a son. He held you with tender loving arms, and looked upon you with loving eyes. He got to weigh you, bathe you, dress you, and take your hand and foot prints. He even got to lay down and snuggle with you (something he'd wanted to do for a long time). Daddy just kept saying, "isn't he just perfect Nat?"

I pray that I'll never forget how it felt to you hold you in my arms. It felt so right. I tried to soak up ever imprint your every feature on my mind and in my heart. I loved playing with your little fingers and caressing your little toes. I even got to give you your first hair cut! I loved showing you off to your grandparents and even a few friends who stopped by to see you. I couldn't have been any prouder.

Daddy and your grandpas got to give you a name and blessing...It was incredible. The words daddy spoke were inspired and brought peace to my heart. You were called on a special mission and we knew you wanted to valiantly return. What more could we ask for than a son who was pure enough, special enough to be called back without having to endure the mortal trials of this earth? Daddy told you that it was okay for you to leave us, and shortly after that we felt a change in the room as your spirit said goodbye.

Daddy and I had some special time alone with you where we talked with you, had our first family prayer together, and showered you with hugs and kisses. The hardest moment for us was preparing to let you go...physically and spiritually. I'll never forget the last kiss I placed upon your forehead, and the instant empty feeling I got as daddy took you one last time from my arms. I watched as he walked across the room to hand you over to the nurse. He paused and gave you one last kiss and said "I love you Branson." I couldn't believe that this was the last moment I would see you in this life.

Our love and appreciation for your life has only grown since that day. We miss you more than there are words to express, but we move forward in the knowledge that you're ours for eternity and that someday...sooner than we know...we'll be with you again. Oh how I look forward to that day...that embrace!

We continue to pray for your every night. We pray that the you'll feel of the love we have for you, that you will be blessed to perform your special mission, and that we can do all in our power to make it back to you. We pray that there might be times when you can visit us, and we cherish the times when we feel your spirit near.

But you already know these things don't you've always known that this was your plan. You've been with us during these special moments, and you've shared in this love as well! We take comfort in the fact that you were with us as we celebrated your conception, planned for your arrival, rejoiced in your birth, and as we grieve in your passing.

Our life will never be the same because of the marks you have left on our hearts, and the change that has occurred in our souls. Thank you for the beautiful things you've taught us. Thank you for the love you have shared with us. Thank you for allowing us to be part of your plan. Thank you for being our son.

Sending You All My Love,

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


I have commented many times before that I only wish that with the shedding of my tears, came the shedding of calories...for then I would truly be a fat burning machine!

I am not sure what has sparked the tears as of late. The last few days, especially the nights, have been extremely hard...lonely. Just last night I found myself tossing and turning in bed, unable to
shut my mind down enough for me to sleep...asking questions, replaying my whole pregnancy, wanting to go back to the day we met Branson, wondering how I got here, wishing I could hold my little guy again, fearing I'll never be an earthly mother, and praying that I'll have the strength to make it through the night.

Finally at 3:00 a.m. with no sleep and a restless mind I decided to go into Branson's nursery and try to sleep in the recliner. However, still unable to slow my mind enough to sleep I just lied there in the darkness going round and round the grief cycle...angry that he's gone, thankful that he's mine forever, feeling at peace because of what I know, wondering why me, asking what if, feeling guilty for asking what if and why me, feeling proud to be his mommy, and then it starts all over again.

I haven't yet figured out why some days...some weeks are easier than others, or why some nights I fall asleep with peace in my heart knowing that Branson is okay and that someday I will be too...and other nights I lie in bed, soaking my pillow with tears of longing to be with him right now.

As I continue on this unfamiliar path of grief, I get to the point where the path ahead looks familiar...predictable, and then all of the sudden there is an unexpected turn in the road and I'm faced with a new hill to climb. This last week has been one of those unexpected hills.

As I've pondered what might have brought about this turn in my path, I have decided that it's the "life's just not fair" feelings that have come about because of some situations I've encountered over the last few days. Now I'm having to climb the hill in front of me...and I'll be the first to admit that the "unfair" hill is not an easy one to scale.

I am currently subbing at the local schools in our area. The last three days I have been at one of the high schools. Each time I'm there I see yet another young women...a little girl...preparing to become a mother. I see these girls rubbing their pregnant bellies, bragging to their friends, showing off ultrasound pictures, and scribbling their favorite baby names on a notebook during class. As I pass them in the hallway and teach them during class, I can't help but feel cheated, angry, and full of questions. One part of me feels compassion for the delicate situations they are in, another part feels jealous that these girls have what I want so bad, another part is screaming that life isn't fair, another part wants to take them by the shoulders and tell them that they're so naive, and another part of me wants to explain what a beautiful gift of love they could give a couple like Rob and I through the choice of adoption.

I've had the nerve a couple of times to ask some of them if they've considered putting up their babies for adoption, and the reply is always the same "no, I'm keeping the baby". I explain that my husband and I would love to adopt a baby, so that is why I was asking. This seems to make them feel like they should tell me about every girl at school that is pregnant and keeping their baby...and today I found out six sophomores...yes sophomores, are pregnant.

After a sleepless night thinking about all of this over and over, and then another day full of it all again...I came home today and emotionally crashed. My heart felt so fragile, and my soul full of sorrow. As I unlocked the door, I fell to my knees under the weight of the "unfair" thoughts I'd carried with me all day, and the tears began to fall..tears, prayers, tears, searching the scriptures for some kind of comfort, tears, and more tears.

After looking up many scriptures I found one that finally brought a little comfort and spoke peace to my heart. It's a scripture that we found to put in Branson's memorial video, but I haven't really thought about it a lot since then. Jeremiah 31:13
"...for I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow."

I felt a calm, warming assurance that one day...maybe not tomorrow, next week, or even next month...but some day through the atoning power of the Savior's sacrifice and the unconditional, perfect love of God our sorrow will turn to joy, and that we will truly rejoice for all we have gained through our mourning.

I have faith that "...God will wipe away all the tears from our eyes" (Rev. 7:17) Like the sparrow that falls, I believe that each tear of heartache shed is counted. I believe that that Savior recognizes each one and that some day those same tears will flow again...only that time they will flow because of joy.

For now I'll continue to climb the "unfair" hill.
Accepting that life's not fair is hard.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Mommy Marks

Perhaps the greatest "physical" trial I've ever been through happened shortly after Branson's birth.

As many mothers know, the effects of pregnancy and child birth on a woman's body can be harsh, painful, and not pretty! I had been told over and over by several women to prepare myself mentally for the pain associated with breast feeding, the months of still feeling and looking a little pregnant, and they also warned me that I would need to learn how to accept my "new" body, as it would never be the same again after giving birth to a child. I was even given a special cream that I applied every day to prevent stretch marks.

Branson was scheduled to come by way of a C-section due to a large uterine fibroid that was obstructing the birth canal. My doctor and other mothers who had given birth this way also tried to prepare me and educate me about the lengthy, and somewhat painful recovery process of having such major surgery.

I knew these women and my doctor were right. However, the physical hurdles I knew I would face seemed a small price to pay so I could become a mother and have Branson here with me. After all, I'd prayed for this blessing for over 5 years...I didn't feel like complaining much about the physical side affects that came as part of my miracle!

As the heartbreaking news came that Branson's heart had stopped beating, it's almost as if my body automatically went into survival mode. All I could think about was that I would only have my son here with me for a few hours, and I wanted those few hours to be special...memorable. I wanted to capture and burn an image of every moment and every little one of his features in my mind forever. The rest didn't matter.

The morning of his birth seemed so unreal. As they prepped me for surgery, I just laid there with tears streaming down my face. No nerves about the surgery itself, just anxious feelings about meeting our son in a very different way than we had dreamed. As the anesthesiologist came in, and I hunched up in a ball for my spinal block, I wasn't even scared (previous to this point, it was the thing I was most worried about for Branson's delivery). My C-section went well and I shortly found myself in the recovery room with the two most important men in my life...Rob and Branson.

That day was the best day of our lives thus far.

In the days following Branson's birth, I just lied in the hospital...mostly consumed by shock and unbelief. My mind in a state of fog, life passing by in blurry, slow-motion. I let the nurses and Rob take care of me physically, as I just tried to survive emotionally.

It wasn't until I arrived home that I fully began to realize that although my heart and mind knew that Branson was gone, my body did not. The day I came home from the hospital my milk began to come in. My breasts became rock hard with milk, as that is what they're supposed to do. I sat in pain, with my breasts covered in cabbage leaves (a remedy to help dry up the milk), and just sobbed that there was no Branson there to feed, to make the pain seem fair. There I sat in the recliner, unable to go anywhere, or do anything on my own. I reeked of cabbage, and I had to completely rely on my husband and mother-in-law for everything. They brought me food, they transported me to the bathroom, they helped me shower, and dressed me. All I could ask was, "where is the justice in this?"

I remember the first time I got out of the shower and looked at my body in the mirror...again, the tears just flowed. I looked like I had been through Hell and back, and emotionally speaking I had, but now I looked the part too. I remember looking and feeling about four months pregnant still. This made me very apprehensive to leave the house. I knew the "are you pregnant" question from strangers would be inevitable, for that's what I looked like...pregnant. I had a nice little pouch, with no baby by my side to suggest that, no I wasn't pregnant, I had in fact just given birth to a beautiful little boy.

I'll never forget the first person who asked me if I was pregnant after Branson's birth. I wanted to drop kick them and let them have an ear full...instead I just smiled and said that I had actually recently given birth to a little boy who was spending some time at home...for isn't that where he truly is...home?

I felt so angry...cheated, that I still had to deal with the physical pains, the healing, and the unfamiliar...not pregnant, but not normal, body. It just seemed like someone should have taken that all away, it wasn't fair that I still had to go through all of it without a baby to remind me that it was worth it. It just wasn't fair.

Slowly, I began to milk dried up and went away...and my body began to shrink just a little (still working on that one :). I still struggle to accept my body the way it is, yet I find myself not wanting to "let go" of the pouch completely because it's physical proof that Branson was here. Despite the prevention cream, I also acquired some pretty intense stretch marks the last three weeks of my pregnancy...carrying an eight pound baby and a fibroid the size of a small basketball can stretch you to limits never before imagined!

Anyway, the other night Rob and I were lying in bed just chatting and the biggest smile came across Rob's face. I said, "What? What are you smiling about?"

And, he said, "You are just perfect for me in every way."

Sorta jokingly I responded, "I am? Even with my little pouch and the stretch marks that adorn it?"

He said, "Are you kidding? That's the best part! Those aren't stretch marks...they're mommy marks! They remind me everyday of the awesome mother you are, and all that you sacrificed to bring Branson into the world. They are a visual reminder that I am the father of an incredible little boy, and the luckiest man in the world!"

So today, I am grateful for my "mommy marks". Grateful that they came. Grateful for my darling little boy who has left an everlasting mark not only on my body, but on my heart. Grateful that I have an adorable husband who loves me, every part, for who I am. Grateful that together, the three of us, make one cute little family!