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Today, July 1st,  is the day our second angel baby, Asher Grace, was due to join the world.

Instead, 10 days after we learned of his* existence, he rejoined the ranks of heaven on November 5th, 2013.

Losing Asher was extremely hard for me, harder than I initially imagined. The physical process was less intense than it was with Cormac, and there weren’t as many unknowns, considering I had miscarried before.

But emotionally? I was numb, yet seething. Filled to the brim with sadness, and yet utterly bereft. I wrote about miscarrying Cormac soon after it happened, but I just could not do that for Asher at the time. The pain was too big, and I was not handling it well.

But the time has come now to tell Asher’s story, because it has become such a huge part of my story.

At the end of October, a full week before I would ordinarily think about taking a test, I strongly smelled things that no one else around me could smell. This happened three times over the course of an hour. I was beginning to think I was going crazy. =) The super-sniffer had never been a pregnancy symptom for me before, but I had an extra test and thought, why not?

I took the test and then jumped in the shower without looking at it. I began to pray. At this point, we had lost Cormac 5 months previous, so the pain was still fresh, but beginning to mute a little. I did some quick, honest introspection and asked myself what I would think about being pregnant again. The answer floated up immediately – I would be okay. I told the Lord that I trusted Him and His will for my family.

Meanwhile, Ryan had come into the bathroom. “Did you take a test?” he asked me over the shower curtain. “Uh, yes?” Of course, I’m thinking, ‘Don’t you see it right there on the counter? Duh!’. He said, “Oh, okay”. And then nothing. NOTHING. I thought, ‘it must be negative, or he would have said something’. N came into the bathroom, and then I got out of the shower to see them both standing there, huge smiles on their faces. And I knew. I walked over to the counter and there it was:

IMG_4323It was positive! I couldn’t believe it. I was shaking all over, but we were so incredibly happy.

I was almost immediately on my knees before God, thanking Him and praying for trust. I remembered what I had learned from miscarrying Cormac, that He is a God who gives, that He is a God who redeems and restores, that He is a God of life. The hope and belief that this baby was a gift to redeem the loss of Cormac flooded through me. I was so grateful to the Lord, and for one blissful week I clung to that hope and whispered my love to the baby over and over.

Since I had a history of miscarriage, my OB wanted me to get beta blood draws every other day, to see how my hcg and progesterone levels were climbing. The first few numbers looked good, and I was on cloud 9. I stopped hearing feedback on the blood draws, but I figured “no news is good news!”. After a week, I began to cramp a little bit, but I brushed it off. ‘Some cramping early on is normal’, I told myself.

On Tuesday, November 5th, I woke up to bright, red blood. My heart hit the floor and I stopped breathing. I knew all was lost. But I wanted confirmation. After hours of trying to get through to my ob’s office, I reached the triage nurse, who pulled up my results and confirmed that it was indeed a miscarriage, at exactly 6 weeks. I hung up the phone and promptly burst into tears, although I tried to hold it in so I wouldn’t scare N, who I was alone with at the time.

Ryan came home from work, we caught the baby as it passed from me, and we later buried it under flowers like we did with Cormac. N spent the night with the in-laws, and Ryan and I sat on the couch gorging on pizza and ice cream while watching a movie, a heating pad strapped to my belly.

Weeks passed. Our routines returned with some sense of normalcy. But I was far from normal. Losing Asher began a very, very dark time for me, something that many of the people closest to me were not aware of and is extremely painful to admit. I began with anger. I was mad. I was stark, raving mad at God. I had placed hope and faith in His redemptive work with our loss of Cormac, and He had wrenched a child from me AGAIN. I was beside myself with rage.

The anger lasted for a few months before finally burning away to emptiness. I felt so empty and numb, but I didn’t want to talk to God. He had taken away my babies, and I was bitter. I told y’all it was ugly and dark. Bitterness is like cancer. It just eats and eats and eats away at anything lovely within you. I became a shell of my former self. I walked and talked and smiled on the outside, but inside I was dead. I either lashed out at my family or escaped into books and tv shows so I wouldn’t have to feel. That’s what I was really running from. I didn’t want to feel. The bitterness and pain and anguish were so overwhelming, just under the surface, and I didn’t want to touch those feelings with a 10 foot pole, much less examine them in the way that was needed. This lasted until very recently.

But pain demands to be felt. And feeling like a walking corpse gets really old after awhile. I’m slowly coming back. I’m not there yet. You should know that there isn’t a ‘then Emily realized she was being an idiot, completely turned her life around, and she and Jesus walked hand in hand through life forever and ever’ ending to this story. I don’t think life works like that. I’m learning to let God be God, and not demand an account for His actions. I’m trying to be okay with not understanding (which is REALLY hard). I’m learning to trust God again, with the knowledge that He hasn’t failed me because He is incapable of failing, and I shouldn’t hold Him to human standards of success and failure anyway. God and I are talking again, slowly but surely. It’s no walk in the park, and there are still days when I want to stop up my ears, shout “LALALALALALALALA’ and tell the pain and hard stuff to shove it and go away. But we’re getting there, God and me. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

Whew! Emotional stuff out of the way. Now on to some lovely pictures of our due date celebration for Asher. =)

We did a balloon release just like we did for Cormac, and it was wonderful. As we were walking up the path to the clearing, I commented to Ryan, “The woods sound so full of life, which I love, since we’re here to celebrate Asher’s life”.

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We got to the clearing, and we wrote our messages to Asher on our balloons.

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N drew Asher a beautiful picture for his birthday. =)

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Then N released her balloon first.

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Then Ryan released his balloon. Asher, the pictures may not show it, but your daddy was very emotional. He loves you and misses you very very much.

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DSC_0095(The balloon did NOT get caught in the trees, fyi). =)

Then I released my balloon.

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Then we released Asher’s balloon all together.

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And a few gratuitous pictures of N being adorable, running around in the grass. Just because. =)

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So there you have it. Asher Grace’s full story. This post has been rattling around in my head for months now, and it’s very healing to finally get it out. Asher came in and out of our lives so quickly, and the thought of his existence, his life, not being known made my mama heart hurt. Asher Grace is ours, our third child, and he has left a huge impact on our lives and hearts.

We love you forever, Asher Grace. You are always remembered. Always loved. Always ours.

~HUGE thanks to my mother-in-love for taking these gorgeous pictures for us. We are immensely grateful!~

*We have no real conviction in terms of gender for Asher, whereas with Cormac, we knew and were convinced he was a boy. That is why Asher has names for both genders, and Asher can be considered a unisex name. However, I dislike saying ‘it’ in regards to my baby, so I default to the male pronoun. We can’t wait to get to heaven to find out if Asher is our son or daughter. N calls Asher her sibling.*

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