Sunday, August 21, 2011

"Twas the Night Before Julian...

Look mom, no hands!


... and all through the house, not a creature was stirring... not even Lucy (our pet chihuahua).

Wait, that's not entirely true.  I'm still stirring!

The list of to-do's is complete.

Gotta clean the dishes and throw some clothes in my suitcase.  We depart in the morning at 9:00am.

The nest has been feathered and is ready... enjoy the pics,

The entrance to the nest...

Those shades block out EVERYTHING when drawn...

J-man's Crib and Wall...

... and changing station built in to the closet...

Don't worry, Aliville is still girlieville...

Side by side...

And in this corner... BELLA!

Three little piggies...

Swing and bouncy seat... check!

Play gyms... CHECK!

, but I'm not.

I look at the last picture of Bella I posted, and I resist in my heart.  I feel so guilty for not being filled with excitement.  There are those who would give anything to have the privilege of delivering a baby boy tomorrow.  The grief still swallows so much of my heart.  Thank you for all your supportive comments as I continue to bare all on this blog about this journey.  They have been really comforting.  I sit here tonight physically ready (I even weaned myself completely off my best friend coffee this summer to prepare for the sleep deprivation... now when I have a cup on Tuesday morning after the probably-coming-all-nighter, it'll actually pick me up!), but I would be full of it if I said I was emotionally ready.

We are returning to the scene where life took its fateful "left turn" a little over 2 years ago.  Same hospital, same doctor, same floor, the operating rooms are all identical... being a visual / kinesthetic learner and experiencer, this all creates some powerful flashbacks for me.  I'll be brave, and have my sh*t together, but just picturing where we are going tomorrow, all I see are images and the corresponding feelings of terror and disbelief that have been imprinted on those visual scenes.  I can see Ang's OB walking down the hall in her scrubs toward me... me lost trying to find my way back from the NICU to Ang's room for the first time... I can see me in the break room trying to get my bearings after almost fainting in the O.R. after seeing Bella with all her skin peeled off and never grown in, on her leg, hearing and seeing Dr. Vijay Dhar say in a thick accent, "It is most likely Epidermolysis Bullosa, a genetic birth defect."  Birth defect.  Two words a new parent quietly prays to God he or she will never hear.

But, who are we to expect God will accommodate our needs?

The key word in that sentence was 'expect.'  So much of Bella's life and death was a painful lesson for me to learn about prayer and expectation.  I used to think I had prayer figured out.  I though I knew the 'right way' to pray in that if I prayed 'that way,' God would HAVE to answer my prayers!

Boy, did I have a lot to learn.

For me, prayer has transformed into a conversation.  It used to be a wish list or request list. Then, it morphed into a gratitude list of things yet to come (that I hoped would come to pass).  Then, it morphed into a gratitude list for things that had come to pass.  That was probably the high water mark for the many stages prayer has moved through.  Since then, it has slid into a distant and cynical conversation.  In other words, I confess it's still not back to where it was the day Bella died.  I also know that this is okay, that God is okay with me healing in my own time, and waiting for the day when I'm ready to connect again, but I'm still not there.

So, for tomorrow, I am afraid to even ask for a smooth day.  I feel... burned.  Afraid to ask again.  Afraid to be vulnerable.  Afraid to risk.  I feel like tomorrow is going to go how it's going to go no matter what I pray or say.  The best I can do is be prepared for anything and, to the best of my current ability, generate peace, politeness, courtesy, gratitude, strength, and humility.

Ang and I had a great talk tonight about all the mixed feelings swirling through us both.  I will tell you I am so grateful to be walking through my life with such and amazing partner.  She is just the most wonderful woman on the earth.

Sorry for the dark tone of the post, given the eve of what I'm sure will be a joyous day.  It's just a little more complicated.  God has a plan.  We aren't able to see or comprehend his plan, but I still trust he has one.  Even if he doesn't, me just telling myself he does helps me.  After all, who really knows?  Only God.

God night.

P.S.  I'm also sad because this post represents the last photo I have of Bella before it all went South for her.  I liked your suggestions, and I will start over, but just as tomorrow is a new beginning, tonight is another end...


  1. Love you, sweet Bella. Be there with your mommy and daddy tomorrow, and let them feel your love so that they may, in turn, love Julian just as fiercely as they did you, butterfly. Allow them them to feel sad, too, but take away their guilt in feeling such.

    I will be thinking of all of you tomorrow, and will hold you all in my heart as I move through my day (and probably obsessively check your blog and FB). Know that the grief of loss is just as powerful as the love that new life wrings from our souls: there is a very thin line between the intensity of the two, what some may consider, polar opposite emotions. So let yourself feel EVERYTHING to its fullest tomorrow - the joy AND the sorrow.

    Love you too Tim, Angie, Ali, you beautiful people, you. Can't wait for your miracle to make his debut!

  2. As I waited up for this post and then read it, I am reminded of my journey with prayer. I, too, think (thought) I had it all figured out with how to do it. And then I learn something new. I read something new. I meet someone new. One is answered and I know. Another is not and I know. And then I don't know anything. But, what I did not pay too much attention to before is OTHERS prayers for me. I focused so hard on what I should and should not feel, think or ask for in my conversations with God, that I overlooked the true power, love and beauty in others prayers for...well, others.
    Our prayers are with you all tonight and tomorrow and every day after that.

  3. I hope that your very special 'Julian' day includes some Bella signs as a reminder that she's right with you! And she's no doubt beaming at the thought of having a little brother :)

    Sending big hugs and prayers from North Carolina -


  4. Good morning on what will be a blessed day for you. I believe Bella is holding Julian's hand telling him how loved he is and how much fun is in store for him with the three of you. Remember your post about the boat and people saying goodbye / hello at the same time. The moment you see Julian your fears will fade and the truly amazing parent you are will take over. God is good, he will have his hand on you throughout today. Much love and prayer, Holly in ND.

  5. Good morning, sweet family...

    My heart and eyes are full as I read your heartfelt thoughts this morning. Please know how greatly you all are loved. My prayer today is that God blesses you with smooth waters, wonderful memories, a healthy Julian, and - last but not least - peace. I will be waiting to read the happy report and see the first pictures of the newest rock star and his fabulous family!

    With much affection...

    A friend in NC

  6. heavno and welcome julian!!!
    when reading your blog and then your facebook post, i was reminded of one of my favorite sayings..."if you want to make god laugh, tell him your plans!" can't wait to see pictures of your little "early bird"

    god bless y'all!

  7. So happy for you - Welcome Julian!!!! Love, Terri

  8. What a beautiful day and blessing it will be to you when Julian arrives. Bella will be right by your side and showing the love for all of you and baby Julian. I can just see her beautiful smile and caring eyes. You are all in our thoughts and prayers for a smooth day filled ith love and sunshine. Ang looks real good, I know you are all excited for Julian to arrive, but with mixed feelings about Bella. What a wonderful family Julian will be coming into, the love, the strength, caring and the faith. Welcome Julian! Can't wait to see the pics. So Happy for All Of You.

    All Our Love;
    Myrna & Dwight ( CA )

  9. It's a new day! :o) I a prayerful that your well that has been harrowed so deeply can be filled as deeply with joy as you embark on doing some healing. Some healing as you welcome this sweet little boy into your family. Some healing as you live and laugh together. I don't believe this healing will all take place today. But, I believe it will take place slowly. Maybe almost without notice sometimes. But, it will come.
    What a beautiful day for a new beginning.
    Ali can begin to sharpen her big sister skills and this Mommy and Daddy can take some more steps toward healing.


  10. I have never commented, but I had to thank you for being so honest about this experience. All of the guilt and confusion which comes along when people wonder why they are/are not feeling a certain way when they "should" can make you question everything about who you are. I would find it more disturbing if you did not feel this tug of war within yourself. You have taken on the challenge to allow yourself to really feel and experience what you are feeling and acknowledge it. It takes a lot of courage to do that, and it allows you to truly be present in the experience. I will remember, admire, and learn from this post, always. Thank you.

  11. Tim & Ang, all my best to you on this exciting day. Julian is a lucky little man to be part of such a strong, loving family. Bella is lucky to to have had such wonderful parents. I know she wants all of you to enjoy every moment with Julian and in your lives. She'll always be with you.
    Much love to you!
    Jackie Gardella Brown

  12. Welcome Julian!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Sandra - Azores(Portugal)

  13. Praying for y'all. That God would hold you in his arms and lift you and and love on you and fill you with joy and peace and pure awe.

    all the best blessings to you on this precious day.

    a momma in tx

  14. This post was a tear jerker for me. I can only imagine what you guys are going through emotionally. Sweet picture of Bella. Congratulations on your baby boy!!

  15. This post made me cry! How touching. Welcome baby julian

  16. so much for plans, eh?

    gotta love the baby boys with minds of their own!

    I am already in love with him...

  17. Love you all! Welcome to Julian (am assuming he's here by now!) and praying for peace for all of the Ringgolds. Can't wait to see the pics!

    Love from TX,
    Laura (for the Team!)

  18. Bella's eyes in her last pic say to me "It's ok Daddy." May be the last pic, but not the last of "Bella's Blessings"

  19. Bella will never end. Your blog, and your love for her, and your friends across the world have ensured that.

    Until you update, while we wait and hope, we celebrate your family and we love the past, present and future of those fabulous Ringgolds,