Dear Eliza and Ensley,
I miss you so much babies. You are ONE today! I think about you all of the time and while it has been a whole year since you were born it really seems like just yesterday or at least last week.
I was thinking about what it would be like if you were here. What we would want you to know most of all. The thing your Daddy and I would want you to know most of all is who Jesus is. But you girls are in Heaven, with JESUS face to face. Your Daddy reminds me of that all of the time. He’s known Jesus since he was five so he’s better at remembering. With Jesus face to face, more fully alive than you would be with us. We celebrate that today, it’s a joy in our hearts that never goes away. Even when we miss you and especially when we miss you. The hope of heaven is all we can hope for and you are already there.
But you got to know I still wish you were here.
If you were here, I would be making you a pink funfetti cake for your birthday. Your birthday outfits would most definitely match. We would be telling you we got you two babies for your birthday but you have to wait until January. I probably would have gotten you two baby dolls, a boy and a girl or maybe four so you wouldn’t fight over them.
We love you Eliza girl. We love you Ensley girl. We trust Heaven is better than a pink funfetti cake. Even if I made two. It’s better than all that we could do for you. It’s just hard for us to imagine because we aren’t there yet. We are here, without you.
We fought hard for you when you were alive. I tried everything I could to protect you. As soon was we found out you both had serious abnormalities in your bodies, I asked God what I was supposed to do every day. If God had told me anything other than to let you be born, I would have done it. To keep you safe. But God didn’t. Your doctors told me you might only suffer when came into the world and then you would both quickly leave.
Today is your birthday and Tommy is so excited to celebrate. We are making pink funfetti cupcakes. We are trying to teach him about Heaven. The day you both were born we held our breath, doctors told us what to expect but they never told us how beautiful you would be. Perfectly and wonderfully made. You didn’t suffer and we rejoiced as soon as we knew you went to Heaven. We hold you in our hearts forever and we’ll keep wishing you were here, all the while knowing you girls taught us more about Jesus and who He is than we could have ever taught you.
We love you, we always miss you and we praise God for giving us you both.
Always grateful, always thankful,
Mommy & Daddy too
Find yourself a moms group.
My mom was the first one to tell me to go to MOPS.
I was asking her a bunch of questions about the baby I was about to have. “Just find a moms group, it will keep you sane.” I thought moms group sounded…awkward. I didn’t have a baby yet, I couldn’t relate. All the moms at my church already had babies and their babies were turning into teenagers, what would we relate on?
Oh you know, just motherhood.
I went to a moms group at my church out of desperation and I found my closest friends. Pregnant, I had the most conflicting feelings of fear, anxiety and absolute joy. I felt really out of place at first. The moms were talking about school issues, conflicts with teachers, fights on the bus, my baby wasn’t even born yet. But I kept going. And kept going.
Some nights I didn’t say a word just listened to the moms talk. When would this would help me stop feeling lonely? Some days I would skip (they met every week) and Tom would say “you should really go to that moms group.”
Nah, it’s for real moms, I’m just pregnant, I can’t really relate. “Go anyway”, he would say.
That’s the key to moms group. Go anyway.
Find yourself a moms group. It is okay to shop around. But then go, and go anyway.
Go despite how you feel, despite who you connect with, despite if it means your family is eating McDonald’s for dinner (or breakfast)– just go.
It will be messy and uncomfortable. You’ll feel like the only one– the only one with a baby, or the only one with a teenager, the only one who parents the way you do, the only one who doesn’t eat organic, the only one who works– but you’re not. You are not alone. Most of all, you are not alone.
Find yourself a moms group for community.
If you find a moms group rooted in Jesus, you’ll find the women who will pray for you, who will pray for your children, and they will become the ones you can tell your biggest fears to and who will speak life over them and into you.
Wednesday night moms group was the first time I said, “I am really anxious and I think I need help.” It was another mom who told me how to get help. I had postpartum depression and anxiety. She doesn’t know it but she saved me and she saved my motherhood. Over time, somewhere between playing UNO, doing devotionals and coloring adult coloring pages (weird right?) I found my closest friends.
MOPS group Littlestown PA
The ride or die ones. The mom friend ones. The ones who have who have heard my messy heart, been in my messy van, seen my messy house and love me anyway. They love me even when I don’t text them back for days, they know not to call on the phone– who has the time– they love me when I don’t show up and they love it when I do.
Mom friends understand what it’s like to be a mom friend.
I am not like all of my mom friends, not really, I am still the youngest, still the least put together (for sure), I am still the one who refuses to eat organic food and only recently accepted essential oils into my life. But by showing up, over and over, on days when I didn’t feel like, from making them a priority, from making community a priority, I found what I was desperate for………mom friends.
Find yourself a moms group.
You probably have choices of mom groups to join but I am really biased and say go to one with moms who love Jesus. MOPS International is a group for moms founded in the Christ. I stumbled into MOPS because my church has one, (with free childcare– I know right!). But if you want to find one near you– look here: www.mops.org/groupsearch/ and if you want to join mine, send me a message and I’ll look for you there. We have coffee. And childcare. We’re a messy bunch but we will gladly be your mom friends.
I QUIT my job.
Friends, this is such a big deal to our little family and before you think, wow girl, must be nice, let me tell you how heart-wrenching, painstaking, fear evoking hard this was. Not just was, still is. We are a working class family. Blessed but we both have to work kind of family. When I first had the idea to stay home it wasn’t, “yeah we can cut out some extras and make it work”, it was more like “well we won’t have groceries but…
The other painstaking part is I loved my job. Like really, really loved it.
I was a livestock inspector– I got paid to drive around and do disease investigations on farms.
But as much as I loved it, something changed on March 16th, 2016. Tommy was born. Work did not become optional, I carried our insurance, my paycheck paid our mortgage. I had to go back after 12 weeks but after Tommy was born, work became impossible. In a way I can’t explain, working motherhood became my deepest struggle.
In my circle of friends no one seemed to struggle with not being home the way I did. Something felt really, really wrong and I didn’t know what to do. So I complained about it a lot. And I thought of all the ways I could make money working from home.
Talking about leaving my job and ALL of my business ideas turned into a major pain point in our marriage. Tom supported me but for sure thought I was going crazy. (Because I was). I became very torn, very money focused and very into the idea of ‘what I wanted to do next’. Something big, something important. Start a business, build my blog, make $5000/month. And yet, nothing happened.
I’ve been building websites since college but I couldn’t seem to make any for profit. Everything was impossible. And I was losing my babies.
Ten months ago, I was sitting in a hospital room, mourning the fact that I wouldn’t have three kids at home when I ran the math of what we would have been paying in daycare. That’s my salary I thought. Then I thought it again, that is my salary.
It was exactly my take home pay.
I immediately told Tom– I could do in home daycare and quit my job and stay home with Tommy! He didn’t just say no, he said NO WAY. He said I was trying to replace our babies. He said our house would never be clean, he said I would go crazy. He said, you almost just died and you carry our insurance. I felt defeated. I asked my two closest friends (both who do daycare) to pray for him to change his mind.
Seven months later, out of the blue, Tom called me at work, “Hey”, he said, “you know that daycare thing? Why don’t you do that? Do you still want to do that”?
Now, I know God can do bigger miracles than changing Tom’s heart but at that moment, there was nothing more surprising to me.
What I want you to know about quitting my job is that it wasn’t easy. No one told me I should. No one told me how I could. No one told me it was a good idea. It was more than a little bit crazy.
But there is one reason I quit my job. His name is Tommy and he is three.
Hi friends, I haven’t written much since the birth of our babies in August so I wanted to let you know how we are. All I can say is God does miraculous things with broken hearts.
When I thought about life after infant loss, I thought about all the things I would not be able to do–
get out of bed, go to work, have another baby, be a good friend, be a good wife. I forgot that God does miraculous things with broken hearts.
Getting out of bed is hard, forget about work, and having another baby? We are terrified. I am not a good friend, daughter, or wife. In fact our marriage has never been harder. Yet, here we stand, safe in the love of Jesus.
God does miraculous things with broken hearts.
Recently I was talking to someone who lost his daughter just weeks after we lost our daughters.
He said when people ask him how he is, he wants to say;
“how the hell do you think I am”?
I nodded with tears.
I said “but Jesus right”?
He looked at me.
So I said it again, “but Jesus”.
I know exactly how he feels.
But Jesus still.
I thought this part, life after infant loss, would be the easier part. Easier than preparing for our babies to die. But it’s not. I asked Tom why. He said maybe it is because we aren’t clinging to God like we were when I was pregnant. I think he’s probably right.
We have hope, and still we have joy. But our grief is so normal now. Like it will never go away, probably because it won’t. I was struggling with that but the bible says;
1 Thessalonians 4:13: “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.” Yours is a grieving with hope. Theirs is a grieving without hope. That is the key difference. There is no talk of not grieving. That would be like suggesting to a woman who just lost her arm that she not cry, because it would be put back on in the resurrection. It hurts! That’s why we cry. It hurts
To be grieving and still hopeful, to have sorrow and abundant joy; it’s all part of the miraculous things God does with broken hearts.
Always grateful, always thankful,
Keeping it real. Ever since I had a #pulmonaryembolism two weeks ago, I have doctor appointments on top of doctors appointments. On top of doctors appointments. At least that is how it feels because one doctor appointment will wipe you out. So does making the bed. Sheesh. So today Tom’s mom watched Tommy while I went to the doctor, then she left and I remembered I had to go get my blood drawn. Not sure how I forgot since I do it every day. ANYWAY. I had to drive all the way back across town to the hospital, with Tommy. I was grumbling the whole time.
Then I’m walking across the parking lot and it hits me. I am walking across this parking lot. I am holding my baby’s hand. I am walking into the same hospital that saved my life. I drove myself here. I can walk. I can breathe. I can hold my baby’s hand. We, are okay. . . I got to the lab, my favorite tech was there (shout out girl) and she got my blood in .007 seconds instead of three tries like everyone else. “See,” she says, “that was easy.” She smiled and gave Tommy a Scooby-Doo sticker. . .
I asked her why he got the sticker instead of me. But I was kidding, I would have given it to him anyway.
My favorite tech reminds me of Jesus. Not because she gets my blood in one try. She is radiant and confident and comforting. I would never tell her that but I should. So today when she told me it was easy and gave us a Scooby-Doo sticker, it reminded me that God is like that too. We have to do inconvenient things and there is God, with a pat on the back and a Scooby-Doo sticker. See, He says, that was easy.
We also have to do hard things that are hard.
On the way home there is a sunflower field. It’s right off of the road, all of my friends know about it, so shout out. I may or may not take credit for it. Even though I’m sure it has nothing to do with me. It’s just that this one time, I tried to buy sunflowers from a family on the same road but the wife kindly explained that they only grew them for bird seed. I told her she was missing out, that I would pay her to cut sunflowers. The next year there was this field across from their house. $3 for 13 flowers. I’m sure it’s a coincidence.
But you know for sure I am going to stop. Every time. “Tom, Tom! Pull over, the SUNFLOWERS!” Yeah, he never pulls over. But Tommy and I did today. Because today wasn’t so hard.
My phone only had 2% battery and I’m pretty sure Tommy thought I was crazy, speed walking through the flowers yelling “LOOK how pretty they are!” “Look at the BEES!”
At one point I was smack in the middle of the field trying to pick the perfect flower, (because I only had $1) and Tommy was just staring at me like, my mom, has gone crazy.
But he humored me, and told me the flowers were pretty, just like I thought.
Back to doing hard things. This morning, at one of my doctor’s appointments, my doctor blurted out “Congratulations on having twins!” He didn’t read my chart (or maybe he did, what the heck is in my chart?) I said “Oh, Dr. Lin, my babies died”. He quickly apologized and said he was heartbroken for me.
I am too, I said. Heartbroken. It’s the first time I said it out loud.
It’s a hard thing, missing these babies. It’s a catch your breath, can you breathe again? Kind of hard. It makes everything else fade away. Doctors appointments? Blood work? Great. Give me a Scooby-Doo sticker, I’ll be fine.
But in the hard things, the catch your breath THIS IS SO HARD things, God is still there. Not with a Scooby-Doo sticker. More like a field of flowers. A whole field full. With butterflies dancing all around them. And a toddler, smiling at his crazy mama. A reminder to breathe, a deep breath in lungs that still work. And talk to a God who made flowers this pretty.
If you need a Scooby-Do sticker or a whole field of flowers, let me know, I know where to find them both.
Still thankful, still grateful,
We did it.
On August 6th, 2018 at 8:35 PM I gave birth to our twins: Eliza Joy and Ensley Grace Taylor. They are so perfect and beautiful and now with Jesus.
Our twins were born without unforeseen complications via a c-section at 32 weeks. Their birth was absolutely beautiful which is a true testimony of God’s love and provision for us. Eliza and Ensley died from complications from limb body wall complex the minute they were born. While we would give anything to have them with us, we celebrate knowing they are in Heaven.
Ever since our babies’ diagnosis I looked towards their birth with both agony and anticipation. I wanted to see them, I wanted to hold them, I wanted them to be safe. I wanted it to be over.
I desperately wanted to see what God would do.
I can’t explain what a complicated walk it was to be fully believing in a miracle and also fully aware of your babies’ complications. Often, I believed no one understood. To be fair, we said things like “might lose them, and “if they make it” not because we were unaware of the outcome but because we are fully aware of who God is. Still, we knew what their birth meant. We had twenty weeks to prepare to go to the hospital, have two babies and go home without them.
Their birth story: I went to labor and delivery for an evaluation after leaking fluid and blood at 32 weeks. The evaluation took all day with no answer except a guess that I might have an uterine infection (I did). The doctors did the most unfair thing, they told me I could go home or deliver– it was up to me. You can imagine how impossible that was. I absolutely wanted to deliver, I also absolutely wanted to keep them in as long as possible. No one would tell me what to do. Eventually doctors said delivery was a good idea. We prayed for an easy delivery. We prayed for God to guide the doctors and be merciful to our babies. I’d like to say we weren’t scared but we were terrified.
The doctors had told me in no uncertain terms how complicated delivery could be. Their umbilical cords were extremely short and they weren’t sure how they were going to get them out. Tom shook as he prayed over me, asking God to keep me safe. I wish I had pulled myself together, put on make-up and fixed my hair, which might sound ridiculous but I wanted to feel completely confident going to meet my babies. I knew I might only have minutes with them.
My doctors worked hard to make sure the c-section went well, I ended up only needing a transverse cut, I will always be thankful for that. I had the sweetest nurse who made me feel so much better because I was terrified. Tom came in and 30 minutes after both babies came out. When the doctor announced the babies were out, the room fell silent, neither Eliza nor Ensley were crying. I lost it because I knew what that meant.
I could see Eliza being put into the bassinet but she wasn’t moving. Tom told me to look away but within minutes Tom was holding them both.
Tom did so good, I have no idea how scared he was but he just held them as I stroked their faces. The chaplain was the first to come over and say both Eliza and Ensley lost their heartbeats as soon as they were born.
Our sweet babies. They were beautiful. They were safe. They were born. I was so proud of them.
In case you feel bad for us that God didn’t deliver what we prayed for know that Ensley and Eliza are still the miracles we were praying for. What happened in our hearts the moment we met them and lost them is a miracle. Heaven is the biggest miracle of all.
I won’t tell you it’s not painful, I won’t tell you that it is easy, but I will tell you– peace came over me the minute I saw them. Peace filled my heart, and flooded the room. I’m sure everyone could feel it because I could.
And then joy. Indescribable, unexplainable joy.
We picked the names Eliza Joy and Ensley Grace before they were born because Eliza means God’s promised and Ensley sounds like endless. Together, to us, their names mean: God promised joy and endless grace. Because that is what God promised us through all of this. Joy and endless grace. I also totally have a thing for E names. I was concerned the names might not fit them or be good enough but they are perfect for our sweet babies.
Sweet Ensley Grace Taylor (left) and Eliza Joy Taylor (right)
The hardest part of carrying babies with a fatal diagnosis is not the believing in a miracle part. That’s easy, we know that God can. Surrender, is the hardest part. Trust. Trusting that God knows them, loves them and made every cell in their body. God set them apart, gave them to me and then, took them to Heaven the day they were born. I want my babies with me. Everything in me needs them with me. But as I held them the greatest truth set in, as much as I love them, God loves them more.
He loves them even more.
It’s one thing to believe in God for yourself, but if you do, you have to believe in God for your children too.
So there is this: our pain is great, God is greater.
I know some people thought I was crazy for the carrying the babies as long as I did given all of the complications. At one point I was at risk for heart failure because the babies were at risk for heart failure– it’s called mother mirror syndrome, something that mothers and babies with hard diagnosis go through. A c-section is also major surgery, our doctors tried to talk me out of it. At one point they told me of the risk of losing my uterus, over babies that didn’t have a chance at life (as they put it). I just nodded but what I wanted to say was “bring it on, take my uterus out then because that’s the only way they are coming out, I’m not killing my babies.” Because everything is what you do for your children. It’s just what you do.
There is one thing though, the thing I had to surrender over and over again. I was terrified that my choice to carry them to term would cause them pain. Every time I prayed about their suffering (often), God assured me they would be okay. God would whisper those very words to me “they will be okay”, and “watch and see”. At the time it was confusing because their diagnosis was so bad. But when they were born it made sense. We asked God to not let our babies suffer and He honored that.
I hope you can see there was great mercy in their birth. There is great freedom in carrying a baby as long as you can. And seeing them born. Really there is nothing like it. I would not have chosen this, I never would have chosen this but by carrying twins, fully committed to God’s will for their lives, I can see the beauty that comes from a surrendered life.
People have called us brave. They have called us strong. We are neither. It is not by our strength that we are doing this, it is Christ in us. I remember being broken to pieces in the ultrasound room at twelve weeks. How could I carry babies that I would loose? How do you even do that? The first scripture anyone gave us for this pregnancy was James 1:2-4: Count it all joy. When I read it I said you have got to be kidding me. Count it all joy? This?
But yes. Even in this we have joy. And it’s not leaving us.
Forever will we testify of God’s great mercy for our babies and the great blessing they are in our lives. Because of Eliza Joy and Ensley Grace: our love is stronger, our faith is bolder, our hope is bigger, our fear–our fear is gone. Our lives are better. May our sweet babies forever know how much we love them and how we did everything we could to keep them safe. We can’t wait to see them again in Heaven.
Our friends and family: thank you all so much for your genuine love and support for us. You have shown up for us in such unexpected ways. It is still hard, some days impossible. We are still navigating what this feels like day by day (and always will). But we want to thank all of you for walking along with us. It is okay to not now what to say or what to do– we don’t know either. But we do know that God is good, Heaven is for real, and we can count it all joy. We have such joy– such joy and endless grace. Just as God promised.
Always grateful, always thankful,
**To remember Eliza and Ensley we have set-up a memorial fund in their honor. We find it best to honor them by donating money to other families God has or will put on our hearts who are facing hard or fatal diagnoses for their children. Eliza and Ensley’s lives may have been short but we know there is great purpose in their lives. A purpose greater than we may ever know. We are so honored to be their parents.