New Beginnings

What a year this has been!  2015 has brought changes of plans and difficult trials but it has also ended with miraculous blessings.

Butterfly Tree - Painted by Barbara Hosford

Butterfly Tree – Painted by Barbara Hosford for the Children’s Park of Georgia

This time last year, the “Founding Mothers, Fathers, Grandmothers and Grandfathers” campaign for the Children’s Park of Georgia was in full swing.  We were under contract to purchase land for the park and very anxious to see if we would meet our financial goal.

At the same time last year, a friend I had not yet met was given the devastating news that her full term baby had died in her womb before he could be born.  In the agony of tremendous heartache, she still had to endure the tormenting pain of labor and delivery of this the precious baby all the while knowing she would never hear him cry. All the dreams she had for him would never come true. He would never see the nursery she and her husband had lovingly furnished, decorated and stocked with the shower gifts from friends and family members.  All around her, new mothers would be wheeled out of the hospital with their babies in arms.  Yet she would leave the hospital with her arms and her heart empty.

Weeks later, she would make the unexpected transition back to work, back to the same old – same old, like nothing had changed.  But everything had changed in her.  Her heart felt as though it was hemorrhaging.  The aching and the longing for the baby she missed so desperately, did not go away.

Although she and her husband did not exactly plan it, she became pregnant again within a month of the devastating loss.  Just as before, the first part of the pregnancy was a breeze.  Still, they didn’t tell anyone their big secret until the pregnancy was nearly half way along and the news couldn’t be physically hidden any longer.

Fast forward across 2015 to just a few weeks ago before Christmas.

I met this new friend for the first time for lunch at the Olive Garden.  She had learned of the Children’s Park of Georgia from an article someone had shared with her family.  We had traded emails and spoken on the phone briefly, but this was the first opportunity for us to really talk.

At our lunch this December afternoon, it was clear she was very much in the throes of PTSD.  Thanksgiving and Christmas had brought back a flood of memories of this same season in the previous pregnancy and with it nearly paralyzing anxiety and fear.  She was now all too aware of the worst that could happen.  She described to me the familiar feelings of wanting to be hopeful and let herself dream dreams for this baby yet overwhelmed with fear and grief at the same time.  What a struggle it is to really let yourself be happy about a new baby when you so desperately want the one you lost.  It was the honest, gut wrenching truth and I understood completely.

One thing that I have learned in the ten years I have been working on this park project is that it is not just about this amazing place we are building.  Rather, it is also about the people that are connected and encouraged along the way now and (in compounding numbers) in the future. It is not likely that I would have met this sweet lady, learned of her story or of the many others through the years had it not been for this endeavor.  I would not have had the opportunity to pray with and for her, to relate from experience to her feelings and to encourage her through this bittersweet journey.

After lunch that day, we parted ways…me to the rush of Christmas preparations and her to the doctor imposed prison of bed rest and more waiting.

Then, two weeks later, she heard the most beautiful cry of her baby girl. She gazed into her eyes and studied her every move. Days later, she triumphantly carried her precious baby home from the hospital.  It was a miracle.  Her arms were no longer empty.  Merry Christmas from Heaven.

Baby girl born 12/18/2015

Baby girl born 12/18/2015

To be clear, one child can never replace another.  The life of every child is a miracle and a blessing.  This new friend of mine loved her baby boy with her whole heart before he was born.  That love didn’t stop when he passed or even a year later when her baby girl was born.  Instead, her heart grew new love for her daughter.

I can attest first hand that it’s a complicated matter when you are filled with love and adoration for the sweet bundle of joy you hold in your arms.  Yet in the back of your mind you are plagued with guilt and sadness that the child you lost will be forgotten from history.

The Children’s Park of Georgia will be the only place of its kind in Georgia that celebrates the lives of ALL children- those with us and those who’ve gone on.  It will be an encouragement to our children that are with us to show them how much they are loved and cherished.  It will also be a comfort to families who have experienced loss that their child’s life will be remembered and honored.

In 2015, we had our own miraculous blessing with the opportunity to work with Northside Hospital – Cherokee to find a land home for the Children’s Park of Georgia near their new replacement hospital currently under construction.  I am thrilled to report that after a comprehensive land study they have found a suitable site for us!  Be on the look out for exciting details to be reported in the first quarter of 2016! 

Lastly, there are only 2 days left to take advantage of the 2015 tax deductions!  Please visit our web site for details on tax deductible donations of engraved sidewalk stones and other naming opportunities to celebrate the lives of your children and grandchildren.  Remember Georgia’s Children Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public charity.  Donations are fully tax deductible to the maximum extent of the law.

May 2016 be a safe, healthy and very blessed year for you and your families.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *