Saturday, December 22, 2018
Sunday, July 29, 2018
It’s my birthday week! Yay! 🎂 and boo 😒 !
I say that because...
1. I ❤️ birthdays so much. I love my family and their birthdays. And, I’ve always loved my birthday. Last year’s birthday was the best...multiple celebrations with forever friends and the most amazing family. My favorite part, sharing the news of expecting Mary-Linda and revealing her gender to our kids and the world on my birthday. It was THE BEST DAY ever...
2. I say “boo”😥 because less than three weeks later, my happy, perfect world would come crashing completely down when we discovered that Mary-Linda’s precious little heart had stopped beating in her tiny chest at just 4.5 months gestation. Some time in the weeks/days before that, she began to lose blood- for no reason. No explanation.We were told that it just happens sometimes. Sometimes there’s an accident or a blow to the mom that causes this. And sometimes it happens for no apparent reason. Which is what happened with us. It’s called Fetal Maternal Hemorrhage. She lost too much blood and her heart finally stopped.
Perhaps one day, I’ll be able to separate these times. But, this year, this time I’m thinking about how big we celebrated last year and how big we celebrated Mary-Linda’s life. I am beyond grateful for that. I would never change that.
So, for my birthday, I invite you to make difference in someone’s life. Be the joy. Be the light in their darkness. Be the hope of Jesus to a neighbor, to a friend, to a loved one.
Molly Bears provided us with a "Mary-Linda" bear. Weighing the same as Mary-Linda did on her "born-sleeping" day, with her name and a cross stitched on the bear. We love holding her and thinking of our baby girl.
M.E.N.D. Greater Houston, TX (Mommies Enduring Neonatal Death) has given us support and care throughout this past year. We participated in the "Walk to Remember" in October, honoring many babies in the Houston area. And, the support group has been extremely helpful for me to think through tough situations before they happen.
23 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
Saturday, May 12, 2018
The most difficult year of mothering yet.
This time last year, Moustapha and I just found out we were expecting. It was too early to have an ultrasound and to know if everything was going okay. But we knew we were pregnant. We’d been trying for a few months and tbh we were praying for a little girl. At our 9 week appointment, we got to see our little gummy bear, a strong heartbeat and all signs that he or she was doing great and growing as expected.
At 10 weeks, I could listen to the baby’s heartbeat at home. I did this most evenings. We had some blood work done around 10 weeks and got the results at our 13 week ultrasound.
We were told that our baby was a girl and she was growing perfectly. I loved that ultrasound so much. Our baby girl was dancing! Putting her hands to her mouth and gave me all the feels of a happy little baby!
We told the Els around this time but waited to tell them our baby’s sex until my 40th birthday. The kids were so excited to know either way and delighted to learn she was a she. 💗💗
After this, we treated the next three weeks as normal. We enjoyed family time and my baby bump continued to grow.
At just over 17 weeks, I couldn’t find her heartbeat at home. I was headed for my regular appointment the next morning and I didn’t let myself believe that she could be gone. But, the next day, my worst nightmare was confirmed. Our baby girl had passed, her heart had stopped beating. I now had to mother all of my children through a situation I never imagined for any of us. I had made promises to them- promises that they would hold their sister. Promises that we would be a family of seven. Promises of a life together.
This was not what I promised. But, I leaned on God and kept going. Should we let the Els see Mary-Linda? Hold her? We decided to let them decide. We had photos and when the Els arrived to the hospital the day Mary-Linda was born sleeping, we let the Els look at the photos first. We gave them the option to look and then if they wanted to see her after that, they could. And, if they wanted to hold her after that, they could. One by one, they made the decision. And we kept the promise that they would all be able to hold their sister.
It doesn’t stop there. I don’t get to mother Mary-Linda here on earth, the way I want to. But, losing her has changed the way I mother my other children. I don’t know if I’m doing it right. Is there even a right way to move through this? But, I haven’t stopped. I’m trying to love my children through it. I can’t say I’m looking forward to Mother’s Day this year. I can say I thank God for every single one of the precious souls who made me a mother.
Please know that I’m thinking of and praying for all of the mothers out there who’ve lost, who’ve longed for a baby on earth, who have loved ones in heaven. I’m thinking of you.
Tuesday, May 8, 2018
As Mother’s Day approaches, consider the heartbroken, the bereaved Mother, the woman who longs to be a Mother
Not meant to do anything other than start up or continue a conversation.
And, it’s a question we get a lot.
"How many kids do you have?"
"Oh, you just have one girl?"
"Just the one girl, huh?"
"Wow, all boys?"
"3 boys and one girl?"
Trinity glanced toward me to see what I would say, if anything. I smiled and nodded to let her know that she could answer this question how she felt comfortable.
She answered quietly “yes.”
Recently, Leeland was a guest at a birthday party. I overheard another mom talking to him, sweetly asking about his siblings. How old is your brother? Oh, you have two brothers? How old is your sister? So, you’re the baby?
That’s when he looked over to me for approval. How should he answer this? He’s NOT the Baby of our family. Mary-Linda is the baby and she’s in heaven and that’s not something that we feel we need to tell everyone in every situation.
So, I gave him the same look I gave Trinity. The “whatever you feel comfortable sharing is okay” look.
He answered her sweetly by nodding “yes” he is the baby.
One by one we answered. I felt the tension well up inside me. I said four. In this instance I had just met the woman and may have more encounters with her in the future. I just didn’t feel like sharing.
Later that same morning, I was in a totally different setting and was asked how many kids I have by someone who I have just started getting to know over the last couple of months. So, this time I mentioned losing Mary-Linda in August. I said "We have four living children and well, you may have heard, but we lost our baby daughter in August- when I was 4.5 months pregnant.” The conversation continued. I cried. She cried. It was sweet and tender and appropriate for where our relationship is headed, as we become better friends. Mary-Linda is not a secret. She’s our daughter, who just happens to be in heaven.
I meet with a loss support group once a month, organized by MEND- Mother's Enduring Neonatal Death. MEND shared these 5 suggestions today on their facebook page. I would add- don't assume that since you know someone a little that you know everything important there is to know about them. And most importantly, communicate. Talk. Ask your loved one what their boundaries are and respect them. For me personally, I want to talk about and think about my baby girl, Mary-Linda on Mother's day and every day. So, if you happen to see me...you will make me smile to let me know that you have not forgotten our little angel girl. Our sweet Magnolia flower in heaven. Mary-Linda Elizabeth.
Always Your Mother
Saturday, May 5, 2018
Monday, March 19, 2018
Letter I sent to the Houston Astros today...let's get our favorite Astros' fan out on the field to throw out the first pitch this season!
March 19, 2018
Dear Houston Astros,
First of all, a huge congratulations from our family to yours on the 2017 World Series Championship! We couldn’t be happier for our favorite team!
I wanted to reach out to tell you a little bit of our story. My husband, Moustapha and I both grew up Astros fans and returned to Houston after getting married in early 2004. Attending Astros games with my brother and his wife, quickly became part of our regular routine. In 2005, we welcomed our first son, Bakri (now, almost thirteen years old) and started off his journey to become a lifelong Astros fan. Even taking him to a World Series game dressed as a bumble bee!
Over the next five years, we would add three more Astros’ fans to our family- Maddux-11, Trinity-9 and Leeland-7. Each of our children loves the Astros, but especially our Bakri, who can hardly wait for the season to begin again each November. Bakri was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder at five years old, when we had four children under the age of 6. It has been a challenge for our family and especially for Bakri. However, he’s met the challenges head on and has already excelled beyond many of our hopes and dreams. He’s a seventh grader at the Meyerland School for the Performing and Visual Arts concentrating on Vocal Performance and Piano. He’s a member of the Houston BoyChoir Chamber Choir and has been absolutely delighted to sing the National Anthem for two Astros games!
Early during the 2017 season, we found out we were expecting our fifth child! We even had an opportunity to do a photo shoot at Minute Maid Park- on the field and in the dugout, as a surprise for Father’s Day for Moustapha. In July, we learned that our fifth child was a baby girl. We celebrated and our four other children were beside themselves happy. In mid-August, our daughter, Mary-Linda, was stillborn in a Houston hospital. We were and are devastated. It has been the most difficult thing we’ve been through as a family. Within a few weeks, Harvey hit and our friends and family were hit hard. We continued to mourn and look to our Astros for an outlet. They were struggling and we just wanted them home. Going into the playoffs strong, meant the world to us. Moustapha made sure that he and the older boys were at MMP when we clinched the pennant. A dream come true.
We made it to every home playoff game and as the ALCS series was returning to Houston after being in NY, we were nervous. So Dad, aka Moustapha, called a family meeting and we decided that as fans, it was our job to help the Astros get their bats going. So, that is how the clapping batting helmet fan (87 million views on his GIF) was born. All six of us attended game 6 and we were so excited to get that win! Moustapha would wear his batting helmet and gloves every time the Astros batted and take it off when we were fielding. We felt like, as fans, we were part of the Astros success.
For game 7 of the ALCS, we only had four tickets and Bakri had a Houston BoyChoir concert in midtown at game time. We decided to split up- Dad would take Maddux and I would bring Bakri later. During the Houston BoyChoir concert break, I went out to check my phone to see a ton of messages alerting me that Moustapha had been on National television. I thought it was cool, texted him, but didn’t think it would be as major as it was. Memes, and tweets, Instagram posts, and articles popped up during the game, all talking about this amazing, intense, clapping, Astros fan. By the time Bakri and I arrived to the game, the internet had exploded. Over 70 million views on the MLB gif before we left the game. And, the Astros won! Off to the World Series we go! Our family needed this so much and now Moustapha was experiencing another piece of it, with this sudden Astros Fan fame.
It couldn’t have happened to a better guy at a better time. What happened after, was a storybook tale. News story features, articles, and a Law and Order type scene for MLB Network! And, after attending home games of the World Series, the ending was the best of all.
It’s easy for outsiders to empathize with a mother’s loss of a child. Even so, It’s difficult for some to understand, because they feel as though we didn’t know her or we should be happy because we have four other children. Not understanding that losing her and holding her little body in our arms, forever sleeping, is one of the few experiences we got with her. We mourn that she’s not on earth with us. We mourn that she’s not going to grow up with her brothers and sister. We mourn. People understand that more easily for a mother. But, our sweet Moustapha has mourned very deeply. He lost his dear baby girl and this has been a very sad time for him. This experience with the Astros, gave joy back to our family, when we needed it most.
I respectfully request that the Astros organization honor this special Astros fan during the 2018 season. Specifically, by calling on him to be recognized as an amazing Astros fan by having the honor of throwing out the first pitch at a regular season home game. Our son, Bakri, will be singing the National Anthem again with the Houston BoyChoir when the Astros take on the New York Yankees on April 30th. Wouldn’t that be a perfect game? But any will do and your consideration is deeply appreciated.
So, again, on behalf of the El-Hakam family, thank you Houston Astros! You are our favorite team and your win came at a perfect and much needed time for our family. We love you.
Rebekah Maddux El-Hakam