I Will Carry You: The Sacred Dance of Grief and Joy

I Will Carry You: The Sacred Dance of Grief and Joy

by Angie Smith

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780805464283
Publisher: B&H Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/01/2010
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 225,481
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 3 Months to 18 Years

About the Author


Angie Smith is the wife of Todd Smith (lead singer of Dove Award winning group Selah) and author of the popular blog entitled Bring the Rain. She holds a Master's degree in Developmental Psychology from Vanderbilt University and lives with her husband and daughters in Nashville, Tennessee.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

Us

And the cup he brings, though it burn your lips, has been fashioned of the clay which the Potter has moistened with His own sacred tears.

— Kahlil Gibran

If there is one thing I have learned about raising three daughters, it is this: it is an unspoken law that if you are running late, you will not be able to find the sixth shoe.

It's life as a mommy. They are running in every direction, full of life: and all the while you are trying to rein them in and explain why Mrs. Adams won't understand if we are late for gymnastics again. Most of the time I just giggled and chased them around until I inevitably caved and let them wear mismatched shoes, imagining the looks of horror I would receive from the on-time moms.

Our biggest problems in life during the girls' younger years were things like finding the sixth shoe.

I miss those days.

We made plans for forever, like you're supposed to do when you're a family. We were so in love with our life that it was impossible to consider anything else. Just love one another deeply and try to make each moment count for something. Run the race with joy, and it will all be OK.

How could we have known?

And even if we had, I can't say we would have done it any differently. We loved without abandon, each day and night filled with the hope and expectation that we would always be together. Whether nestled under a cozy quilt watching a movie or photographing the girls having a hose fight with the neighbor kids in the backyard, one thing was for sure ...

We were a family, and everything was exactly as it should be.

*
My husband Todd sings in a Christian group called Selah, and when I look back at the way God started our family, I can't help but wonder how we managed to keep our sanity.

Just a few months after we were married, I was right in the middle of a conversation with Todd when it happened. I don't remember what we were talking about, but I do know I made a rather abrupt exit as I dashed to the bathroom with my hand over my mouth. I spent the next few hours assuming I had a nasty flu, but in the morning I realized the timing of this "flu" was a little suspicious. Todd ran to the store and bought our first of many pregnancy tests, and I watched as the little line told me I was going to be a mommy. We were completely shocked, but after about six more tests (anyone else done this?) with the same result, I figured it was really happening. I stared in the mirror as I got ready to go out that day, looking at my reflection and imagining what it was going to look like in the coming days.

I never got the chance to see that.

At around nine weeks I miscarried the baby, and I was devastated. Todd was sad, but he hadn't connected the way I had with the baby. His biggest concern was making sure I was OK. He was so tender with me as I tried to process the fact that there had been a life inside me that was gone.

That was the first time in our marriage that we had to walk through loss. We knew it wouldn't be our last, and that our vows included times like these, but it was hard. As a woman, I wondered if something was wrong with me. I would stay awake at night and wonder if I would ever have children. I had just finished a graduate degree in developmental psychology, and pretty much every decision I had made in my life revolved around my love for children. I couldn't help but wonder if motherhood wasn't going to happen the way I had always dreamed it would.

We were fortunate that the Lord didn't wait long to bless us again. I will never forget being out on the road with Todd, sensing that something was happening. It was eleven at night and I told him we needed to find a store that was open so I could take a pregnancy test. He covered his head with a pillow and laughed (mostly because I said this every month in the hopes that it would come up with the pretty pink line).

"Todd. We're in Maryland. You know how I am with finding my way around. What if I get lost?" He looked up at me with tired eyes, pleading with me to let it go.

"Honey, can we go in the morning? Let's get some sleep, and we can do it on the way out."

Clearly he did not understand the urgency of a woman in this mind-set.

"No, I can't wait. I have got to go now. There has to be something right around the corner." I grabbed the rental car keys and kissed him on the forehead.

He fell back on to the bed, knowing I wasn't going to budge.

"And Toddy? You are seriously going to regret not going with me if it turns out I'm pregnant." I smiled mischievously and closed the door behind me while he laughed.

I came back into the hotel room about a half hour later and ran straight for the bathroom. I watched as the colors changed immediately, clue number one to what we would later discover. Without even bothering to wait for it to make it all the way across the little screen, I opened the bathroom door and held the stick straight in front of me. I waited a second to make sure he was paying attention and then peeked my head out with a giant smile.

Todd sat straight up in bed, his eyes adjusting to the light and his mind adjusting to what was happening.

"Are you serious?"

I nodded.

I screamed with delight and jumped into bed, settling into my familiar spot on his chest.

He grabbed the test and stared at his future.

"Congratulations, Daddy."

In disbelief he set his hands on my stomach.

"Wow." It was about all he could manage.

"Yeah, wow."

We lay in silence for a few minutes, smiling in the darkness.

"Hey babe?" I asked.

"Yeah?"

"You totally should have come with me."

We laughed as we pulled the covers up, both of us in awe that God had chosen us.

And boy, had He ever.

*
After my initial miscarriage I had gone to the library down the street and checked out a book about pregnancy loss. The sweet librarian recognized me and acknowledged my pain as she scanned the book.

"God bless you, honey." She looked deep into my red eyes, ministering to me without another word.

I started to cry because it was such a simple gesture, and it meant more to me than I knew how to say to her.

After I got the positive test result, I was eager to go back and check out another book — this time, one on pregnancy. I saw the librarian working at the counter and waved. A few minutes later I set down three pregnancy books on the counter, and she clapped her hands in delight.

A few days later I went in for my twelve-week checkup, and they did an ultrasound.

After a rather shocking appointment, I made my way back to the library and smiled when I saw my library friend working. I watched her face light up as I set down a new set of books.

This time they were on parenting twins.

She looked up at me in total shock and started laughing.

"Oh, God bless you, honey! I'm sort of hopin' for your sake that I won't be seein' you tomorrow!"

*
Aside from some discomfort, everything seemed to be going smoothly with my pregnancy, but my doctor suggested I have another ultrasound at around twenty-five weeks just to make sure. We knew we were having two girls and we were pretty set on names. At the end of August, we went in to have another look at the babies, and within about a minute we knew something was terribly wrong. The technician who was doing the ultrasound looked like he was in shock, and he got tears in his eyes as he told us he needed to get his supervisor. I felt like I couldn't breathe, and I asked him if they were alive.

"They are alive right now."

Those words will haunt me for the rest of my life.

His supervisor explained that I was dilated about three and a half centimeters, and that my body was threatening to go into labor. She told me I needed to get right to the hospital, and they called for a wheelchair as they weren't even comfortable with letting me stand up.

I sobbed the whole way over. My first night in the hospital a sweet nurse came in and sat with me, explaining that my babies were on "the cusp of viability," and that they were going to do everything they could to keep them inside me for as many weeks as possible. She was incredibly kind but also honest, and the truth was that it was an incredibly serious and unpredictable situation. A few days later I had surgery to try to prevent my cervix from opening any more. I continued to be on a round of the most horrific drugs known to man.

If you are familiar with magnesium sulfate, you understand. They had me on that one for three weeks. At one point I thought my IV pole was a trick-or-treater. Todd was on the road, and my best friend Audra was with me, so at that point she told me she thought it would be a good idea to go to sleep.

After ten weeks of touch-and-go in the hospital, they felt I was in a safe zone and sent me home. They stopped one of my medications a few days later, and I started having contractions. I had a gloriously short and easy delivery, and on December 2, 2002, we welcomed Ellie and Abby into the world just two minutes apart. Weighing in at four pounds eleven ounces and three pounds eleven ounces respectively, they were tiny but perfect.

Abby was rushed to the NICU immediately, and we never heard her make a sound. She had a few complications with her breathing, but overall she did great. She was an itty-bitty thing, but she was a fighter!

We brought Ellie home from the hospital, set down her baby carrier, and I kissed Todd good-bye as he left for his Christmas tour. I will never forget those first few moments of silence after the door closed behind him. I stared at Ellie in her car seat and just began to weep. I was hormonal, alone, and in charge of two people's lives. I was scared stiff. I had one baby at home and the other in the NICU, and trying to nurse two babies on different schedules who were a half an hour away from each other was, to say the least, very difficult.

One night, when I felt like I had reached the end of myself, I walked into the NICU and heard a familiar sound. It took me a minute to put it together, and when I did, I asked what they were listening to. The nurse (who had no idea who my husband was) replied, "It's the new Selah Christmas CD, and it is so, so great."

I couldn't believe it.

"Do you listen to it a lot?" I asked.

Tears filled my eyes as I anticipated her answer.

"Oh yes, all the time. The babies love it."

I started crying because all this time, when I felt awful that Todd and I couldn't be there with her every moment, God had provided a way for her daddy to be singing over her. The nurses came to me and put their arms around me as I told them who I was and why this CD was so special to me. I remember one of the ladies reminding me that His ways are not our ways and we must believe even when we can't see the way out.

Abby made such great strides that our prayers were answered, and she came home just before Christmas. The high-risk doctor who treated me came into my room one day and, in a hushed tone, told me that my God had performed a miracle. He smiled as he left the room, and at that moment I had no idea that I would see him again a few years down the road in a much different situation.

*
Lights strung, presents wrapped, and two redheaded bundles that had defied the odds. Could life get any better? In the midst of it all, Todd and I fell in love with each other in a whole new way. We stayed up late at night and played cards in bed, covering each other's mouths to stifle laughter that might wake the babies. We realized the awesome responsibility we had been given and dove into it headfirst.

The peace of God settled into our tiny apartment every night as Todd sang lullabies and I gently rocked the girls to sleep. After sneaking out of their room (which was a closet!), we would play rock-paper-scissors to see who would feed which baby during the night.

The loser had to take Abby, who was notorious for waking up at least ten times during the night. When I would hear her stirring at 4:00 a.m., I would tickle Todd tauntingly and whisper, "Your baby's up, hon. Have fun!" He would roll over and whack me with a pillow. The next night we reversed roles. When I think about that time in our lives, I just remember laughter. I really understood what love was supposed to be and who I wanted to be as a mother. We were sleep deprived for sure, but we couldn't get enough of them. We lived in a hazy blur of joy and chaos, knowing that above all we were really in it together now.

A few months later I was dancing with Todd at a friend's wedding, his scruffy cheek pressed against mine as we swayed together in an unspoken promise: This will never be taken from us.

We came home from the wedding and ran up to see our sleeping beauties, sweaty headed and flushed with the joy of another full day. Their personalities were starting to take shape, and since we loved Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World," we dubbed the pensive Ellie our "dark sacred night," and gregarious Abby our "bright blessed day." I tucked them deep into the safety of their covers, and the same implicit promise filled the room: This will always be ours.

What a wonderful world indeed.

What can I say? The twins were pretty much the perfect kids. They slept all the time, they ate whatever we fed them, they were even tempered, they smiled at strangers, and loved to snuggle. They were the kind of kids people fall in love with the moment they meet them. They wanted to help with everything around the house, cleaned up after themselves, played nicely with all their little friends, and constantly filled the house with the sound of joy.

I began to formulate a theory in my mind, which was based almost entirely on the fact that I must be the most perfect mother to ever grace the face of the earth. I smiled as people marveled at them sitting in the grocery carts while I shopped, and inwardly shook my head as we passed women with their unruly children. I nodded like royalty as women commented that they had never seen such well-behaved, sweet children. Oh, why thank you. Really? Well, I guess we are just blessed to have such good girls. ... You are too kind. ... Oh, how sweet. ...

I have an image of God sitting in heaven, munching on a big bowl of popcorn as the days counted down to September 7, 2005.

*
It was a perfectly planned (see where this is going?), crisp, fall afternoon when Sarah Katherine Smith came raging into the world about an hour and a half after I went into labor (yes, you read that correctly). She screamed like a wild animal in pain when they bathed her, smacked her way out of her newborn blanket, and stared at me with a look that said, "I'm going to need some more information here, lady." I heard a nurse make a comment under her breath about how I was going to have my hands full. I was not at all intimidated.

Clearly, I thought, they did not know they were dealing with super mom.

A few months passed, and I realized that the Lord, in His infinite (and often humorous) wisdom, had decided to give me the childhood version of myself to parent. I must say that the level of glowing satisfaction I have seen on my father's face in the past four years has approached sinful.

Kate is the most life-filled, passionate, willful blessing I have ever had the pleasure of raising. We always prayed that we would have a third child who wouldn't slip into the background and be overshadowed by the twins. When I was pregnant with her, I had horrible images of her sitting alone in the corner and feeling like a loner because she didn't have a partner the way they did. We prayed for her to have a voice, to have courage, to have strength, unwavering enthusiasm, determination, and conviction. In retrospect I think we may have overdone it a little.

Her enormous brown eyes and deep husky voice bring life into every room she enters. I see a lot of myself in her. You can't keep that girl from what she wants; one day, when she gets her arms around Jesus, she is going to take the world by storm. Until that day, I am drinking a lot of soothing tea and praying that I enter my late thirties with most of my hair.

*
When Kate was about two, we started talking about having another baby.

Let me restate that.

We had half a conversation and the stick turned pink.

Even from the beginning there was no question that this baby was supposed to be ours. We broke the news to the girls, who proceeded to request a boy who would not be interested in their toys. We told them we would do the best we could.

At about sixteen weeks we went in for a regular ultrasound, and we discovered that we were, much to the girl's chagrin, going to have another pair of sweet little girl hands digging in the Barbie bin. Other than that it was a normal ultrasound, although we did find out later that the technician had noted that there was less fluid than would be expected.

They suggested I have a follow-up ultrasound at around eighteen weeks just to make sure everything looked OK. We headed home with the thought that everything seemed to be all right. I had felt uneasy about this pregnancy from the beginning so it was nice to have a little reassurance. After my experience with Abby and Ellie, it was hard to ever feel totally at peace about being pregnant, but this was different. I felt so uneasy that I had trouble sleeping, and I Googled myself into every possible tragedy.

(Continues…)



Excerpted from "I Will Carry You"
by .
Copyright © 2010 Angie Smith.
Excerpted by permission of B&H Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Us,
Chapter 2: The One You Love,
Chapter 3: The One Who Can,
Chapter 4: Three Days,
Chapter 5: The Castle,
Chapter 6: The Way We Run,
Chapter 7: The Weeping and the Wailing,
Chapter 8: Cherry Blossom,
Chapter 9: The Stone We Move,
Chapter 10: Alabaster,
Chapter 11: Taken,
Chapter 12: Holy Ground,
Chapter 13: Since She Left,
Chapter 14: Burden Carriers,
Chapter 15: A Letter to My Daughter,
Chapter 16: My Jesus,
From Audrey's Daddy,
I Will Carry You (Audrey's Song),
Helping Children Grieve,
Bibliography,
Helpful Resources,
Acknowledgments,

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I Will Carry You: The Sacred Dance of Grief and Joy 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 298 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have been following Angie Smith's blog for a long time. Audrey's story is one of pain and heartache, joy and love. She was a blessing to this family and forever changed their lives. I know exactly the journey that Angie walks because my newborn baby girl Melissa died shortly after birth in 1990. Twenty years later, I remember every moment of pain, every moment of anger, every moment of questioning God. But I turned that pain into good and I have lived to honor my daughter. I am so thankful that God chose me to be her mother. If you have lost a child, please read this book. It will help you more than you can imagine. Update.. Angie Smith gave birth to a healthy baby girl this week. Both are doing wonderful. I am so happy for them!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
this book shows what it is like to live and grieve the loss of a child. i cried most of the way through it, and i appreciate my children so much more!
cookieMOMster713409HF More than 1 year ago
My 5 week old son passed away in 2007 to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, this book has given me so hope and faith.
Vanessa81 More than 1 year ago
This book is so easy to read and so inspirational that it's a must read if you are a christian mother or even if you're not. I could feel in my own skin the grief and deep sorrow for Audrey's short period of life. I could totally relate to every fear that she have in her pregnancies because I had them too every time that you visit the doctor to see how's your baby doing in there. It moves you and encourages you to renovate your faith in the Lord and to be more aware and thankful of every blessing that you have. Please read it, you won't regret it. Thank you Angie for sharing with us your difficult experience. God bless you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I highly recommend this beautifully written memoir. Though I tend to be picky about books, this memoir as made it to the favorite book list. Angie Smith, the author, has an excellent gift of portraying the gift and blessing of getting to carry and bring Audrey into the world. With her amazing and admirable faith in her Savior, Angie tells her very personal story with honestly and even humor, keep the tissues handy! Please read this book - the story, verses, quotes are encouraging and uplifting.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Beautifully written, I could not put the book down! The book left me with an inner healing. ThankyouYahweh
Amy Maccaughelty More than 1 year ago
Angie's story is familiar to me personally as it will be to anyone who has experienced the death of hope and empty arms. I recommend this book, as Angie's transparency is so fresh and encouraging in the midst if such raw and profound pain.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Angie Smith is a true example of living a vulnerable life for others. She does not put on a face or candy coat anything and has the courage to share her deepest pains with the world. Only a handful of people are willing to take their stories and share them so that they may be an encouragement to others and allow others to see that they are not alone. Her and Todd's story is so beautifully written and I have seen first hand how it has allowed others to be able to open up and seek healing. She helps give those who are hurting permission to open up, share, and heal. It is a raw story of faith, hope, and the strong love a mother and father feel for their child and how precious Audrey's life was not in vain...she may have "only" lived outside the womb for a couple hours, but she truly lived, she touched lives, God used her. I pray that this book, this story would encourage others to step up, take off the mask and be willing to share their journeys, the pains and the joys. Thank you Angie for being willing to be so incredibly vulnerable, selfless, and so full of love.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very inspirational...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I discovered Audrey's story when I lost my daughter, Dakota. For the past few months, I have been mainly interested in reading books written by people who went through the loss of a child. As soon as I began reading, I couldn't stop. Audrey's story touched me. I absolutely love the Bible references within this book and the Faith written within the words. As I was reading this, I have to say that Angie opened my eyes to different aspects of our loss. I was very touched spiritually while reading this book. I believe now that God had a purpose for Dakota and used her to bring me closer to him for a life plan he has for me. I believe his plan for me is to help others who are going through the same thing I did. As I read Audrey's story, it helped to to reflect back on my own written story of my angel baby. I couldn't believe how similar they were but yet, they were so different. I am one of those parents who was thrown into the grief and I didn't have the time to prepare myself or my daughter. This book has helped me form the words I needed to answer some of the questions my daughter has asked. Angie has made me realize that it is okay to say, "I don't know" and not feel like I was letting her down. I couldn't help but comparing I Will Carry You with my own published book, Saying Goodbye Without Saying Hello. I felt like another side of the story was being told. I want to say that this book will help those who are lost after they have experienced the heartbreaking event of child-loss and it'll help those who haven't gone through it to understand. I believe there is so much more to this story and it's a message to those who question their own Faith. I must say that after reading this, I picked up my Bible for the first time in months and began reading it. So, a HUGE thank you goes out to Angie Smith for sharing her story.
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Mom_of_e More than 1 year ago
Read this book after I miscarried. It was a balm to my soul. Since then, it has helped me counsel others through their grief.
LYNNTACHICK More than 1 year ago
Truly remarkable people
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I recomend this book toevery one! This was the first e bookI bought and was well worth it! A tear jerker...
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