Rhonda and Jason

Rhonda and Jason
Our Wedding Day

Saturday, March 2, 2013

7 weeks to go!!!

We are closing in on the end of this pregnancy with our little rainbow baby.  As we told you before, its a girl and we have decided on a name for her.  Josephine Ruth Holtrop.  Josephine is from Joseph in the bible.  The meaning behind the name is "the Lord will bring many."  To Jason and I, its reassuring after all we have been through.  Jo, Joseph  and Joe are family names on both sides of our family.  The middle name Ruth also comes from the bible.  Jason and I love the story of Ruth in the bible and how the Lord redeemed her and her family after tragedy and brought so many good things out of it.  We feel the Lord has already redeemed us and blessed us tenfold since Esther passing.

We have been up to a lot of projects in the passed few months.  Here are some of the pictures.  We have had so much fun and time has flown by throughout all of it.

Wood shed and shed build out of reclaimed wood and materials

Before picture of our gas fireplace

A friend donated some great pieces of stone

New wood stove.  Our average house temperature went from 64 to 79 degrees.  We love it.  It just meant a lot of hard work cutting trees and getting enough dry and wet wood for some years to come.  The project is still not complete

Last week we flew to Mexico with some of my family members.  This was a trip we were going to take last year at this time, but with Esther's condition we were unable to.  Jason and I flew in a day before the rest of my family and both of us had an uneasy feeling in our hearts.  Neither of us talked about it til the next day.  We were at this same place 10 months ago as we grieved Esther death together.   It had been a week since her death at that time and we cried our guts out as we grieved how much we missed being by her side fighting for her life.  We laid our hopes, dreams and future for her at the cross trusting God knew what was best for us.  We had no idea how our next days, months and years would consist of and whether or not we were capable of putting one step in front of the other.  Our hearts were so heavy.  It was hard to get out bed or even close our eyes at night feeling like we were still waking up from a bad dream.  This was the deck of cards God dealt to us.  Could we make it through?

Today marks 10 months since we have said goodbye.  Since then, it amazing to see how much God has carried us.  Its hard to think any of us are strong enough to make it through something so awful.  But he carried us, redeemed us and has brought beauty in the midst of ashes.  It wasn't until the last hour of our time in Mexico that we were able to come back to the beach and thank God again for Esther.  We were so busy showing our family around, cooking, cleaning and reading books that time just flew.  But we both knew we needed to spend time and give thanks to the Lord.  Once again we thanked the Lord through teared stained faces.  For his guidance, comfort and strength to see past it all and the new hope and blessing we have still growing safely inside of me.
The arch in Cabo

Morning sunrise over the resort

Prego belly shot for those that needed one.

Beautiful Sunset

I want to make one thing clear through... even though it sounds like we are doing so great there are still many days it hurts bad.  Days I wake up after having an awful dream of Esther dying again.  Running to find someone to save her as I somehow pulled off the lines of the ecmo machine and blood is going everywhere.  We can't save her, no one can.  Then there is watching a tv show that reminds you of what it looked like to see her dying.  They are all too real.  It doesn't affect you as much unless you have felt and seen what its like to go through something so painful and out of your control like we have.
It also surprises me that while I was pregnant with Esther, I personally never had dreams of her.  I never had a dream of holding her or seeing her grow up.  I know my husband did and his father did, but I didn't.  Since then, I have had 3 dreams of Josephine.  Of us holding her and trying to take care of her.  The burden is lifted more and more when you can actually taste and dream of your future with your little girl.  It is so reassuring.  I wish I had moments like that with Esther.  But I know she is here with us daily.  Each time we get to see a beautiful sunset or whales jumping out of the water, or the sound of an owl hooting near by- I know its her and the Lord saying "we are right here Rhonda."

Lastly, I will leave you with this.  This is something I found this morning on a grief site that I thought was really great.  Its for those of you I run into and play a role in my life and wonder what is Rhonda really thinking.  I added some more to it from my own personal experience:

I have never been good at telling others what I need.
Losing my daughter complicated my ability to ask for help rather than sharpening it.
If I could have given myself one thing to get me through,  it would have been a voice to tell those closest to me what I will need most to get me through the days and years ahead…
I need to say her name without bringing everyone to tears or for people to not change the subject so quickly as if I never said anything at all.  Its okay to talk about her.  In fact talking about her allows me to let you know all that she meant to me and helps keeps the memories of her alive.
I need her life to be included in the count of children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews.
I need kindness on birthdays and understanding on holidays.  All of them have been so painful as it is so easy for others to not even think or acknowledge what dreams and hopes we had to let go and the missing piece of her not being there with us.
I need to stay in bed and a reason to get out of it.
I need to talk endlessly and to let the phone ring.
I need an extra hug and respect for my space.
I need someone to ask how I’m doing and want to know the real answer.
I need a “handle with care” sticker for my heart, my emotions have been fragile since the day I said goodbye.
I need patience and reminders for my mind, part of it will always be somewhere else.
I need forgiveness for not being the friend, sister, daughter and wife I used to be…
a lifetime seems like such a long time to wait to hold my child again.


  1. Big hugs to you, Holtrops! You have soldiered on the best way that you can since losing Esther, and I am amazed by your strength. Can't wait for little Josephine to be here. So close! Take care of yourself, mama. Will be praying as always!

  2. I found you through the Poppy site. Our son died 13 years from Ebstein's Anomaly--a rare heart defect. I am sorry for your loss and I am so happy that you are preparing to welcome a new baby in your life. We had a daughter a year and a half after our son's death. I don't know if everyone is like this, but I do want to prepare you for some of the emotions I went through after our daughter was born.

    During the pregnancy I was calm and at peace that she was healthy. However after she was born I went through a short period--2 or 3 months of being very fearful that she would die. I had learned through my son's death that babies do die and I was sure she would too. I would lie on her bedroom floor and listen to her breathe while she slept, I was afraid of RSV and anyone with a cold was kept far away. I am not trying to scare you, just want you to know that I think it is normal. I did get over it fairly quickly, trusted God and prayed a lot.

    And yes, everything on your list is true. And not a day will go by that you don't remember Esther. And it will get easier. I had to quit asking myself why, resolve that I would never know why and that was okay. I could move forward and on, forever changed, but forward.


  3. Hi Rhonda

    I have not been reading blogs like I did a year or so ago so I have not been up to date on what is going on with your family. So excited to hear about Josephine and her expected arrival.

    I can so identify with what you wrote at the end of your blog about wanting to talk about Esther...oh so often I wish someone would say Royce's name. Some days I can so easily talk about him and other days the tears stick in my throat.

    I remember when Brandon was born after Royce died and how scared I was that something would happen to him. All I can say is, continue to lean on God, trust Him and enjoy Josephine. Some days will be so hard and others days will be so joyous and happy you will want to pinch yourself.

    Know that I think of you and your little family. Sorry I have not been in touch much. May God bless you all today and in the days/weeks to come.

  4. Rhonda and Jason,
    I've been following your blog for a long time and have been very curious how things are going. I don't want to be nosey but just was hoping for the best and sending all my positive thoughts and energy your way. Tonya

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