Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Change

So tonight I changed my Facebook profile picture. For a regular person that's no big deal, but for me it ended up creating a crazy flood of emotions. I chose a picture I had used before. It's one of my favorite pictures and it is a really happy memory for me.

This picture was taken last July at a family reunion in Clarion, Pennsylvania. We had the reunion at my great grandparents farm where my great aunt now lives. I have good memories of swinging on this tree swing on the farm when I was a child. At the reunion Britt and I walked down by the woods to the swing. I got on (even though my butt was practically scraping the ground) and Britt pushed me on the swing.

In the moments that I was swinging I felt so carefree and happy. I remember laughing and smiling and having the best time connecting the memories of my past to a new moment and memory.

After I changed my profile picture to this photograph my first instinct was to wish I could go back to being that person. That was such a happy time. Britt and I had just been on vacation to the beach, we were on a trip with my family for the reunion, and I was getting ready to go on a girl's trip to Las Vegas. I was also off of my birth control and we were getting ready to start trying to get pregnant. I had so much happiness and hope and excitement for the future. Now I look back at that person and I wonder who she was.

As soon as I have the thought that I want to rewind and go back to being that carefree (naive) person I get a reality check. No, I don't want to go back because that would mean erasing this past year. I absolutely loved being pregnant and I love being Emma's mommy. As painful as this is I wouldn't ever give those things back.

The truth is I am no longer that person in the picture and I never will be again. I have read so many things recently about finding your "new normal" that its becoming annoyingly cliche, but its true. I feel stuck now between the person I used to be and the person I have been forced to become. I feel like I need to get to know myself again and find my way.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Confident Heart

Losing Emma has made me look more closely at my faith. Unlike so many others who have been in my place, I am not at a point where I feel like I have lost or am questioning my faith. During all of this I haven't even felt very angry at God (yes I've been mad and had plenty of why me's but I haven't felt that raging anger). I feel more of a sad resignation. I don't know why this happened or how God fits in to all of it, but I know that I can't change it and I will never have the answers I want. So instead I am trying to find a way to move forward, and for me personally I feel like thats easier to do with God than without him.

In order to help me explore my faith and hopefully strengthen it I have decided to join an online bible study. I am doing the study through Proverbs 31 Ministries. I learned about it through a friend who participates in their bible studies and has shared positive things about them on Facebook. I got curious and decided to look it up.

The next session (starts in October) is based on the book A Confident Heart. When I looked up the book I felt like it really spoke to me. Here is part of the description from Amazon: "Often the biggest obstacle to living out our faith is our own doubt--about our worth, our abilities, our relationship with God, and situations in our livesA Confident Heart gives voice to the questions, doubts, struggles, and hopes so many women have. Author Renee Swope shows us how to identify, overcome, and learn from our self-doubts so that we can live confidently in God's assurance, truth, and grace." (I bolded the parts that jumped out at me)

This book seems like it will not only help me deal with situations and feelings I would have had before July 2, but when I think about all of the fears and uncertainties the future holds now, especially in regards to trying to have a baby again some day, this book seems like exactly what I need. 

If anyone wants to do this along with me the only thing you need to do to participate is buy the book and then you just sign up for free online. 

*I'm sure you already know this, but I feel like I have to do the blogger thing and let you know that this is not a sponsored post. 

Be Ok

My current theme song:

"I just want to know today...know that maybe I'll be ok."

Monday, August 26, 2013

Rough Day

Have you ever seen the children's book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day? It has this grouchy little guy laying in bed on the front cover. Yes. I think I felt like Alexander today.

Today was my first official day back to work. There's nothing like going back to work when you are supposed to be on maternity leave. The last time I was in a faculty meeting and interacting with my co-workers was on the last day of school when I was itching to start my summer vacation (that was going to last until October) and make my final preparations for Emma's arrival just a few weeks later. I guess the good thing about today is that I've had tears building up for a few days now and today I finally got them out.

I still have a lot of anxiety about getting through the next few weeks of transitioning back into work, but there were some things that made today easier: coming home to my amazing husband, talking to my mom on the phone, getting some cards in the mail, friends who ask if you need a hug and then let you cry on their shoulder, coming home to a surprise present from a thoughtful friend, a supportive community of bereaved parents who check in on you to make sure you're okay, friends who are able to tell you that they don't know what to say but they are there for you, people who are willing to spend their time and money to bring us dinner so we don't need to cook, and right now most of all....being tucked in my cozy little house, wearing my pajamas, and being snuggled in on the couch.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


Part of this journey of grief is dealing with fear.

Being 41 weeks pregnant means you are supposed to be well past the "dangerous time". Nothing bad is supposed to happen when you make it that far. When you are 41 weeks pregnant you are making sure all of the clothes are washed and the nursery is complete. You have your hospital bag by the door where it has been waiting for the last 4 weeks. Your baby is not supposed to die.

When the unthinkable happens everything becomes fair game. If I can be that statistic what other statistic will I become? I fear that some other crazy bad thing will happen to me or my family, that I will never have a normal pregnancy or baby. It may sound crazy but those are the thoughts that lurk in the back of my mind.

I worry that as I continue on with my life that people will start to think I am okay, or worst of all "over it" or "healed". That people will forget that I was pregnant and have a daughter named Emma. It makes me afraid to enjoy things again, to go back to work, to put a smile on, to have fun with friends. Just to put it out there...I will never be "over it" or "healed". I will learn to manage my grief, to box it up and acknowledge it on my terms, but there will always be an Emma shaped hole in my heart.   

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Best Piece of Advice

As I travel through this journey, something I have dealt with is guilt. No it's not rational, but that's just the way it is. I worry about my choice to have a c-section and the risk that carries for my body in future pregnancies, I hate that we did not get a picture of Britt and I holding Emma (this one is really tough to let go of), I wish we would have taken her hat all the way off to look at her perfect little head instead of just peeking under it to see her hair, I wish we would have asked the hospital to dress her in her going home outfit instead of the outfit they provided. The list goes on and on.

Recently in one of my online support groups a mom was venting a lot of her feelings and guilt, much of which mirrored my own. Someone else left a comment which was the best piece of advice I have gotten so far, be  gentle with yourself. This experience is something no one plans for and certainly something no one should ever have to go through. As grieving parents we did the best we could and made the choices that seemed right at the time. That's all we can do. When it comes down to it Emma is happy and at peace in heaven, and she knows that we love her.

From one grieving mom to another I give you permission to be gentle with yourself. Forgive yourself. We all did the best we could in the absolute worst of situations. We love our babies to the moon and back and would have done anything to save them. That has to be enough.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Butterfly Effect

"Every single thing you do matters. You have been created as one of a kind. You have been created in order to make a difference. You have within you the power to change the world."

Andy Andrews
The Butterfly Effect

The Butterfly Effect is both an exciting and frightening concept. Scary to think how one little action could impact someone across the world, but exciting to think about the positive change and impact we can make in other people's lives. 

I like to think that Emma will inspire me to do something that makes a difference, something that will make sure she is always honored and remembered. I know for sure that I want to donate items to local hospitals to be given to other parents who will face the tragedy of stillbirth. Books or keepsakes in Emma's name to help them in their journey and let them know they are not alone. 

As I finish this post the positive motivational words are quickly fading and I am getting mad. Yes this is a wonderful idea and can help so many other people, blah blah blah. Emma should be making a difference by spreading her light and love through the life she should have. I guess this is the new war I have to fight...the battle between finding positivity and wallowing in reality.

Monday, August 12, 2013


I recently came across a blog post that was really inspiring to me. Lindsey of Still Breathing blogged about allowing room for beauty and joy. Lindsey shares about choosing beauty, and how appreciating the beauty in the world around us can soften our grief. I love Lindsey's use of the word soften, because I'm sorry to tell you that I don't think you ever get rid of your grief, instead you learn to live with it.

I am not at a point in my grief where I can find much joy, but I can recognize beauty. I have enjoyed spending a lot of time outside and find peace from what I see in the world around me. I have decided that if I force myself to consciously appreciate one beautiful thing from the world around me each day that slowly I will not only be finding beauty, but moments of joy too.  
Lindsey documents her moments of beauty and joy on Instagram using #joygrief. I have decided that I will document mine using #findingbeauty with the hope that one day I too will find the #joy{in moments of}grief. Click here to follow me on IG.

A Rude Awakening

Shit, shit, shit this is my life. (Sorry for the language. My husband will probably be proud when he reads this. He tends to have a colorful vocabulary and I tend to nag him for it. But, sometimes a curse word conveys what regular words cannot.) That is my thought when I open my eyes first thing this morning. I am a mother, but my arms are empty and the nursery down the hall is silent. Shit, shit, shit. Time to find my way through another day.