Friday, October 3, 2014

First Comes Love...

One of my Instagram friends, a fellow loss mom, wrote a post this morning that included words to this effect: "First comes love, then comes marriage, then your baby dies…".

It may sound harsh to some of you, particularly if you are not a bereaved parent, but for me it hit home. This is the reality of my life. There are many days when that reality hits me like a ton of bricks.

It's hard to even put into words, to help you understand. To others I'm sure I seem "better", "more like my old self", "happy again". Instead I like to think that I'm finally learning to live again, that every day doesn't feel like I am drowning and clawing my way to the surface.

I don't want to sound like I don't have good days or moments, because I do, but my life is no longer defined in such finite terms…good or bad, sad or happy. How can it be? I am 29 years old and I have a daughter who died. Not: I lost a pregnancy, or I lost the possibility of a baby, or what could have been. My.daughter.died. She was 8 lbs 3.5 ozs, she had dark brown hair, and long legs. Her name was Emma. My husband and I had to make arrangements with the hospital for her body, go to the funeral home, look through a catalog of urns, and plan her funeral.

It's awful and raw and too terrible for many to imagine, but it is my story. I've lived it and will continue to live it for the rest of my life.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Truths About Pregnancy After Loss

It is getting harder as I go. I started off if not positive, at least content. Now the anxiety and grief are becoming more overwhelming. The pain of Emma's death has become more raw again as I look ahead to the birth of this baby.

I am still jealous of other pregnant women. Most of them are the naively joyful ones. The ones who have not been touched by death. I wish I could be her again.

I still can't be around other babies. Your living baby reminds me of mine who died. The next baby I will hold or coo over will be my own.

No matter what I love and want this baby girl more than anything, but that doesn't mean that I am always "excited" or "engaged" in this pregnancy. Sometimes for my sanity I need to power through the day, and that means not spending a lot of energy thinking about being pregnant. That feels horrible to say. It scares me and feels like bad juju, but that's the reality of pregnancy after loss.

In the same moment, I feel this little girl moving inside me and I get so happy and hopeful and thankful for her precious little beating heart. I am an emotional yo-yo most of the time.

I am really resentful that I am already a mother but for all intent and purpose I will be a "first-time" mom once this baby is born. Friends and relatives will want to offer advice and give opinions on parenting. When I'm up in the middle of the night with no clue what to do, there will be others out there that will know the answers. I should know the answers, and I'm angry that I don't. To be honest, as of right now I don't want anyone's advice and I'm not going to ask for it. I just can't. I feel like it invalidates me as a mother.

And most of all, I hope beyond anything and everything, that this time I get to bring a living baby home.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Shirt

This is the shirt I've decided I need to get made to wear every day for the remainder of my pregnancy:

Can you tell what kinds of comments and questions I have been getting from random strangers (and some not strangers)? I'm not sure when it became okay to ask or say whatever you want to a pregnant woman, who may be an absolute stranger to you. Rude much?

Well, rant over, on a positive note we saw our high-risk doctor again this morning. That means we got another peek at baby girl and even got to see her in 4D (basically 3D in real time). She was moving and grooving and (despite the overly large size of my belly in the opinion of some) she was measuring right on track for 23 weeks 3 days gestation, at 1 lb. 5 oz. We got some 3D pictures and I love being able to see her sweet little face. I'm thinking she looks different than Emma. I need to get Emma's 3D ultrasound picture out and compare it to this baby girl.

For now time has slowed and I'm trying to keep on keeping on. Sending love and light to you mamas. xoxo

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The First 20ish Weeks

I haven't had anything to share on here about my pregnancy so far. I think the main reason is because I have found several wonderful women who are on the same journey that I am. I email or Facebook message with them often, which has been the better way for me to cope with this journey. I've found I'd much rather have a conversation with someone who "gets it" than send my words out into blog-land, where they will perhaps be left unanswered. Also on many days I just have nothing to say. I'm sad about Emma, I'm scared for this baby, I'm confused about the whole thing, and I'm tired of trying to come up with new ways to say that.

So, here are some random ramblings reflections on the first 20ish (I am now 21 1/2) weeks of my pregnancy:

- I felt a lot more excitement than I anticipated when I found out I was pregnant. I was prepared for immediate fear and anxiety, but I actually felt excited at this chance for new life. We got a positive pregnancy test on April 2, Emma's nine month birthday. It was also the first time of the season that I saw a butterfly. I am hopeful that these things were "signs" that Emma was saying, don't worry you will get to bring this baby home from the hospital.

- After the initial excitement, I spent most of my first trimester in a state of disbelief. It was very hard to process the thoughts of a new baby along side my grief over Emma, especially when her first birthday was approaching.

- Getting ultrasounds is hard for me and they really bring up my anxiety. An ultrasound is how we learned that Emma had died and it's hard for me to associate positivity with those appointments.

- I have had one "is my baby okay?" anxiety attack so far, which led me to the doctor to get a heartbeat check. I won't be surprised if there are more, but I hope that there are not.

- Of course the real desire is a healthy living baby, but I have to admit that I hoped we would be having another girl. I was so ready to mother a daughter here on Earth, and I hope that with this little girl we will get our chance.

- Now that my pregnancy is showing I have developed anxiety about going into situations with strangers. There is always some "friendly" person who wants to ask about my pregnancy, and often included is, "is this your first?" Please people, stop asking that question. I understand that you are being friendly and making conversation, but it is not your business and it breaks my heart every time I have to answer your questions.

- I don't like (and have heard the same from many other PAL, pregnancy after loss, moms) when people tell me: this baby will be okay, this time it will be good, or other such things. It does not comfort me, and all it serves to do is bring up more anxiety when I begin thinking about the reasons that it may not be okay. When your baby dies before birth there is absolutely no "okay" until you have a healthy living baby in your arms. I understand you mean well, but it doesn't help. When PAL moms talk to each other we say things like: hopefully, if this baby lives, God-willing. That's how it is for us now, and it is helpful to talk to someone in real terms, in a way that faces the reality that is our lives.

- Being pregnant again does not make things okay or better. I still continue to grieve and mourn Emma, and that means that this pregnancy is impacted. Yes, I am trying to be positive and find ways to celebrate this baby as a unique person, but pregnancy is just different now and always will be. If you expect me to face this pregnancy with the blind joy I had last time around, don't hold your breath.

- Britt and I ordered a onesie (a cute fishing themed one) from Zulily yesterday. It is the first thing we have bought for baby girl. I have been spending time thinking about and planning her nursery, which has been my way of embracing and celebrating this pregnancy so far.

- Every time I start to get too anxious or negative I tell myself this: If anything happens to this baby it will be for me to deal with then, but for now she is healthy and alive and she deserves my full love and attention no matter how much it scares me. Anything less is not fair to her.

- These weeks around 20 weeks are hard because I am feeling her movements often, but it is still too early for them to really be in a regular pattern. That means I can't really track her movements yet, so I'm left to enjoy the movements whenever they happen to come. As a result, whenever I am not feeling her move I get scared.

- As I get closer to delivery being a real possible event I get more anxious. I have been flashing back to Emma's birth a lot and its hard for me to face being in a hospital/birth situation again. Losing your first baby is a unique grief because I have no positive frame of reference. When I think of giving birth all I have is this traumatic experience to reflect on. This has also brought back up a lot of grief over Emma. Britt and I continue to see our grief counselor, and its a good thing we do.

Well, I guess maybe I had something to say after all. Thanks for "listening". xoxo

Monday, July 28, 2014

Bracelet Order Tonight!

We are opening up bracelet orders tonight at 6 pm EST. I will only be accepting 25 orders for now. If I get them done in enough time before school starts back up then I will take a second order. Please see the "our products" and "ordering information" tabs at the top of our website for more information. Thanks!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

A Statement of Faith

This is a very personal post for me to share. It has been on my heart for awhile, and I've decided its time to finally try and put words to my thoughts.

I am a Christian. I believe in God and the saving grace of Jesus Christ. I do not believe that "everything happens for a reason".

I used to believe that everything happens for a reason. That God was behind each and every moment in our lives, like a puppeteer pulling the strings. I have a wonderful family and have had a great life so far, but I wouldn't say that its been free from adversity. I have had some valleys in my life to get through, and yet those tough moments never tested my belief that "everything happens for a reason". That was until July 2, 2013, when my absolutely perfect healthy daughter died without explanation.  Certainly there is not a reason that God would make that choice for my life.

In the months following Emma's death the questions began to come. My faith and beliefs that I had grown up with were shaken to the core. I questioned everything I ever believed, and I felt like I had to start all over again. I wasn't ready to give up on my faith, and although it wasn't with a truly genuine heart, I began to seek out the word of God. I decided that going through the motions was better than doing nothing at all. I read books, participated in Bible studies, read online articles by Christian authors, and consulted my study Bible.

Through my time spent studying I developed a new, or perhaps refined, set of beliefs. To be honest, I do not share these things with you to invite discussion or debate. If your beliefs are different I respect that and will not question them. I ask you to do the same for me.

I believe that sometimes things do happen for a reason. There are cases when God uses circumstances to further his plan for us and the world. There are times when God brings us to a place where we will be forced to return to him and atone for sinful choices and behavior.

I believe that sometimes things happen that are not at the hand of God. We live in a fallen world. Satan is "the god of this age" (2Co 4:4) and his evil abounds in our world. As a Presbyterian, Satan is not a common topic in our Sunday morning messages, but the proof of his domain is clearly written in the Bible.

Finally, because we live in a fallen world, there is going to be pain, sorrow, conflict, and suffering. It's not that God chooses every bad thing that happens, but sometimes bad things just happen because that is how the world is. I think many of us go through life thinking that we should be untouchable. That we should be protected from bad things because we are good people. Unfortunately, that is not how life on Earth works. Life is hard. There will be pain and suffering. We have to persevere and make it through. When we get to Heaven is when we will finally have a peaceful pain free existence.

Now we are left to wonder, what about God's providence? The care and guidance of God in our lives, the belief that things happen because God allows them, though he may not directly cause them. Could God have intervened in Emma's death? I suppose he could have, but again, I choose to believe that the world is a tough place and bad things sometimes just happen.

I do however believe in God's foreknowledge, that God knows everything before it happens. While bad things will inevitably happen (not necessarily because God "made them happen"), God knows about them ahead of time. I don't imagine God would be taken by surprise, "oh crap, well that happened…". I think that for some people God's foreknowledge allows him to provide that person with intuition that helps prepare them for the bad things that will happen. I have talked to several moms whose children have died who say that they had "signs", feelings, or experiences that hinted at the loss they would suffer. Often times these signs are small things that only are pieced together after the loss.

I myself think back to the ten months of my pregnancy and wonder about some feelings and experiences I had. Is my broken heart and human mind just grasping to make sense of a senseless tragedy, or was God providing me with the intuition that things were not going to work out? Most days I think it was intuition. I think about the lack of reality I felt during my pregnancy. I remember saying, even at the very end, "I just can't imagine that in a few months, a month, a few weeks that we will have a baby here". I think about how I never got the nesting urge, the motivation to prepare our home for baby. I think about how at my baby shower I sat opening gift upon gift and none of it felt real to me. Like I was on the outside looking in. Was I just an overwhelmed and scared first time parent? Perhaps. I'm sure mothers whose babies come home alive from the hospital have had these feelings too. Or, maybe it was that still small voice letting my mother's intuition tell me that things weren't going to end the way they should. One last moment I think back to was late spring last year, just a few months before Emma was due. In one of our garden beds a big beautiful clump of forget-me-nots appeared. We had not planted them. Sure, a bird could have dropped some seeds. The interesting thing is that the garden bed where they bloomed is the area which would become Emma's memorial butterfly garden. This spring the forget-me-nots did not bloom in her garden. A small clump bloomed on the outside of the barrier to her garden and then they were gone.

Although God may not cause all bad things to happen, he does promise to be with us and bring good from everything. So whether what happens in our life is by God's hand or not, he is there with us not only to help us through, but to bring beauty from the ashes.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 
Romans 8:28

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." 
Jeremiah 29:11

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Emma's First Birthday

On Wednesday, July 2, 2014 it was Emma's first birthday. In some ways July 2, 2013 feels like decades ago, and in other ways I have trouble believing its been a year since my sweet girl went to Heaven. It's all so strange and surreal.

In the days leading up to Emma's birthday I had some pretty big meltdowns. The emotion of what was coming was hard to handle. Having all of those strong emotions ahead of time left me feeling strangely peaceful on her actual birthday. My mindset was to focus on Emma as she is to me today, and the ways in which I honor and love her now. I fought hard not to let my mind wander to July 2nd a year ago, to relive and remember what that last day was like before she was born. It is too traumatic and painful, and thankfully my mind does not really let me go back there too much.

On her birthday Britt was working during the day, which left me on my own. My instinct was to stay in my pajamas all day and curl up on the couch. However, I have some very special friends who asked if they could do something with me on that day. I know that spending time honoring the birthday of your friend's child who has passed away is a hard and probably awkward thing to do, and I am so so grateful that these special women didn't let that stop them from being with me in my time of need. In the end I'm glad I wasn't alone all day. I decided to take pictures throughout the day to record how we spent the day honoring Emma.

In the morning I went out and spent a little time in Emma's butterfly garden. We have planned on expanding it for awhile now, but haven't yet. It contains black eyed susan's, a butterfly bush that was transplanted from my Grammie's garden, a butterfly feeder, a "you are my sunshine stone" that was given to us after Emma passed away, a solar butterfly light, and a new garden stone that Britt and I made.

Some of the pretty blossoms on Emma's bush.

Some of her black eyed susan's.

Three of my beautiful sweet friends came in the afternoon and brought me Chuy's for lunch. Chuy's is absolutely delicious. If you haven't been please go. I had chicken soft tacos and loads of their amazing chips with salsa and creamy jalapeƱo dip. During non-pregnant times I love getting a margarita there. They are so delicious! 

They brought a beautiful bouquet of flowers. I loved how bright and happy these sunflowers were. They were just perfect. I have a weird thing now with certain flowers reminding me of funeral flowers, but these were just right. 

They also brought this happy little butterfly wind chime. I hung it next to Emma's wind chime, both of which hang over her garden. I love sitting out there on a breezy day and hearing their songs. 

This was the cake they brought for after lunch. It couldn't have been more perfect. I just love that my girl had her very own birthday cake, and honestly I'm glad I didn't have to go through the heartache of ordering it myself. It was a strawberry cake from Pearl's Cupcake Shoppe and was absolutely delicious.

I have a serious thing for petit fours, so my sweet friend Lauren also brought these. She may be the one person I know who likes sweets more than me!

After the girls left, Scooter and I snuggled and napped on the couch until it was time for Britt to get home. I had the perfect combination of time spent with friends and time to decompress and be alone. 

After dinner Britt and I used a kit from Michael's to make a garden stone to be added to Emma's butterfly garden. I wanted something tangible that we could do and then have as a keepsake for how we honored her first birthday. 

Our finished mosaic stone in Emma's garden. 

That evening while out with Scooter I took a picture of Emma's solar butterfly light in her garden. It changes through a bright rainbow of colors. I just love it. It is so bright and happy, and just the thing that a little girl would love to have in her garden. 

A little bit later when I was out with Scooter I caught this moth having a snack at the butterfly bush. I did see several little butterflies during the day, but none that I was able to get a picture of.

The last part of our day doesn't have a picture, but at 8:56 pm, the time Emma was born, Britt and I lit a candle and each had a slice of her birthday cake. That was the hardest part of the day but also the most meaningful. I am so thankful for my husband and marriage, and the way we have supported each other through this last year. 

All things considered I was very happy with how Emma's birthday was spent. There were hard emotional moments, but also moments of peace. I had wanted to spend the day loving and celebrating my girl, rather than being weighed down with hard heavy grief, and for the most part I was able to do that. Today was the last of the hard first year milestones, as it was this time last July when we had Emma's funeral. Now we begin the year of second anniversaries. I can't believe it. 

My wish is that each of her birthdays will receive this amount of attention and love. As a parent of a child who has passed away, one of your biggest fears is that as time goes on she will be forgotten. For everyone else life continues on, but for us these rituals are all we have of our daughter. So friends, please remember and honor with us, not just in these first few years when its so fresh and new, but always. We are Emma's parents and we love when you support us in parenting her. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Due Date

Today marks the one year anniversary of Emma's due date. I'm honestly not sure how I feel about it. It is not as hard as I thought it would be. In a way I almost feel numb to it, empty. I think that is because in many ways it feels like ten years ago instead of one. I have changed so much in this last year. I can barely remember who I was and how I felt last June 24th. 

I have also spent a lot of time in my grief learning to focus on the present. I've created ways to mother and honor Emma where I am today, rather than allowing myself to live in the past or project into the future. Because of this it's hard for me to really travel back to a year ago today. I'm not sure that I want to. 

So, I'm left to mark today in a way that feels right for where I am now. I will acknowledge this date for what it is, but I won't allow myself to be consumed by the past. I can't. It's more than just a choice, it's a survival skill. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Rainbow News

It's been quiet around here lately. I've had a lot going on and a lot of emotions to deal with, the biggest of which has been navigating pregnancy after loss. We are 15 weeks pregnant with our "rainbow baby" with a due date of December 6, and a plan for scheduled delivery at 38-39 weeks.

The first trimester was filled with so many emotions: happiness, fear, confusion, and some sadness at times. There is just so much to process on this journey and there is still a long road ahead. I'm sure in time I will be better able to put into words our experience so far.

For now I can say that we are enjoying this blessing and are remaining cautiously optimistic. Today I am grateful for being a mommy of two (three if you count Scooter, which I do!)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

An Incurable Disease

That is what I feel like I have. A gut-wrenching, heart-breaking disease named grief. There is no cure. It does not heal or go away. It does change, however. Take on a new shape.

Much like an incurable disease, I have to learn to live with my grief, how to mold it to fit into my life. I have to learn the signs and symptoms of a flare-up, and how to best soothe my wounded soul when the aching becomes too much to bear.

Some days when I think about the future I get such a heavy heart. Yes, I know there will be happier times ahead. That God willing we will have more children, and will someday hear a child's laughter (and cries) in our home, but that doesn't change or take away from this grief. I will carry the heavy burden of grief over Emma's death every single day for the rest of my life. There are thousands of moments to come that will be filled with: I wonder, I wish, We should be, If only.

Right now, while this grief is so raw, that is so hard to comprehend. When my mind starts to spin in this way I have to stop and bring myself back to the present. I find it helpful to focus on small short term goals. At this moment I think how happy I am that tomorrow is Thursday and that means the weekend is almost here. I am looking forward to spending the weekend with hubby and puppy, and having an early birthday celebration with Britt, who turns 30 on Monday.

These small in-the-present moments are what get me through. Otherwise I start to spiral, to think about the years to come when Emma would have been starting kindergarten, graduating high school, going off to college, getting married, having her own children, and my grief begins to compound over and over until I can no longer bear it.

So, for this evening, I am focusing on the here and now--I'm getting some summer corn chowder on the stove and snuggling with this guy…

I guess I never introduced him, huh? We got Scooter (he's a Morkie) in January and its been a wild ride. He is almost five months old and such a love. I had a little experience with dogs and Britt had none, so there was a huge learning curve in the beginning. I'm sorry to say we had many days weeks when we thought, what have we done?!?! Now, Scooter is just one of the family. He has brought us back to life a little. He gives us purpose, and lots of snuggles and kisses! A puppy certainly isn't a cure for grief, or right for everyone, but he has been a happy addition to our lives.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Reflections on Easter

Sunday was yet another milestone to get through, our first Easter. It was hard. Easter was always my favorite holiday growing up, and I know I would have had so much joy in sharing it with Emma, even at only 9 1/2 months.

Of course, as a Christian, there is first and foremost the important religious significance the holiday holds. After that, my fondest Easter memories include: picking out a pretty Easter dress to wear to church, going to Sunrise service, enjoying the church pancake breakfast, ham dinner, and my most favorite--getting an Easter basket. My mom is a great Easter basket maker (I say is because, yes at 29 years old I got an Easter basket this year) and I love all the little treasures that hide inside. It's much more than just candy!

Following in her mother's footsteps, Emma would most certainly have had an Easter basket this year, even though she would have had no clue (or care) about it. At 9 1/2 months she would no longer be that little baby that sleeps all day, she would have been a little girl. Full of spunk (I'm convinced she was a feisty girl) and life.

Our first plan had been to skip Easter service this year. I didn't think I was up to it. I was also worried because our church would be decorated with white Easter lilies. Part of Emma's funeral arrangement was white lilies, and their cloying smell still haunts me. On an already hard day I didn't want to sit and be surrounded by white lilies.

A few days before Easter Britt and I talked and he let me know he felt pretty strongly about attending Easter service. I was having a good day and agreed that it would be the right thing to do.

Well, for those of you on this grief journey with me, you know we can't really plan ahead. I woke up Sunday morning, and by the time I came downstairs for breakfast I was crying. I knew getting ready and going to church was more than I could handle. Once the decision was made I felt some peace knowing I could stay home in my safe space. Britt chose to go on his own to church. We were both okay with this decision, and I am so happy that our relationship with each other, and our grief, allowed us to make this decision.

I hope that one day I am strong enough to honor and celebrate Emma on these milestone days, to do something outward and tangible. Right now all I can bear to do is get through the day. Maybe that's okay. Maybe when I think of her and talk to her in my mind I am honoring her in my way. Maybe that's enough.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Random Thoughts

I haven't had a lot to say on here lately. I'm not really sure why. My grief is still real, present, and heavy. I guess the difference is that my grief is not so raw now. I'm learning to integrate it into my life and identity, and it does not pour out of me as it once did. 

Last Wednesday, April 2, was Emma's nine month birthday. For most people it was just a regular day, but for us it was another milestone to get through. Gosh, nine months, that's so old. If Emma were alive I would be starting to think about her first birthday. How can it be that my baby girl has been gone that long? How can it be that I still stop and wonder how I got here and where I'm going? It just hasn't clicked yet that this is my reality. I'm not sure it ever will.

I get irritated that life continues on without my consent. That the world keeps spinning while I feel stuck in hell. Grief is selfish, and sometimes I wish everyone would just stop and wallow with me. That's not how it works. So, for those of you who do wallow with me, and let me have my pity party, thank you.    

Friday, March 14, 2014

Waiting for Morning

Psalm 30

I will exalt you, Lord,
    for you lifted me out of the depths
    and did not let my enemies gloat over me.
Lord my God, I called to you for help,
    and you healed me.
You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead;
    you spared me from going down to the pit.
Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people;
    praise his holy name.
For his anger lasts only a moment,
    but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may stay for the night,
    but rejoicing comes in the morning.
When I felt secure, I said,
    “I will never be shaken.”
Lord, when you favored me,
    you made my royal mountain[c] stand firm;
but when you hid your face,
    I was dismayed.
To you, Lord, I called;
    to the Lord I cried for mercy:
“What is gained if I am silenced,
    if I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise you?
    Will it proclaim your faithfulness?
10 Hear, Lord, and be merciful to me;
    Lord, be my help.
11 You turned my wailing into dancing;
    you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
12 that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
    Lord my God, I will praise you forever.


The taste of regret is bitter, acidic
It rises up unexpectedly, choking me with its taste
How do I make this lingering disappear?

How could I have known to make that birth plan?
The one where the baby is dead.
How do you make those decisions,
In the split seconds when your world is ending?

You claw at the surface,
Gasping for air,
Mumbling out the first thoughts that run through your head.
I want this done.

And in the moments and days and months that follow,
The bitter taste starts to rise.
It tastes like regret.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Desperately Seeking an Identity

I have been in a bad place lately. Very bad. The last several weeks it's been hard to see the light, to feel any joy. I've realized that a lot of my feelings came from "playing the game". 

You bereaved mamas know, the game of life that society wants you to play. 

Without even consciously making the choice I fell into the patterns and roles that are expected. Laughing at the right places in conversation, smiling and making jokes, being busy and involved in life, not talking about grief and depression and babies that die. 

It turns out I wasn't able to balance this identity alongside my grief. As soon as my mind wandered "there" I'd shut it off, afraid I'd get emotional. The result was pure misery. Not only was I not being true to myself and my feelings, but I wasn't behaving like Emma's mommy. I was closing her away in a place where it didn't hurt so much. Perhaps that's what I needed in those moments, some time for my mind and heart to protect themselves against the constant weight and ache of grief. But in the end I felt worse, and guilty. 

In the early months my identity was solely based around Emma's death. I lived and breathed blogs, research, support groups, and anything related to stillbirth. In the last few months it's been the opposite. I've tried to fit back into the mold of my old self. 

Neither of these identities can survive for long. I cannot live the rest of my life with my only identity being that of a grieving mother, but I also can't go back to who I was, to act like I'm okay and "normal" when I'm not. 

So now, for the third time in eight months, I seek to discover my identity. This time the one that allows me to live my life, but also to accept and embrace my grief, and in turn my precious Emma. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

None of Your Business

Last Saturday I went to get my eyebrows waxed. The woman was very talkative and wanted to keep up a running conversation with me. I know she was just being friendly, but I wasn't interested. I have always been an introvert, and not really good at or interested in random conversations with strangers, but it is especially annoying now. I feel like I have to keep up appearances all day long, and I just want to get my eyebrows waxed, or get through the checkout line at the grocery store, or get my coffee at Starbucks in peace.

As I was laying on the table with hot wax being smeared on my face, the woman asked the dreaded question, do you have any children? Gasp. I was feeling "on the edge" as it was, and I knew I just couldn't go there. I did the thing I never wanted to do and said "no", all the while screaming on the inside…yes I do, she is dead. She then rambles on, "oh, you must have enough with your students at school" (because of course she has already asked about my job) and proceeds to tell me about all of her children. At this point the initial emotion was subsiding, and I wanted to say: shut the hell up, you want to know so much about me, here you go…

I know she was being friendly and innocent, but this is a prime example of a situation that could have been avoided. Yes, I am overly sensitive, but I also believe that in our society people do not have enough tact or common sense. Sure, most babies are born living, but 26,000 a year are not. Thousands of people suffer from infertility, miscarriages, or face the death of their child. Asking someone, especially a stranger, if they have kids is a really personal and insensitive question.

So please, if you are someone who uses that question as small talk with a stranger, stop. The person you are asking might be facing the most painful struggle of her life, and really, its none of your business.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

"Need You Now"

This song says it all. Sometimes I like to go through lyrics and highlight the words that most speak to me, but in this case it would be every single one, literally. I hope you take the time to listen to it. xoxo

"Need You Now (How Many Times)"

Well, everybody's got a story to tell
And everybody's got a wound to be healed
I want to believe there's beauty here
'Cause oh, I get so tired of holding on
I can't let go, I can't move on
I want to believe there's meaning here

How many times have you heard me cry out
"God please take this"?
How many times have you given me strength to
Just keep breathing?
Oh I need you
God, I need you now.

Standing on a road I didn't plan
Wondering how I got to where I am
I'm trying to hear that still small voice
I'm trying to hear above the noise

How many times have you heard me cry out
"God please take this"?
How many times have you given me strength to
Just keep breathing?
Oh I need you
God, I need you now.

Though I walk,
Though I walk through the shadows
And I, I am so afraid
Please stay, please stay right beside me
With every single step I take

How many times have you heard me cry out?
And how many times have you given me strength?

How many times have you heard me cry out
"God please take this"?
How many times have you given me strength to
Just keep breathing?
Oh I need you
God, I need you now.

I need you now
Oh I need you
God, I need you now.
I need you now
I need you now

Monday, January 27, 2014

Sorry, Not Sorry

I've been struggling with some strong feelings lately. As I've been working through them and deciding how to best convey what I have been feeling, I have also felt guilt. Guilt that I have been having such ugly thoughts. Then I realized, no, sorry, not sorry. I will own my feelings and not apologize for them.

I have been dealing with a lot of bitterness. I have always struggled with feeling jealous and sad when I see women who are pregnant or have babies, but lately I have been really angry and bitter.

Yesterday, there was a woman in Trader Joe's with her baby girl. When I saw the baby in her carrier and the mom talking to her and loving on her, I got mad. Really mad. I thought to myself, how dare you? How dare you be so naive and oblivious to what I am going through right here next to you. How dare you not realize that your baby could have been stillborn, that I am the 1 in 160 instead of you. How dare you have what I want and should have. How dare you. Upon hearing the news today of yet another person's baby coming safely and beautifully into the world, I thought, screw you.

I told you my thoughts were ugly. In the beginning I rationalized protected myself by thinking…don't get upset, you don't know that person's story. Maybe in a few years a newly bereaved mother will be looking at me the same way. Those thoughts are the more logical and gentle thoughts, but today they have escaped me. Today I want to give the world, and every happy family, the finger.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Grief and Health

I'm writing this as I lay in bed home sick from school. It's just some kind of virus, I think. Fever, aches, stomach ache, all that lovely stuff. I've been sick kind of a lot lately. Over the last few months I've had several little bugs, some worse than others.

I really think this trouble with getting sick is related to my grief. Think about times in your life when you were really busy and stressed, and how you got run down and ended up sick. I feel run down every week. And not because I'm busy doing a lot of things, but because grief and mourning takes so much energy every single minute of every single day. It would be different if I could slowly ease my way into life, darting back into the safety of my home to recover whenever I needed it, but unfortunately life doesn't work that way. I have a job and obligations. I'm forced to fake it until I make it. Maybe that's better. Maybe if I was able to crawl into myself and recover whenever I needed to it would take me forever to be able to fully function in my life again. Who knows.

What I do know is that I am not at the point yet where I can tuck my grief away. "My daughter is dead" is the constant loop running in my head. It's heavy, sometimes suffocating. When I'm participating in life, either at work or with friends, those thoughts are rarely ever in the background. The difference now is that I am usually able to wait and mourn in private, and keep "the face" on in public.

As I was writing this the opening scene from Finding Nemo popped into my head. Where Nemo's paranoid dad  pops in and out of the anemone to check for danger. That is how I feel all the time. Always scanning for danger, triggers, that will make things worse, afraid to leave the safety of my anemone. It's exhausting and I think getting sick is my body's way of telling me to stop and take a rest when it can't take it anymore. So, for now, I'm tucking in to recover.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Expectation v. Hope

Expectation v. Hope. This is something that has been on my heart lately. Part of my "new normal" is trying to incorporate hope, all while living without expectation.

All of these thoughts have come to the forefront after Britt and I made the decision to get a puppy (more to come on that later!). We had a lot of mixed feelings about our decision, and it was a hard one for us to make. Now that we have decided to welcome this new little life, we are very excited, and are anxious for him to come home in a few weeks.

Anyway, in making this decision some input we received tended towards hesitation because we are going to try and get pregnant again in the nearish future, and may have a baby here in a year or so. This is where hope vs. expectation comes in, and I don't think it can really be understood by anyone except for those who are in my shoes.

Yes, we hope to have an easy time again getting pregnant, and we hope that our next pregnancy results in a full-term living baby, but hope is all we have. Yes, statistically there is no reason that we shouldn't get these things, but there was also no reason for Emma to die and she did. You see, that is my life now. I don't expect anything. For me, and I'm willing to say to many other mom's of stillbirth, pregnancy no longer equals baby. Making it past the 12 week "safety" mark, ha! As if that was the biggest of my fears. Leaving the hospital with a living child equals baby.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I can have all the hope in the world, but I no longer plan my life around what I, or others, expect to happen. So, in being forced to truly live in the moment, a puppy is a great idea and exactly what we need. He will satisfy my internal need to mother and nurture something, he will bring life and warmth into our home, and he will give me unconditional love. Hopefully, most importantly, he will teach me to open my heart to life and love again. To be ready to face the hope of Emma's little brother or sister, in a life where nothing can be expected.

…Plus he's pretty darn cute and cuddly ;)

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Remembrances of Spring

The gentle caress of a warm breeze
Glistening dew in fragile green grass
Sweet perfume filling the air
New life, delicate and treasured

Echoes of hope and abundance
Whispers of color and joy
Reminders of renewal and life
A balm for my wounded soul
Remembrances of Spring

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Glimpsing Grace

Today started out terribly. We have been dealing with our heating/cooling condenser unit that stopped running this week (thankfully we could still run our emergency heat and stay warm) and today was when it was going to be replaced. The unit is only 3 years old, so we were pretty bitter about it. Then my car had a dead battery this morning, I was running late, and I dropped my breakfast on the floor. Things were just not working out.

I was really angry and having a lot of snarky ugly thoughts. Thoughts towards God, like…What, was I getting back too much faith, you had to knock me down a few pegs?? Am I not relying on you enough yet?? Can't I get a break?!? All this and, oh right, my baby is dead too…F**K!!!!!! It was really bad. I felt like I was going to implode. I knew my thoughts were crazy and extreme, but logic didn't make them go away.

Then this afternoon, we got a phone call that the company who we have been working with to replace our condenser decided to look one more time at the unit and take it completely apart to look at all the pieces. Thankfully, they found a small short which was the main source of the problem. The technician was able to rewire it, replace the other burned up parts, and get it running again. All for a grand total of $475 instead of the "discounted" $1900 he was going to charge us for a new unit. With this, I had a little glimpse of Grace, and my crazy thoughts came back down a bit.

Fast forward to this evening, and as Britt is off getting my battery replaced in my car, I sit down to sort through the mail. I open up a bill from the perinatal doctor for $206. Immediately my mind starts spinning again…Are you serious?!?! Insurance is not going to cover the visit for a second opinion about my daughter's death?!?! 1 step forward and 2 steps back, F… you get the idea.

I called our insurance and talked with a representative who was very helpful and called the doctor's office for me. He found out that the office made a mistake in the way they coded the visit for insurance purposes, and it is going to be all taken care of. He ended the conversation with "have a blessed night." And there was my second glimpse of grace.

Now that I am back down out of my mania, I can say that I'm thankful to have a home with heat on this cold night. I am thankful to have a car, and insurance that allows me to see a specialist. I'm thankful for glimpses of Grace, and reminders that God is not against me, even if I sometimes feel like he is.

Have a blessed night, friends.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Fearfully Hopeful…Question Mark?

Is that even a thing? I'm going to say yes.

Fearfully hopeful has been one of my main emotions lately, as a lot of my thoughts have centered around the idea of becoming pregnant again. Facing the idea of pregnancy after a full term stillbirth is terrifying, and with Emma being my first baby there are unique emotions associated with it.

Although I know logically that most babies don't die, and there is no reason for me to expect a loss like this again, the fear is real and it is big.

With Emma being my first child, pregnancy ending in death is all I know. I have no other point of reference in my life. Nothing to prove to me that other outcomes are possible.

Emma lived and was loved inside my body for 10 months. I sang to her, read to her, talked to her, and was connected to her every single moment. I felt when she stopped moving and her little legs no longer pressed against my ribs. I felt her being lifted out of my body in the operating room and I held her silent body in my arms. I was wheeled out of the hospital with empty arms and a hospital bag that still contained Emma's going home outfit. I went to the funeral home with my husband, my breasts engorged and throbbing with milk, and made choices no parent should ever have to. We planned her funeral, choosing hymns and passages and who we wanted to invite. We brought her home to her room in a little tiny urn. Its raw, terrifying, and uncomfortable to read, but it is what I have lived. These are the moments that are forever in my memory. Its unbearable and impossible to imagine unless you are that mother along with me. That mother who too has lived this nightmare.

When I think of confronting another pregnancy, these are the fears and horrors that enter into my mind. I will never again be that naive and blissful pregnant woman. I will always be fearfully hopeful. Hopeful that the next time it will be different. That the operating room is filled with the sound of screams not silence, that I get to bring home a living baby. But sadly, the fear will always be a part of it.

I long to be welcomed back into the world of babies and mommies. Where I'm not just the lonely broken mother that no one knows what to do with. I want a chance to schedule play dates, brag about milestones, plan birthday parties, and yes, be up all night covered in spit up and diaper explosions. Bring. It. On.

Please, oh please, let me have a chance to get off of the sidelines.