Cloud on My Heart

This week has been a blur of doing a million summer memories, spending time together and also a time where we know our hearts are starting to feel heavier.

There’s a 3 year old we aren’t going to be throwing your “traditional” birthday party for. Mostly because there’s no 3 year old boy to blow out his candles here.

Big sis has more empathy and love for him and us than I ever knew could exist. I’ve been feeling on edge, and after the 3rd potty break in 20 minutes I lost it🤯

At bedtime I apologized if mommy and daddy felt angry these last few days. Sometimes our sadness comes out in ways of yelling or frustration. It’s really that we just miss Logan and are mad he’s not here right now.

Then she said “Mommy, I feel that way too! I get sad when I get in trouble sometimes when really I’m just sad and miss him too❤️!”

My mama heart melted thinking of her behavior this way, and how dumb me didn’t put it together! Then she said probably the most profound thing that could come from Glitter Force

“it’s like on my show when the dark cloud comes over your heart. It doesn’t stay forever, but you just feel different when it’s there! But I know it goes away and gets lighter 🌈”

I mean this kid will be moving mountains one day, and maybe one of the best therapists I know, who can make a pretty brainless tv show have a bigger meaning! Friday is coming and I feel that weight knowing the anniversary/birthday/death day are all so freakin close.

This next week I maybe writing a little more, because it makes me feel lighter and that the dark clouds on my heart break for a few moments! So if you don’t want to read emotional stuff, see pictures of my son, then check back after the 26th😉 but even then I won’t ever apologize for the uncomfortable feelings you may have! He is my son, and deserves to be shared and loved just as much as his sisters are!

Looking Forward and Turning A New Page

“Whenever and however you intend to give birth, your experience will impact your emotions, your mind, your body and your spirt for the rest of your life.” Ina May Gaskin

The moment a child is born a mother is born too. A woman whose life and identity is changed as a new person is now able to call her mom.

To my beautiful girl I can’t wait to meet.

You don’t know this, but tomorrow will be your birthday. The dates been marked on our calendars for months hoping that you would be able to stay safe until the break of dawn tomorrow when you have grown to a stone 37 week fighter. I hope you know how happy I am that you have been kicking like crazy and keeping mommy up at night. Thank you for allowing me to remember the best parts of pregnancy and not just the worst it can be.

I am cherishing the last few hours our hearts are beating in one body together. I pray that you will be ready for living in this outside world. I pray that you will get to know so much love and how fiercely you are already loved and prayed for by so many. I can’t wait to meet you and feel you in my arms.

Until tomorrow baby girl. I love you to the moon, and past the stars.

Mama

Meaning of a Rainbow

If you’re a part of the infant and pregnancy loss community you probably already know the term Rainbow Baby. A rainbow is a baby born after the storms of grief from miscarriage, still birth or death in infancy. It’s supposed to give us hope of new coming.

It’s hard for me to explain how a rainbow pregnancy/baby are not all happiness and smiles. It’s hard to explain how an expectant mother can’t be absolutely excited every moment, especially after enduring so much loss.

There’s the fears that now there is a new baby to focus on that everyone will think we’re better or now we’re normal again because we’re having another baby. It’s the fear that we’re having another baby to replace the one who died. And the biggest fear that now there’s a new baby everyone will have forgotten the ones who’ve died.

The anger that comes when people say, “Now you’ll know how hard it is with 2 kids.” or how they ask the living child “Are you excited to be a big sister now?” I don’t know how to answer these unknowingly curel questions. I do know what it’s like to have 2 kids. Do I answer with, ‘Do you know how hard it is to parent when one of them lives in heaven?’ Or do I answer, ‘I know how hard it is to be up all night crying for a newborn who isn’t crying?’ It’s questions during pregnancy that completely have forgotten there was another one in between.

It’s complicated because we fear being happy for this baby, while at the same time wishing our other child was here. It’s a fear that this child will have unreasonable expectations to live their life and the life for their sibling(s) who couldn’t.

The pregnancy after loss is nothing like the one before. The innocence is gone that every pregnancy ends in a happy and healthy mom and baby. We had hoped our first rainbow pregnancy would be this child, and ended in more of the storms of grief for what couldn’t have been.

A rainbow doesn’t come without the rain and the storms of grief. Just because you see a rainbow, doesn’t mean the storm is over. Even in the eye of the storm there is quiet for a moment to recognize this pregnancy as its own, not tangled in the memories of the past. It’s not always a long moment, but when it comes the moment of peace and rainbows is so welcomed.

Hoping For A Rainbow

There is no safe time of pregnancy to announce where loss isn’t a possibility. I know that no matter the length or outcome of this pregnancy we won’t get through it alone. It takes a village.

A rainbow is a promise of sunshine after rain. Of calm after the storm, joy after sadness, peace after pain and love after loss.

Well, it’s come time for the post I didn’t know if I would one day get to write or if I would decide to share with the world. This time felt calmer and I’ve enjoyed my time with just keeping the circle small. I’m to the point where I’m ready to share this new part of our pregnancies journey. We are hopeful for a different ending, but loving this baby every moment we are able to spend together.

The real fear for me has been what reaction or stupid thing will I hear someone say and pretend I’m ok even when those words crushed me. It’s not that anyone is purposely trying to hurt me. I think everyone sees a baby as nothing but joy and innocence and it’s harder to explain when you’ve gone through an entire pregnancy only to not go home with your baby. The list below is the questions I dread and the basic answer is because it’s complicated!

1. “Is this your first?”

Ok, you don’t know how many miscarriages, abortions for medical reasons, stillborn, multiples who couldn’t thrive a woman has already had. This is way too complicated, especially considering miscarriage is 1 in 4 pregnancies! Unless you’re her doctor this makes no difference to you so please just stop!

2. “How many kids do you have already?”

I absolutely hate this question! Do I say 1, since she’s the only 1 living. Do I say 1 on Earth and 1 in heaven? This is actually my 4th pregnancy, but my 3rd only lived inside me for 10 weeks and we know so little. It’s a complicated question, so just don’t ask.

3. “Do you want a boy or girl?”

Ugh, I really just want a baby that cries after delivery who is breathing. Boy, girl or alien doesn’t matter to me. It gets more complicated after loss. A boy can remind me of what I’ve missed with Logan. But I also don’t want a boy that lives in the shadow of a dead child. A girl can be complicated because I’ll be thinking what she would be like with Logan, or wishing she would have been a boy like Logan. Like everything, it’s complicated!

4. “Are you excited?”

This is really a moment to moment question. I know it’s hard for most to think of a pregnancy as anything but exciting. There’s mixtures of excitement, hope, fears, anxiety, terrified. They all basically live together right now. So if I go from smiling one minute to crying uncontrollably it’s probably a combination of all of this plus you know pregnancy hormones!

5. “It’ll all workout. You deserve this after everything.”

Although I’d like to think I deserve that, I’ve felt that before and been completely broken. I’ve had to be reminded in the hardest of ways that we live in a broken world. I’ve lost well past the 12 week “danger zone” and then loss upon loss with our miscarriage. Sometimes there is no silver lining. Sometimes life just sucks.

7. “Are you doing anything different?”

So by doing different, I’m assuming you’re asking me, what will I do to try to not have my baby die? Well my 2 losses did not occur through any faults of my own or my care providers.

In case anyone doesn’t already know how this is not my fault: Logan moves in labor, his ultrasound 2 days prior was head down and no problems. Come delivery he went breech and landed on his cord when my water broke. The miscarriage I will never truly know, but most likely it was just not the right combo of cells to grow. Miscarriage happens 1 in 4 pregnancies. When we had our ultrasound during this we were told we were the 5th one that day. So if you haven’t suffered this loss, be thankful, but you most likely know several others who have.

Beauty of October Sunrise 

Each month we see pink for the warriors who have fought the battle of breast cancer. We see it in stores and even the football fields. This month few outside our community know that this month has had another dedication since October 25, 1988 when President Regan proclaimed this month Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month. A month of remembrance of loss of those tiniest babies we hold in our hearts. https://tinyurl.com/ya342hte

The calendar hit another first of the month. Another day further from you in my arms, but closer to meeting you again. I knew coming up that October would be hard. Last year October felt like a stab in the gut. Logan should be here and we should have pictures of him at the pumpkin patch. We should be deciding what cute Halloween themed onesies he’d be wearing. 

I still feel it this year, when deciding on costumes what would he like. He’d only be a little over 1 so I’m sure I could convince him to be a pumpkin like his sister was our first Halloween in our new home. 

October is hard for another reason, it’s infant loss awareness month. I know before this I only knew October for breast cancer and pink shirts everywhere. 

Last year I found out about a project ‘Capture your grief’. It was starting by a photographer who experienced infant loss and she wanted to use her art as therapy. The idea is not to have great photos that belong on walls, but capturing where your memories are that day and she gives you prompts. Last year I was too raw to think through each day. Some of these assignments are just downright hard. This year I’m giving myself grace to remember, and grace to let go of some hard memories. 

This morning for the beginning of October the assignment was sunrise. I was at first mad at how cloudy it was that there wasn’t looking like much of a sunrise. Then slowly the pink filled in under the blue. I couldn’t help thinking that this is just what this month needs! A little more blue to go with all the pink in October! 

The Missing Boots

As the seasons change and we enter into the crisper barren brown of fall, there’s something missing from it in my heart that cannot be filled.

Forever and always I will look forward to the fall. The change from the heat of the summer so heavily filled with Logan’s memory of his brief 1 day with us into a new chapter. It seemed fitting the first year after loss to watch the season change into a season where everything felt as barren and brown as I felt.

This fall I’ve smelt the crisper air and am once again hearing the cheers as the home football team scores a touchdown. I still am enjoying a new breath of fresher air from the summer heat. It starts a season that seems filled with kid-centric holidays and gatherings. From the pumpkin patches, to halloween where they seriously seem to knock down your door! And all of that just bleeds into Christmas and toys and innocence of Santa being able to grant a wish.

I can’t help but think as we move into the season it’s one more time without all of my children with me. As we walked amongst the apple trees I couldn’t help but see other families with siblings and wonder what ours would be like if they could have been here. There should be 2 on Earth and one still growing inside of me. That fact that any future child will be a 4th and not 2nd is a hard one to swallow. I know whenever someone asks me how many kids I have, they are probably not wanting the whole sad backstory. They mean merely to be polite and probably don’t really care whatever that number is.

It is something I still grapple with each day when to protect my heart from the pity stares of the truth or denying my true number of children. For me they know they are in my heart no matter what is seen in front of the world. I will always see another pair of shoes that should be filled.

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The Elephant Never Forgets

There’s maybe more meaning to the saying ‘an elephant never forgets’ than you thought you knew. These animals are gentle giants walking this Earth who have so much teach us.

Did you ever think that there’s a reason to the saying ‘an elephant never forgets’? Elephants are able to remember all of the grazing land and watering holes from across hundreds of miles which it feeds from. They will remember threats such as lions or poachers. Their memory is part of their survival. 

Elephants are one of the most complex animals who are capable of emotions as humans such as joy, love, sadness, grief, compassion and distress. When a mother loses a calf the other mothers and aunts surround her in a circle as she cries. The mother feels this loss and is visible through her depressed mood and sunken eyes. The herd will cover their deceased with branches as an act of dignity. When a herd encounters an elephant skeleton they will contemplate the bones and show respect for the deceased. Their gift of compassion and memory is truly unique and something to learn from.

The elephant is considered by many cultures to be symbolic of wisdom, loyalty, strength, fidelity and longevity. No other animal on land matches the strength of an elephant. In many Asian cultures it’s considered good luck to place an elephant with its trunk up near a front entrance to encourage this strength in the home.

 The more I have learned about these beautiful creatures the more I am amazed at how Gods creatures continue to amaze me. The elephant has become part of our family symbol that we will never forget and we are a herd of remembrance. We may always have an elephant in the room that may not be seen, but his presence is always felt.

One of My Grief Writing Inspirations

untitledI cannot say enough how inspiring Sheryl Sandberg is personally and professionally as a woman teaching other women to Lean In. In May 2015 Dave Goldberg, then CEO of tech company SurveyMonkey, husband of top Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg and father of their two children, passed away unexpectedly while on vacation in Mexico. The way that she has been very open about her grief and teaching empathy in the midst of her own pain has amazed me. Sheryl has shown me that it’s ok to address the elephant. That although the standard time for mourning is over that we have to continue to learn how to live life differently.

Following the end of the 30-day religious mourning period in Judaism known as sheloshim, Sheryl Sandberg posted a note on Facebook, reflecting on her grief and her learnings.

Here are a few of the thoughts she shared publically on her Facebook page which has since gone viral:

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“Real empathy is sometimes not insisting that it will be okay but acknowledging that it is not.” Sandberg says she finally understood that telling people facing challenges that “everything will be okay” is not actually helpful. Sometimes, acknowledging what is happening — the pain — is what people truly need.

“Let’s all move out of the way. Someone’s parent or partner or child might depend on it.” Sandberg was referring to the cars on the road while the ambulance drove her husband to the hospital, but the call for less selfishness can be universally applied.

“I have learned that resilience can be learned.” A friend of Sandberg’s told her about the three elements to resilience: personalization (it’s not your fault), permanence (these feelings won’t last forever), and pervasiveness (this doesn’t have to affect every area of your life).

“One of my favorite cartoons of all time has an elephant in a room answering the phone, saying, ‘It’s the elephant.’ Once I addressed the elephant, we were able to kick him out of the room.” Sandberg realized that people close to her, especially at work, were terrified of saying anything that could hurt her, and the only solution was for everyone to openly ask questions and share their feelings. Addressing that elephant in the room is the only way to move forward.

“Option A is not available. So let’s just kick the shit out of option B.” These wise words came from a friend of Sandberg’s, about acceptance — and making the best of the situation. Goldberg might not be there for their children anymore, but she can commit to making the best from the alternative.

Busting Some Only Child Myths

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The ‘Problem With Only Children’

Why is the status of only child seemingly only associated as bad? As a society we have a tendency to say ‘your baby is so cute, when are you having more?’ or “Is this your first?” These questions lead to an automatic assumption that a couple having 1 child must want more babies, or we say things hoping to urge them to have more babies. The idea that having an only child will leave that child spoiled and unable to deal with society.

The big question is ‘Why is this any of their business?’

Those who don’t know how long the couple may have been trying for the first pregnancy. They don’t know how many rounds of fertility shots which were already endured. How many tears were shed on the bathroom floor when they realized that they had failed yet again. They don’t see the depression that followed their last pregnancy. How it is just a struggle to keep breathing and the thought of another pregnancy and post-partum brings shortening of breath.

Outsiders don’t see the miscarriages and tears because they may have wanted more or even struggled to get to one.

Speaking for myself as an only child I hope I can debunk some of these myths. I’m now on the other side as a parent. I have one child on with me on Earth and one waiting for me in Heaven. Because people can only see her they use her being only child to explain any and all behavior.

I’ve heard remarks ranging from you know she’s going to be selfish or she will never learn to interact in society. I have to try my best to punch them and not point out that I also am an only child. In fact 1 in 5 American families have just one child, but we still are seen as black sheep.

So here are some common myths I’m going to try to debunk for you:

  1. Only Children Are Lonely.
    1. Yes, only children spend more time alone than children with siblings. Being alone does not automatically equal loneliness. Studies have shown that spending time alone strengthens character and only children often know themselves better as a result. What’s more, only children have just as many friends as children with siblings do. So all the alone time doesn’t have a negative impact on the only child’s ability to make friends
  2. Only Children Are Selfish.
    1. In depth studies have been done on only children over the course of the last 20years and research overwhelmingly agrees that only children do not exhibit more negative personality traits than kids with siblings. Only children are no more selfish than children with siblings
  3. Only Children Are Spoiled.
    1. Most think that because there is only one child, that he or she gets what she wants all the time. This simply isn’t true. Any child can be spoiled or overindulged whether they are only child or not. Experts say it is the parenting that determines this much more so than the number of children
  4. Parents Of Only Children Are Selfish.
    1. Parents of only children are often on the receiving end of criticism and scrutiny as people think they are selfish for only wanting one child and what they perceive as “easy”. Others assume that the marriage isn’t a happy one and that’s why the couple only chose one child. People need to understand that having an only child is a valid family choice. Happier parents means a happier family overall-regardless of the number of children.

There are also some benefits to having an only child. Parents have more resources to devote to that child including money and energy. As a result of having more resources to devote they often have higher intelligence and achievement rates than counterparts with siblings, which could lead to them contributing more to society. Only children often have higher self-esteem than kids with siblings.

So now you know only children are no more spoiled or selfish than the rest of the world. Please leave your personal opinions about how many children the couple should to yourself. Unless you are going to be a parent involved in the equation of raising the children you are not allowed an opinion on what the appropriate number of children is for any family. 

Sources:

http://www.cnn.com/2013/06/20/opinion/martin-single-child/index.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/09/opinion/sunday/only-children-lonely-and-selfish.html?_r=1&

 

Never EVER ask a woman this question!

PSA of what you should never ask of a woman!

Don’t ever ask!I just want everyone to hear in case no one else had given you the education there are a few questions which you should never ever ask a woman!My least favorite included:

  • “How many months are you?”
  • “You haven’t had that baby yet?”
  • “Are you having twins?”
  • “Are you pregnant?”

I’m here’s to give a PSA to anyone who will listen. Don’t ever ask any question of a woman related to this? Chances are you aren’t funny or original. It is as if a woman should only be remarked on for her ability to bear children and it seems like oftentimes our other accomplishments and accolades never get this same attention. 

The worst of these comes when you ask it and the woman isn’t pregnant! It is insulting for the woman who now feels fat and the asker feel embarrassed! 

For me it’s an even worse reminder that I no longer have Logan with me all the time. That I wish I could go back and still have Logan with me everywhere. It’s a reminder that I have no newborn at home and therefore no excuse of not going to the gym. Reminder of how I have made decisions neglecting my body in favor of my grief. 

I’m sure that this PSA won’t reach everyone and I’ll be asked it again. I’m trying to think of a better response than “I’M NOT PREGNANT!!!!” Until then I’m just going to hope some other mama’s will pass the word on to keep your questions to yourself!