Monday, February 22, 2016

Six Years

It's crazy to think another year has come and gone. Six years without her here on Earth.  It's funny how I can remember that day so clearly, but I can't remember much past that day.  I have perfect snapshots of our day together.  The moment before she was born, the moment I realized she looked just like a smaller version of Carley, the moment we spent bathing her with our bereavement nurse who treated her like she was alive, the moments I spent loving her, watching her body break down in front of our eyes, the beautiful photographer from Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, the time with our pastor, my pediatrician seeing me at my lowest point in my life, and the moment she was rolled away never to be seen again.  I can also clearly remember coming home from the hospital and ripping all of the maternity clothes from the hangers and making them just disappear.  I never got very big with her, but I still had gained weight so finding clothes that fit just right was a challenge for the next few days.  The idea of wearing maternity clothes that reminded me of what was gone was just too much to handle.  Thankfully Mike helped me take care of all things pregnancy related that were lying around.  This is what I remember.  I remember parts of the year that followed, but I can't seem to remember a lot of it.  My brain shut down and I became a shell of a person.  I was there physically and I was going about my business as usual, but I could not muster any feelings for anything.  I literally cried so much that I dried out my cornea.  This was my reality, but here I am six years out, and I am beyond thankful that I experienced all of this.  She has made me into the person I am today with the help of Jesus of course.  If you had told me in my worst moments that I would be where I am today I wouldn't have believed you. There would be no way that I could take my pain and help others because I could barely help myself.

This year has been pretty emotional and eventful for me in my healing process.  I have thrown myself into volunteering for an Organization called Emma's Footprints.  I started by joining their Care Team, but I soon found myself telling the founder, Tracy, that I would take the calls and emails for the families.  I am their first contact with Emma's.  I can't say that it hasn't been hard, but it has been so rewarding to be able to use my experience to help others.  I have hurt, but I can take that hurt and use it for something beautiful.  I love talking to the moms, dads, grandmas, sisters, aunts, friends, funeral homes, therapists, etc.  This job has shown me that there are still very beautiful people in this world.  I have had the pleasure of meeting beautiful people who help others in their worst moments.  These people inspire me to be a better person, and I have learned so much from them. A good friend of mine pointed out that I am healing by providing the support that I so desperately needed back then.  I didn't have an organization like Emma's to turn to.   She is absolutely right.  I know what it feels like to feel so alone and confused that I refuse to let anyone feel that way if I can help it.  I feel like my heart has healed even more over this past year due to my involvement with this beautiful organization.  Just by taking one of these calls I was able to realize a missing piece in my healing as well.  I received a call from a grandmother who was so upset about her granddaughter's loss, but her heart was more upset about how her daughter was feeling.  Her words knocked the wind right out of me because I realized that this is exactly how my mother felt all of those years ago.  I was able to recognize how hurt my mother was too, and we were able to have a conversation about it six years later.

This is year two in Erie, and I am feeling more and more at home.  The people that I interact with on a daily basis continue to amaze me with their friendship, love and support.  The fact that my friends/neighbors will pray for me in my driveway before I head to visit my daughter's grave says a lot about the kind of people I have surrounded myself with.  They are an integral part of my healing as well.  I feel beyond blessed to have them in my life.  They are beautiful people that not only make me laugh, but they are people I can cry with.  Crying is hard for me to do in public because I feel like it shows my weakness, but when I am with them I find myself hugging others and crying with them.  I feel free.  I still have beautiful friends in my life who have been with me from the very beginning too, and I am so thankful that they have never forgotten.  It's been six years, but they still remember that day and they show how much they care with donations, texts, messages, etc.  I am one lucky girl to have so many beautiful people in my life.

Six years is a drop in the hat compared to the eternity that I will spend with her.  I loved my time with her today at her grave, but it will never replace the ache I feel in my arms.  I still have that desire to dig her up and just hold her.  When you only get to hold your child for one day it hurts when you think about all that you missed.  I can't remember what it felt like to hold her.  I took Westyn with me today, and he of course has no idea who Aubree is, but he did ask me on our way there when we would get to "Aubree's House."  He was extra cuddly today, and I think he just knew that I just needed him.  My parents cleaned up her grave for me so when I got there it wasn't dirty.  They are the best.  :)

I look forward to seeing what God and Aubree have in store for me this year.  I already know that they are planning for me to go through the bereavement doula training.  I wasn't ready for this, but God obviously had other plans.  He has been very clear in what I am to do.  Every decision I am trying to make He comes through with a clear answer.  I feel very confident that I am exactly where I am meant to be.  All my love, baby girl.  Happy 6th birthday.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Five Years..

I find it so hard to imagine that it has been five years since I held her in my arms.  I find little things setting me off...watching other kids pick up their kindergarten registration packets, celebrating fifth birthdays, etc.  It's hard watching those girls grow up when I know Aubree would have been their age because we were all due at the same time.  It's been a rough one, and I have been pretty sad today.  I had a hard time getting out of bed knowing what this day would be like.  Crying over every little thing is not my idea of a good day.

I made pink cupcakes last night for her, and I bought her and myself a bouquet of red tulips.  I was planning all along to make the long drive to her grave alone.  Parker had baseball registration today that he needed to be here for. Mike surprised me last night when he said we were leaving early and we were all going.  Mike doesn't feel the same way about going to her grave as I do, but he realized it means a lot to me so he drove.  The weather was perfect so we were lucky.  The kids were great and didn't complain at all.  Westyn has no clue, but he excitedly carried the flowers.  We had to dig her out of a huge pile of snow.  We always laugh when we go to her grave because we have to take a shovel..whether it's digging her out of the snow or trying to clean up her grave. I'm sure we look crazy walking there.  I remember wanting to dig her up the first year.  So crazy, but I hated that my baby was in the ground.  We had a nice visit, and it made me so happy that we had gone.  I couldn't bake her a cake or buy her presents, but I could do this for her.  It's so hard as a mother to not be able to make things right for your child.  I always feel like a failure when it comes to even just maintaining her grave.  It's even harder now that we moved.  I missed our Christmas tradition this year, but the weather has just not cooperated with it being so far away.  I wish I could spend more time with her at her beautiful resting place, but maybe we are far away for a reason..

Five years without her has aged me significantly.  I feel older, but I also feel wiser.  I see the world differently.  I have lost my innocence, but I also cherish what I have even more now.  I miss her so much, but I see her in so many ways..I know she is with us.  She is in Westyn's smile, the out of the blue hugs that Parker gives me (which are really unheard of), and even a basketball game.  Carley scored 22 points yesterday in her game, and my girlfriend so lovingly pointed out that significance.  She is always reminding me that she is still here.  I wish it was in a more tangible way, but a piece of her remains inside of me.  I will always carry her with me no matter where I go.  It's not easy going through life with a part of your family missing.  Always wondering what life would have been like.  I would have had a kindergartener..  When I think back to that day I shudder to remember that we went through that.  No part of it was fun.  Holding her was beautiful, but letting go was the worst thing I have ever experienced.  When the nurse took her away to await the funeral home my heart broke into a million pieces knowing I would never see her again on this side of Heaven. I had no idea how to put my life back together, but here I am.  I am happy again and finding joy.  I felt so guilty for so long for allowing happiness back into my life, but I think that is what she wanted.  Westyn's personality is a true testament to that.  You can't help but smile when he gives you his goofy grin.  I saw a really awesome shirt that someone makes on Etsy.  I am half tempted to get one for Wes.  It says "Hand Picked for Earth by my sister in Heaven."  I love this.

I am proud to be her mom, but the sadness that I feel in her absence is hard.  I never got to know her in the same way as my other kids.  I am sure she was just like them, but she would have been her own person too.  Not knowing is tough..I am so thankful for beautiful friends who always remember with me and for all of the love that I feel today.  I have a feeling she had something to do with our move here.   I have seen some of the reason, but I am looking forward to what her plans and God's plans are for us here..

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Christmas Rant

My kids have been horrible since Thanksgiving, and every part of me is tired of Christmas.  It's supposed to be a magical time of year, but I am finding it to be sad and downright aggravating.  Christmas is not supposed to be about presents and Santa but that is all the kids focus on.  I am sad.  I am not doing a good enough job of making them more aware of those around them or teaching them the reason we even celebrate in the first place.  My kids feel entitled to things they don't even need and they expect to get what they asked for.  If I was strong enough I would cancel Christmas like another mother did when her kids were not acting up to par.  It's sad that I even feel this way.  I should be excited to see the joy on their faces, but I anticipate another "this is it?".   Don't get me wrong, I love watching the excitement on their faces, but I feel like the excitement is all about the wrong things.  I think if this world focused more on the true meaning of Christmas instead of gifts, Santa, baking, etc, we might just all be a little happier.  Isn't the gift of eternal life the best gift ever?  It's not the newest gadget or toy of the year..  If only I could make them understand how fortunate they are to have the things that they do and to think about the bigger picture.  I realize they are young, but I look around and see a lot of older kids who expect even more and think even less of those around them.  I will just continue to pray that my kids are able to see the big picture some day so we can all look at Christmas differently.

Christmas is hard for me too for other reasons.  Five years ago at this time I was pregnant and excited about what the new year was going to bring us.  A new house, a new baby, new memories.  I had no idea that in January the rug would be pulled out from underneath me.  I had no idea that the last happy thing I would remember would be that Christmas.   I have had happiness, but Christmas will never be the same for me again.  It's a tough holiday for me, but I will muddle through it like I always do.  I just wish Christmas could be different for my family.  Gratitude, celebrating the true meaning, and showing love to others would make a perfect holiday in my book.  

My goal is to get my kids to appreciate what they have, look outside of themselves, and to celebrate the gift that was sent so many years ago.  If my kids want that gift we all get the best gift of all..spending an eternity together.  That to me, is priceless.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Four Years

I still can't believe that on the 22nd it has been four years since I held my baby girl for the first and only time in this lifetime.  Four years has gone by so quickly yet it feels like I have lived a lifetime without her.  One day with her will never be enough..I miss her, and I wonder all of the time what she would be like.  My kids said that morning that they wished she wasn't dead.  I agree...but we wouldn't have Westyn.  His life brings me so much joy.  I just know that parts of her are in him.  In his smile, in that extra hug he gives me, that kiss on the cheek, his eyes..

I went to the cemetery after celebrating a much wanted baby at my girlfriend's baby shower.  I wish I could attend showers and just be happy for the mother to be instead of fearing what could really stinks to see the negative side instead of the beautiful, positive image that pregnancy should be.  I always tell myself that it is rare..but I know that isn't the case.  Every time I see a tiny pregnant person I fear the worst for them.  Reality always slaps me in the face.  I went alone this year.  No one wanted to come along this year which just shows me even more how alone I am in my grief.  I know I am the only one who truly knew her, but she is our family.  We should celebrate just gets really lonely sometimes to carry this without someone sharing my feelings.  I took her red tulips and a salted caramel cupcake that I had made.  I had packed my boots because of how muddy/snowy it might be. I am glad I did.  I walked to her grave through the snow and mud.  She was the only grave still covered by snow..go figure.  The only sign she was there was her little angel poking out through the snow.  I cleared the snow off and spent some time reflecting over the last four years and remembering that day.  Her grave is just so lonely and depressing.  I am so glad I made the drive even if it is not easy getting there.  She is worth it in my opinion.  Would I have made her a Frozen cake this year?  Is that what birthday she would have wanted?

She scarred me for life.  Her short life left a huge hole in my heart, in our family, in our lives, etc.  I am so thankful for her though.  She showed me how strong I am, she taught me that nothing is guaranteed in life, she taught me to appreciate the little things, and she taught me to love fiercely.    I will always be thankful for her and all that she gave me.  I might still be going through life taking things for granted.  I never thought in a million years that I would lose a baby.  That only happens to other people...She changed me.  I sometimes still can't believe our life took this turn, but we are still so blessed..

My new favorite song right now is "Oceans" by Hillsong United.  I need to constantly be reminded to "trust without borders."  I am one to trust that God will take care of us, but I always throw up "borders" because I let my fear get the best of me.  God brought me through the last four years, and He won't abandon me now.  She is always on my mind, but this time of year is always worse for me. All of those emotions and memories come rushing back to me.  I sometimes feel like it was only yesterday that we were picking out the coffin that was not good enough for her.  It is tough when you have one option..planning a funeral for a baby that we barely had the chance to meet.  We only had hopes and memories to share.  Each year is better, but on her day I allow myself to just grieve and miss her without caring what anyone else thinks.  I am her mother, and I will never get over it.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

My Simple Life

The last post I wrote I started a long time ago, but I never published it.  I wasn't sure if I would, but I felt like it needed to be said.  I am glad I posted it, and I am glad I got my feelings out there.  It feels much better to just be honest with myself sometimes.

A lot has changed since my previous post.  I am in a much better place again thankfully.  I did get my chickens and my goats.  My two baby goats (Fern and Ivy) are thriving, and the kids love them.  The chickens, roosters (surprise roosters), and my guineas provide hours of entertainment for all of us.  Westyn just loves his "chicky."  We are using collecting eggs as a learning experience because he gets to count them every day.  I love my little simple life here on "Hope Acre" as we like to call it.  Two of my roosters will be finding their home in my freezer this week though.  I am sad to think about it, but we have way too many roosters for the amount of hens we have.  We are keeping one to see how it goes because we would like to incubate a few eggs in the spring.  Parker really wants some chicks.  :) Luckily there is a lady not too far from here that will take care of my roosters for me because I don't think I could fathom them being killed on our property.  Such is life I guess..

In other big news, I finally ran my half marathon.  I have wanted to do it for so long, but I never signed up.  I ran the Hershey Half on October 20th.  I loved every minute of it, and I came in under my goal of two hours.  I definitely have the running bug unfortunately.  It does wonders for my anxiety and for my mind though.  I am running another half with my girlfriends on November 10th too.  I am excited to get back out there and run with them since I have been off this week due to my vein surgery on my left leg. I haven't run since last Sunday so I am hoping I will be ok to run 13.1 next weekend.  After running my half I have decided that I need to do a marathon.  I really want to do one, but I have promised Mike that I won't run one until Westyn is in school.  The training just eats up too much time during the day when you have little ones at home.  I understand that my kids need me right now so I won't be doing it until they are busy doing their own things in school.  It is just something I need to do for me.  I have a lot of changes to make before I run a marathon too. I understand what I need to do so I will be working on that in the next few years.  :)  I am just so thankful that running can provide me with such a great escape from the every day stresses of life.  I have a lot of great songs on my playlist too that are encouraging.  My most recent download is "God's Great Dance Floor" by Chris Tomlin.  Great beat and great message.  Nothing better in my book!

This has been a sad week for a lot of people around me unfortunately.  Death has come too soon for several babies.  Some expected and others unexpected.  I have been praying for peace for so many families.  I really hope they are able to hold their heads high and hold on to the fact that their children are the lucky ones.  They were just too good for this Earth..May God grant peace to all of those grieving this week..

The Honest Truth..

When Aubree died a part of me died with her, and I basically checked out.  When I checked out I also lost my interest in being a mother.  I mean..I was so wracked with grief over a little girl I barely got to spend any time with, and I began to think about what losing the two that had been in my life for years would do to me.  I wasn't sure (and still aren't) that I would survive.  I love them too much, but I wanted to protect myself from being hurt by them if something horrible happened to them. My stupid mind thought I could actually separate my feelings from them.  Yeah right.  I think of all of the years that I have been pulling away to protect myself from hurt, but I realize that I am only hurting myself more by being overly anxious about everything now.  I am so afraid of that "what ifs."  I know I need to just enjoy my life with them because they truly do grow way too quickly, but it is so hard to just go about my day like nothing happened.  Aubree was real..she was a beautiful little girl that we couldn't wait to have join our family, but she died.  She never even lived with us.  She never met my sisters, my extended family, etc.  She is just a "stillborn" to everyone.  She was my daughter.  My beautiful daughter..

I did rely on my kids when she died to give me a reason to get out of bed.  I did not want to play with them.  I did not want to have fun.  I did not want to smile.  I had no reason to be happy.  My life was not what I expected it to be.  I didn't know anyone else who had this happen to them personally so it felt like I had did something wrong and didn't deserve her.  I was a bad parent who didn't deserve another child because I didn't love my first two enough.  These are all of the things that went through my head and still do at times.  I felt like I was dirty in some could my body create a beautiful baby that wasn't even meant to live?  My body betrayed me.  Again..I felt like I had done something wrong.  I blamed myself for not being able to do anything.  I hated myself, and I still struggle with that.  I don't know who I am anymore.  I am slowly trying to find myself.  Parts of me are still there, and I find them every so often so I can slowly put the pieces back together of the messed up puzzle that is my life. 

Being a mom is hard.  I find it to be emotionally challenging most of the time.  I love my children so much, but I have spent so much time keeping my emotions in check that I find they don't rely on me for their emotional support.  I wasn't there when they needed me.  I am trying to be better and to be better for them.  In so many ways it sucks to be a mom.  No one likes to watch their kid with a 103 fever moaning and lethargic, or throwing up every thing in their little stomachs but not understanding why they feel that way, or just plain get hurt by life's every day battles.  Parenting is hard for a parent who didn't experience loss, but it is extra hard for those of us who know what it is like to lose something so precious to us.  The thought of it happening again is way too big for our minds to even handle.  A simple fever could mean leukemia, a bump on the head could be a brain tumor, a mole is always changing in your eyes, etc.  Normal things that turn into big things...This is my life now, and I hate it.  I am trying so hard to just relax and enjoy every single moment, but it is so hard sometimes to just snap out of it.

Like I said, being a mom is hard, but being a mom is also very rewarding.  I think about Westyn's loving nature, and his huge smile.  I would have missed out on that if Aubree was here with us.  I think about my other children.  They would be different too.  Carley might be more relaxed and less anxious about things.  Parker might be better behaved.  I don't know.  I just know that our life would have been so different had she lived.  I would have a preschooler this year...I am so thankful for my children, and because I love them so much I vow to be a better mom to them because they deserve it regardless of my fears.  I have been given longer with any of them already than I ever got with Aubree.  I need to be thankful for that...

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

A Changed Life..

Life is all about change, about growing, about learning, etc.  I am all about change right now.  I am changing as a result of looking at life around me.  I don't like what I see.  I don't like where I am right now.  I am trying to find joy in the simple things again.  I was so depressed with life around me that I thought the answer was just to pick up and leave this sorry little town.  Start over.  Starting over is not going to change what happened or change me.  I knew that, but running away from problems is just what I do.  I always have.  Mike always says that is not the answer, but I hate dealing with things so it is just easier for me.  I have had so much anger lately that it is leading to anxiety and depression again.  My mood has just plain sucked lately.  I decided that I needed to just stop...just change the way I viewed things.  I needed to live more simply.

When I was running the trails around my house yesterday I looked at how beautiful they were, and I was just going to leave it all without even looking back.  Running from my problems is not the answer.  I am being proactive now.  I am making positive changes.  I am becoming the person I need to be for my family..a simple mom who just enjoys the little things in life.  We don't need a lot to be happy contrary to the popular belief that most of society holds right now.

We have changed churches, and it has been a wonderful thing for our whole family.  The kids are excited about going, and I actually am learning again from the Pastor.  He is so engaging and he makes so much sense to me.  I have been lost in our church for quite some time, but I haven't been able to leave it because we have so many wonderful friends there.  We decided we needed to make a change that was right for the whole family.  The kids have friends at our new church already so it has been positive for them too.  I like hearing them say, "Can we go back to that church again next week?"  Instead of, "I hate church.  It is so boring.  I don't want to go."  It has been wonderful....I am going to live out some dreams of being a "farmer."  I am hopefully getting some chickens and a goat.  I want to teach my kids responsibility.  I don't want them to live in a world in which they think everyone owes them something.  I am going to attempt to ground them.  We shall see.

I have a lot more changing to do, but I am working on things.  I am working on making new friendships, nurturing the ones who enjoy the simple things, etc.  Surrounding myself with honest, simple people has really made a positive impact on my life.  Surrounding myself with people who get me is helpful too.  I am different, and I think differently as a result of losing Aubree.  I miss her so much every single day, and it is nice to be around people who truly get that.  I will continue to change..strive to be better for myself and for my family...

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