Friday, July 7, 2017

And the Anger Resurfaces

I am finding myself very angry these days.  I am angry about so many things, and I really think the start of it came after we went to the Stillbirth Summit.  After learning about how countries are researching into the reasons for unexplained stillbirths and the things they are doing to try to equip women with warning signs really made me think.  Why are we not equipping women here?  Why are they not researching more and using some of the tactics that are bringing the stillbirth rate down in other countries? It's just not good enough.  I recently read the book "Ghost Belly," and the author had looked up the word "stillbirth."  This is what she found, "The medical community doesn't know much about stillbirths.  They haven't attracted much attention.  Data collection is inconsistent from state to state, but a common estimate is one stillbirth per 115 live births in the United States  There are roughly ten times as many stillbirths annually as there are cases of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).  Yet there are extensive public awareness campaigns concerning SIDS, while stillbirth has attracted very little attention from the medical community and the public is generally ignorant of it." (From Ghost Belly by Elizabeth Heineman). I repeat....this is just not good enough.  I take phone calls from parents who have had a stillbirth, and I know what is coming for them.  Why can't we do more to help try to prevent some of these from happening?  I realize we can't prevent them all, but they are learning more and more about them?  Why can't we watch women more?  Teach them more about the warning signs?  No one told me that an INCREASE in fetal movement was a warning sign..only a decrease.  What if I had known?  I know you will say...she had a life limiting diagnosis so she wasn't going to live long anyways if at all, but...I would have loved to have spent some time with my girl while she was alive.  Maybe I could have had I known.  Others could have known her alive, held her while she was alive.  I am the only one who knew her alive.  I grieve much harder than they do because of that.  They didn't form the same bond, but if they had met her when she was alive it might be different for them.  Grief might not be so lonely. 

My good friend is coming up on her daughter's fifth heavenly birthday at the end of this month.  I reread the blog post that I wrote when she was still pregnant with her, and I listed some warning signs(that I just learned about) that they were watching.  I just wish they would have done things differently.   It just makes me angry.  I realize I can't change the way things are done here, but that doesn't mean I can't be on fire about it.  Losing your child changes your life forever.  Not only does it effect you emotionally, but it will effect you physically too.  Grief takes a toll on your body.  Sure, as time goes on the grief lessens, but it is always going to be a part of your being.  You don't ever get over something like that.  It's a trauma that resurfaces every now and again with trigger points.  They need to do better for these families.  End rant..I think I just needed to write it out!  It's been over seven years, but the grief is still there.  Unfortunately that is how grief is.  It is a messy, long process.  It doesn't consume my thoughts any more, but every so often I have a bad day and that is ok.  I have learned that it is all very normal, and the probability that tomorrow will be better is very high. 

I am so very thankful for Emma's Footprints and for the beautiful people that I work with.  We have formed great relationships with the nurses, the social workers, etc.  These people are on the front lines with these families, and it is so good to know they are in good hands while they are in the hospital.  We have been very busy these past few months.  I can't say it has been easy, but I am so glad these families don't have to grieve alone.  It's a sad job, but the joy comes as you watch them begin to heal.  Grief is traumatic, but it can also show you what a strong person you really are. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017


Seven years....I still can't believe it has been that long since I held her in my arms.  When we went to her grave today I told Mike that it still feels like it really didn't even happen sometimes.  It was such an awful time in our lives, and it's hard to remember how wrecked we were at that time.  Today I noticed the outline of her casket for the first time really.  The  new grass that was growing in was a much brighter green than the rest of the grass.  I placed my hand on top of that grass, and I swear I felt overwhelming peace.  Her body is there right beneath my hand.  I understand that she is not there, but the little girl I physically held is.  I can remember the weight of her, the hours leading up to her birth and how scary that was not knowing what it would be like to deliver a baby who was not breathing.  It's terrifying to not know how you might react when it's your child.  You want to meet them so badly, but you are afraid to because of what death looks like and most importantly because it means you have to say good-bye.  Once they leave your body they are no longer a part of you, and you can't continue carrying them with you here on Earth.  It's a terrible thing to leave your daughter at the hospital knowing you will never see her again this side of Heaven.  I don't remember a lot of those days, but I will never forget the feeling of watching them wheel her away.  I felt like my heart was being ripped out of my chest.  Even now just writing about it makes my heart constrict. 

Today was so unusual in so many ways.  Normally we are driving through snow and brushing snow off of her grave.  Today I planted red tulips as the sun was peaking out in almost 60 degree weather.   It was so peaceful.  My soul feels at peace.  I am in a good place.  I miss her every single day, and I still wonder what her seven-year-old self would be like, but I know she is well.  I know with 100% certainty that she is living a full, happy, carefree, and praise-filled life. Her cake was probably much better than the Oreo cupcakes I made for her.  :)  We took a shovel to plant her tulips.  We always laugh thinking about how that looks while we walk through a cemetery.  I might want to have her here with me, but I don't think digging her up is the answer.  I know she isn't here with me, but I feel her presence every day.  It's in the strength she gives me to help other families as they begin the grieving process, it's in the people she has brought into my life, it's the beautiful thoughts and words from others, and she has brought me so much closer to God. 

My dear friend, that I had word diarrhea with, when we first moved here who ultimately introduced me to Emma's Footprints went to the wine store today to get me something because she knows what I like.  She asked the clerk if they had anything with a dragonfly on it.  He pointed down and sitting right there at the counter was a bottle of "Dragonly" wine with a dragonfly on it.  Just one bottle sitting there on the counter...Seems so strange, but in so many ways it doesn't surprise me at all.  She does stuff like that.  I'm not sure what that says about me, but dragonflies and wine are a perfect combo today.  :)  I am so thankful for that woman.  She has been a true blessing to me, and I am so glad God pushed me out of the house that day to meet her.  She certainly teaches me a lot of about life, and I love that I get to do life with her and her family right now.  Her daughter gives me a hug almost every morning, and this morning was no different.  She came right up to me and snuggled right in.  It's like she knows what my heart needs.  I have been spoiled this year.  My Emma's Footprints family got me a beautiful necklace with her name and birthday on it.  I have been wearing it proudly since I received it.  I am so thankful for them too.  Emma's is such a beautiful organization.  I still feel so grateful that they let me be a part of it.  I just love blessing others in the way that I have been blessed.   I still have a beautiful friend who donates to a charity of my choice every year in memory of Aubree.  How beautiful is that?  Her actions show that she will never forget my daughter, and that means the world to me. 

Tonight we will sing to her and eat Oreo cupcakes in her memory.  I wish she was here with us, but like I said I know her life is better than I could even imagined for her here.  I am still sad that a peace of my family is not here with us, but every year that passes I feel like I am learning more and more about how to live life without her while still keeping her very much alive.  I know that Ruger is keeping her company now that he is gone. He was my baby that year she died.  He provided so much love in her absence.  His loss was really tough on all of us, but it's comforting to know he is running free with her.  Happy 7th Birthday, my Aubree.   It's been a beautiful day. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016


This year has been huge for me.  I have learned so much from my Doula/Bereavement Doula training, and I have learned so much more about life.  Talking to these families has really shed a lot of life on the bubble that I have been living in for so long.  My heart breaks for each and every one of these women that have gone through loss.  Each has their own story.  Some of the stories are so much more than just loss.  Some of these women are truly alone and have no one to love them and support them through it.  I just can't fathom not having a family to turn to when I just couldn't keep on going that day.  I am trying to be that person for so many women.  Trying to understand and love them through their loss.  Letting them know they are not alone.  It is why I have such a passion for what I do.  Grief is so lonely, and when you have no one to talk to it can seem daunting.  My official title is Bereavement Coordinator with Emma's Footprints.  It sounds like such a fun job, right?  So many people say they don't know how I do this every day.  Dealing with death day and night.  I honestly don't know either sometimes.  I do know that God has always given me the words and the strength to do it though.  I never thought I would be able to be in a place emotionally to do this, but look at me now.  It's crazy to think that this was my purpose.  Aubree existed so I can learn how to help others.  She really did teach me about more than just loss.  She taught me how to love others through it, how to look at the world differently, how to serve others in a healthy way, to step out in faith, to be a better person, and she really has helped me to understand things I never would have thought twice about before.  I am so very grateful that I am able to be a part of such a beautiful organization.  I have met so many wonderful people who volunteer their time to serve families who have had a loss like theirs, and I have met some really strong mommas who are living their life for the babies they lost.  I have been so blessed this year by this organization.  Every single family that I have talked to this year has impacted me, and their babies are forever etched into my brain.  The idea that I get to meet these precious children someday really makes me giddy. 

I know that 2017 is another year of growth.  We are starting group support here for our families.  So many have requested it, and I hope that they utilize it and find peace in grieving together.  We are also starting to connect more with the local hospitals, and we are working on education.  Education is huge for me because if we can help the caregivers learn how to handle a loss in a more positive way they serve the families in a healthier way.  A negative experience at the hospital can truly make your grieving process even more difficult.  Those that have had a good experience do not have to grieve how they were treated while they were in the hospital. I have hopes of going to some training in 2017 that will help equip me as well.  I know that each year we are going to be getting busier and busier because this is not something that will ever go away unfortunately.  My goal is to serve these families even better this coming year.  I am excited to see what 2017 has in store for me.  I know it will be busy, but I am ready to take on the challenge.  It is what I have been called to do after all.  Aubree is alive and well within my soul.  Each family I help is because of her.  I used to worry about forgetting her or not doing right by her.  I can honestly say that I never think about those things any more.  I like to think that she is proud of her momma for saying "yes" to serving other families who have gone through loss too.  Her life was such a gift even though at the time it really didn't feel that way.  It's been almost seven years since she left me physically, but she has been with me this whole time. 

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.

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