Wednesday, December 18, 2013

I'm Back!

In September, I decided to take a break from blogging.

You see, we decided to purchase a house here in Missouri and settle down for awhile. Four houses in four years was just a little too much moving and it was time to put some roots down.

Looking for a house, dealing with banks and realtors and packing and de-cluttering and painting and cleaning and caring for Henry made writing almost impossible. Ok, I guess I could have written after Henry went to bed but at that point I just wanted to watch "White Collar" with the hubs.

Now that we are unpacked and settled in I can finally blog again. Hopefully the holidays won't mess with my good intentions. :)

Anyway, we love our little house and are very happy here. We have downsized and don't have as much stuff and it's so nice. Having less possessions to take care of and keep up with is very freeing. 

See our adorable little house? And see how nice and warm it was when the picture was taken? 

It's nice to be back. I've missed this.

-------------------------------------------
As you can see from the picture, it is a duplex. Yes, we bought a duplex and no, we did not buy the other half. People keep asking me that. Strange.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Stick Family

Once upon a time there was a stick family. They lived in the automotive aisle in a store. One cold day a man bought them and brought them to his home.

He wrapped them in pretty paper and put the package under a beautiful Christmas Tree.

A few days later, the stick family felt themselves being freed from the paper and were soon gazing into the face of a woman. She was so happy she was crying.

She and the man and a little baby took the stick family and placed them in their new home, on the back window of a little yellow car. There was a mom, a dad, a baby and two cats. Above the stick family the man and woman placed a little girl, the one who lived in Heaven.

The stick family loved their new life on the car window. Together, with the man, woman and baby, the stick family traveled all over the country. They visited many interesting places and had a good time.

Then one day, something very sad happened. The little stick baby, who by this time had grown bigger, had to leave the stick family. He went to Heaven to be with his big sister and another baby sister. The stick family was very sad and missed him. They comforted themselves with looking at them, flying above them on the window.

Very soon after the little stick boy left, the stick family once again had a stick baby by their side. It was a different stick baby, but they loved him. They were still sad and missed their other stick children, but they were happy, too. Life was good.

The end.
The Stick Family
John, Audra, Melody, Avery, Glory, Henry, Anne and Kit Kat

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

It's Not True, Really

I can't write it. It has been over a year and I still can't write it.

Death.

That's what I can't write. My brain knows that in a physical sense, what happened on June 2 was death. That Avery's little body had to stop. That process is called death.

But my heart tells me something different. My heart tells me that Avery, the real Avery, the sun-shiny, sparkly, happy, joyful little soul is alive and well.

Avery's body stopped working but his soul did not. We can't see him right now but he is not gone from our lives forever. He is just waiting for us to join him someday.

And that is why I can't write the word. It is not true.

He's alive, just living in a different place.

I sure wish I could see and talk to him though! I miss him.


Friday, August 30, 2013

Send A Card

It's easy to send someone a card, but in this day of technology, it is becoming rarer for cards to be sent. It is so much easier to email, send a message on Facebook, or text.

Card played an important role in the days following Avery's move to Heaven. During the long nights when we could not sleep, we read cards the people sent. We received so many cards that they lasted us well over a month, reading a few each night.

Now I am trying to "pay it forward" but sending notes of encouragement when I can to people who are going through a rough time. I want to help others like I have been helped.

You've Got Mail!

I am challenging you, my readers, to send a card to someone who is struggling. It does not matter what the struggle or hurt is, send them a note. It does not have to be on a Pinterest-worthy homemade card. Just send a card no matter how plain. It will make someone's day. And maybe, when you need it most, a card will show up in your mailbox.

Or, maybe an adorable puppy. Aw. He just melts my heart!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

I Am Afraid

I am afraid.
I am afraid that something will happen.
Something bad.
After all, something bad did happen.
Three times.
I am afraid.
I am afraid that I will have empty arms yet again.
That I will lose.
That I will spend sleepless nights crying.
That I will fall asleep and wake up to a nightmare.
I am afraid.

******* 

I am trying.
Trying to hope.
Trying to heal.
Trying to make sense of the senseless.
Trying to live.
I am trying.
Trying to take one step at a time.
Trying to love.
Love unreservedly.
Living as if today is the last.
I am trying.

******* 

I am afraid.
Afraid of not trying.
Afraid of not loving.
Afraid of not living.
Afraid of going to a dark place.
And so I am trying.
I can’t understand but that’s ok.
I move forward.
One step at a time.
Slowly.
Being afraid and trying anyway.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Our Complete Story

Recently, I realized that I had never shared our full story. I originally wrote it for the Lil Angels Hankies blog, and thought I would share it with you.

Our Story

I always knew I wanted to be a mommy. From my earliest childhood I cared for my family of stuffed animals. As I matured I babysat, taught children’s classes at church, and spent time with my younger brothers. I was good with children and could not wait to have my own babies to love and care for.
When I married in 2009, I was excited and we started trying to get pregnant right away. In August we had wonderful news, and although I was not feeling well, I was happy.

Right before Thanksgiving we went to the doctor for the 20-week ultrasound to see how things were going. The nurses found some abnormalities, and the doctor told us that he thought our sweet baby had Turners syndrome. He sent us home and told us to check back in two weeks to see how things were progressing. We were devastated but hopeful. That evening I prayed that if our sweet baby would be going to Heaven that John could feel her kick. On Tuesday, December 1, John felt the baby kick for the first time. It was beautiful. On Wednesday, December 2 we found out that our Melody Hope had gone to heaven. She was born on December 3 at 22 weeks.

The days that followed were dark and sad, but we made it through and in May of 2010 we were expecting again.

Avery John was born in January of 2011. He was beautiful and we were head over heels in love.
When Avery was 7 months old I found out I was pregnant again, but the next day we lost our baby Glory. It was hard, but having Avery to hold helped.

October brought another pregnancy and soon we found out Avery had a little brother. We were excited. Having two boys so close in age was going to be fun!

I spent the spring of 2012 spending time with Avery, taking him to Kindermusic classes, going to the park, playdates with friends and just enjoying being his mommy. It was wonderful.

In May Avery got very ill and was sent to the hospital for what the doctor thought was meningitis. It turned out to be a viral infection, and he was sent home to recover. Two weeks later he was back at the doctor, and this time was sent by ambulance to the children’s hospital in Nashville with low blood counts. We spent 5 days in Vanderbilt Children’s hospital and were again sent home with what they thought was a viral infection.

Memorial Day was a fun day with Avery feeling better, eating a lot, and hanging out with us at home.
It was our last holiday together.

June 1 brought a very sick Avery and this time he was life-flighted to Nashville. He made it to the hospital and was stabilized but later that evening went into cardiac arrest. He fought all night but late morning on June 2 he went to Heaven. He was 16 months old.

We were shocked and heartbroken. Our arms were once again empty.

We went home to a quiet house and grieved while we waited for Henry’s arrival.

Henry was born on July 25 and is a happy, healthy little boy. He fills our home with the sounds of laughter and occasionally, temper tantrums. He is a joy to be around.

We don’t know what the future holds but we are determined to face each day as it comes and enjoy each moment we have together.

Our story has been a hard one, but it has been good. We are thankful for the time we had with each one of our children. They have been such blessings to us, and we would not trade them for the world.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Very Belated Thank You

Dear Friends,

I want to thank you for you love, prayers, gifts, meals and support you have given to us this past year. Because of your kindness and generosity, we did not have to worry about where our next meal was coming from, medical bills, and preparing baby things for Henry.

Your kindness and generosity allowed us to take time off from work and other responsibilities and focus on grieving, healing, and getting excited about Henry's birth.

The many cards you sent comforted us during the long nights. Right before bed, we turned on praise and worship music and opened card after card filled with loving words. We were able to do this for several weeks. They gave us peace during a troubled time.

The meals were delicious! Since Avery would help me make dinner, it was hard to even go into the kitchen, and all the wonderful food kept us fed until I was able to cook.

The monetary gifts you gave were a blessing. Neither John nor I were up to any budgeting or figuring out finances, and the money helped in so many ways with medical bills, groceries, a few much needed date nights, and baby things.

The baby gifts you showered on Henry were a blessing! It was good to have new things for him and not have to go through Avery's baby clothes. We were not emotionally ready for that. Henry was (and still is!) the best dressed little guy in the US. The sweet handmade blankets, the hats, socks, toys and stuffed animals helped us get excited again about the arrival of Avery's little brother.

I am sorry this is so late, but the grieving process takes a lot out of one, and add a new baby and a move to a new state on top of that. It makes for a very busy year.

 I am so very thankful for each and every one of you. Some of you I don't even know, and yet you showered such love on us. It is overwhelming and makes my heart feel all happy and peaceful when I think of the way you have shown us love and support during our darkest days.

So thank you, once again, from all of us.

~ Audra, John and Henry

PS I think Avery is thankful too, as he looks down from Heaven and sees Mommy and Daddy and baby Henry being loved by all the people that loved him. :)


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Family Pictures

Ever since Avery was born I wanted to get our family picture taken. I kept putting it off until his birthday.

On his birthday we dressed in our very best and headed to Sears for a photo shoot. Avery was very cute and I love the way our family photo turned out.



Since it was his birthday, the took his picture with a giant "1." It is one of the cutest pictures I have ever seen, but then again, I'm biased. :)



On Henry's birthday, we dressed up and again headed out to get our picture taken. By this time, our family had lost a little guy and gained a little guy. It was a bitter sweet time.


And, because it was Henry's birthday, we took a picture celebrating his first year of life.


I am so blessed with the family God has given us. I would not trade it for the world.

PS Henry's pictures were taken by my very talented friend Becky at Flutterbug Photography


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Henry's Birthday Party

On August 3rd, Henry had his first birthday party. It was a blast. So many people came to show their love for him. It was overwhelming.

The theme for his party was sock monkeys. How could it not be?

Just a month ago, I was scared and in the hospital with Henry, wondering if we would even get to have a party for him.

God was good and Henry enjoyed his party. He is a people person and loved being with so many of his friends and family.

Before the party

Henry's adorable sock monkey cake was made by my friends the Kellum Family. I highly recommend them. If you ever need a cake, have them make it. It's yummy, and they do a fantastic job. Look at the cake! Just look at it! How cute.

Henry enjoyed it.



We decided to host the party at The Family Vision Library. It was a good choice. I highly recommend hosting events there.

PiƱata!


 
That's quite a haul, Henry.

Mt. Present. Thanks everyone, for the fun gifts. Henry loved everything.

Now that we have reached one milestone we are excited for the next. We can't wait for his 2nd birthday!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Let me Plug...

My husband, John, has started blogging and I wanted to share it with you all.

He has cool insights and is a good writer. Plus, the design is pretty awesome. He did it himself. He's so talented.

So head on over to Life, Love and Little Moments and tell him hi.

Thanks.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Henry Update: Home Again

When I last wrote, Henry was in Children's hospital in St. Louis for observation. I was pretty scared and waiting for the worst to happen.

Instead, the best happened. Henry was sent home!

The doctors said he had a virus, that what was going on was completely normal, but because of our history they wanted to be extra careful and watch him closely. We were fortunate to work with one of the best doctors in the nation, and he was very attentive to our case.

So now we are home and enjoying the peace and quiet. We are so happy.

We go back to the clinic on Thursday for a follow-up appointment. Henry will have a blood test to make sure things are going the way the need to. We will probably be visiting the clinic regularly to make sure Henry is doing well. We are so glad we have a kind, caring doctor.

Thank you, everyone, for your prayers, e-mails, Facebook comments, texts, cards, and phone calls. We are so grateful to have a support system like you all. It means a lot.


Thursday, July 25, 2013

A Great Big Happy Birthday

One year ago today, Henry Samuel Notgrass was born.


Henry 7/25/2012


Henry 7/25/2013

My, how time flies! Happy birthday, little son. Mommy loves you.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Unexpected: An Update on Henry and a Pouring out of my Heart

Sunday morning Henry woke up with a fever. No big deal. By Tuesday, however, his fever had risen higher and we decided to take him to the doctor. As recommended by our specialist at Vanderbilt in Nashville, Henry had a blood test to check his cell levels. They were just below the "safe" range, so we took him to Children's Hospital here in St. Louis to have him monitored.

We were hopeful that his cell levels would rise but they have not. He has no other symptoms and his other numbers look good, but still...

Now we are sitting in the hospital, waiting. Waiting for his neutrophil levels to rise; waiting for the signs that what is going on is a virus. That next week everything is normal and we will be on our way home.

Waiting to wake up from a potential nightmare.

The last time we were in the hospital we came home with empty arms. My soul is crushed as my feelings tell me this is what is going to happen again, but my mind tells me to wait, wait and see. Henry is in good hands and I feel confident that the doctors here are doing their utmost to help Henry.

But I am still scared.

Frightened.

Confused.

I have had so much pain in the last four years my very being recoils from enduring any more.

This is not how it's supposed to be.

But this is the way it is.

I'm breathing.

I am taking one step at a time.

I am clinging to the fact that Henry is not sick the way Avery was.

He is eating, sleeping, producing plenty of diapers, playing with toys, getting in to everything, hamming it up for the medical personal (they are in love with him, but then again, who isn't?), and being generally cute and trouble, all at the same time.

I want this life.

I want to be a mommy.

I want to be Henry's mommy.

I want to take him home and love on him there.

I want him.

Thoughts go through my head, some good, some dark. I know that Jesus knows what is going on and that comforts me. But I am having a hard time being patient while Jesus works through this situation.

Pray for Henry, and if you are not a praying person, think of him and send him warm, positive thoughts. Pray that we can keep him, that we can all go home and be together, us three and the kitties.

Thank you.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Baby Cuddles

My little sweetness woke up early this morning fussing. I figured he was hungry, but since I was tired I really wanted to sleep. So I brought him in bed with us and held him close, talking softly. He relaxed in my arms and we both fell asleep.

I love baby cuddles.

Babies are so sweet and need so much love in order to thrive.

Don't take your little one for granted and don't miss opportunities to cuddle.

Facebook can wait.

Texting your friends can wait.

Having an immaculately clean house can wait.

Babies can't.

Cuddle yours today.




Thursday, June 13, 2013

Guest Post: The Lil Angels Story

I recently asked my dear friend Tricia to write a guest post. Her organization, Lil Angels Hankies, has helped so many women, myself included. See the sweet little hanky she made for me in honor of Avery? I treasure it.







The Lil Angels Story


Hello Sock Monkey fans! My name is Tricia, and in December of 2011, I founded an organization called Lil Angels Hankies. It was through this organization (and also through my sister) that I met Audra. We hit it off and I now consider her one of my greatest friends.


I would like to share a little bit about myself so that you can see why I do what I do. 


I was 18 when I married my husband, Jeff (in 1999), and although I was young, I was ready, and I have never regretted for even a day getting married that young.


Shortly after we were married, I found out I had endometriosis, which can sometimes lead to fertility problems. My doctor advised me that if we wanted children, we should start trying right away, or there was a good chance we would not have any. We knew that we wanted children, so we took his advice, and began our journey.


We quickly found out that getting pregnant did not come easy for us. After several surgeries to clear out the endometriosis, I was still having pain, and my dr. decided to send me to get a gallbladder function test done. The date was March 25, 2002, and Jeff & I went to the hospital for the test. Before the test, the nurse asked me if there was a chance I could be pregnant. Jeff & I looked at each other and laughed because we had been trying for three years now with no success, so the likelihood of my being pregnant was very slim! But, since we were “trying”, and the test could be potentially harmful if done while I was pregnant, they made me take a pregnancy test right then and there. After about an hour of waiting, the nurse came down and said, “Well, I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that we cannot perform your test today. The good news is that you’re pregnant!” I wish a camera could have captured the look on our faces because we were just staring in disbelief! Of course, the tears came fairly quickly, and we left the hospital on cloud 9! We went by Walgreens to pick up our own pregnancy test so we could see it with our own eyes, and sure enough, we were pregnant! I still remember walking on the icy sidewalk (it was uncharacteristically icy and snowy that day), and Jeff grabbed my arm and helped me walk and kept saying “Be careful! You have a baby inside you!” It was absolutely surreal.


It wasn’t even a couple of weeks later that I began experiencing some cramping and bleeding. I went to the dr. for blood work and an ultrasound, and that was when our world came crashing down. Our baby did not make it, and grew wings that very day.


I was in an absolute fog, and cannot even begin to describe the pain I felt. It just didn’t seem fair. We tried for so long, and it finally happened, only to be ripped away from us. It was quite honestly the most painful thing we had ever experienced. Jeff was an amazing support, as was my family, but I have to say that nothing meant more to me than my sister driving to my house, and sitting on my couch while my head lay in her lap, and she stroked my hair and cried with me. She didn’t tell me it would get better. She didn’t tell me that there was a reason. She just stroked my hair and cried, which oddly was exactly what I needed.

We were not ready to give up our fight for a family, so we began trying pretty quickly again. In September of that same year, I was at work, and felt a strange sensation. I went to the bathroom, and a large piece of tissue/clot fell on the floor. I immediately knew what it was. I wrapped it up, and when I left work that day, we went to the ER. They confirmed that I had been what seemed to be about 10 weeks pregnant, and I did in fact lose the baby. Family came to see me at the hospital, and I felt kind of numb. My heart was breaking again, and we just felt so helpless. I remember the youth pastor at our church came to be with us, and took us to eat after we left the hospital, and he prayed with us and talked with us. I felt a sense of peace sweep over me, and I seemed to recover from the pain a little quicker this time.

Again, we began trying for a baby. We knew God wanted us to have children and we were not going to accept anything but that.


On April 1, 2003, I found out that I was yet again expecting a baby. I will admit that I was terrified. Not a day went by that I didn’t worry that I would lose the precious baby inside of me. It was not an easy road, and I was put on bed-rest at 29 weeks, but Elijah Aaron was born perfect and healthy at 39 weeks. He was an amazing gift from God and I don’t think that we have ever been as happy and proud as we were of that little man. He is now 8 years old and is an incredible blessing to us, and so many others.


After we had Eli, we knew we still wanted more children. Again, we tried for a couple of years and had infertility issues, and suffered two more losses, before getting pregnant again and delivering our sweet little princess, Lillianna Eveline, at 37 weeks in August of 2010. She was beautiful and perfect, although I will say that she turned our world upside down! She was a fussy baby and didn’t like to sleep, so the first several months were rough, but by about 8 months, she started sleeping and we were all much happier.

To see my two children play together is priceless. I have such an appreciation for what I have, as I know how precious and valuable life is. I never take them for granted, and I thank God for them every single day.

On November 8, 2011, my dear friend Devin lost her baby girl, Alice, and I felt the pain of losing my children all over again. I hurt so badly and deeply for her, and I didn’t know what to do. I got the idea of making her a handkerchief with her baby’s name and birth date on it, and so began Lil Angels Hankies.

Exactly one month later, I realized that this was something that I needed to do for more women. There are so many hurting mothers out there, and if I can bring them even a tiny bit of peace, then I know I am doing what I should be doing.

There is something symbolic about the handkerchiefs. It gives grieving parents something tangible to remember their sweet baby by. It is a handkerchief, and is almost like their angel is wiping their tears. It truly is a beautiful thing, and I am so thankful that God chose me to do this.

Something that I want people to know is that I read every single story that I get. I cry as I read, and I truly do feel an attachment to each and every handkerchief that I do. I love that all of the angel’s names will forever be a part of me.

I feel honored to be able to do what I do. I sometimes wonder why God chose me, but I believe it’s because He knew that I would give it my all, and also that it would be healing for me.

Not many people at all know this, but I actually lost a fifth baby, just over a year ago. It was obviously very difficult, and painful, and a very emotional time for me, but what got me through it was Lil Angels Hankies. It is so healing for me to do this. I have cried my tears, and now I push through the pain and I give other women something to remember their babies by. That is what gets me through every day. Knowing that I am making a difference is one of the best feelings in the world. Some days, I do not feel qualified or equipped to do this, and it has become a lot bigger, a lot quicker than I ever imagined! But I know that God will provide me with the wisdom and support that I need to get through each step I take.

~ Tricia Pyatt




Note: If you would like to help Tricia bless and encourage other mommies and daddies, please do here.  They need funds to keep this wonderful ministry going and any support is a blessing. Thank you in advance. 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Tomorrow is A Birthday

Tomorrow it will be one year.

One year since I have seen his little face smiling up at me.

One year since I have felt his lips on my cheek, giving me sweet baby kisses.

One year since his little voice asked for "Dada."

One year since I held him.

One year since I told him I loved him.

One year since he was so sick.

Once year since he spent so much time in the hospital.

One year since I hoped.

One year since I sat by his bed and prayed with groaning that could not be expressed for his life.

One year since I saw people around the world praying all through the night for my baby.

One year since I felt God's presence in the hospital room.

One year since those who loved Avery gathered by his side and sang "Jesus loves me."

One year since we let go.

Tomorrow is Avery's first birthday in Heaven.

I love you, my sweet boy.



Avery had so much personality. This is one of our favorite pictures of him. It captures his essence beautifully.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Happy Sad


Sometimes I am happy.

And then I am sad because I am happy.

And then I am happy because I have something to be sad about.

And then I am sad because I have lost.

And then I am happy because I had.

And then I am sad because he is gone.

And then I am happy because I had him for so long.

And then I am sad because I only had him a short time.

And then I am happy because I will see him someday.

And then I am sad because I don't want to wait.

And then I am happy because in the whole scope of eternity, I don't have to wait long.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Step By Step

Often, when I tell someone our story, they will look at me, shake their head and say, "I could never go through what you went through. You are strong." Or, they will tell me that I am a hero.

The thing is, I'm not strong. I did not chose to go through our trials to prove my strength, to help me grow, to stretch me. I went through what I went through because I was forced.

I had no choice to spend time in Vanderbilt Children's hospital watching my baby fight for his life.

I had no choice to let him go.

I had no choice to drive the hour-long ride home with an empty car seat in the back, knowing there was no one home to greet me.

So no. I am not strong.

I am a woman who cries at night for her babies.

I am a mommy who has lost three of her four children.

I am someone who has been to very dark places.

I am weak.

I keep going not because I have some superhuman strength, but because I must.

It may sound cliche, but I mean every word when I say that it is only through God's strength that I am able to get up in the morning and keep going. The prayers of many have carried me through the darkest hours of my life, and they continue to help. I never really understood or believed in the power of prayer until last year. It was then that I could physically feel them around me, holding me up, carrying me through.

I don't have any strength on my own. I am not a hero, either.

I'm just someone who keeps putting one foot in front of the other, slowly moving through life, step by step.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

What Do You Say?

A friend of mine recently lost her baby boy. She was 7 months pregnant.

I know the pain she is feeling.

I know the path she is on.

But I don't know what to say.

I want to text her and call her and hug her and cry with her but I know that nothing I can do or say can take the pain away.

I have walked the path she is on and I am at a loss for words.

I have experience in dealing with loss and grief but in the face of another's, I am speechless.

It is in these hard times that we are the most feeble, the most helpless.

These are the times when we can not rely on our own strength.

These are the times when I wish that life were different.

I will see her.

I don't know what I will say but I will be there for her, as others have been there for me.


Friday, April 26, 2013

Dear Pregnant Mom...A Rant

Dear Pregnant Mom,

I get it. Pregnancy sucks. You feel icky, tired, sick, swollen, you can't sleep, your back aches, and on and on. You wish the whole ordeal were over. But really? Are you that miserable that you have to make every Facebook status update one in which you complain?

I understand that Facebook is an outlet for emotions and maybe you feel that you get some support by constantly complaining, but just for a moment, stop and think. How does this look to others? If I stop by your page and I see multiple status updates on how miserable you are, that is going to tell me that you don't want to be pregnant, that you don't want this baby.

You may want your baby, and probably want this baby very badly (for the rest of the post I am going to assume that you do), but your words convey something very different. Look at these "status updates" and see how you think about the person:

"Ugh! This is horrible...I can't sleep. #ihatebeingpregnant"

"Oh yay. Another loooong morning at the dr. Can't wait for this whole thing to be over."

"Sick and tired. #pregnancy #nofun #iwishitwereover"

"My back hurts, my feet hurts, I'm tired and I don't feel like cooking much less eating. I'm so over this."

"Only a few more weeks of misery. #pregnancyishorrible"

"Stretch marks are soooo ugly. I hate them."

All of these updates could have been written by someone who is excited about their child, but you would never know it.

As a parent who has had several losses, reading status like these sadden me. Children are a gift and when I see updates like the above in my feed, it makes me wonder if you are really treasuring what you have been given. I feel that maybe you don't deserve this, that I should have the same opportunity because at least I would be happy about my baby. I'm not being mean spirited, I'm being honest. When I see stuff like this, it makes me angry and sad.

So maybe before you hit that "post" button, think about what message you are conveying. Are you glad you are pregnant? Let us know. If others can't have their own little ones to love and cherish, they at least want to know that some other mommy is happy and will love and cherish her baby.

If you don't stop complaining, I will hide you. Sometimes the pain is just too much.

Sincerely,
A Mom

PS: The status updates are fake but I have seen too many complaining updates to know that they can be all too real. If you have posted one of the above to your Facebook page, you may need to re-think your actions.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Downton Abbey and Suffering

It's no secret. I love "Downton Abbey." I own all the seasons and can beat any "Downton Abbey" trivia game. I love how the story follows one family and their household through so many of life's ups and downs. The writers have made the characters real and very human, unlike many other shows and movies that make the characters out to be perfect.

Last night I was watching the last episode of the first season. In this episode, Lord and Lady Grantham discover that they are expecting child #4, then lose the baby, a boy, in a tragic accident.

In the episode, the couple were expected by society to just move on with their lives and not grieve because in the eyes of others, since no one saw the baby it did not really matter.

If got me thinking how far society has come in recognizing grief, and how far we still have to go. In 1914, women were supposed to carry on with their social lives, be subjected to talk of how they really should get over it, and how they should move on. I don't think that people meant to be insensitive, but they were, and it hurt.

Now, in 2013, almost a hundred years later, people have become more accepting of grief over a loss, but we still have a long way to go. Especially in the situation of miscarriage or early still birth, people still expect us to move on, get over it, and carry on with our social lives.

So please, if you know someone who has suffered loss, be kind and patient. Loss is devastating and it can take some people a very long time to recover.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Today's Thoughts on Yesterday

Yesterday was a beautiful day. The sun was shining, the air was warmer (no flip flops yet), and Henry and John were by my side.

There are days when I am consumed with thoughts of what I had and lost, but yesterday was not one of those days.

Instead, I was consumed with thoughts of what I had. I was content with my little family here on earth. At the end of the day I realized that I had not thought about Avery. I did not forget him, because he is always in my heart, but I never once said, "Man, I sure wish Avery were here."

At first, this made me sad, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it was good. 

John needs a wife who is not so consumed with the past that she cannot live in the future.

Henry needs a mommy who is fully there for him, tuned to his needs and able to give the love he needs to grow.

Avery needs me to be a wife and mommy, so I can help us all get safely to Heaven to see him again. He needs me to pour all the love and attention that would have gone to him onto Henry. 

I need me, too. It's not healthy for me to sit around all day and pine for what I don't have. There are going to be days when I do just that, and it's ok. But to live my life in misery and pain will never help me move on, will never help me accept my new reality.

Yesterday was a good day. Today is a good day. I'm hoping tomorrow will be a good day, too.



Saturday, March 16, 2013

Acceptance

Sometimes I procrastinate.

Like this past month.

I knew I had to write, but I just never did.

Other things called me.

Things that were not more important, but, in my eyes, more fun.

I should have written.

Writing is good for me, it helps me think, it helps me to accept.

It helps me accept the fact that Henry is crawling.

He's crawling, and there is no one to chase him.

He bumps his head and I kiss him.

But it's the only kiss he gets.

It helps me accept the new reality.

The reality that I can go for a bike ride on a beautiful spring day and enjoy being with my husband and baby.

The reality that I can show a tiny fuzzy mouse to Henry and watch his wonder and laugh with him.

The reality that today is a day to treasure, no matter what happens tomorrow.

Live fully.

You will not regret it.


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Sometimes I Remember

Sometimes I remember things.
Things that happened only a short time ago
But seem so far away.
Like the time we went to LA to see the sights.
You were in your stroller, just chilling
Being cool, the way you always were.
We went to Grauman's Chinese Theatre
And it was very hot and crowded.
But you were having fun.
You looked out at all the people and smiled.
You smiled at strangers,
At people you did not know.
You loved them
And they loved you back.
Do you remember the man from Japan?
The one with the big camera?
Daddy was pushing you and the man came up
And asked to take your picture
Because you were so cute.
You smiled your beautiful smile
And your eyes sparkled.
The camera flashed
And that moment was frozen in time.
Now you are in heaven and we can't see your smile
Here on earth.
But somewhere in Japan
People have seen your adorable little face
And it makes them happy.
You have blessed people who don't even know you,
Even as you bless me, my son.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

10 Things Not to Say to a Grieving Parent

Last week I posted a list of 10 things a person could do to help in a time of great loss. This week I am going to highlight a few things people should not say. I do understand that in a time of loss people feel like they are at a loss for words and want to make the person going through the grief feel better, but sometimes words can do more harm than good. A good rule of thumb to remember is that when you don't know what to say, it is probably best to remain silent. No words are better than potentially hurtful words.

1. "They are better off where they are."
True, but it does not ease the pain of knowing you no longer have your child in your arms.

2. "God wanted another flower in his garden."
My child is not some tulip sitting in a plot of dirt up in heaven. This phrase which is meant to comfort has no meaning whatsoever.

3. "It will be ok."
Yes, someday it will be ok, but not now. Don't try to comfort fresh grief with this phrase. It is like putting a Band-Aid® on an amputation.

4. "You're young, you can have more kids."
Not necessarily. Parents who just lost a child don't want imaginary future children, they want their baby, their precious baby who is no longer here. Also, it is not kind to give them false hope.

5. "Maybe you should have built up the immune system."
This is probably one of the most hurtful, for it insinuates that losing the child was somehow the parents fault, that if they had given them this and avoided that the child would still be here.

6. "I know how you feel."
This one is tricky. If you have lost a child, then yes, you can sympathize. If, however, you have not suffered any losses then you can not possibly understand how a grieving parent feels. Losing a child is a different kind of grief than losing a parent, sibling, friend, or relative. If you have gone through one of those losses, then you certainly can sympathize and help them through the stages of grief. Just be sensitive to the fact that there is a difference. The grief of losing another loved one is not less than losing a child, just different. Also, be prepared for the parent to lash out and say you can't possibly understand because you have not gone through what they are going through. Don't get angry or your feelings hurt, just understand that raw grief says things that a healed person might not say. See item number three on last weeks list, "don't be shocked."

7. "It's time to move on."
Never, and I repeat, never dictate to a parent when they should move on. Let them move at their own pace.

8. "Well, I guess God just wanted him/her more."
In our heart of hearts, we know that God loves our children even more than we do, but we love our children very much and when we are forced to give them up it is hard to see that.

9. "It's too bad you will never see them '_______'"
Yes, we know it's too bad. We don't need you to tell us how bad it is. Someday, when we are ready, we want to talk about the things our child could have or would have done, but not now. Not at the funeral.

10. "You have other children."
If the parents do have other children, those children will become even more dear to them, but they will never, I repeat, never take away the pain of someone missing, someone who won't be in any more family photos, who won't sit at the dinner table. Never try to replace the child with one of the siblings. They won't take his or her place, and we don't want them too.









Friday, January 18, 2013

Firsts

There are many "firsts" in life. You know, the "first time" you do/say/experience something. Some are good and some are not.

My life is filled with many firsts.

My first time driving (thanks, Dad!).

My first job.

My first crush.

My first love.

Now, I share many firsts with my first love. Together, we make it through the hard times as well as the good times.

Our first baby girl, now in heaven.

Our first Christmas.

Our first son.

Our first experience with empty arms and an empty crib.

Our first time holding Henry.

Henry's first bath.

Henry's first Christmas.

And now, for the first time, Henry is sick. It's the first time I have cared for a sick baby since Avery was so ill. It's scary. But I know how to get through it.

One step at a time.

I can only think about the next step. Two steps ahead is too much.

I only have the strength to go one step at a time.

But God is good. He gives strength as needed.

He never fails.

He won't let me down.

I know, because I have taken that first step.


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

10 Ways to Help Those Who Grieve

When a family has gone through a loss, whether it be the loss of a child, pet, parent, friend, co-worker or relative, people want to know how they can help. Here are a few practical ways you can get involved.

1. Give Them Space
Often, when one is left raw and hurting from loss, they need space to re-group and heal before entering back in to society. Knowing when to back off is a good skill to develop.

2. Be Understanding
Those who are grieving will have mood swings, being hermit-like one day and needing company the next. Be patient with the person and do not show any frustration with their seemingly unpredictable needs. Be flexible and go with the flow.

3. Don't Be Shocked
Oftentimes, a hurting person will say things they don't mean. If your friend or loved one drops a cuss word or two, don't panic. They are trying to process their thoughts and may only know how to express themselves through the crudest of language.

4. Clean Something
Mop the floors. Clean out the refrigerator. Fold the laundry. Do something practical. They may not ever notice what you did, but it will help. Trust me. Also, don't pepper them with questions on where things are or how they like things done. Use common sense. If the person asks you to do something or use something different, comply without an argument.

5. Talk/Listen
Those who have faced loss want to talk about their loved one. Ask them what dad's favorite TV show was, their plans they had for their baby, where Spot liked to go on a walk. There is nothing worse than the feeling that no one cares about their loved one. Keep the memory alive and help find healing in meaningful conversation.

6. Send a Text
When our son passed away, a very dear friend took it upon herself to text me a verse from the Bible every morning. They were the first thing I read upon waking. I don't know how I would have gotten through the first month without those texts. If you or your friend/loved one is not religious, text them positive thoughts or kind words. They will be a healing balm.

7. Send Snail Mail
In a day where so much communication is done electronically, snail mail is a treat. Send those cards and notes as often as you can. Getting something in the mail may be their only bright spot in the day.

8. Bring Food
Food is very helpful in the days following a loss. Often, families are flooded with food at the very beginning, but within a few weeks they are back to trying to cook for themselves. Ask them about meals. If they have plenty of food, wait a few weeks or even a month before bringing a meal. Be sensitive about any food allergies or diet restrictions. Restaurant gift cards are also a nice idea. They don't have to cook (neither do you!) and they are able to get out of the house for a little while.

9. Take them Out
If your friend or loved one is starting to tread the dangerous waters of deep depression, becomes suicidal or refuses to see or talk to anyone for days on end, take them out. Get them out of the house, even if it's only for a ride to the other side of town and back. They may be upset with you at first, but they will thank you later.

10. Cry
Cry with those who have lost. Let them know that you, too are sad, that you hurt when they hurt, that you hurt because they hurt.
sad

Friday, January 11, 2013

Perfect? No.

I am not a perfect mother.

I make mistakes.

I get mad.

I stomp around the house.

I am crabby (sometimes).

But still people put me on a pedestal.

They think that since I have "made the ultimate sacrifice" in letting my babies go, I am somehow above other mothers, that I have attained perfection.

This is not true.


Just because I have lost does not make me a perfect mother.


It makes me a different kind of mother.

It makes me a mother who knows that just because a child has a perfect check-up each year does not mean everything is going to be fine.

It makes me a mother who, even while I am upset, knows that someday I might wish I could get another night of interrupted sleep.

It makes me a mother who is scared of a 101-degree fever.

It makes me a mother who has to learn to trust, all over again.

Has losing our sweet babies changed the way we parent? Yes. Has it made us better parents? In some ways, yes. It is not a journey we would have chosen for ourselves, but it is a journey we must take. So please, don't put grieving parents on a pedestal. Don't hold us up as ideal parents because we have lost. Trust me, it is another burden we don't need to bear. We have enough already.