When grief feels harder than the year before.

Mother’s Day last year was so bittersweet. The days leading up to it were grueling, and the day itself was so emotional. Somehow, despite all the sadness, it ended up being a really good day. My husband and I went kayaking, ate lots of Chantilly cream cake, and I was showered in flowers and gifts from loved ones. It was a day of love more than anything, and I felt Aria’s spirit so close to me. But when the clock struck twelve and Mother’s Day officially came to an end, I felt grateful it was over. Even though it was good, it was still so messy.

I wasn’t really expecting it to be this way, but Mother’s Day this year feels harder than the last. I told my husband that I want to skip it altogether, which I said last year as well, but I mean it a lot more this year. I just don’t feel like celebrating my own motherhood right now. Truthfully, I don’t even want to talk about it.

All of this is compounded by the grief I’m feeling about it being over sixteen months since the day we lost our first child, and still being without a second. I haven’t spoken too much on this subject because of it’s personal and sensitive nature, but it’s weighing so much on my heart right now. You see, the silver lining of my last Mother’s Day was the hope of holding a second baby in my arms, or at least in my womb by my second Mother’s Day. I’m still as barren this year as I was the last, and it makes me feel so stuck. I feel like my life hasn’t progressed at all, even despite knowing how much I have grown in grief in the last year. And there is some fear mixed in too, because I have a few too many cysts in my ovaries, and I am so afraid they are impacting my body more than I realized.

So I’d like to ask for prayers. Prayers for me and my aching heart, along with prayers for every other grieving mother this Mother’s Day. I hope this day comes and goes gently and quickly.

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Learning more about our baby.

It all started with a clerical error.

I had requested a copy of all of Aria’s ultrasound images, longing to have copies of every picture ever taken during her brief life. I asked them to withhold all the other records, like the lab results and diagnostic information. I was so afraid of going down a rabbit hole and researching every little number, trying to find a way she could have been saved. I just wanted the images and nothing more.

And then I opened up the envelope and realized the huge stack of papers I was holding were my medical records, and not a single ultrasound image. They had gotten my request backwards, and now I was facing my worst case scenario.

I decided to double check, and make sure the images weren’t somewhere in the stack of papers. The first page I flipped open were the surgical notes from Aria’s birth.

I went from calm to hysterical in less than a second. I grabbed my phone and quickly dialed my best friend because I knew I wasn’t going to be able to stop myself from reading everything, and I knew I couldn’t do it alone. We stayed on the phone as as I skimmed through everything. I was stunned to learn new, sweet details about my baby girl.

Here’s the thing about baby loss, it’s the loss of so much more than just a baby. It leaves you with a lifetime of wonder about who she was, or who she would have been. So to learn something new, another detail about her life, no matter how small is absolutely magical.

I learned that her Apgar scores at one minute, and five minutes old were both a two. Which isn’t a good score by any means, and is a sign of how truly sick she was, but it’s something I didn’t know until now. It’s new information about her life, and when you don’t have much, it’s everything.

I also found so much comfort in the notes made about her condition at birth. “Her skin is warm. Her body appears well nourished. She is active and alert.” Beautiful reminders that she was here, and she didn’t suffer.

Then there’s the notes they made about me. Someone wrote that I was “grieving appropriately.” I felt so loved and cared for by our hospital staff, and I was grateful that they cared enough to make note of how I was doing emotionally and not just physically.

It was still so hard on my delicate heart, but overall I’m grateful for the mix up. I got to learn more about my sweet little girl, and that is worth more than I could ever put into words.

They are mothers all the same. (International Bereaved Mother’s Day)

Bereaved motherhood is different, but it is motherhood all the same. I still raise my child in my own unique way. I still worry about her, despite knowing in my heart that she is safe in heaven. I still think of her every second of every day. And the space in my heart that was made for her the moment we began to discuss having children will always be hers.

But bereaved motherhood is a confusing version of motherhood. It’s the type of motherhood that you often have to squint your eyes and search for. It’s the type of motherhood that constantly forces you to ask yourself if it really is motherhood at all. Could I really be a mom if my child isn’t standing next to me? Or if I never stayed up all night rocking her? Or if I never changed a dirty diaper? What if your child never took a single breath on this earth? What if their heart beat for the last time before you even had the chance to know if the baby in your womb was a boy or girl? What if all you know of your baby was two pink lines on a pregnancy test?

It is motherhood all the same.

Today is International Bereaved Mother’s Day, and I want to invite all of you to celebrate this sacred version of motherhood. For it deserves celebration despite the inevitable pain it brings. Bereaved mothers are warriors, and among the bravest women I have ever met. They have been through the unthinkable and yet continue to wake up each day clinging to hope. They manage to find light in the darkest and most desolate spaces. They are links in the strongest chain of support I have ever seen. They are mothers of the most sacred kind.

Today, I’m sending all of my love to every mother walking this journey after loss alongside me. I want to thank all of you for being part of this community, for you have been my strength in so many difficult moments.

Wildflowers

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“They say that time in heaven is compared to a blink of an eye for us on earth. Sometimes it helps for me to think about my child running ahead of me through a beautiful field of wildflowers and butterflies; so happy and completely caught up in what she is doing that when she looks behind her, I’ll already be there.” (Quote from Sufficient Grace Ministries)

Ever since I read this quote about a year ago, I have been in love with wildflowers and the symbolism they now hold for me. If I let myself think too long about the moment Aria will turn around and say, “Come on, Mom!” my joy and excitement always turns into the sweetest tears. One of the big reasons I fell in love with our house in Texas is the field of wildflowers just down the street. It is a daily reminder each spring of the child waiting for me in heaven. In our family full of Roses, Aria is our wildflower.

So when I saw this field of flowers during our road trip today, I just had to get a picture of Aria’s furry sister next to them. Its the little things!