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A HUGE announcement!

In case you missed it on Instagram or Facebook this week, we have HUGE news on the infertility front.

Yesterday, I came across a giveaway for a FREE IVF cycle. It was from a clinic that someone in my loss support group had mentioned to me months ago. I knew it was such a long shot, but we entered the contest. Then so many wonderful people supported us by posting videos to nominate us!

And I am still in complete shock as I type this, we won!

I was with my best friend when I got the news and I instantly burst into tears and screamed, “Oh my God!! We won!” We hugged each other so tight while ugly crying. Just a few days before we were hugging while sobbing because our last round of IUI failed, and now things have totally changed.

I quickly FaceTimed Brian, and he was completely speechless as I gave him the news. He was totally shocked, and tears filled his eyes as the news sank in. All he could say was, “Wow.”

Fast forward to this morning…

I was grumpy for a moment when I woke up. I actually thought that I had dreamt about this winning this IVF cycle. As the sleep cleared from my eyes and I came to my senses, I remembered that this is REAL LIFE! And then I cried again. I still cannot believe it. I don’t think I’ll ever get over how amazing this is. We are forever indebted to all of you for supporting us, and CNY for making our dreams a reality.

Infertility after loss has been the absolute cruelest thing I have ever had to endure. As much as I hate to admit this, I was beginning to lose hope. In the blink of an eye, our prayers have been answered and hope has flooded every inch of my body. That light at the end of the tunnel that was quickly vanishing from sight has suddenly flooded everything around me, and all I see is light. Life feels full and wonderful.

The thing I love most is that Aria feels so present in this. I can’t thank her enough, I know she’s been guiding us every step of the way.

I cannot wait to begin this next chapter. It’s time to have a sibling for Aria.

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!

Happy First Birthday, Aria!

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Today is Aria’s first birthday.

I can’t believe I just typed that sentence. A year has gone by in the blink of an eye. This day is more bittersweet than I can even begin to explain. I wish with all of my heart that everything was different, and that she could smash into her little pink elephant cake with us. But today is not about the loss of her. Today is about celebrating her birth, and the brief moments of life we shared with her. Letting her go was heartbreaking, but experiencing life with her – that was pure joy.

Please join us in wishing our daughter a very happy first birthday. We’d love if you would light a birthday candle for her tonight, and share a photo with us. We want our little girl to see just how loved she is, and just how many people are celebrating her life as she watches over us today.

Happy First Birthday, Aria! We love you so much.

Saying goodbye to 2016, the year of my daughter’s birth.

img_3914-12016 is nearly over, and it feels as if it has just begun. Weren’t we ringing in the New Year at midnight on January 1, 2016 not that long ago?

On that day, we were sitting with our backs against the headboard of our bed in a hotel just twenty minutes outside of Philadelphia. Our faces were swollen and splotchy from several days worth of unending tears. We watched the ball drop in Times Square on the television, feeling so removed from the jubilant celebration we were witnessing. We wondered how anyone could possibly be smiling at a time like this.

But they didn’t have a clue. Heck, all of our friends, and even many family members still had no idea what we were facing.

10. 9. 8. 7. 6. 5. 4. 3. 2. 1…

There was a pause and silence between Brian and I for a split second before we realized we should give each other the obligatory New Year’s kiss.

Then we both looked down at my pregnant belly, “Happy New Year, Aria!” We whispered in unison.

A stinging sensation flooded my body.

Oh, it hurt. I wanted so badly to give Aria more joy, but I had nothing left. We were so heartbroken from learning a few days prior that our fight, her fight, was almost over. Not because she was getting better, but because she was getting worse.

This sweet, precious, innocent girl was dying before her life even had a chance to begin. It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t right.

In a completely unexpected turn of events, she was born the day after New Years, and she only stayed for an hour. It was not an easy start to the year.

It’s strange, I thought for sure I would be grateful to be rid of this awful, wretched year – the year that took my sweet baby girl. But I’m sad to see it go, because 2017 changes a lot of things.

You see, it made me feel close to Aria whenever I would say, “We have a daughter, but she passed away at the beginning of this year.” The last time I held her was still less than twelve months away, so she didn’t seem so far. Saying the words, “She passed away in January of last year” just sounds so long ago.

The only solace in this is that I know firsthand that time does not end love, and it does not change the fact that I am her mother, and that my husband is her father.

2017 will not be the year she learns to run on a playground, but it is the year she continues to be my beautiful firstborn child. And so will the next year, and the year after, and so on for all of eternity.

Although I still think tears will fall the first time I have to say she passed away last year.

To every grieving parent who may be reading these words; I know this time of the year is incredibly hard, and I want to commend you on having the strength to survive it. I wish you all the best in the coming year, and hope it is much better than the last. Happy New Year.

Goodbye, Golden.

Today, as I was scrolling through my news feed on Facebook, I saw a post in my neighborhood’s Facebook group. A woman shared a photo of a dog who looked close to death, and said where he was located but that she couldn’t stop to help him. I don’t know what came over me but without even a second thought, I was grabbing all the dog friendly food I could find in my kitchen, and driving to him.

When I arrived, I sincerely thought I was too late. He laid totally lifeless and as I approached him, he didn’t move. But as soon as I called out, “Puppy!” He perked up and looked up at me. My heart sank, his poor eyes were so full of infection that I’m still not certain he could see. I started trying to coax him with food and gain his trust but he was just so skittish. He would let me get about a foot away from him, but quickly retreated as I moved closer. I felt so bad for him, his beautiful fluffy coat was full of dirt, and he was very emaciated. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t get him on a leash because he wouldn’t let me near him, and I didn’t want to be too aggressive because we were on the side of a busy road and I feared he would get hit by a car.

Another good Samaritan saw the Facebook post, and came to help but it was no use. We weren’t professionals, and all of our best attempts only seemed to scare him even more. So we agreed it was best to call animal control. By the time they came for him, several hours later, the sweet dog had passed away.

I’m not sure why, but he wrecked my heart. I wanted so badly to save him. I wanted to get him out of there, bathe him, and save him.

And as different as these two events are, it brings up so many of the things I felt when we lost Aria. At the core, they are both two souls in sickly bodies that I just could not save. It’s a really tough thing to process both mentally and emotionally.

But recently, I made the decision to stop guarding my heart so fiercely. Instead I opted to love as freely as I could because even when I face heartbreak, I never regret the love I gave.

So to that sweet golden dog who let me love him for such a brief moment, thank you. I sincerely hope you’re roaming green pastures somewhere.

I’m scared of feeling relief.

I posted two days ago about picking the day we would pack up Aria’s room. I haven’t been able to stop the topic from swirling through my mind ever since.

I felt strange after setting the date. I liked the certainty in knowing when that day would come. I could prepare and brace for it, and that felt like a good thing. There was also a lot of sadness as I thought about the reality of never seeing Aria’s room again. It’s the place I run to when the sadness overwhelms me and I need to feel close to her. It is the only place on this earth that I feel totally surrounded by her, and to lose it is incredibly tough.

There is some part of me that looks forward to the day we will pack everything up. I have known for over eight months that this day was going to come. I have spent a really long time dreading this day. It’s been a huge dark cloud that looms over me every time I walk past her room, or spend a few minutes sitting in her rocking chair. I have to constantly remind myself that much like Aria, this room would not be here forever. So a part of me looks forward to no longer having to walk through life fearing this day. I want to let go of this because I have carried it on my back for so long and I just want to feel a little lighter.

But how can I want this? Seeing all the hope we had poured into her room get packed up into cardboard boxes is going to shatter my heart. How could this ever be a good thing?

I guess what I am trying to say is, I feel like letting go of her room is a lot like letting go of her. I know that is far from the truth, but it’s a tough feeling to shake. I don’t want to dishonor Aria’s memory, and I don’t want to distance myself from her. I don’t want to be happy about letting go of something so connected to my memories of her.

And yet… I have hope. I have hope that packing up and starting over in our new house will bring us a lot of joy. I have hope in the possibility of a few of Aria’s things eventually finding their way back into our home, to be used for her future siblings. I have hope that doing all of these hard things will bring us one step closer to a brighter future.