Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day 💙

To most today is just an ordinary Tuesday. To me today means so much more. Today, October 15, 2019 is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. I never imagined October 15th would become a day I cherish like Christmas, New Year’s Day and loved ones birthdays. But for the rest of my life it will be just that.

My husband and I lost our first child when I was 20 weeks pregnant in January. There simply are no words to describe that dark time in our lives. Prior to our own experience with pregnancy loss, I could have never imagined what all it entailed. Whatever preconceived ideas I did have about miscarriage were washed away like a piece of sand in a tsunami once that life altering event forever marked our lives.

Although our son was only in our lives a few short weeks, we loved him like we had known him for an eternity. After his birth as I was holding him for the few short moments I had with him, I just couldn’t take my eyes off him. He was gone but perfect in every way. I saw in him all of the hopes and dreams we had for him. I knew at that moment that I would never get to experience those moments with him on earth but I prayed that he would still get to achieve all those dreams in heaven.

I will never forget the deafening silence that occurred when my son was born, far different from the sweet lullaby that played to mark the birth of all the other babies in the unit. I will never forget having to decide what I wanted to do with our child’s body. I will never forget letting go of our son for the last time. I will never forget the loneliness I felt coming home without him. And that was just the first day without him. I will never forget anything about that day as it forever changed the rest of my life.

I wish I could say navigating life after pregnancy loss has been easy, but it hasn’t been. Pretty much every day of this past year has been awkward and painful. I actually got used to feeling a bit like the grim reaper, since I brought such sadness everywhere I went. But I tried not to focus on that too much. I just did my best to focus on what I could control each day and not worry about the rest.

But all of that brings me to this triumphant today. The fact that I am standing here is a testament to the simple fact that God is so good. It is by his grace, strength and love that I’ve made it through this experience. Each day is still so incredibly hard but I am still standing, which is more than I imagined. Today I still have sadness for our loss but I am also able to hold joy at the same time.

Today I honor Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day for the beautiful and complicated day it is. It honors all the lost sweet little ones and let’s all of their loved ones left behind know that they are not alone. It honors the long journeys we have traveled and encourages us for the journey ahead. And although the day will never replace what we have lost, it’s a kind and gentle reminder that we are not forgotten.

~ C ~

We have been blessed by so many people near and far throughout our loss journey. The prayers and support offered by our family, friends, loved ones and strangers has made all the difference. We are forever thankful.

Pregnancy Loss Awareness Month – October 2019

One of the things I have been learning over the course of the last year is how to hold all the parts of life at the same time. We have to hold all the emotions, all the life events, all of the challenges and all of the triumphs at the same time. We have to hold happiness and sadness in the same moment.  We have to let our fears and bravery stand side by side.  We have to recognize our fullness and emptiness, giving each the necessary space in our life.  The fact is life is complicated but we can’t let that hold us hostage.  We must learn how to hold all the parts of life, while simultaneously making a conscious effort to move forward.  If we don’t embrace this fact, we will forever be in the same exact spot.

Learning to move forward and continue to strive for success in my life, while holding the pain of pregnancy loss is something I have unfortunately become very familiar with. It is one of those things I could have never imagined would be part of my life story. But here I am and here it is. When I experienced my miscarriage nine months ago, it affected me deeply and permanently. There was so much about the experience and the aftermath that I didn’t expect. Some of which I have shared and some of which I plan to share in the future. But the one thing I didn’t quite grasp at the time was how profoundly it would effect my future everydays. It affected me and still affects me everyday in every way.

As a generally optimistic person, at first it was beyond confusing to try to hold deep sadness yet move forward in my life at the same time. But I knew I had to figure this out if I wanted a life worth living. After nearly a year of intentional growth in every facet of my life and work on grief with trusted counselors, I have learned that the key to holding all of life at once is to understand how it all comes together to make us whole. My sadness for the loss of my son and the happiness I have as I strive to achieve other goals in my life come together to tell my story and make me a whole person.

Today on the first day of Pregnancy Loss Awareness month, I remember all of the women who are carrying the pain of the loss of a baby along their journey forward. Often a silent and lonely journey, I pray not that they have an easy one, but rather that they give themselves grace as they manage to hold it all. Because life can be beautiful after loss.

~ C ~

A Birthday After Loss

Today is my 31st birthday.

I have been secretly dreading this day for months now. Not the part about getting older or aging. Quite honestly I couldn’t care less about that and it is the least of my worries. But rather the part that has given me such anxiety is just how empty this one feels.

If someone would have said that during year 30 I would lose my father to pancreatic cancer, learn I miscarried my son at twenty weeks the very next day, have my first two major surgeries in life and have an additional health scare, I would have without question just tapped out from day one. It was simply too much to take.

As my birthday approached I have also been overcome with deep sadness that the two people who created me are no longer on this earth with me on this day. I can barely put it into words but just know that it is beyond heartbreaking to have a birthday without both your mother and your father. And the fact that this would have been my first birthday as a mother has been equally excruciating to hold.

For all of those reasons, I honestly could have skipped September 9th altogether this year and truly would have been better off. As I stared into the approaching 31, I was completely numb.

What if? What if 31 is the same or God forbid worse than 30 was? There were many days I felt like I crawled through fire and that is something you just can’t process doing twice.

This morning I didn’t know what to do so I started the day off in silent reflection and prayer.

In that silent reflection I made a very important decision for the year ahead. I decided that I will eliminate all expectations for myself this year. I can’t predict the future and I am not going to even try anymore. It doesn’t mean I won’t have any goals or positive plans for my life moving forward. But rather my goals and plans this year will be broad enough to allow them to come to fruition however God intends them too. I realized that the times when my life expectations were so narrow, that they had to appear in one particular way, were often the times I was most devastated when they didn’t appear or not in the way I envisioned.

This year I choose to stare at a blank canvas and allow the paint strokes of my life to appear in the colors and designs as they were meant to be. I won’t be forceful with the brush and I won’t be disappointed if a blue stripe appears instead of a green one. I will do my best to sit back and enjoy the experience along the way.

Let me be clear, removing expectations will not bring my parents or my son back. Removing expectations will not take the pain of 30 away. Removing expectations will not make me the person who I was once before.

But removing expectations will allow me to be open to possibility. And maybe just maybe possibility will along the way begin to fill the emptiness.

So I walk into 31 with possibility and a whole lot of faith.

~ C ~

Where These Two Worlds Collide

I currently coexist in two worlds.

One world is where I am constantly seeking something greater in my life, a bigger impactful purpose that I have always felt was calling me. The other world is one of quiet sadness, where every action I take is focused on slowly putting my life together after great loss, piece by piece.

Honestly this is quite an interesting place to be.

Words that are a daily part of my life right now are grief, wellness and success. Each being wildly different, bringing with it accompanying emotions. One moment I find myself overcome with sadness still mourning the losses of my mother, father and son. The next moment I am laser focused on the now and what I can do to support my quest for wellness. And then the moment after that I am strategizing about how I can gain knowledge and fulfill my greater life purpose, whatever that may be.

For a while now it has been confusing and exhausting trying to figure out how I could exist in this chaotic space. To be devastated and determined at the same time is no easy feat. But this is my reality.

But I am slowly learning to navigate through these murky waters. And actually I recently realized that maybe allowing these two worlds to collide would create the one world I can only dream of living in. Just maybe my sadness and healing will unlock my greater purpose.

I don’t know where or when these two worlds can collide, but I am willing to take the chance to see what the possibilities could be.

It Gets Better

Life is a journey of ups and downs. Life is a collection of experiences and emotions. Life is the totality of all the small and big things.

So even though I am moving forward in life in the right direction, I still experience not-so-great days and small detours.

But in life now when I feel uneasy, have a bad day, become full of sadness or feel anxiety begin to creep in, I stop and remind myself it gets better. Because it does.

I am living proof of it gets better.

And it’s my life long goal to share this with others. Because sometimes we all could use a little reminder.

~ C ~

Don’t Quit

On what seems like an hourly basis, life tries to shake me out of my equilibrium. Those like me who have been trudging through a lot of life recently, may find it can take an exorbitant amount of energy to keep our ships steady and moving forward.

Because of this, one of the coping mechanisms I incorporated into my life this year has been carrying with me little mementos to keep me centered, encouraged and in the moment. Although I have a small collection of special keepsakes, they all serve the same basic purpose in my life. When I find my spirit becomes unsteady throughout the course of the day for one reason or another, I take out whichever keepsake I have at the time and just focus on it. I focus on its message, its energy and its simplicity, which after a few minutes almost always does the trick. It helps me remember I am in the moment and I am okay. It brings me back to life’s basics and allows me to regain momentum.

One of these keepsakes I hold in my purse at all times is a small quote card titled “Don’t Quit” that I purchased from a local cathedral store. I don’t know who wrote it, but I do know its message speaks to me every single time. And I hope that everyone who reads it finds the same comfort that it brings me.

Don’t Quit
~ By Unknown

When things go wrong
as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re
trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low
and the debts are high
And you want to smile,
but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest, if you must, but don’t you quit
Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As everyone of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about
When he might have won
had he stuck it out;
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow –
You may succeed with another blow.
Success is failure turned inside out –
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far;
So stick to the fight
when you’re hardest hit –
It’s when things seem worst
that you must not quit.

~ C ~

Journey of Healing

I have spent the last 8 months on a journey of healing. Every minute has been hard, yet in the midst of it I have found joy. It has been pitch dark at times, yet at the same time I have been showered with immense light. It has been the worst period of my life, yet I know without it I would still be lost.

When I made the choice to move forward in my life after loss, I began by making a series of pivotal life shifts. I started a life long voyage of making healthier choices. I made focusing on my mental health and building effective coping mechanisms my number one priority. I embarked on a journey to relearn how to learn so I could grow in every facet of my life. I surrounded myself with only those people who lift and fill me up. I made a promise to find ways to serve others as often as possible along the way. I made a conscious decision that I will no longer be just a taker from this earth and find ways to give back and reduce my footprint. I reduced clutter from my physical and mental spaces to make room for possibility. I ran towards change because remaining in the same spot was no longer an option.

Day by day, I have made small decision after small decision, each with those life shifts top of mind. Quite frankly focusing on these decisions and shifts saved me from thinking about the people I had lost, the life I would no longer know and the person who I would never be again. At first I was fueled by blind faith alone. But slowly I saw the tiny changes I was making each day compound and make an actual difference in my life.

Today I am so proud of the person I have become through these decisions and shifts in my life. It doesn’t mean I have “made it”, I never will. It doesn’t mean I won’t have any more bad days or setbacks, I am positive I will have plenty. It doesn’t mean my grief is over, it is tattooed on every aspect of my being. But what it does mean is my joy and pain can coexist. It means my darkness and light can stand next to each other. It means the decisions I make today will positively affect my future. I am proud I have arrived at a place that seemed impossible to get to only 8 months ago. And moving forward I will continue to take this healing journey the same way I have over the past 8 months, step by step.

~ C ~