"Life isn't about surviving the storm...it is about learning to dance in the rain." Anonymous

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Baby Shoes For Sale Never Worn

SMITH Magazine began a project in 2006 called the “Six Word Memoir” in an effort to provide a tool for people to stimulate conversation or spark the imagination.  This project encouraged people to write a six word memoir about themselves…a six word autobiography, so to speak.  There is now a website, www.sixwordmemoirs.com, where you can submit your own words to the “six” phenomenon.
Of course, the idea of this is nothing if not intriguing.  The submitted memoirs include many that leave the reader wanting to know more:
·        “At least I was finally honest.”
·        “Waiting for news in hospital hallways.”
·        “I’ve tried to leave good marks.”
And then there are the others that don’t leave the reader hanging at all.  Some of the six letter memoirs are so powerful at only six words that the reader can feel the depth of emotions immediately. 
“Baby shoes for sale never worn.”
“My baby died and it hurts.”
“Final breath.  Angels carried you away.”
“I just miss you.  I do.”
It doesn’t escape me that these statements, while so short, carry so much importance and weight.  Just like the tiny lives they refer to.  It is a reminder that the length of an experience doesn’t make it matter more or less.  Sometimes, the most monumental and special parts of our lives are only given to us for the shortest amounts of time.  But, they matter.  Oh, yes, they matter very much. 

What are your six words?  Are they full of emotion, full of pain, full of love?  Your words are your story and your story is your legacy.  How about this one:  Loss hurts but the love remains.  Six letters.  No one can take away the love you feel-that is yours.  Even the worst pain of loss can’t erase it.  It is perpetual, it is true and it is what will help to heal your broken heart.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Six Year Journey

Hey sweet baby,

It is your mommy.  I haven't written about you in some time and today feels right.  Today marks 6 years since we began this journey together.  Sometimes, I feel like it has just been the two of us on this very lonely road together, which is comforting and devastating all at once.

I want you to know that today I have relived every second of our time together--the unexpected positive pregnancy test, the aversion to meat, finding out you were another little girl, your very strong kicks, my placenta previa, the bedrest, the constant prayers that you would be ok, and then the day that you were not ok.

But most of all, I want you to know that I am happy.  Sometimes, I feel guilty about that, but I think you already know that I am happy and that you are glad.  The road to happy has not been an easy one. It has been heartbreaking and difficult to walk.  But I am ok.

The loss of you did not shatter me.  It did break me into many pieces, but so many things have helped to put my broken pieces all back together:  the friends I have made along the way, my job, your daddy and your older siblings, and our rainbow baby, Campbell.  They have all had a part in helping walk this road to better.  I like to think that all my broken pieces are sewn back up like an old teddy bear who has been loved on by many people.  One thing I have learned through this is that it is the imperfect suture lines that matter.  That is what gives character.  They tell the story of how each piece belongs.

When my grandmother- your great-grandmother- died this past June, I was heartbroken.  I have mourned her greatly and miss her every single day.  But, her death, while terribly sad for me, has not altered my life.  Maybe because I knew she would die someday.  I don't know.  You were different.  Your passing was life altering and that is what has made this journey very different.  You literally changed my life.  If it weren't for your existence, I would be in a completely different place right now.  That, in my opinion, makes you amazing.

So, thank you for being my sweet forever baby.  You are treasured beyond measure.  Your lessons have been taught.  And I am grateful.  So very grateful that I was your mom.

I hope the angels are giving you extra kisses today.

Friday, April 3, 2015

The more things change, the more they stay the same....

My 96 year old grandmother recently told me that she lost two babies before my dad (her firstborn) was born.  One of them was very early, but the other one was delivered by her at home.  It was on a night that she was by herself.  My papa, her husband, owned a restaurant and worked late into the evening on most nights.

When she told me this, I was so upset for her.  I asked her who did she call to help her?  How did she handle it all?  Her reply was this:  "Who was there to tell?"

She went on to tell me that she didn't want to bother my papa during the dinner rush and that her mother would have told her to deal with it and keep moving.  She was very close to her sister, but chose to keep it private.  In fact, she kept it private for many years.  It wasn't until her 2nd son, my uncle, died at 18 years of age, that she mentioned that little baby again.  She had thought about her baby many times over the years, but never felt that she could talk about it.  But, when my uncle died, the old emotions came to the surface.

But, even then, she wasn't encouraged to continue talking.

When I lost my baby, she told me to move on.  To forget it all and be strong.  I got really mad and didn't speak to her for a while.  It wasn't until recently that she shared her story with me.  And now it all makes sense.  She was afraid no one would listen if I wanted to talk about her.  She had been there and walked in my shoes.  She had felt the pain and suffered in total silence.  For 70 plus years, she has suffered in silence.

I understand.  While, the culture of pregnancy loss is changing and people are encouraged to openly grieve, there are still many people who have no support.  There are many who feel like they can't mention their beautiful baby's name or show their picture, for fear of being misunderstood.  There are many people in the world who think that the loss of a baby is insignificant.  They are the ones who have never buried their children or celebrated a birthday for someone who is gone.

So, in many ways, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

The other day, I called my grandmother and asked her to tell me all about her baby.  She sat on the phone for a while and I started to worry that I had overstepped.  And then, she did what I had hoped she would....she told me all about her baby.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Five years

I love and hate December 1st.  I hate it because it is a painful reminder of the most devastating loss I have ever encountered.  I love it because the person I lost was born that day.  In the true fashion of grief, my emotions are conflicting.  I have learned along this journey that there is no rhyme or reason for grief emotions.  Happy one minute, sad the next.  Guilty for the happy moment.  Blessed to see the other beautiful things in your life, but always wanting the one not here.  Mad at the world, but thankful to be a part of that crazy, mad world.

Today is my Elizabeth's fifth birthday.  Five years ago, we were heartbroken and devastated.  I can't think about that day and this journey without crying.  In fact, I am crying so hard right now as I type.  Oh my, I have learned so much about so many things.  I guess you can say that she has taught me along the way.  I never in my wildest dreams thought I would be sitting here five years later writing a grief blog and talking openly about my story.

I think the biggest lessons I have learned are:
  1. I have absolutely no control over my feelings, but I do have control over what I do with them.
  2. I have a village of people to talk to.  I have met this village over the past five years.  I probably would have collapsed without them.  We hold each other up.
  3. I am not to blame for any of this.  I think when the loss of a baby happens, the people grieving try so hard to find a reason or someone to blame.  I chose to blame myself.  My body was the one that failed.  My placenta decided to implant in the wrong place.  My  beautiful little girl was perfect, but lived in an imperfect womb.  I don't know when the blame went away, but some time over the last couple of years, I came to realize that I am not at fault.  I would have done ANYTHING in my power to change what happened.  Anything.  Some things are out of my control.  That doesn't mean the whole situation doesn't still stink.  It is really horrible.  And horrible things happen everyday to well meaning, good people.  I have commented before that I wish God would write my plan down and put it in my mailbox so that I could be prepared :)  That is just not the way this life works, though, is it? 
  4. I would do it all over again, just to have the time I had with her.  Of course, I wish the outcome could be different and I could have her every single day.  But, I would never wish our time had not happened.  She was a living reality for the time she lived in me.  I have those memories and they are precious.  I had a favorite maternity shirt and I remember feeling her somersaults.  She would have been a gymnast, like her sister.  I have never felt such movement, ever!  I have a memory box that has grown every year, because we add to it all the time.  I never knew that I could parent a child who is not here.  I have learned to do this.  To cherish seeing her name in print, to remember her birthday, and to speak her name whenever I can to whomever will listen.  She was special and yes, I would do every single wonderful and heartbreaking minute all over again.
  5. Anyone who doubts that an unborn baby has an amazing story to tell just has not listened long enough.  Their stories are incredible and they impact everyone--their doctors, nurses, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, and especially their parents.  Every day in the US, 70 babies are stillborn, which means that every single day, 70 families are devastated and 70 sets of parents are sitting in a hospital grieving a loss that affects every aspect of their lives.
A couple of years ago, I wrote about the elephants and how they come together in support of each other when one of their tribe loses her baby.  They all lay their trunks on her in silent support
 and none of them move until she is ready to get up and walk away. 

What wonderful creatures!

 I have also made reference to the "mean wells" - those people who really do mean well, but can say things that are not supportive at all. 

Occasionally, I look through Elizabeth's memory box.  I can't do it often, but when I do, I am reminded of all the people who have taken the time to say her name or write her name in a card.  The day after she was born still, my daughter's 2nd grade class sent me this:


Each child traced his or her hand and wrote a message on it.  Then they made them into a bouquet.   Many of these precious 2nd graders even wrote Elizabeth's name in their message :)    My heart is so full reading these.  Elephants come in all shapes and sizes, don't they!  I have my own village of elephants who have gotten me to where I am.  And where I am is right here, still standing, somewhat broken but strong.  I am here and everyone around me, including the mean wells, have gotten me here.  They have each been a part of my journey.
Happy 5th birthday, my sweet baby.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Beautiful reminders

Two weeks ago, I took my husband and kids to see an old family cemetery that sits on some property that is owned by my great uncle.  I grew up knowing about this cemetery and hearing stories about all the relatives that are buried there.  That may sound a little crazy, but am from south Georgia and every South Georgia family that I know can tell you all about their relatives and where they are buried, too. 

This particular cemetery sits behind the most beautiful little white one room church called Jordan Chapel, named for my great great grandfather, who built it.  The cemetery is older than the church, with many headstones that aren't legible anymore.   A cotton field surrounds both the church and the cemetery, making it one of the most incredibly beautiful and peaceful places in the world.

Over the past year, we lost 2 members of my family....my great uncle and my cousin, both of whom are now buried at Jordan Chapel cemetery.  That is what brought us there 2 weeks ago.  I had not been there in a long time and we spent some time looking at the various headstones and listening to my daddy tell us stories about the  people he remembered growing up.

It wasn't until right before we began to leave that I noticed this...

In the midst of several family plots marked by last name, there was this one all by itself.  As you can see, it is a small grave.  The headstone read the baby's name, Thomas, with the inscription "beloved stillborn son".  The year of his birth was 1941.  But those aren't the things that caught my attention.  My mind and my heart were drawn to the pot of fresh flowers that someone has lovingly put on his grave.  Seventy three years later, someone is still remembering this baby.  This beloved son, born during an era when many mothers were not enouraged to name their stillborn babies or to see them or to mourn openly.  This baby Thomas was given a name.  And someone out there remembers his name and thinks of him and brings flowers to his grave.

My heart was full.  It drove home what I already know.  That as long as I am here on this earth, my daughter is remembered. 

I think sometimes I worry that I will forget her and her specialness.  This was a reminder that she is part of me always and forever.

Friday, August 8, 2014


Wow, it sure has been a while since my last post!  Sorry about that....for some reason, I haven't had the inspiration to write this summer.  I am not sure why.  That happens to me sometimes and I can't just write something for the heck of it just to post something.  I need to FEEL like writing.  Does that make sense?

Summer is ending and my two older children went back to school yesterday.  I always get a little melancholy about this, but especially this year.  We were taking the usual first day of school pictures.  Making them smile and hold up signs that read "5th grade" and "7th grade", which they did not approve of!

They left for school with my husband and the house got quiet and then it hit me that there was definitely something missing.  There should have been a 4 year old little girl wearing hairbows and carrying her first backpack, holding up a sign that read "Pre-K". 

There are so many things that bereaved parents lose when their baby dies too soon.  The loss is so deep.  It is the loss of what could have been that is so hard for me.  I want to know her so badly.  Sometimes, this is what keeps me awake at night--the fact that I feel that I don't know her.  I know the idea of her and I know what she means to us.  But, I wanted to know HER--her favorite color, her favorite toys and songs.  Would she like to dance or would she rather play soccer?  These are things I lost.  Today, I feel that loss very deeply.  Instead, I am sitting here feeling like I missed her first day of school.

I hope she knows that her mom is thinking about her and that this week is a milestone.  I am proud of her.  Proud of the fact that she was mine, if only for a short time.  I guess I don't need a sign to remind me of that fact.  It is just that this experience has been so hard and it has taken me a while to figure it all out. 

Peace and hugs....

Thursday, May 8, 2014

What makes a mother?

I have been thinking alot about Mother's Day this week, with it coming up on Sunday.  I know most moms in the babyloss community have probably been thinking about it too.  Maybe dreading it, maybe not.  Either way, it is in the minds of many mothers.

My stillborn daughter did not make me a mother.  Her older sister has that distinction.  What she did make me is a better mother, or so I hope.  She taught me what it means to really BE a mother.  Ironic, because I never brought her home.  I never gave her baths at night and never read Goodnight Moon to her.  I have never had to put bandaids on her scraped up knees or  mend her broken heart.  I have never been able to paint her fingernails pink or enroll her in ballet.  When I think of the things I would have done with her, as her mother, the part of my heart that stays forever broken starts to hurt.

She came into my life so quickly and left much too soon.  And in that short, short time, she changed me.  She taught me so much more about being a mother than I could have learned from anyone else.  The lessons she taught aren't found in parenting books.  You see, they could never do justice to this.  There is no book that tells you how to live without your baby.  How to wake up every day and remember that she is not here.  How to handle seeing 4 year old little girls, knowing that for the rest of the day, you will remember your little girl who would be 4.  The books don't tell you how to honor that baby and her short life.  They certainly don't make mention of the fact that many of the world's best mothers are mothering babies that they can't hold.

Those lessons I have learned from her.  If it weren't for her, I don't know if I would look at the rainbows and the tulips in the backyard, or the white butterflies the same way.  I don't know if I would hug my children, her siblings, as tightly as I do.  She taught me that love is fierce.  And love is stronger than death.  And love doesn't go away.  She showed me the lengths that I would go to in order to keep her alive in everyone's hearts and minds.  I am her mother and it is up to me to remember her and honor her.  I do that everyday in the ways that I treat others and the ways that I love her daddy and siblings and grandparents. 

I am her mother and she is my daughter.  I am so very proud of that fact and will be thinking of her and her impact on me, especially this Sunday.    Much peace to all of you this weekend.