#captureyourgrief 2017 Day 9: Clear + Let Go. Today is about letting go of material items to make room for the beauty that tomorrow has to offer; to ask yourself ‘does this bring me happiness?’ And if the answer is ‘no’ then to let it go…. I have been working on this in every corner of our home for the past several months. I know that clutter increases my anxiety and that I find peace in organization and simplicity. Do I have a lot left to do? Of course! Do I already notice a difference in the calmness of my heart? Absolutely. There are a lot of parts of my life I do not have control over. Parts that bring me anxiety and sadness that I need to just learn to manage…. but clutter isn’t one of them. And so I continue to focus on controlling the things I can to improve my happiness, and continue to try to keep my positive energy on the things that truly matter. This is a picture of Chloe, hugging a picture of her sisters. She knows who they are. She loves them. She lets me see a tiny bit of who they might have been each day…. and that’s what truly matters
#captureyourgrief 2017 Day 7: For the First Time. The topic today asked you to chose something to do for the first time, as a representative of continuing to live life the way your baby would have wanted you to… but this just seemed too fitting as a sign, considering I had been trying to think of something to try ‘for the first time’ for a couple days leading up to this.
For the first time today, I dreamed of my girls. I woke up early in the morning knowing I had just been dreaming about 2 female cardinals. I always imagined that when I finally dreamed of them I would be able to see what they would look like today, and who took after who…. but I didn’t feel disappointed. It just felt ‘right’- like waking up feeling a little lighter than I do most days.
Later on in the day my mom was visiting and points out the window and says “look at those 2 female cardinals on the fence!”
There’s just not words. I often seek out signs and then find disappointment- desire for ‘more’ from them…. today I was not disappointed.
(This photo is from Huntings Island SC last summer…. I wasn’t able to snap a picture in the moment this time- but I think it was better this time to live in it💛💛)
#Captureyourgrief 2017 Day 6: Bella Luna. There was no moon to see on the evening of the 6th due to storms and clouds, so this is a photo I captured the next evening from a window in our bedroom, the same window that overlooks the girls garden… For my 1st Mother’s Day after the girls died, Eric had 2 stars named for our sweet girls. They are in their zodiac sign- Virgo- and their ‘star cluster’ is called Twin Angel Bees. After we lost Baby A this past spring he had another star added to our cluster… we felt that since she was a twin too, it was fitting to put her into our cluster even if it wouldn’t have been her ‘sign’. We have this app called Sky Guide that we look at sometimes as we lay in bed looking out the skylight, or on clear nights when we find ourselves outside in the garden. We also check to see where Virgo is, and then try to figure out where Rylie, Avary and Baby A’s stars would be relative to a few bright stars we can actually see despite the city lights that dim the sky. We talk often about a trip we plan to take to Sedona one day- A trip that would be centered around having our very own Sky Guide who could help us locate and actually see our stars. This is a trip to an amazingly beautiful, quiet and serene place that we actually considered going to right after the girls died as a way of ‘getting away’…. at the time we decided against it- that our hearts just weren’t in the planning and excitement that would be needed to enjoy such a trip. I think that was the right choice. We talk about it often now, like it will be our pilgrimage trip to find our babies, and hopefully in turn find some peace within ourselves …. it would not be in the way most people get to see their children…. but we are not like most people anymore. And that’s okay. This is our journey, and ours alone. And hopefully one day we will have some amazing telescope-aided photos of our Twin Angel Bees cluster of stars to share ⭐️🐝⭐️🐝⭐️🐝
#captureyourgrief 2017 Day 5: Soul Therapy. Today’s topic is about being kind to yourself. About finding happiness and peace in the small things. After Rylie and Avary died I had a really difficult time with this idea. They died because my body failed. I had one job- to care for my babies, and I failed them. I felt I needed to suffer for that, punish myself for that, no matter how many times my doctor said I did nothing wrong…
What I have learned over the past 3 years is that I am suffering. Every single day of my life is filled with ‘what ifs’ and ‘if only’ thoughts that can easily eat away at one’s soul…. I have these thoughts no matter whether I am ‘punishing’ myself or not… this is just my reality. And so knowing this, I try to be find small ways of self-care to remind myself that I am worthy. That I am a good mother to all of my children, heavenly and earth bound. That being kind to myself and forgiving myself is a huge part of my healing. And so while I still struggle to do this some days, I am trying…. to love myself, to take care of myself, to find a little time for me, and to lay my head back, close my eyes, breathe deep, and say ‘I am okay today’….
#captureyourgrief 2017 Day 4: Belonging. I will forever be grateful for the baby loss community and the support I have found there. Through Capture Your Grief, Social Media, and Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s support group Together in the Loss of a Child, I have found my post-loss mama tribe…. it’s not what I ever imagined, but I truly believe each person who I have connected with through this community in the past 3 years can be credited with why I am still here, still breathing, still fighting, still and forever working to #breakthesilence surrounding infant and pregnancy loss. 3 years ago I felt so incredibly broken and so incredibly alone. Broken still? Perhaps…. Alone? Never… there is an instant connection you make with someone when you share the story of your babies, and they say ‘me too…’ It doesn’t matter if it’s the clerk at the post office you met as you dropped off donation gifts on your daughters’ first birthday in Heaven, or the elderly patient at work who says ‘wow I haven’t told anyone about my first born in 65 years until now’, or the long lost classmate from high school who now ‘gets it’, or the person you ‘met’ in an online support group for loss moms… There is an instant and forever bond- a sisterhood of loss mamas- and a comfort that comes along with the thought ‘wow she gets it….’ Thank you to each of you for helping to heal my heart.
#captureyourgrief 2017 Day 3: Meaningful Mantra. For me, reminding myself that I would choose the pain all over again just for the short time I was able to be Rylie and Avary’s Mama helps me on my hard days…. if I could, would I change how it all ended? Of course. If I could, would I give anything to have them here in my arms again? Absolutely. If I could, would I erase the time I carried them in my womb and then in my arms in order to erase the pain, flashbacks and grief I will always have? Never. Every single tear and painful memory will always be worth the joy and privilege I had for those months that I carried those sweet girls and made plans for our future. Somehow when I remind myself that the pain was worth it, it makes the burden more tolerable. I may grieve for the rest of my time on earth- but if that is the price I must pay for the footprints left on my heart, then so be it. I will always choose you my girls. Always. #twinangelbees
#Captureyourgrief Day 2: Rise + Shine Mourning Ritual. It has been a heavy day. Heavy for our nation, for those present during such a horrifying attack, for the parents who lost a child and for the children who lost a parent…. for all the people who only now will be starting their own grief journey… it has made it hard to focus on this day’s topic of creating a new ‘mourning ritual’ but it has made me think about a few things. I feel like it has been so frequent over the past several years that we see social media and the news flooded with ‘pray for X’ as those who feel helpless in the face of tragedy search to do or say something meaningful.
What are we praying for? What would be the ‘ideal outcome’ in light of such pain? It seems like it’s a mourning ritual we, as a society, have when we just don’t know what to do to actually make a change. It has been making me think of this quote that I heard shortly after the girls died; “The fact that our heart yearns for something Earth can’t provide is proof that Heaven must be our home.”
One day I am going to have to find a way to explain to Chloe and Ronan about the ugliness and hate that lives in our world. I will have to find the words to explain to my children that good does not always win. That people die painfully and unnecessarily sometimes. That no where is truly ‘safe’. I will have to tell them not to be fearful of living life, while secretly I am terrified of letting them go anywhere. I will have to find a way to tell them about ‘bad guys’ without killing the naive and beautiful innocence of being a child….
Rylie, Avary and Baby A will never know such hate, fear, ugliness or pain. Each of these babies were held every single moment of their lives in my womb, or in their mother and father’s arms… they only ever knew love, and even as they died they knew nothing but comfort and warmth. There is a little bit of comfort in that. That they will only ever know beauty and safety. It gives me hope for when we one day join them in Heaven. That Heaven is our true home. That one day my whole family will be together in a place of warmth, comfort, beauty and safety. That one day we will truly be in a place where we do not have to find a way to explain to our children how people can be so cruel and ugly. One day…. But today I hold each person lost or injured, and each family member or friend suffering in my thoughts and prayers.
Nobody tells you that after your babies die, you are not given the special hospital treatment of wheelchair transport from your room on the maternity floor to the front door where an aide will gingerly help you to your car with your newly swaddled babies wrapped up in your arms. Instead, you are discharged, handed your cardboard boxes with every memory of your baby inside, and sent on your way… and so 21 hours after giving birth we walked, for what seemed like forever, through the hospital complex in search of the emergency room parking where we had left our car 27 hours earlier… In the chaos of the day before we had forgotten to move it, and as I slipped into the car holding my 2 babies’ boxes, Eric pulled the parking ticket off the windshield.
28 hours before I had been a naively happy and pregnant ‘mommy to bee’ of twin girls. I was the luckiest person in the world. 27 hours before my waters broke prematurely and I called 9-1-1 repeating over and over: ‘oh God it’s too early…’ 24 hours before I was told my daughters would be born today, and they would not live.
Nobody tells you that you still have thousands of dollars of doctor bills to pay when you give birth to your babies and they die. Nobody tells you of the gut-wrenching pain in the coming weeks when you have to repeat your story over and over ending in: ‘they never got put on our insurance for coverage because they died’ because in error the nursery bills for ‘Baby A’ and ‘Baby B’ never got sent to you and you’re now being sent to collections.
Nobody tells you that your body won’t recognize that the babies have died; that you still have a post-partum phase. That the milk still comes, the hormones still crash, and the weight takes forever to fall off.
Nobody tells you that while your world stops turning, life goes on for everyone else around you. Nobody tells you that the pain remains, well after your body finally heals and the endless tears begin to dry. Nobody tells you how incredibly lonely you will feel…
3 years later, I am now mommy to my beautiful rainbow daughter, Chloe, and I am 34 weeks pregnant with a little boy. He, too, was a twin… we lost that baby early on in the pregnancy. Part of me was very sad for this added loss… but most of me just accepted it. I am no stranger now to the fact that babies die. Ever since Rylie and Avary died, I have prepared myself for another such loss. Nobody tells you that part either – that in pregnancy after loss you now makes plans for both a child if he/she lives, and for a child if he/she dies. I had equal plans for each. Baby A now has a place in Ronan’s baby book, a tree nestled in the garden right between Rylie’s and Avary’s, and a 7-point mint-colored star hanging in our living room that we use to remember and represent her. Nobody tells you that this planning – which would seem morbid to most – is what has continued to get me through my hard days.
3 years later I am a more subdued person than I once was. I do not find joy in many of the things I used to, and my life is a constant balance between the light and the darkness. I struggle with sadness and guilt, but I also find great happiness in many of my days now. I struggle to connect with others – those ‘non-loss’ peers of mine…. I often feel most alone when I’m surrounded by crowds of people who I feel don’t ‘get it’… I often times find myself taking deep breaths, trying to calm my shaking heart. I used to think that this grief process was something I needed to work through and that in the process, when I was ready, I would find ‘me’ again…. I know now that this is me – a different me – a quieter, more introverted me – but, me. This is the ‘me’ after being irreversibly changed by the short lives and deaths of my first daughters. There’s no coming back from that…. and 3 years later I am okay with that.
3 years later I remember the little girls who made me a momma each and every day. I strive to give their short lives purpose and to speak out against the silence and stigma of infant and pregnancy loss to help other loss parents in their honor. We speak their names, make donations in their memory, tend to their memorial garden, and try to live the best life we can without them here. 3 years later, even as others rarely or never mention them, I very much carry them in my heart and soul. They are my children, just as much as Chloe and Ronan and Baby A. 3 years later, I think I am finally finding peace in that. Happy 3rd Birthday in Heaven my sweet girls.