Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day

Wednesday, October 15, 2014
And, I am not alone.

I stopped counting the number of momma's that I know that have lost babies when all my fingers were full. That is a lot of mommas just in my life who have felt the pain of loss whether that be a miscarriage, still birth, or infant death. Knowing that I am not alone, I turned to my fellow grieving friends and asked them to share their deepest struggles and what they desire for others to know. 

Our stories are different...expected loss opposed to unexpected loss or stillbirth in comparison to infant death, just to name a few...but this day is to recognize each baby who is longed for. Forever their absence will be felt.


"The obvious answer to the question of what has been the most difficult is the moment we were told that our beautiful daughter would not be with us for long.  No matter how long she did stay, it would never be as long as we wanted.  But we found that was just the start of a different part of our lives, the end of “Before-Maisy” time.  So within our new journey, the hardest choice for my husband and I was how to balance the desire to tell others (family, friends, etc.) about Maisy’s progress without getting the extreme reaction.  We chose to carry her and were blessed to have almost 9 months with her safely cocooned in our love.  We wanted to celebrate her milestones even if they were always shared with an asterisk, *yes we know she is still very sick but today was a good day in perspective of all the possibilities*.  We often didn’t get that chance.  If we said she sure was moving a lot or she was super cute in her ultrasound pictures people would respond with either the “she’s still sick right?” or they would change the subject.  We talked about her every day in our little family and hardly at all outside of that, our little way of protecting her from people’s thoughts or comments.  It evolved into not letting others inside our small circle and not having enough support when we really needed some extra strength shared by those around us.  I would tell my best friend how much I appreciated her asking the “normal” questions about the pregnancy and Maisy, not because she wasn’t aware of what the bigger picture was, but because she had so much faith in things bigger than any of us here on earth that she just assumed none of us really knows what will happen the next day and therefore we can simply enjoy the moment we’re in, we can live just that moment.  Our other children were so innocent in their understanding and their acceptance, we truly envied this.  They would pray with us every day that we would be blessed with meeting our little girl and yet they accepted that this might not happen.  Sharing each milestone with them was nothing but joy because there was no asterisk for them, it was just what their little sister was doing that day. 
Looking back now this is also the one thing that still greatly bothers me, not sharing more of her earthly journey while I carried her.  We all want to shout from the highest point about our children and our love for them.  Choosing to be quiet then has lead me to be louder now.  I bring her or her name or anything about her up whenever I have the chance.  I make sure to always celebrate her now, even though I didn’t always know how to do it then."


One of the most dearest people whom I have met through Alexandra's House, like me grieves a daughter but her journey is so very different than mine. Her daughter, Mia, was healthy yet stillborn as a result of a full term cord injury.

"Acceptance that it was real was the hardest facet for me. One minute I had a perfectly healthy baby and the next she was dead. When I got to the hospital, they took me off to a quiet part of the maternity ward. I wanted to be with other momma's. In hindsight, I'm glad I wasn't. I was upset they didn't hook me up to heart rate monitors. I mean, what if they were wrong. What if the sonogram was wrong. Even when holding my baby who wasn't breathing and didn't have a heart beat, I thought this just couldn't be. She was FINE yesterday. How did this happen?"

"What I want others to know is that just because I have another baby, doesn't mean I have moved on or forgotten Mia. I have three daughters even though you only see two. She will always be a part of me and it will always be hard to watch the baby grow up as I will forever think I never got to see this with Mia."


"One of the most difficult aspects of being pregnant with a son who's life was expected to be limited was finding the balance between grief and hope while Jack was still with me. But proving more difficult than that was watching my baby die in my arms. He was born alive and he died. My child whom I had just given life to, died in my arms. And when the time came, we had physically gave my baby over to someone else never to see him. Never in this lifetime will I hold him, touch him, or see him again."

"In the days following death, the pain changes as it morphs into grief. Questioning how the reality of having a deceased child will effect my life forever and trying to come to terms with the new person I have become coupled with the doubts about the decisions made seeping thru. In the face of it all, trying to remain brave and strong when I am not, yet sensing others discomfort when the walls crumble and my true feels surface. There is the struggle to embrace healthy babies, baby shower invitations, and everyday conversations centered around the reality that others with healthy children face...lack of sleep, a fussiness, or the cost of child care. What I would have given to be fretting over 3am feeds, a stretched budget, or having to rock a inconsolable child. Resentment built when it was expected for me to 'get better' and my faith wavered as I tried to grasp God's plan through it all. One minute, I felt ok and the next I was anything but. Sometimes I put on a front just to try to convince myself that I was making it but my heart was never fooled. Despite how I appeared, I was broken, I was empty, and I am anything but whole."

"What I want, is for people to never pause in mentioning him.  I want to talk about him just as I talk about my other children. I want him to be remembered."


For me, the most difficult aspect of my pregnancy,  were the 11 weeks I carried her knowing her prognosis. If I could have hid from the world, I would. In the comfort of my cocoon, I relished my pregnant body but with the obvious came questioning from strangers. Good willed at heart, the innocent questions posed toward a pregnant woman stung because my heart didn't know the excitement of an expected life with a healthy child. Coupled with the difficulty of just being pregnant were the what seemed like never ending decisions that had to be made.  Burial or cremation, whether to wear the heart rate monitor during delivery, the funeral home that would collect her body, the songs to be sung at the memory service, and the selection of the only outfit ever to be worn. How could I decide when I didn't even know what I wanted for myself? What I wanted was to be preparing for my daughter's life not to be planning for her death.

The day of her birth was one of the most incredible yet one of the most unbearable days of my existence. She was born alive and laid upon my chest just like in the movies. She made me a momma and in the blink of an eye, I was handing over her lifeless yet perfectly swaddled body. A moment that will forever be etched into my memory. Was I ready was the question posed. Was I ready for them to take her body? How could I have been. I felt it in my heart as she was carried out the room, a part of my heart left in that moment and it will never be remade whole.

What I want others to know is that it is okay to talk about her and to ask questions. Bringing her up isn't going to make me sad, I already am. Bringing her up acknowledges her existent. I carried her, I birthed her, I held her in my arms, and forever I will mourn her. I just want her to be remember and her life celebrated.


"If you know someone who has lost a child or lost anybody who's important to them, and you're afraid to mention them because you think you might make them sad by reminding them that they died, they didn't forget they died. You're not reminding them. What you're reminding them of is that you remember that they lived, and that's a great, great gift." - Elizabeth Edwards


Words of Affirmation

Sunday, October 12, 2014

I remember sitting at a restaurant with my best friend back in March. And, can we pause for a moment and address how simply amazing my bestie is. If there was an award to be given out for the most faithful and dedicated friend, she would hands down take the cake (literally and figuratively). She accepts me regardless of my mood, is on speed dial for vent sessions, has a couch that has a collection of my tears, and a deep love for my Addy despite never being able to meet her. My bestie, she loves well.

Okay, back to our dinner date. I was sharing with her the radical idea that I had conjured. I explained that I had figured out what it was going to take for me to heal from the devastating end to my marriage. I can remember thinking it was going to be the solution, the answer, the way to end the hurt that I had been harboring. 

I was going to ask him to write a letter to me.

I learned a long time ago that my love language is words of affirmation. I save every card that I have been given, file the most touching emails, and screen shot messages that encourage me. So, it made perfect sense to me to ask him to write a letter validating me. I wanted a piece of paper that proved that despite his decision to have an affair that I was a good wife, that I was pretty, that I made him happy, that I was worthy. I thought to myself that this said letter, the very words affirming my role, would hang in my home for others to see and be worn as a coat of armor.  I would carry it around and when I began to doubt myself or when I felt I was being judged because I was 'lacking something that resulted in him choosing to have an affair,' I would be able hold up his words for all the world to read. This letter would allow me to say,  "Yes, my husband had an affair. But look, I was a really good wife." or "Yes, my marriage ended in divorce. But see, these are the things I did well."

As I was explaining this brilliant idea to my best friend, I felt so relieved as I just knew that his validating words would heal me. He broke me and I needed him to fix me.

And so, I called him. 
I reminded him of my love language and shared exactly what I needed him to do. 
I gave bullet points of topics that it would be helpful for him to touch on and that he could end by explaining what he misses the most from the life we spent 12 years building.

Yes, I did that.  I really did. 
And, he agreed.

Four days later , I was reflecting on the weekend that I had just had at Hope Spoken and replaying my conversation. I was anxiously anticipating his healing letter. As I got out of the shower, I had a moment of ultimate clarity so real that it stopped me in my tracts. I looked around and it was just me. 

In a split second, loud and clear I heard the words, "But Aly, to me you are worthy and to me you are enough." They flooded my head and penetrated my soul. Standing alone in a little hotel bathroom, I looked around expecting to see someone uttering the words to me. They were so concise, so convicting, and so liberating.  A defining moment of healing for me. 

This letter that I thought would heal me, would simply be words. 
Empty, broken, weightless words. Regardless of how eloquent, they would be from him and he doesn't define or validate who I am. His actions were independent of my role as his wife and he isn't the foundation of my worth. His words could not heal me, they could not free me, nor could they ever liberate my spirit.

I don't need his letter to validate who I am. 
To the King of Kings, I am worthy and I am enough.
Worthy & Enough. Praise Jesus that he can make all things new.  


And for the record, I hesitated to share. But, I was dinning with yet another friend recently (I recognize I am abundantly blessed by the people in my life) and sharing with her how I struggle with meeting new people. It might seem odd given that I share pretty openly on this little blog or on my IG account. But to me, this is safe because if you don't want to read, you would unfollow me or close the window and I would never know. But in person, that isn't the case. Opening up to strangers is scary because it leaves me vulnerable to how they will respond to my story. My dear friend explained to me that perhaps sharing in person or sharing of the most intimate moments of healing would be just what someone else needed to hear. That maybe, just maybe, God would use my broken and redeemed story to encourage and draw others to Him. It seems crazy to me. I am just being me and sharing my authentically messy self but if my words could possibly help someone else, I will share. You too are worthy and you too are enough. Did you hear that? You are worthy and you are enough.

And also for the record...that letter, it never came.

Shawn's Day That Came

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Growing up with six siblings wasn't always peaches and cream.


I can distinctly remember sobbing when I found out my mom was pregnant with my youngest sister. I was eight and I was very clear that "we already had enough kids in this family."

I always shared a bedroom, a bathroom, a birthday month, and my super hip clothes (denim overalls are not surprisingly making a comeback!). Although, being the eldest girl meant the hand-me-downs were from me and not to me! 

Contrary to what you might expect, it was never cool in middle school to be picked up in a conversion van and every time I had a friend over you could count on a sibling to two who insisted on being the center of attention. There were constant fights over the hot water, the front seat, the last of the milk, and the old school desktop computer so we could instant message with friends. 

I didn't appreciate what it meant to grow up in a big family as a child.
 But, the older we get, the closer my siblings and I have become. 

Sure we still bicker, and over share our unsolicited opinions, and poke fun a little too deep at times. But, we defend and protect. Celebrate and mourn. And we we share a fierce love and loyalty. 

So, when our eldest brother wed, #teameagle was in fully force to ensure their vision....the one where every detail was maliciously planned...was brought to fruition. There was pie baking, veggie chopping, flower snipping, and moss gluing. There was U-Haul driving, tent propping, ribbon tying, light stringing, and chandelier hanging. There was cake icing, centerpiece spritzing, card alphabetizing, and groom reassuring. 

But, that is when I am most proud to have so many siblings. 
We rally at the needs of another, I can attest as the repeated recipient.

And, that big brother of mine, he made certain that my beloved daughter was remembered on their day. She was the honorary flower girl.

 Their day was one of my most favorite family events to date. 
The ceremony, the speeches, the 'I won't be able to feel my feet the next day' nonstop dancing, and the celebration of their love. 

All because this day came for them.
 Welcome to the family. 
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