Hidden in that space of wanting you here so badly is the fear. The fear that you are too large for my body to birth, the fear that I will not open enough for you to fit, the fear of you being unhealthy or dying. I am walking a tightrope of faith and fear right now.
Strangers ask me 100 questions that the billboard of my belly cannot answer so it fills this empty void of silence everywhere; in a grocery store, the bank, the pool, the gym, the locker room shower.
"How may weeks are you?"
"Is this your first?"
"Do you know the gender?"
All questions that I am curious to know when I stumble upon a beautiful pregnant mama, but in my life I have learned to smile at her while silently wishing her peace and a living and healthy baby.
It's not that these questions are anything but naive conversation, but it forces me to be taken out of the present moment to be thrusted into the future, a place that is not guaranteed.. Living in the present is the only space I have control over and any thoughts to this baby's birth and imagining baby at home feel like dejavu, and propels me back to the time in my life where pregnancy equaled life with a baby at home & quite honestly to remember that space traumatizes me.
It's so difficult for others to picture a glimpse into this time, the weight of it, how keeping my composure is a moment by moment task. But I am here, I am present, I am working minute by minute to prepare my body, mind and soul the job that lay ahead, labor and delivery.
My heart is ready for you sweet baby. My chests longs to feel the weight of your beating heart, and I am scared. I am scared I won't get to keep you. I am scared that something is wrong or that your birth will be harmful. What I want to feel is full faith that I am capable to birth you, that you will fit my body perfectly and that you are as anxious to meet me as I am to meet you. .
These waiting days are hard. I have survived the worst, I am waiting to celebrate the best. I hope it's my turn to experience a peaceful delivery this time.
Today is marked as International Bereaved Mothers Day and I just don't identify with it. I am a mother. Period. The moment a woman decides they want to be a mom, the day she starts preparing her body to create another, she becomes a mom. When that baby is in her belly, she is a mom. When that baby is born, she is a mom. If that baby dies, she continues to be a mom. We are all different, special, unique mothers, some with our babies in our arms, some with our babies in our hearts and some with our babies in our hopes and dreams.
While I was pregnant with Ruthie Lou and even before either of my children were born, I wanted to be acknowledged on MOTHER'S Day, the day for moms. We are all already so diverse and unique in our journeys to become moms, what type of mothers we are and how we parent, that having an entire day to separate those who are bereaved the takes away from the inclusion that I want to feel on Mother's Day. I want to be acknowledged for all of my children on Mothers Day, I don't want to be made to feel different because one of my children died. It is already isolating enough to be a bereaved parent, I don't want to then also be highlighted for the fact that my child died when what I really want people to remember about Ruthie Lou is that she lived, that I am proud of her, the ultimately SHE made me a mom. She made my dreams come true, and although this is not what u ever would've wished for, I want her story to be one of love, not a sadness.
There was a time when the narrative in my head was that I was the mom whose baby died, I couldn't see beyond that pain. As time has progressed and I have worked and worked and worked my grief, that is no longer the story I live. I don't know anyone whose life has turned out exactly as they imagined it, without loss, without sadness, or grief. There will always be parts of our life that we wish were different, but I don't let that consume me, instead I let it create me. I am a mother, a wife, a teacher, an entrepreneur, a writer, an athlete, a lover of life and in all of those parts of me there are stories that I have lived, good and bad and I choose to learn from all of them.
I am a survivor. I live a full life. I am living the life I always wanted, even with this broken heart forever missing my child. I am living this life to the best of my ability because of my love for her, for my family, for myself.
As a mom whose child died, I already feel on the outside of those who can hug all their babies at night-I don't want a separate day acknowledging my child died, I want her celebrated each and every day because she lived. She is always included in our family every day, please remember include her in your well wishes to me next Sunday, on Mothers Day too.
The grief was so hard to live with in the year after Ruthie Lou died and especially while waiting for her brother to be born healthy and living. All encompassing fog reared its ugly head over mine for 24 hours every, single day without fail. There was no escaping and I could not possibly see the sunshine through the storm.
I never imagined how returning to a normal life would feel. I couldn't imagine it, for this life after death was not a life that I had yet lived. The "normal" life before my daughter barely resembles our life now, but normal life has returned. The daily stresses, worries, laughter, joy and best of all, peace. It feels good to breathe the fresh air back into my lungs when for so long, I could hardly breathe at all.
And now, here we are again expecting another rainbow (baby). It brings up all the grief, the fear, the longing. It is again, a conscious choice to tend to my heart, to take care of my health. We live with one foot in holding waiting for baby, as the other moves forward in the life we now lead.
But this sacred time of growth also brings hope. The thought of chancing it all for more joy, more love. Can this baby be ours? Is this real? I love this life growing inside me already-that happened so fast! And it is terrifying. I want to wrap this little one up safely and keep him/her to myself until July arrives and then announce to the world, "baby is here, safe and alive!"
But alas, my belly gives me away. It continues to grow in magnitude and beauty and I cannot hide the joy that this baby has already brought to my life. I am a walking billboard for all baby questions, comments and advice. I smile, am gracious and grateful for offered joy but although my skin is thicker now, I am still scared. I want this baby so bad, it hurts.
So while my chest has tightened once again with grief surfacing amongst joy, I know that there is light through this fog. I need only put one foot in front of the other. I make the decision each day to lean into the innocent joy of others and hope with all hope that this is our second happy ending.
All while I wait to smell that fresh air again. Because this time, I know it's there.
Shortly after returning from the hospital to an empty house without my sweet girl, I went for a long distance bike ride on the open road alone. I was climbing a huge hill, the wind beating behind me and smelling the fresh Fall air, thinking of what my life had become. I was talking to Ruthie Lou as I rode, telling her of my undying love and asking her what I was supposed to do with a life that now held no meaning when the thought came, I must live for her. I must wake up each day, put my feet on the ground and greet each day as it is my last and make it the best it can be. I must be the person I always wanted to be, do the things that always held fear for me and truly live for her.
When Ruthie Lou died, life as I knew it ended. Relationships ended. My presumed future ended. Who I had been until that point ended. My innocence ended. But, my life did not end. I wanted it to end, but it didn't. I willed it to end, but it didn't.
As every child does, Ruthie Lou came into my life to make it better, sweeter, full of love and she did, while she was alive. She did not come here to ruin my life, but to see how truly beautiful life can be. I will never un-experience the joy I had when she was in my arms, I could never fall out of love with her. Even though she died, my love never will.
I live for her because she cannot.
What does pregnancy after loss looks like?
This is not my first rainbow baby but it may as well be. I got pregnant with my son four months after my daughter died at 33 days old. I don't know if the exhaustion from that time was from pregnancy or from grief, but I was knocked out for quite some time.
This time four years later, I thought it would feel different-better or easier perhaps. As if being pregnant and caring for a toddler would be any easier than being pregnant and grief stricken. They are both so challenging. But this time I'm out of the fog of grief. So I'm very clear when my emotions are overtaking me.
Today I needed to find a sweater that's it. I came out to the bins of clothes that I had saved from both my pregnancies-five bins in total. We recently moved so most my bins have lost their labels forcing me to delve into every single bin on the shelf. The very last one, the big one, contained my daughters quilt for her crib, clothes from hanging in her closet and the letters that spelled her name on the wall. I pulled out the special clothes remembering my girlfriends who bought and hung them on the wall of my baby shower. The quilt was longed for, for weeks I searched until I found the perfect one. And the letters (they never had the chance to be painted) are now missing a few because I borrowed them to share with her brother and they hang on the wall of his toddler room.
I could feel my stomach rise to my throat and I felt the surge of heat overcome me that I experienced when they told me my daughter wouldn't survive. I rushed back inside to vomit. I sipped my lemon water and cooled my face to recover.
This pregnancy (as I tell myself) is a different story, a different baby, a different journey and outcome, but it is terrifying nonetheless. I have moments of panic and moments of peace, but I'm always giving my myself the grace that my emotions are part of the process and in order to maintain health, feeling them are all part of it.
This is pregnancy after loss. It never ends. It doesn't discriminate and appears anywhere, anytime-even from inside garage bins.
You've been in my heart
since the moment I knew you'd one day be in my arms.
I knew you were special,
I knew you were meant to be.
I've waited for now,
the moment to know my family is complete
and for my broken heart
to be finally be whole with you in it.
You complete the five of us,
you make us one.
You bring all of what makes you special,
you are our precious third baby child.
As we wait to hold you,
I hold you close.
You live under my heart,
as I wait for you to live in my arms.
Grow, baby grow.
Healthy brain, body and whole.
'm here, nurturing you, nourishing you,
Chris and I met at 21, just young kids when we started our life together. When we met, I worked in the Johnny Garlic restaurants and he managed the docks at Lake Sonoma. As the years progressed, I graduated college and Chris followed his career dreams.
He was a firefighter, and a damn good one too. He was first responder EMT certified, completed the Fire Fighter Academy, worked three seasons for CDF (CalFire) and was loving his job. As time rolled around to start a family, we made the decision that he start Paramedic School so that he had a better chance of being hired in a city station, which would allow shorter shifts and more predictable hours. He wanted to be home for his family. It wasn't easy, years of school, focus and patience without knowing if his dream job would come to fruition, but he did it anyway with faith that it would.
When Ruthie Lou was born, I was full force in my teaching career and Chris had graduated Paramedic School, 2 years of working full time while going to school full time, interning at the hospital and studying for his exams. He had passed the manipulative test and was one test away from being certified, he was so close!! His final test was scheduled for 3 weeks after Ruthie Lous due date...and then she came early. By the time the test date rolled around, we had lived 5 weeks of a parenting nightmare, held Ruthie Lou and loved her as much as we could and she was gone. Just like that.
We had several conversations about him returning to the world of fires and medical calls and each time was ended in stress, fear, discomfort. He had held our daughter in her last minutes of life, she was in his arms for her final breath, how could he go on a medic call that involved a child? How could he live someone else's nightmare after enduring our own? He couldn't. I knew that before he did but he is a proud man, a family man and he had worked so hard for this dream.
Finally, a friend and he had these dream plans, they would talk about it all the time. Send Chris back to school, get a barber certification, cut hair for some time, learn the business, then open up their own shop, a pipe dream really. But every time they talked about it, Chris's shoulders would relax, his brow become unfurled and I would see a twinkle in this eye and a smile on his face that he had lost along with Ruthie Lou.
Finally, near a year after her death he went for it, he abandoned all "plans" of his career path and changed courses altogether. He took a leap of faith. He followed his heart without fear of opinions, without buying into the judgement of others. And he entered into another year (plus) of school, interning and working full time...again! I don't know how he functions with the amount of sleep he gets!
Yesterday, it all came full circle. Chris has been cutting hair for a while now at a barber shop he loves, his smile has returned, his pride through the roof. He LOVES his job. Yesterday was the St Baldricks Foundation fundraiser, an opportunity to raise money for childhood cancer research to show support by shaving your head. Last year, Chris participated by getting his head shaved and he really wanted to shave heads this year. Last night, Chris became the first barber to shave heads while also getting his head shaved for the event! As he said goodbye to me before getting on stage he said, "you know why I do this" and I completely understood. Chris is a man of few words but his actions speak his heart, it's why he does everything. Chris shaved heads and shaved his head for his family and especially for Ruthie Lou. He runs half marathons, he does Tough Mudders, he speaks for George Mark, he supports the Ruthie Lou Foundation, he faces his fears, EVERYTHING that he does is for his family and for our sweet girl.
Our life did not go according to our plan, it didn't go according to anyone's choice plan. So many times we remember the nightmare we have survived, but we are able to remember it with gratitude and love for all that we held in our arms. We love our family and our TWO children, we love each other. We continue to remember that time is precious and even in our most stressful moments we know that it could be worse and time will pass. We spend our time where our heart is called and we push aside unnecessary drama. We work hard, we love hard and we are best friends. We have an amazing son and we live life though Reid's toddler view of the world.
My husband is amazing. He is the best dad. He is a great barber. He is my best friend. And we are not only surviving, we are thriving in this life that we have created, even if we didn't get to make all the plans. I am so proud of him. I am so proud of us. We live this life because she cannot and it's a damn good life.
Return to Zero premiered on Saturday, May 17th at 8pm on Lifetime. I have posted about it on Facebook nearly everyday and I am so grateful for the support and understanding of the people in my life and their willingness to watch a film that includes the devastating loss of a child. I am so passionate about this film. I am so grateful for the potential that it has to bring to our society, not only to parents of babies who have died but also to their support networks of family and friends. Nobody knows what to do when a child dies, including the child's own parents!! Yet in the midst of grief you find yourself having to navigate through the unknown sea of overwhelming emotions while at the same time explain or educate those around you because it is unchartered territory for everyone. It is a truly devastating, confusing, scary and lonely time to survive. This film will change that. This movie is for everybody because unfortunately, at some point in your life, you will know someone who experiences a tragic loss and you will want to be able to support them.
While I didn't experience the still birth of my child, I have endured and survived the death of my beloved daughter at 33 days, Return to Zero is still my story. It is the story of a couple that love each other so much, a couple anxiously awaiting the birth of their first child, a couple that had to rebuild their life, their view of the world and ALL of their relationships after their beloved child has died. This movie is so much more than a child dying. It is so much more than death. It is about the beauty of life, the resiliency of the human spirit, it is about living when you are pretty certain that there is nothing left to live for.
I was fortunate enough to see the movie twice already, the first time being at the World Premiere at the San Jose Film Festival Cinequest. I was so nervous to watch the movie, of how I might feel emotionally affected, about being in the room with strangers while feeling vulnerable, I was afraid of what emotions might be stirred back up. I quickly realized that instead of being thrust back into the world of loss, in which I live everyday, I felt seen, I felt heard, I felt empowered. I felt like, FINALLY, someone is telling our story! Of course, I cried (which I seldom do in public) but I also laughed, quite a bit! There are so many times when you're in the midst of grief that inappropriate laughter is the only thing that can possibly carry you through and this movie captured so many of those awkward, entertaining yet necessary moments.
Since the viewing at the film festival, I have had the utmost honor of befriending the mother who this story is based upon, whose husband created the film in honor of their son. She has offered our community of "baby loss mamas" an incredible gift by sharing such an intimate time of her child's life with the world. She, and her family, are breaking the silence of stillbirth, they are breaking the silence of the taboo subject that babies die, too. She is offering a look into our lives from the outside, so that friends and family members can better understand and support those they love when they experience the unimaginable loss of their child.
In this movie, they do show the labor, delivery and post partum time with the couple's beautiful baby boy. It is devastating, it is sad, it is heartbreaking. And it is real life. It is real for the 26,000 families a year whose child has died before birth. In those moments that you never think you will experience, you have to fit a lifetime of love, hugs, kisses, snuggles, smells and photos. I am so glad that the creators of this movie were true to life in this film, they didn't shy away from the reality of what life is like when your child dies. In order to BREAK THE SILENCE, you have to be forthcoming and real and raw to bring understanding that these babies, our children were real and valued and important and will always be desperately loved and fervently missed.
You know, at one time, I too thought that "this" could never happen to me. It was an easier life, a more lighthearted view of the world where I cared so much about things that I now find truly unimportant. My greatest prayer is that nobody I know has to endure this loss, it is truly devastating and life never returns to "normal". I do however know, that this is a horrible reality yet because of this film, families whose babies have died will have support not only from the community in which relates to them but also from friends and family who through this film can be more empathic, loving and patient as rebuild their life.
Yes, this movie is about a family whose child has died. Yes, this movie is about a child who left far too soon. This movie is mostly about love, perseverance, and the ability to create life after loss. And most importantly, this movie is about educating our loved ones on what this journey has been like and how they can best support us in our greatest time of need.
Through our greatest loss, we truly learn the value in this lifetime.
Please watch this movie in whatever capacity feels safe for you.
Thank you, RTZ team, you have truly changed the way in which our society will view our beloved children in their short yet beautiful life in this world.
October 22-October 28, 2013
Day 22, Words-There are no words. There are too many words. Everything reminds me of her. Nothing reminds me of her.
Day 23, Tattoos/Jewelry-Chris and I both have (several) tattoos in honor of Ruthie Lou, we always want her close to us in the way that being forever inked allows. I also wear at least one piece of jewelry each day that is special just for her. These bracelets however, are so special to my heart. Just simple pieces of rubber, these bracelets were distributed during the time of Ruthie Lou's life and passing when her name was spoke of often, when people's lives were touched and directly impacted because she was born and the fragility of life was so close to home for other families, too. These bracelets were worn by friends, family and even strangers all over the county. They were the doing of the most wonderful woman, who will always hold a special place in our heart. (Thank you endlessly, Michelle) These bracelets still float around and some people still where theirs (or keep it near) and to see my daughter's name on a friend's arm or attached to their key chain means more than I can even express. I love seeing Ruthie Lou's name ANYWHERE. These bracelets are so special.
Day 24, Artwork-While at George Mark, they fostered a tremendous amount of memory making and most of that was through art. It is so wonderful to recall those moments with Ruthie Lou and her dad, the laughter and tears that were present in those memories. Today, we are continually invited to events that allow for creative outlets and ways in which to honor our sweet girl and our family. Shortly after she passed away, we were invited to take part in a tile making day where an artist came and facilitated the creating of a tile that now hangs on the wall at George Mark. It was really healing to sit with Chris to design what we wanted it to look like, symbols we wanted to represent and then draw and paint a piece in honor of Ruthie Lou. Now, that tile hangs with other special children who have shared in the magic at GMCH, it feels so good to have that spot that is just hers, it one of our favorite places to visit.
Ruthie Lou has ignited a passion for creating and art in all forms. It has allowed me to process so much of my grief in ways that words cannot convey. I don't pretend to be amazing but the release that art provides is motivation enough to continue with each new project. Just another gift from Ruthie Lou...
Day 26, #SayItOutLoud-If I could say one thing about my journey with grief is that given the choice, I would do it again. Despite my broken heart, I would do every part of Ruthie Lou again. I would want HER again. If given the choice of Ruthie Lou or a baby I could have kept, I would choose Ruthie Lou because I love her. She is my daughter and I am so proud of her. Of course I would want her to be here more than anything but since that would never be possible, I would still choose her, I always want HER..
Undeniably my story is sad but I am more than just a sad story, I am a survivor and my daughter is my greatest strength. In my heart she is my biggest cheerleader and when confronted with a challenge in life I always tell myself, "if Ruthie Lou could defy all odds to stay as long as she did, I can ____". She gives me the courage to be me, she is the reason to live my best life, she has shown me the definition of pure love and because of her, I can give to her brother what I didn't know before she was born. She has made me a better mama, I can now give Reid the best of me.
So if I could say one thing about this journey besides it being long, tiring, overwhelming and so devastating, is it is still so full of love. I love my daughter more than this world and if given the choice yet knowing the outcome, I would choose her again and again.
You are worth every single tear my sweet girl. I love you Ruthie Lou, with all of my being.
Day 26, Community-I feel most normal in the online "baby loss" community. Before Still Standing magazine was established in May 2012, I would be attached to Google searching for blogs that understood me. Instead of finding comfort and hope, many times I would be angered, feel more isolated or suffer PTSD having to relive the moments surrounding Ruthie Lou's transition from this world. Still Standing offers acceptance, understanding, empathy and most importantly hope and I am honored to have had an article published with them.
No more searching for blogs, my community now gathers in one place.
Day 27, Signs-I look for my sweet girl everywhere. Everything reminds me of her, nothing reminds me of her.
While in my belly, the ladybug told me Ruthie Lou was ok, that she was healthy and safe. I never knew how much that sign would eventually mean to me. It started with my 5th graders on an overnight field trip where a tremendous amount of ladybugs were discovered in their cabin. I told them how they were a symbol of good luck to the farmers that they helped rid pests from their garden and how lucky the were to be receiving this sign. When I returned to my cabin that eve and listened to Ruthie Lou's heartbeat on the Doppler, I saw them inexplicably in my room, too. It was magical, another sign, she was safe in my belly. She was always safe in my belly. I wish I could have kept her safe forever.
The first night home from George Mark a green ladybug greeted me inside my house and for many months, I only saw green ones. I know the green ones are not the same as the "lady beetle" but as the world was receiving visitors from red ladybugs I like to believe that the green ones are special signs just for mama.
Now, I look for the signs that my girl is safe and that there is life after this world. I feel beauty in these signs it helps me believe in the magic of our universe. It may sound crazy to you but if it helps heal my heart and find acceptance in this terrible mystery, than I will keeping searching them out for the rest of my life. I hope to see my sweet girl again. Until then, we only have this..
Day 28, Special Place-The moment that dusk takes over and the sun sets low, as the pink sky welcomes the night, she waits for me there. I can relive every sunset we shared, 11 total. Rocking in that oak chair, the songs I sung her, the stories I shared with her, the lessons we learned from each other, all blessed with sacred tears. Sunset is still our time. She's always waiting there for me, no matter where in the world I may be.
October 8-October 14, 2013
Day 8, Color- That big YELLOW flower will always be imprinted in my heart and will forever be Ruthie Lou's color. It makes sense that "the colour yellow represents happiness and fun. The traditional yellow colour meaning is that of inspiration. The meaning of yellow is also associated with vitality, energy and illumination."
Day 9, Music-Music is life, listening, dancing, singing, I live to a soundtrack of music. I could've chosen 40 songs or 100 different lines for today. I sung so many to Ruthie Lou, so many are HER songs, songs from the radio, many created from my heart. Music brings such comfort. I like to remind myself that although she was OUR baby child, we are not alone in this, even when it feels so much that we are...
Day 10, Beliefs- Recycled from Winter 2011, when I was pregnant with Ruthie Lou, I have reflected on this writing numerous times. Sometimes I wonder why I felt compelled to write it back then...a message? Perhaps. Reading it always reminds me of the good in the world & the fragility of life️
"I believe in a God that is loving.
I believe that our human experience is only one small part in the life of our soul and it does not begin nor end on the day of our birth or death.
I believe that our human life is short. Often times shorter than we could ever imagine. It is my own personal responsibility to live and love in a way that everyday I am spiritually fulfilled and proud of who I am and who I am eternally becoming.
I believe that people make daily choices in their life. From the moment I wake until I lay my head back on my pillow at night, my choices should be well thought out and only made with good intentions.
I believe that we are responsible only for oursleves. I can only control my own actions and reactions to experiences and events in my life.
I believe that all people are beautiful, pure and have good intentions. I make mistakes but am clear to always learn the lesson and try better next time.
I believe that very unfortunate things happen to very good people everyday without reasons known to us. Everyday I have the gift of choice of what I will learn from my experiences and how I will respond to lifes greatest as wells as most unfortunate events.
My God is pure, loving, accepting and warm. There is only love."
Two years later I am more certain than ever, there is only love.
Day 11, Triggers-To be completed...
Day 12, Article-To be completed...
Day 13, Book(s)-To be completed...
Day 14, Family-To be completed...
October 1-October 7, 2013
Day 1, Sunrise-Just outside my classroom door, the sun greets the day. Even in the most unlikely of places, beauty appears & a wish that never changes-please be with me today.
Day 2, Identity-Ruthie Lou Lands, you sit amongst this shelf and many others in our home, rightfully next to your brother. You will always be our daughter, sister, granddaughter, niece and cousin, we are so proud of you. You are a teacher, a messenger, a water bug, a prankster, the light of our life but most of all you are absolutely perfect and you are so, so desperately missed.
Day 3, Myth- The grief will end.
If grief is the response to loss and the loss never goes away then in return, the grief is never ending. It does not go away. It does not end. EVER.
But it does change. And continue to change. Thank goodness for the change.
I don't think I could have been convinced of that early on, it was so hard to believe and quite frankly, I didn't want the grief to change. In some odd way, that sadness and raw emotion helped me to feel closer to Ruthie Lou and I was worried that if the intense emotions subsided, she would really be gone. But, she was already gone, I knew that.
I have learned that the grief never ends and can sneak up at any moment in the most unexpected times and that is ok. It's ok that I am present in my life again. It's ok that I will never be the same again. It's ok not to question why or when I am feeling lost, but just to feel it, it's healthy and it will pass. Sometimes I check out for a while from friends or family, but those who love me will understand, sometimes I just need some RL time.
Grief never ends because my love for my daughter will never end. I will always grieve the loss of my perfect sweet girl, Ruthie Lou, the child I don't get to raise.
Day 4, Legacy-"REMEMBER RUTHIE"
Remember that life is about perspective.
Remember that it's the little things in life that matter, and don't sweat the small stuff.
Remember that life is bigger than what we see.
Remember that we're all part of this life experience and we all have our own journey.
Remember Ruthie means keeping her alive. Keeping her memory alive, keeps her alive.
Remember joy, remember laughter, remember to love the people you're with, remember to love ME.
Remember to be present every day and to learn from every lesson presented in life.
Remember to be the best person I can be.
And lastly, remember that its when things are not perfect, that that's when I really learn
She left me with this, "The Hummingbird Legends say that hummingbirds float free of time, carrying our hopes for love, joy and celebration. Hummingbirds open our eyes to the wonder of the world and inspire us to open our hearts to loved ones and friends. Like a hummingbird, we aspire to hover and to savor each moment as it passes, embrace all that life has to offer and to celebrate the joy of everyday. The hummingbird’s delicate grace reminds us that life is rich, beauty is everywhere, every personal connection has meaning and that laughter is life’s sweetest creation." She left me with a new understanding, love and appreciation of life.
Day 5, Memory- Every memory I have with you here, is my favorite memory. But, the best moment everyday was waking up next to you in bed, hearing the purr of your breath and watching you fight waking up. You were definitely a night owl and NOT a morning person, just like your mama! I love the cranky look on your face and am so glad I captured this moment to watch over and over again...
Day 6, Ritual-When we wake in the morning, Reid and I walk to his window to look out his room. It's the best view of the backyard and perfect to watch the sun rise. In the window sits Ruthie Lou's rock from George Mark, another one specially painted from a student before she was born (of course it was a ladybug before we even knew her), her special flower and beads given to me honoring both Ruthie Lou and Reid while he was in my belly.
We stand at that window, Reid in my arms and say aloud, "good morning world, good morning sister". It's important for me to say hello each morning, to start the day positively, to have a moment set aside for Ruthie Lou. This simple act connects me to both my children at the start of the morning, reminds me to slow down and welcome a fresh new day.
It devastates me that he has a sister that he'll never know in this life. Sometimes I don't know who I'm more sad for; him or me. I want him to know her, love her and to never question how much we love both of them. equally but of course in their own uniqueness.
Day 7, "You Today"- My entire perspective on life has changed in the last two years., my belief system altered. I am a different person than I was before Ruthie Lou, that goes without saying. I will never be the person I was before I gave birth to her and don't want to be that person again. My life is so incredibly richer now because of the things she has shown me, my joy greater, my sorrow deeper.
Two years out, I feel like I should be doing more to honor Ruthie Lou. BIGGER things. It's a struggle I battle with often. I realize I talk about her all over FB and in my everyday life but I still feel like there is something larger for her but what that is...I'm still not certain. At first, I felt a big pressure to do something NOW because I wanted the world to know her but today I am following my heart to see where it leads me. I have a lifetime to honor her and I want it to be "right".
I will always be the mama to a child that I didn't get to raise, that will never change but TODAY, today I am also the mama to a beautifully curious toddler and that is such a tremendous gift. I mother differently because of Ruthie Lou, she taught me to stay present, to live in the moment and I am so grateful for the perspective she gave me. I slow down for Reid, I look to see life through his eyes. I will always live in honor of Ruthie Lou but TODAY I now also live this life for Reid.
GRIEF. Noun. A person, place or thing. "Grief is a multi-faceted response to loss, particularly to the loss of someone or something to which a bond was formed"
GRIEVING. Verb. An action word. Something that you do. "1 : to cause to suffer : distress <it grieves me to see him this way> 2 : to feel or show grief over <grieving the death of her son> "
If grief is the response to loss and that loss never goes away then in return, the grief is never ending. It does not go away. It does not end. EVER.
But it does change. And continue to change. Thank goodness for the change.
It would be naive of me to think that how I feel today is how I will continue to feel in years come, that how I felt in year one of missing Ruthie Lou even mirrors how I feel this year. Thankfully, grief changes. Now that doesn't mean that I miss her any less or that I am comfortable in any way with living without my daughter but the loss becomes more tolerable, more normal to this life. And it certainly doesn't mean that in a moments notice (or no notice at all) that I can find myself in the fresh, raw emotions of devastation that haunted me for months after saying goodbye to our sweet girl. Those moments still follow me......
I am thankful for this change. I am sad for this change. In moving farther away in time and in emotion, I feel like I have forgotten some of the memories I never wanted to forget. Thank goodness I wrote so much down, I read those words, close my eyes and I can instantly smell Ruthie Lou's sweet baby smell, I can feel her thick coarse hair in my fingers, I can hear the purr of her breath. But I am thankful that my mind has protected my heart enough to live in this world again, to find joy in the sorrow, to see beauty in the pain.
With all that said, the grief is ever present. It never fully goes away. Like the healing of a wound, the scab has come off but we are still left with this scar, the ever present reminder of the life that will never return.
I am participating in the "Capture Your Grief" event once again this year, it is a photographing event, which seems fitting to my loss for words lately. Last year, I was unable to finish the month, it was too raw, too hard to hold others grief along with my own. This year, I have a fresh perspective, a pull at my heart to discover the purpose in this mystery of life, to contribute to the legacy left by my daughter. I am not exactly sure what that is yet but I am following my heart to see where it leads. Ruthie Lou gave me so many gifts, left so many lessons in the shadow of her path and I don't feel like she's done yet. Perhaps she is guiding me through my journey.
Whatever the outcome, whether I finish the month or not, I know that my job in this life is to bring awareness to the world. Awareness of loss, awareness of love, awareness of grief, that it is all perfection. These babies who we love so much, are so important, they are our family, parts of our hearts that can never be replaced or forgotten, they are our greatest loves. No matter if our children are in our arms or in our hearts, they are a part of us. Forever.
I never want them to be forgotten. I never want a mama or a family to feel alone. You are not alone in this grief.
I am a mama of three beautiful babes; two boys I have the honor of raising and my daughter who lived for 33 sacred days.