You are God’s masterpiece

Two days before I found out we lost Gloria, I sat in a church service with my friend. The church handed out rocks and markers and by the end of the service we were supposed to write a word/words from the sermon onto our rock as a reminder for ourselves. I wrote “you are God’s masterpiece.” At the time I was in awe of my body and the little body growing inside me.

My loss drew me closer to God than I ever have been before. There were some days I felt so disconnected from people and myself and I searched long and hard for words to comfort me. And I realized they were already etched on my heart, and written on my rock. My mind was flooded with memories of that sermon. “You are God’s masterpiece. And you are a work in progress. You are both God’s masterpiece and His work in progress.” Ever since then, I get a bit weepy in church. Some stories, songs and words sting. Singing the word “glory” nearly brings me to my knees every time.

We took Corrine to her first service tonight and it felt so good to have her with me and singing the word “Gloria” with a smile on my face and tears in my eyes. Holding another one of God’s masterpieces in my arms. I’m so thankful for this life, for Gloria, and for Corrine. All God’s masterpieces. My heart, always a work in progress. 💗💜

In the Wild

When I was in my childbirth class in April, the teacher was explaining what childbirth and the hours afterward would look like if we were to birth our babies “in the wild.” How we would birth the baby, place them on our tummy and watch as they would “swim” up to our breast and instinctively know how to nurse. And how their nursing would trigger our body to heal from the birth process.

That phrase “in the wild” has stuck with me. I’m so thankful for modern medicine because it gave me Corrine. Sometimes my mind wonders what would have happened with each of my pregnancies if I had not had medical intervention.

With Gloria, my body would have continued to think I was pregnant. Placental cells would have continued to grow at an alarming rate. And I cringe at the thought of the outcome. If we didn’t have ultrasound machines or dopplers that proved she was gone. If I hadn’t had surgery to remove the “products of conception.” I’m pretty certain I wouldn’t be here now.

And with Corrine. If they hadn’t checked my progesterone levels, she wouldn’t be here. If we hadn’t found out she was breech with her cord around her neck, and I birthed her “in the wild,” it’s likely one or both of us wouldn’t be here.

So when I see a deer with her baby, or a whale carrying her baby, or a sweet baby puppy, I can’t help but marvel at life. What a miracle it is for a mother – any mother – to have a healthy baby here on earth. Especially “in the wild.” What a miracle life is. 💗

Tears

I was scrolling through my husband’s phone looking for any Corrine pics I hadn’t yet seen or saved to my phone. I came across a series of photos in the OR that I hadn’t seen before. Before they cleaned Corrine up, I got a sneak peek of her tiny wrinkled feet hanging over the surgical drape. Those footprints are etched in my memory and on my heart.

A few weeks ago I posted about things no one tells you about motherhood. How hard breastfeeding is, how tired you’ll be, and how dependent your baby is on you. On some level I expected them and accepted them easily. The one thing I didn’t expect?

Her crying. More specifically, how it affects me. I force myself to hold back tears when she cries. Sometimes she’s overly tired, sometimes it’s gas, sometimes she can’t find my nipple because she won’t open her eyes. Luckily most of her cries can be quieted immediately if I know the cause, but they rip me to pieces. It’s all I can do to not cry right along with her. I would give anything to make her feel better, happier, or more rested. I’d say her pain is my pain, but it’s so much more. Her cries take me back to this scene – where she made her entrance into the world. This beautiful moment when I saw her tiny feet for the first time and fell in love.

You see that wonderful woman holding my daughter over the surgical drape? She’s the only person in the world who has seen both of my girls. She brought both of them into this world. The first time in the OR with her, only one person was crying – a first time mom being wheeled in and out sobbing tears of grief. The second time, a mom crying tears of joy and happiness because she could hear the cries of her precious newborn but also tears of longing for the first.

💕

Corrine’s cries are as beautiful to me as they are painful. As hard as it is for me to see her cry, I am also so thankful. Those wails mean she’s here and she’s alive and she needs me.

Another Unbirthday

“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.” Washington Irving

August 8th is here again and you’re not. I wish I was celebrating your first birthday with you. Smashing cakes, snapping photos, and smiling along with the rest of your family as we watch you figure out what all the fuss is about. It breaks my heart to not have you here in my arms.

This year, I have your little sister here. In some ways, it makes the pain sting a little less. In other ways, it stings more. Now I know what I missed out on with you. I missed you sleeping on my chest, baby cooing noises, gummy smiles, a soft little cry of a hungry bub. I’d give anything to have these moments with you.

I’m so thankful you made me into the mother I am today. Happy moments are sweeter. I hold on just a little longer and appreciate the nights I’m waking from my sleep to baby cries, because it means she’s alive and she’s here. I’ve been given another chance to be a mom and I’m not going to squander it. I refuse to be the mom who looks back wishing I had done it differently. The only thing I wish I could change is having you here.

There is a heartbreaking story in the news this last week. A mama whale lost her new born calf shortly after birth. She’s been carrying the baby with her for over 10 days now. She’s mourning and refusing to let go. I feel her pain, a mother’s grief is universal. The amazing part of the story is her pod is also grieving the baby, and staying by her side. What a beautiful thing to have an entire community mourn the loss of a beautiful soul and grieve alongside the mother. We all understand that a mother can never leave her child behind. They are with her every single moment of every day.

There’s an entire community of people surrounding me that mourned your loss along with me. And most importantly, they remember your name. I receive photos of your name taken around the world on their holidays. That also makes the sting a little less sharp. You matter. Your name is remembered. Your short life is celebrated. Today on your “unbirthday” and every day.

Sending you one million kisses and hugs today. Happy unbirthday, my darling Gloria. I love you! 💜

She’s here.

Three weeks. It’s been three weeks since we welcomed our daughter into the world and that is still sinking in for me. In fact, using words like “our daughter” out loud feels so strange to me. We have a daughter! Here on this earth, in our home, in our arms! I feel so blessed to have her here and I spend most of the day staring at her beautiful face in equal parts joy and disbelief.

I wanted to write about her arrival, but it feels like a whirlwind and it still makes me incredibly overwhelmed with emotions. I spent the entire pregnancy imagining having a vaginal birth. If I’m being honest, I spent my entire life thinking my baby would been born that way. The way my mother birthed me and the way my sister birthed my nephew.

Plans changed when I found out Corrine was breech and we were faced with the decision to schedule a version, wait to see if she flipped, or proceeding with a scheduled c-section. First, I will say that my priority was having her arrive safely. But the idea of having her making her arrival in an OR via c-section was a bit terrifying for me. Our first baby was removed from my womb in an OR, and I never got to see her. This was an entirely different circumstance, but it still scared me.

We ultimately decided the c-section was best option for us. We showed up to the hospital at 11am on Thursday, June 28th with our bags full of clothes. They prepped me for the surgery and I was overwhelmed with fear of being awake during the procedure. It made me nervous to be operated on while conscious and mostly to have my baby taken out and me not be able to hold or see her right away. My nerves were at a high all the way through the spinal procedure. It wasn’t until I was laid on the table, the drape hung, and my husband coming into the room did I start to relax a bit.

I remember looking around the room at the doctor, anesthesiologist, nurses, scrub tech, and realized that they were all women. I was overwhelmed by the beauty of my daughter being brought into the world by a team of strong, brilliant, and hard working women. The only man in the room was her daddy. What a beautiful way for a girl to be welcomed into the world.

It felt like a lifetime waiting to hear that she was out. They told me I’d feel pressure and sure enough I felt an extreme tugging sensation that radiated up to my shoulders. One of the nurses said “she is VERY breech.” I stared at my husband’s face waiting to see a look of relief and joy wash over him. As they got her lower half out, they laughed saying she had started peeing and pooping already! Her head came out and I heard her beautiful cries. They held her over the drape for me to see the most beautiful, tiny, and wrinkled feet and toes. She was carried over to the scale, and her daddy followed her. Our precious girl weighed 8 pounds and 4 ounces, and was 20 and 3/4 inches long. As I was being stitched up, I looked over to see Corrine’s hands and feet moving around as nurses cleaned her up, took her vitals, and pressed her feet on ink pads to make footprint impressions on a piece of paper. Tears streamed down my face hearing her cries and seeing her tiny limbs moving. Finally her daddy brought her over to me. She was wrapped up snuggly in blankets with a pink and blue cap on her head. Her eyes were closed when her face touched my own for the first time. It was truly the most amazing moment of my life.

We finally had our Corrine Rose here! I spent the next few hours in the recovery room holding her next to me, breathing in her perfect newborn scent, and feeding her from my breast. I watched her daddy sing songs to her and carry her with such love I thought my heart may burst. We spent the next 3 days in a bubble of bliss. Family and friends stopped by to visit us and to hold our daughter. It was magical. In spite of the mesh underwear, huge maxi pads, sore abdomen, tired body, and uncomfortable beds…it was the best 3 days of my life. I’ll never forget those moments of getting to know Corrine. Learning what her cries mean, skin to skin time with her, feeding her, and enjoying her many faces and noises. I soaked in every second we got to spend in our blissful bubble.

Sometimes I wish I could rewind and relive those 3 days. I look down at the sunshine in my arms and I’m in awe that I get to be her mom. The love I have for her is so special, because every day she is healing my heart and soul. We have been on a hell of a journey to get here. I don’t wish that journey on anyone, but I’m grateful for the lessons I’ve learned, the person it shaped me to be, and that this little baby is here. This journey is what gave me Corrine and it’s what shaped me into the mother I am today. I’m forever grateful.

Minefield of Emotions

My baby will be here in 48 hours. I’m trying hard to let that fact sink in. But it feels like I’ve been running, walking, limping, crawling on this road to baby for soooo long and sometimes it’s hard to realize that the actual finish line is in sight and it’s not just an illusion or a figment of my imagination or emotional exhaustion. It’s real.

Our baby girl is breech, and we have a scheduled c-section to get her here safely on Thursday. I’m beyond thankful that I get to know when and how she will arrive, and most importantly that we are doing everything we can to keep her safe.

Sure there are things that make me sad – I had spent months preparing myself mentally for a “normal” birth. We took childbirth classes, practiced breathing methods, and I was excited (and scared) to see my body perform during labor and birth. I wanted my husband to stand by my side and see how strong I could be for our child. I wanted her placed on my belly so she could feel my warmth and love right away. Admittedly, it’s tough letting go of those dreams, partly because it seems like that’s how it should be and partly because I spent months imagining her birth that way.

My body and my baby had a different plan. In a way, I’m grateful for the change in plans. My dreamy birth plan got thrown out the window, but I got time to adjust and refocus on what matters most – getting her here safely. Delayed cord clamping, immediate skin to skin contact and feeding are no longer options when before they felt like priorities. This change has helped me to realize again that her being born and healthy is the ONLY priority. And once again life is reminding me that I’m not the one in control, and no amount of planning or dreaming will give me that control. Just when I think I’ve come to terms with giving up the need to control things, life reminds me to look down at my white knuckles and loosen my grip.

*Trigger warning*

I’d been wishing and hoping so hard for a “normal” vaginal birth. I’m still dealing with the emotional scars of the last time I was in the OR with this doctor. I went into surgery and came out with empty arms and a broken heart. Sure, I have faith that this will be a great experience and everything will go smoothly, but the thought of my baby being taken from my womb and whisked away gives me so much anxiety. I’m hopeful things will be smooth and calm, that she will be perfectly healthy, that her daddy will stay right with her and she will never be out of his sight while I’m getting stitched up. I’m hoping that I’ll be sent to recovery quickly and will get to have skin to skin with her as soon as possible and feed her hungry belly.

It’s strange that her birth has become a source of so much stress and anxiety for me. I didn’t see this coming. I have been feeling so confident and happy and this has hit me like a ton of bricks. Perhaps it’s a nerves and hormones bringing out all these emotions in the last few days of pregnancy. But I have a feeling once she’s in my arms, I’ll never want to let her go.

Naming Truths

As we approach our due date, I’m finding myself paralyzed with fear at times. Overall this pregnancy has been filled with joy because I’ve been taught the hard lesson that worrying, stressing, and trying to make plans never guarantee a good outcome. In situations like pregnancy, attempts to control anything are most often fruitless.

Sometimes I can quickly name the fears I feel, but other fears are a bit trickier. They don’t reveal themselves until I’m talking it out with a friend or my counselor. Sometimes the fears mask themselves in silly ways. Currently, I’m in a complete panic over Corrine’s nursery. Logically, I know she will be fine with the items we have and if we need something, we can simply go get it. Fear finds a way to seep in anyway. Right now I’m in a frenzy to make her room perfect. To transform a space in our home that’s welcoming and warm and complete. When things don’t go as planned, fear takes over. Fear takes me back to a weekend when the room stood empty and a crib was delivered with a broken rail – a precursor to a few days later when I felt as empty and broken as that room that was almost a nursery.

Bear with me as I freak out over unimportant details like paint colors, fonts, and fabrics. I know they don’t REALLY matter in the end. If I could instead control how and when Corrine comes, I would…but I simply can’t. It’s difficult not knowing how or when she will arrive. Not knowing if she will be in danger in the process of getting her out. Those unknowns scare me, but they are easy to name. Sure, I’m scared of how bad the pain of childbirth will be, but that pain doesn’t scare me as much as the emotional pain that consumed me last year. Physical pain is temporary and can be remedied with medicine and healing. The emotional pain doesn’t fade, there’s no fix, and it’s paralyzing.

What fears have you faced in a pregnancy? How did they mask themselves in ways you found hard to identify? How did you overcome your fears and find joy?

Questions

Being tall, I have to say the most common questions I get are “how tall are you?” and “do you/did you play basketball?” When I was single, it was people asking me if I’d met anyone special. Then I met someone special and got asked when we would be married. We got married then questions about when/if we’d have a baby. I suppose it continues from there. You have a baby, then everyone what’s to know when/if you’ll have a second baby. Life is weird that way – like everyone needs to follow a timeline laid out by the board game Life.

I’ve been surprised lately that the question I get most now isn’t about my due date or the gender of the baby.

“Is this your first?”

What a seemingly harmless question. One I’ve probably asked in the past before I knew how difficult that question can be for someone to answer. In most scenarios, I answer yes knowing that the asker doesn’t really want to know about my journey of heartache and loss. But it does make me pause. Is this my first baby I’ve carried this far? Yep. Is this the first baby I get to deliver and bring home? I sure hope I get to bring her home. Is this my first baby? No. No, it’s not. I have another child that lives within my heart. One that can’t be seen but is very real and dear to me. Losing her was harder than losing family I’ve known all my life. So it crushes me to answer “yes” to that question when the answer is NO. I want to remember my angel and talk about her. For whatever reason, it’s not socially acceptable. Could you imagine not talking about one of your kids? To have to pretend that one doesn’t exist and never did? Talk about heartbreak!

I appreciate the thoughtfulness to ask me questions. And in some aspects Corrine will be my first – the first baby to come home, to keep me up at night, the first to hold in my arms. But she is my second. And in all honesty, she likely wouldn’t exist if we hadn’t lost her sister. The real answer to that question is NO, because their stories and lives are intertwined.

Sunshine and rainbows

As a loss mom, there can be mixed emotions about the term “rainbow” baby – which refers to the baby they have after the loss of a pregnancy/baby. Some people feel as though the term makes the child they lost the “storm” and that the following baby is supposed to be all rainbows and happiness.

I’ve waited until now to share my feelings about the term, to let myself adjust to how I felt with carrying my rainbow. Up until October, I’d only had one baby I loved…and it felt unfair to make judgments without knowing what it would like to love another baby. I met with my counselor last week who also happens to be expecting her rainbow baby this summer. We lost our babies last year around the same time, and we are both so excited for each other to be pregnant again. During the session when the term rainbow baby was mentioned, she apologized for using that term without knowing how I felt about it. We proceeded to talk about it and I think I finally came to a decision on what it means to me.

Gloria was not my storm. She was the happiest thing EVER in my life. With a due date in August, she was sure to provide warmth and sunshine…never rain. Losing Gloria was my storm. The torrential downpour of tears that followed her loss soaked the soil of my soul. Clouds of doubt, sadness, grief, depression blocked the bright light that had previously filled my life.

Occasionally, I’d spot a rainbow – in my bathroom, outside after a rain, through the glass doors at work. It reminded me that hope wasn’t lost and that happiness could shine through the dark clouds that hung over me, creating rainbows full of vibrant colors and love – a promise of better things to come.

I love rainbows…and I love my rainbow baby. The term brings nothing but happiness to me. But when I really think about it – my girls are my suns. Both of them are shining a bright, warm light on me that I never want to fade. It’s the tears of heartache mixed with their light that make the rainbow.

In a strange way, I’m beginning to be thankful for everything that’s happened in the last 2 years. Of course, I’d love to have Gloria here with me…nothing will ever change that. But if she were here, there likely wouldn’t be a rainbow or a Corrine. Corrine can never replace Gloria. The more I fall in love with Corrine, the more I fall in love with Gloria.

So in the midst of your storms…remember that the heartache you feel is never bigger than the blessings God will give you. I’m forever thankful for the blessings I’ve received after the storm.

My life has been full of second chances following a disappointment. I used to feel discouraged by them, but I’m slowly learning to look for the good after the storm. People will be there to see you through it. Bright lights and vibrant colors will remind you that happier times are ahead. You’ll be 1000 times more grateful than you would be if you hadn’t experienced a storm. And just maybe there will be a pot of gold on the other side of that rainbow…shining as bright as her big sister.

Corrine Rose

img_5171Yesterday I got to see your sweet face for the first time. I’m so in awe of you, how perfect your little body is growing. Seeing and hearing your beating heart melts my own. Watching those tiny fingers touch your face. Even seeing your hiccups made me want to cry happy tears. All of those things let me know that you’re real and healthy and not just a dream.

It was my chance to see what you’re doing inside that causes all of my tummy twitches. My chance to see inside your world. And my inspiration for wanting to show you every magical thing in our big world.

I was surrounded by your grandparents, great grandma, cousin, aunt, siblings, and daddy. Everyone so happy and anxious to meet you. You’re our little Rosebud and seeing you grow and bloom is the single most amazing thing that I’ve ever witnessed.

You make me feel like the luckiest mama ever. You’ve been the gold that sealed back together the broken pieces of my heart. You’re my rainbow, the bright and beautiful colors reminding me to always hold on to hope and knowing the sun will shine again.

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