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.

Boundaries of a Woman

It feels silly that I’m writing this post on the eve of my 35th birthday. I can’t believe it’s taken me that many years to get to this point, but here I am. Better late than never.

I’ve changed. Becoming a mom, even without a baby in my arms, has changed me. Strangely, in the last few months, I’ve had visceral reactions to people crossing boundaries with me – verbally, emotionally, and physically.

In the past, I allowed these things to either roll off my back or quietly just soak into my soul. But being a mom has changed the way I feel. Today, someone touched and rubbed my belly (with two hands!) without asking permission and internally I became unglued. I don’t know how, but I held it together in front of the person but ended up sobbing later. Never in a million years did I expect a belly rub to bring up so many emotions, but it did. It felt intrusive. I felt caught off guard and supremely protective. And worst of all, it brought up all of the memories of unwanted touches from my past. Memories that I sincerely hope my child will never have.

How have I spent my entire life bending myself to conform to boundaries set by others? Why did it take having my child inside me to find these emotions? How can I help my child form their own boundaries? How can I help them to enforce those boundaries? How did I convince myself before that it was okay for people to cross my boundaries? How did I tolerate it prior to now?

I’m not sure that I have the answers to any of those questions. But I am feeling stronger tonight in realizing where, how, and when I need to set boundaries for myself. I’m thankful that this journey has helped me to realize more about myself and grow from that knowledge. And I sincerely hope that I’ll be able to help my child understand and establish their own boundaries.

The Sourest Lemon

January has always been my least favorite month. The joy of the holidays are over and the cold weather turns me into a hermit. Truth be told, I’ve been in a funk for the last two weeks dreading this day. An arctic blast has blown through town and iced over my emotions. I want to stay in bed all day with my puppies and pull the warm covers over my head. That’s not the way life works. Life and time marches on whether you are marching along with it or hiding under a blanket.

It’s been one year since we lost our Gloria. One year since my heart was broken. A total of 365 days since I felt like a sobbing zombie being wheeled back into an operating room, forced to say goodbye to my child before I ever had a chance to say hello. Twelve months of trying to healing my mind, body and soul.

I know the experience of losing Gloria has changed me for the better, but it still stings like hell. There’s still nothing I wouldn’t do to have her here today. I’d give anything to be with her for just a few moments and hold her sweet face in my hands and tell her that I love her. My heart will always ache for her.

Tonight I decided to watch the pilot episode of This Is Us with my oldest stepdaughter.  Towards the end of the episode, after helping Rebecca deliver two healthy babies, the doctor then has to deliver the bad news to Jack that the third baby had passed. During their talk, Dr. K shares the wisdom below.

Dr. K: “We were married 53 years. Five children, 11 grandkids. But we lost our very first child during the delivery. The reason I went into this field, truth be told. I have spent five decades delivering babies. More babies than I can count. But there is not a single day that goes by that I don’t think of the child I lost. And I’m an old man now. I like to think that because of the child that I lost, because of the path that that he sent me on, that I have saved countless other babies. Yeah. I like to think that maybe one day you’ll be an old man like me talking a younger man’s ear off, explaining to him how you took the sourest lemon that life has to offer and turned it into something resembling lemonade. If you can do that, then you will still be taking three babies home from this hospital. Just maybe not the way you planned.”

This year has definitely not turned out the way that I planned. We didn’t get to take home our baby from the hospital. And I definitely didn’t count on being the one in our house to do the majority of the crying this year, but I was. I thought I’d be the one consoling, not needing to be consoled. But I have also realized that all children change us, whether they are in our arms or in our hearts.

Thank you to everyone who has helped to keep the memory of our angel alive. Thank you for the kind words, prayers, hugs, and shoulders to cry on. Thank you for sharing your stories with me and being a friend.

The year 2017 started off giving us the sourest lemon that life has to offer. Thank you for helping me to turn it into something resembling lemonade. This year is looking much sweeter already.

Feeling Butterflies

I’m sure every pregnancy brings a mother feelings of anxiousness and anticipation. After a loss, being anxious during a pregnancy is a full time job. While I rationally know there was nothing I could have done to prevent my loss, I catch myself doing little things with this pregnancy in hopes that we have a different outcome.

The first six weeks made me a basket case. I wanted to cry every time I felt ill or a noticed a weird twinge in my abdomen. I prayed for things to go smoothly. Yet, at the same time, a lack of symptoms freaked me out because it could have meant my hormones were dropping and something had happened to baby. I remember holding my breath at that 6 week ultrasound. As the tech zoomed in, she pointed out the sac. It looked empty. COMPLETE PANIC. Then, within a few terrifying seconds, there it was…my precious rainbow baby showing off it’s newly formed and beating heart. I lost my shit on that exam table. I was so torn between feeling nostalgic for my first pregnancy/baby and feeling so incredibly hopeful and thankful for this second pregnancy/baby.

Then I spent weeks rubbing my belly and telling this baby that we are strong and healthy and we will make it through this together. My voice sounded shaky and I realized these words were being said more for my benefit than for baby’s. I’ve panicked dozens of times between the 1st and 2nd and 3rd scans. I’m THAT girl that panics and calls the nurse line when she wakes up feeling energetic with boobs that are no longer sore. The girl that buys a fetal doppler on Amazon to use at home and make sure that tiny heart is still ticking!

Being a part of the loss mom sisterhood is incredibly special. Finding support in strangers who share one very heartbreaking experience. The only downside I’ve found, is that you become hyper aware. As we share stories of our beloved babies, I’ve realized that not every pregnancy ends with a healthy “take home” baby. We’ve lost them at every stage – from days after conception, up to 40 weeks. We’ve lost them for all sorts of reasons, and sometimes no reason at all. As I reach each milestone, I remember women who lost their babies at that stage, or even beyond.

Needless to say, I feel butterflies on a regular basis. I worry when I wake up from sleeping and realize that I’ve been laying on my back. I worry that I’ve over exerted myself on some days, and that I’ve been too lazy on other days. I’m not sure if those feelings ever lessen or disappear, but I imagine not.

But sometimes, those butterflies aren’t my nerves at all. Lately, I’ve realized that sometimes those butterflies are the gentle kick of a sweet babe who is growing healthy and strong. Reminding me that things do go well and that this may be my healthy take home baby. Please keep fluttering, my darling! ❤

A New Year

Last New Year’s Eve we celebrating two friends getting married. It was warm outside, a beautiful day with the sun shining. I remember standing there with my baby in my tummy watching friends say vows and couldn’t have felt happier. I felt like all the pieces of my life had come together. Standing next to a husband more wonderful than the one I’d dreamed I’d find. Growing a life we created together.

After the ceremony, we walked up quite a few rocky steps to the ceremony site. Near to the top, I felt sick. My stomach was queasy and I started to feel faint. My husband helped me to the top and I sat down as things started to black out. After eating some fruit and getting water, I started to feel better. We celebrated that night and felt thankful for all 2017 would bring.

Two weeks later, I had my final prenatal appointment. The nurse couldn’t find a heartbeat on the Doppler. I was sent for an unplanned ultrasound next door. I recall seeing my uterus flash on the screen as my baby floated lifelessly to the bottom. “No heartbeat….no growth…I’m sorry.” In this moment, I felt crushed. Wishing I could let the baby have my heartbeat if it could just stay alive. They explained that I’d had a missed miscarriage and the baby had died somewhere around 9 weeks gestation. Around New Years.

Sometimes I wonder if I lost her at that wedding. If my body was as heartbroken as I would be two weeks later. By far, this was the worst thing I’d ever experienced.

I cried and cried and cried until I was sick of crying. My baby died and a piece of me died with it. The dreams I’d had were gone. The memories I imagined making simply vanished.

I really thought at this point in time I’d be ready to say goodbye to 2017 with my middle finger in the air. But in a way, despite the tragedy of losing my child, something wonderful happened. I lost my baby, and afterwards I found myself.

I feel softer in places where I used to feel tough. I feel tougher in places where I used to feel soft. I’m kinder to myself and allow myself to have boundaries. I say “no” when I want and don’t feel guilty about it for days. I shared my story, and found others who understood how I felt. I am not scared to say my daughter’s name, tell someone about her, or to miss her. I care a lot less about what people think. I give a lot more value to my own thoughts and feelings.

In that great loss, I found a new me and I’m forever thankful for it. And thankful for the friends who have supported me along the way.

My heart still aches for Gloria. Knowing that I’ll never get to see her face or hold her on this earth. That she won’t be in our family photos even though she is the only piece of my family who shared my blood.

I imagined that sweet baby staring at the twinkle of Christmas lights and laughing at her siblings opening gifts. Instead she’s looking down on us, our forever angel.

She’s watching over us all. She’s a guardian angel to her little sister or brother. And I’m so thankful to have her in my heart. Thankful for the lessons her short life taught me. And mostly I’m thankful that she showed me what it feels like to love someone so completely, even when a world and a lifetime separates us.

Happy New Year, my darling angel! 💜

Number 2

**SPOILER ALERT This post contains spoilers from the episode “Number 2” of the show This Is Us. Episode aired November 22, 2017.**

No, I’m not talking about THAT number 2. 🙂 I’m talking about the latest episode of This Is Us titled Number 2. I’m so thankful for this show. I’ve loved Milo Ventimiglia since his Gilmore Girls days and adored Mandy Moore since I was in high school. I’ve fallen in love with the actors that play their children on this show. But mostly, I love how REAL it is. This Is Us addresses the real, uncomfortable, and heart breaking topics that people often avoid discussing.

This last year, I’ve realized how important it is to share those uncomfortable stories with others. Sharing allows us to heal, connect, and support each other. When shows touch on these topics, it opens the door for more healing, connection, and support.

I just finished watching the most recent episode, and it reminded me that I’m not the only person who was so excited about their baby that they rushed out and bought things for a nursery. I’m not the only person who laid in my bed sobbing while my husband called to cancel an order for a crib. That I’m not the only person who returned items to Pottery Barn Kids praying that they wouldn’t ask me the reason for the return.

I’m not the only mother who wondered what I did wrong that resulted in losing my child. Feeling guilty that I let down my husband by losing his baby. Knowing that pregnancy and baby loss isn’t anyone’s fault, but struggling to remember that applies to me, also.

If you’re in the same shoes as me, please realize it was nothing you did wrong. It’s not your fault. If love could save our babies, I have no doubt they’d still be with us. Tell yourself that it’s okay to not be okay with the loss. It’s painful as hell, but you will get through it one day at a time. This is us…

We are loss moms. Moms who loved our baby from day one, before we had seen their face, held them, or even knew the gender. We are the moms who unleash our grief at odd times, in odd ways. Moms who would do anything to have one more second, one more day, one more month with our angels. There isn’t anything that can fill the void, but I’m so thankful to have a network of women who understand me and lift me up, even when they may be struggling themselves.

This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for strong friends, second chances, and grace. Hoping you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving celebrating the wonderful things in life.

Awareness

I’m Teri. I’m one of the many faces of pregnancy loss. For those of you who don’t know, October happens to be Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. This also happens to be the first time in my life that I knew there was a month dedicated pregnancy and infant loss awareness. This time last year, I was blissfully ignorant to anything related to pregnancy or infant loss.

I’m realizing the world can be split into two lines like a game of red rover. One line stands on the ignorant side of an issue and the other line stands firmly aware. One side cannot imagine how the other side feels. Not until the other side calls your name. Red rover, red rover, let Teri come over. Just like that I ended up on the other side. I’m really proud to say that once I made it to the other side I was surrounded by strong, beautiful people who welcomed me with warm embraces.

We all need to be more aware. Some could argue that people are becoming too sensitive and too easily offended. But I will argue that many people are not sensitive or thoughtful enough. I know now how hurtful words and actions can be, even if they are not intended to be hurtful. There have been situations I’ve found myself in recently that would not have bothered me at all in the past but now reduce me to tears and panic attacks. I’m talking small things. I don’t believe my reactions mean that I’m overly sensitive or easily offended. Because of recent events, I do take longer to carefully choose my words. I am slower to make judgements about situations. I’m more thoughtful about how my actions may affect someone.

It’s my hope that sharing my journey will increase awareness, will help other grieving parents, and help people learn how to support their loved ones who experience a loss.

Facts about pregnancy and infant loss:

  • Pregnancy and infant loss includes miscarriage, stillbirth, SIDS, and the death of a newborn.
  • Each year, approximately a million pregnancies in the United States end in miscarriage, stillbirth, or the death of the newborn child.
  • National observance of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month offers us the opportunity to increase our understanding of the great tragedy involved in the deaths of unborn and newborn babies. It also enables us to consider how, as individuals and communities, we can meet the needs of bereaved parents and family members and work to prevent causes of these problems.
  • Even if you never personally suffer the loss of a baby, you likely know multiple mothers who have experienced loss. According to the American Pregnancy Association, approximately 10 to 25 percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage, and this statistic does not include pregnancies not verified in a doctor’s office, still births, and infant losses.
  • Dads especially need to be given the space and time to grieve as they often are not only grieving their child but also grieving over the pain of their wives.

Please read this full list of rights, and have them in the back of your mind should you or a loved one ever experience a pregnancy or infant loss. Here are some of the main rights to remember.

  • To be told all options and to be given the choice (when medically possible) on how to proceed when your baby has died, such as D&C, natural delivery or delivery induced by medications.
  • To see, hold, and take photos of your child.
  • To name your baby.
  • To request to have or not have an autopsy or pathology exam.
  • To bury your child in accordance with your family’s beliefs and rituals.
  • To be informed of the grieving process.

How can you help support a grieving friend?

  • Take the time to listen and understand your friend’s needs and wants.
  • Remembering the child at holidays and on anniversary dates.
  • Not minimizing the grief of baby loss or seriousness of medical problems.
  • It’s never wrong to say the words, “I’m so sorry for the loss of your baby. Is there anything that I can do for you?”
  • Accepting that grief is an individual experience and can’t be rushed or forced to fit another person’s expectations.
  • Any sentence that begins with the words “at least” needs to be reconsidered.

Triggers

It’s almost been 2 months since my angel’s unbirthday. Most days I feel back to “normal.” Even feeling ready to try again and see what happens. I’m scared of having a similar experience as the first time, but hope eclipses fear most of the time. 

MOSTLY. 

I was watching the movie Mother! this weekend and without giving away any spoilers, there is a scene that had me come unglued. I’m talking sobbing and covering my eyes like a frightened child. 

This week I’ve received phone calls from my OBGYN office reminding me it’s time for my yearly appointment. As soon as I saw their number pop up on my phone I freaked the eff out. Sweating, panicked, a nervous wreck. Somehow I hadn’t imagined what it would feel like to sit in that room again knowing what happened the last two times I was there. Knowing about the secret hallway they use to escort distraught, hysterical mothers from one office to another without disturbing the patients waiting happily just on the other side of the wall. The side of the wall I sat on for the last 10 years. 

I’m realizing that many loss moms have post traumatic stress. There will be things we couldn’t possibly have mentally prepared ourselves for. But it is so frustrating when it happens. It’s like emotionally peeing your pants. In public. 

It’s the lack of control that gets me. I feel like I have most things in my life well organized and thought out and it’s infuriating to feel like after this long there are still things I can’t control. Triggers that time warp me back to the worst day of my life. 

How do you ever move past the fear? Past the lack of control? Does that go away when you finally have a baby in your arms?

A Very, Merry Unbirthday

When I was in high school, I had a wonderful history teacher who made sure to present each lesson in a way that we would never forget. She was out one week for jury duty and we had a substitute teacher. We were left with a video from the History Channel, and print outs of butterflies to color. Some people laughed at how silly it seemed to color in high school. How was our only assignment that week to color? It was a task you assign to kindergartners! When we finished coloring our butterflies, our substitute teacher instructed us to hang them around the walls of the classroom.

Our teacher came back to class, and true to form was ready to dive into another lesson we’d never forget. She passed out papers she’d printed, and on each sheet contained a story of a person who either survived or died during the Holocaust. We went around the room reading our stories aloud and as each story met it’s tragic end, the student was asked to remove their butterfly from the wall. The room’s vibrant butterflies soon disappeared and we were left staring at mostly white walls again. As I flipped over my story to read it, my heart was pounding inside my chest. I had a hard time making it through the story as tears welled up in my eyes expecting the worst. The little boy in my story escaped death by hiding and finding refuge with a family. He was a survivor. I remember feeling so relieved that my butterfly got to remain on the wall with only a handful of others.

The butterflies had made the stories become real, and tangible. We could quickly see the devastation of that tragic time. They were no longer the black and white xeroxed copies. They were unique, colorful, and special to us.

We are all unique, colorful, special masterpieces, yet we remain works in progress. Life is always challenging us, shaping us, and teaching us to become better versions of ourselves.


I was cleared by my doctor last week, and as I reflect back on the last year I am so thankful to be able to see the unexpected gains from my loss. The strangers half a country, or half a world away who have become friends. My heart softening, and my soul reaching to do more, see more, be more. Love more. Help more.

So I wanted to use my baby Gloria’s “unbirthday” to create something special. Something to remember her and the sweet babies of my “loss mom” friends. I want to celebrate their lives, even though they were far too short. I’ve carefully cut out paper hearts (along with the help of my sweet step kids). On the hearts, I wrote names of other precious babies who were carried, loved, and gone too soon. It was my hope to illustrate their lives in a similar way my teacher was able to connect teenage students to people who faced the unimaginable during that dark time.

Behind each heart lies a story. A story of a beautiful baby and their overjoyed mommy and daddy. Behind each heart is enough love to light up the night sky, and enough tears to rival a great storm. These children can never be replaced or recreated, and though they are out of our reach, they are always in our hearts.

Each heart is beautiful, special, and unique. Together the hearts and their stories are woven together forming a beautiful rainbow, the promise of good things to come. Our love for our babies brings us together and unites us. My wish is that this brings hope to people who helped me when I needed it most. That it lets another grieving parent know that they are never alone and that their child matters just much as the names on these hearts.


My Darling Gloria,

Today is a day I’ve both longed for and dreaded. I’d hoped it would be the day that I’d hear your sweet cry, see your beautiful face, and smell your soft baby skin. Your daddy would have had a big, happy smile on his face. I probably would have cried (ALOT!) as I marveled at your tiny nose and impossibly small fingers and toes.

I am so thankful for you and find comfort in knowing that the first thing you saw was the face of Jesus. That is, if Pa didn’t take you into his strong arms first and spoil you rotten! I’m thankful that you were never cold or hungry and never knew fear or sadness. I am thankful you never have to miss me as much as I miss you every second of every day. You’re my masterpiece.

We are going to celebrate YOU today. I hope you are looking down on us with a smile on your face and love in your heart. Please know we wanted you in our arms more than anything, and I long for the day when I can hold you, kiss your face, and never let you go.

xoxo, Mommy


“Beam Me Up” by P!nk

There’s a whole other conversation going on
In a parallel universe
Where nothing breaks and nothing hurts
There’s a waltz playing frozen in time
Blades of grass on tiny bare feet
I look at you and you’re looking at me

Could you beam me up,
Give me a minute, I don’t know what I’d say in it
Probably just stare, happy just to be there holding your face
Beam me up,
Let me be lighter, I’m tired of being a fighter, I think,
A minute’s enough,
Just beam me up.

Some black birds soaring in the sky,
Barely a breath like our one last sight
Tell me that was you, saying goodbye,
There are times I feel the shivering cold,
It only happens when I’m on my own,
That’s how you tell me, I’m not alone

Could you beam me up,
Give me a minute, I don’t know what I’d say in it
I’d Probably just stare, happy just to be there, holding your face
Beam me up,
Let me be lighter, I’m tired of being a fighter, I think,
A minute’s enough,
Just beam me up.

In my head, I see your baby blues
I hear your voice and I, I break in two and now there’s
One of me, with you

So when I need you can I send you a sign
I’ll burn a candle and turn off the lights
I’ll pick a star and watch you shine

Just beam me up,
Give me a minute, I don’t know what I’d say in it
Probably just stare, happy just to be there, holding your face
Beam me up,
Let me be lighter, I’m tired of being a fighter, I think,
A minute’s enough,
Beam me up
Beam me up
Beam me up
Could you beam me up

Rainbowimg_2110

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