mama story: Justine

So sorry for the delay, friends! I had all intentions to post this on Monday, but life gets in the way sometimes. Below is another beautiful submission by one of WLG&J's instagram followers, Justine. You can read more of her writing at her blog, here.

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The Elouise Tree

Today is Mother’s Day. May 14, 2017. My first Mother’s Day without Elouise. It’s been 108 days since I found out my baby’s heart stopped beating. 104 days since she left my body. There’s a feeling of defeat that comes with losing a baby. Sometimes the grief hits so hard I can hardly breathe. But lately those days are fewer and further between. I know there will still be moments that will be hard to handle, like her due date, the anniversary of her death, etc. But for now my laughter has returned. I laugh easily. A normal day doesn’t mean I cry anymore. Unless it’s Sunday. So far I haven’t made it through a single church service without crying. But I’m healing. It’s getting easier.

Today is Mother’s Day. And today we planted an adorable baby apple tree in our yard in memory of our Elouise. It wasn’t an organized service – we just had some friends and our families over and we planted a tree. Andrew and I tried to say a few words but our words were limited because it’s still hard for us to not cry.

We bought a wind chime so when the wind blows or the storms rage we can hear her little bubbly sound. Imagine it’s her giggles. The bell on her bike, her shrieks of joy as she runs through the sprinkler. The sounds she never made.

I wrote her a letter. I sealed it in an envelope and buried it under the tree. It felt a bit like closure for me. All the things I wish for. The things I wish I could have said.

My dear sweet Elouise,
There is so much I wish I could say to you. I wish with all my heart I could have placed a kiss on your tiny face. I long for the day Jesus comes back, and maybe I’m selfish because mostly I just want to meet you and your brother. My heart aches with emptiness in the place I hoped you would fill. I will never stop missing you while we are apart.
I wish I knew what colour your eyes are. What colour your hair would be. If you would have freckles like your dad or maybe more like your sisters. We were all so excited to meet you, my sweet girl.
I imagine you with blue eyes and brown hair and a wild spray of freckles all over your face. You’re a girly girl but you like keeping up with your brother. I imagine you in a pink tutu and rubber boots on a run bike pushing hard to keep up with your siblings. You have a laugh that reminds me of bubbles and it comes easily. You light up a room whenever you enter it. You have a special bond with your daddy. I know he adores you. As you grow I imagine your hair takes on strawberry highlights and you earn even more freckles. You are so beautiful.
I wish I could hug you and breathe in your scent. You’d smell like fresh air after the rain. You would be warm.
OH I miss you. I miss all the moments we would have had. I miss feeling your wiggles. I wish I could have heard your heartbeat – even just once. I wish I could have held you in my arms and let you hear my voice so I could tell you just how much I love you.
I would have loved to hear your cry. Your tiny voice. To hear how your words would develop, if you had a lisp or a whirl.
I would have loved to cry on your first day of kindergarten and graduation day. I wish daddy could have walked you down the aisle.
Oh Elouise, I so badly wanted to make memories with you. I had so many plans.


But do you know what? God had something different. And even though I won’t hold you until I get to heaven I’m okay, because I know you’re safe. You’ll never feel pain or heartache. You’ll never know cancer or a scraped knee. I’m so grateful your experience will be a perfect one. And Jesus will take such good care of you! And you even have your big brother to be with you.
Even though these things bring me such comfort I still wish I could nurse you, hold you, cuddle you and dream with you.
Do you know what else though? Ever since you left God has been doing something amazing in my heart. I didn’t understand trust and faith before. I never felt so secure in Jesus’ love for me. I don’t think I was excited about Him coming back because I still had so much I wanted to do. But now I can’t wait! While I’m here and while He still has a purpose for me I hope to be obedient and compassionate. But my eyes are fixed on things above. I can’t wait to be with Jesus. To be with Him in paradise and to hold you and Aaron and kiss you. I can’t wait to see you. To look into your eyes.
I miss you. I wish you had stayed.
Thank you for teaching me more about Jesus. If you had stayed I don’t know if I would understand suffering, joy and peace the way I do now. The bible says we grieve with hope (1 Thess. 4:13) and in everything give thanks (1 Thess. 5:18). As much as I miss you and as much as I wish you had stayed – that you were still growing in my womb, I am so grateful that I have grown and become better. And it’s because of you, sweet girl.
I want to stop wishing for what could have been and start hoping for what’s still to come. I don’t want to feel guilty as I continue to heal. I want you and your brother to know i will always hold you in my heart and I long for the day I can kiss your sweet faces. Even as I heal and my tears don’t fall for you as often you will always be so dear to me. I wait with eagerness for the day we meet.
Dear daughter, you have taught me so much even though your time was short. I’ve changed because of you. You have made me better. And I hold Jesus closer, all because of you. I owe you for that, Lou. You are the perfect baby. I love you so much. Please tell your brother how much I miss him. I love you both with all my heart.

 

Until the day we meet in heaven,
Forever,

Mommy

Lamentations 3:20-23
I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lords great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Songs of Songs 4:7
You are altogether beautiful, my darling, there is no flaw in you.

Isaiah 49: 13
Shout for joy, O heavens; rejoice, O earth; burst into song, O mountains! For the LORD comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones. 

Philippians 1:3
I thank my God every time I remember you.

This whole journey has been so trying, so devastating. It’s been really humbling to have such an amazing community of family and friends hold us up in prayer and supporting us through our grief.
It was a gorgeous day. The clouds threatened rain, and it was a little windy – but overall a pretty amazing day to be planting a new little tree. We had our friend, who is a horticulturist, help us pick a tree and make sure it was planted properly because of all this tree represents I wanted to make sure it had the absolute best start. This baby apple tree. The Elouise Tree.

mama story: Nova

Today, I'm going to be featuring two mama stories on the blog because I couldn't decide which one to share this week. They are both beautifully written. The first one was submitted by Nova, this has to be one of the most heartbreaking, yet beautiful stories I have read so far. Leave Nova some love in the comments.

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For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to be a mother.

A few of my childhood memories corroborate this:
Once, in first grade, I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up.
" A mom, " was my carefully printed response, complete with a hand-drawn picture of a baby crawling in a yellow onesie.
" Pick something else ! " the teacher scrawled across the page.

At another time, I announced to my aunt and grandmother that I wanted TEN children.
Now, as I approach 30, I would be content with just ONE.

Within months of marrying my first husband (at the age of 20), we became pregnant. We blabbed the news to any and everyone, much to the disbelief and disconcertion of the pastor who didn't know we'd wed at the courthouse 2 months prior. We were so excited! A week after the positive pregnancy test, I started spotting. At first, I was assured that it was 'normal' and not to worry. However, the next morning I was taken to the emergency room to be examined. Terrified and alone. Tests left me feeling mortified. An uncomfortable ultrasound where the only sounds were clicks and taps of the mouse and the sound of my tears hitting the paper sheet beneath me. It was the silence that told me:
" ___ miscarriage. And, oh yeah, you're rH negative. " They sent me on my way with informal paperwork and little comfort or support.

That loss - of our child, our hopes and dreams for the future, even our innocence, in a sense. We never considered a loss (miscarriage or otherwise) as a potential outcome because, quite honestly, we had never been exposed to that possibility. In our young and naive minds, the only outcome of a pregnancy was a healthy baby.

What angered me more than anything were the platitudes that ran along the lines of "Everything happens for a reason," "It wasn't the right time", "You'll have more babies", and "God has a plan", etc. It hurt deeply. 'Get over it' was the unspoken message, and I heard it loud and clear.

I couldn't and didn't and haven't and won't 'get over it'.
I grieve(d) deeply. And then, I became hell-bent on getting pregnant again.

As the weeks and months went by, I began to resent my body for not being able to do the One Thing it was designed to do. Each Big Fat Negative and every monthly cycle/period felt like a betrayal and a failure, leading to disappointment and gutteral breakdowns. Finally, at a doctor's office (for what I thought was a completely different issue), the stick turned Positive. Such was the shock and surprise on my face that the Doctor thought it was an unwanted pregnancy! I quickly informed him that it was quite the opposite: my baby was VERY much wanted.

This time, we knew to keep the information restricted to immediate family only. Terrified of a repeat miscarriage, I called my OB/GYN and frantically tried to make an appointment, only to be quite cooly informed that I'd have to wait until my 8 week ultrasound, standard procedure. Near hysterical, I begged and pleaded but to no avail. Barring an emergency, there was nothing to do but wait.

A few days before that appointment, I began spotting.

Once again, I waited, hoping against hope that everything was and would be alright....but the day before my scheduled 8 week ultrasound, my worst fears were confirmed: I was having a(nother) miscarriage. 

Afterwards, the doctor expressed that things were serious now: we would need a multitude of tests and, if I WERE to ever become pregnant again, I would be considered extremely high risk. She also informed me that in her 20 years of practice, she had never experienced a case like mine. 

I think I kind-of gave up hope after that, to be honest. 
I felt like damaged goods. 

The emotional toll of the losses and infertility, combined with a multitude of other issues, facilitated our separation and eventual divorce 2 years later. However, we were on friendly terms before he died suddenly in an accident.

How I wish(ed) I had been able to give him a child and his parents their grandchild.

I remarried, eventually. On December 1, 2015, I confirmed what I alreaxy suspected: I was pregnant for the third time. Happy and excited but filled with trepidation; it didn't surprise me when I started spotting soon thereafter. I didn't even look at the ultrasound this time. The doctors were cautiously optimistic, my husband naive and hopeful. I mentally prepared myself for the inevitable.

Hearing those words, " I'm sorry, but you're miscarrying ", yet AGAIN, broke me. The doctor's assistant infuriated me by commenting that it was "just a bunch of cells and tissue", but I was too heartbroken to reprimand him. 

As soon as I ever suspected that I might possibly be pregnant, something in me changed: I became a mother. My main focus was the life inside of me: protecting, nourishing, loving each pregnancy -- each life, each child -- wanted and loved deeply. Each loss was devastating beyond comprehension, and yet to the majority of the world, it was as if they never existed. 

My grief was heartwrenching.

We 'took a break' from trying to conceive for about a year and a half until we felt that we were better prepared to try again, come what may. We even requested and was approved for a referral for a fertility specialist. Now, I was the one that was cautiously optimistic.

And then, my husband got deployment orders. 

It goes without saying that babymaking/TTC is on hold.

It seems like my lifelong dream to become a mother has been deterred at every turn. I don't know at this point if that dream of mine will ever come to fruition. Will I ever have a healthy pregnancy? Oh, how I long for the whole of it: morning sickness and aches and uncomfortableness and swelling -- the flutters and kicks -- I SWEAR I won't utter a single complaint if granted this ONE THING-!!

I don't know if I'll ever be able to have kids -- be it via natural pregnancy, fertility specialist, or adoption. The not-knowing.......Sometimes, I try to lie and convince myself that I don't even WANT kids, thinking that it hurts less that way. But deep down, I know -- I feel -- the truth.

Every time a pregnancy announcement or ultrasound snapshot fills my social media newsfeed, my heart aches. Every time I see mothers with their infants and toddlers in stores and sidewalks, my throat tightens. 
I caress the tiny clothes and shoes, bottles and diapers and formulas, strollers and cribs, wondering, dreaming...... Wincing at the inevitable question: "Do you have kids?" as my heart completely shatters.

My babies would be 7, 6, and 1 year(s) old now. I miss them every day and wonder who they would have been, what they would have looked like and so much more. All the unknowns. All the lost moments and memories. 
I wonder who *I* would be now, had I been granted that awesome gift to care for them as their mother. 

I dream of them, sometimes. The memory-dream of their weight, scent, and voices cling to me when I awaken to reality. 

I carry them in my heart.

Harper Angels
05/31/2009
08/09/2010

Jackson Angel
12/07/2015

Vivamus pellentesque vitae neque at vestibulum. Donec efficitur mollis dui vel pharetra.
— Hope K.

memorial jewelry/tattoos

I thought it would be a good idea to have people submit their memorial jewelry/tattoos in remembrance of their little ones. I have seen a lot of beautiful work over the last couple of years and wanted to showcase some of that!

For some mothers, a permanent reminder etched on our skin is one way to always have our lost baby with us. Others prefer a less permanent option such as a necklace, ring, bracelet, etc. I have tried my best to link to the correct shops/websites but I'm still not too good with this website thing so bear with me! :)

 

                                  Bracelet from  Layered and Long

                                  Bracelet from Layered and Long

                           Tattoo done at  Jacksonville Tattoo Company

                           Tattoo done at Jacksonville Tattoo Company

              Necklace by  Joy Soul Jewels

              Necklace by Joy Soul Jewels

                                                 Tattoo by  @tattoosbysawyer

                                                 Tattoo by @tattoosbysawyer

                                                    Sapphire ring from  Pandora

                                                    Sapphire ring from Pandora

                                                 This one, I'm excited about. To quote the message sent to me when the ring was submitted, "I have also launched a support pin, ...it is designed to commemorate our angels as well as show a sign of solidarity and support for our loss mamas - recognizing our stories and that brokenness can be beautiful. The circle, the koru (spiral), and the kintsukuroi pattern all have meanings that are explained in posts on my feed."   The Anahera Project

                                                 This one, I'm excited about. To quote the message sent to me when the ring was submitted, "I have also launched a support pin, ...it is designed to commemorate our angels as well as show a sign of solidarity and support for our loss mamas - recognizing our stories and that brokenness can be beautiful. The circle, the koru (spiral), and the kintsukuroi pattern all have meanings that are explained in posts on my feed."  The Anahera Project

           Tattoo done in memory of Kelly's son who was born at just 26 weeks. He lived only 5 days when the decision was made to let him go due to multiple brain bleeds.

           Tattoo done in memory of Kelly's son who was born at just 26 weeks. He lived only 5 days when the decision was made to let him go due to multiple brain bleeds.

                                 This necklace (which holds her daughter's ashes) was gifted to Kelly, shop unknown.

                                 This necklace (which holds her daughter's ashes) was gifted to Kelly, shop unknown.

           Both tattoos submitted by Kelly done at Ruby Tattoos. The footprint tattoo is Peyton's footprint at birth, it's on Kelly's stomach since that is where her daughter lived her whole life.

           Both tattoos submitted by Kelly done at Ruby Tattoos. The footprint tattoo is Peyton's footprint at birth, it's on Kelly's stomach since that is where her daughter lived her whole life.

     Necklace (engraved are the latitude and longitude coordinates of where Shayla's twins are buried) by  Stella and Dot

     Necklace (engraved are the latitude and longitude coordinates of where Shayla's twins are buried) by Stella and Dot