Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Christmas Jammies embody Faith vs Fear

Today, my oldest and I went to the store and picked out a Christmas onesie and jammies for our little "Vash" (no, still no name - we'll see her before naming her, it's HER name rather than ours, after all).  This sounds like no big deal, but it is to me. 

Let me explain.

Over the course of the last year, I've made lots of friends who are photographers for NILMDTS (the organization that does bereavement portraits).  I've made lots of friends who are loss-moms like me.  I'm too familiar with the stories - stories like mine of losing babies before 20 weeks, of those who lose babies in the second trimester... and also of those who lose their babies at 32 weeks, 39 weeks, 41 weeks, during labor, just after delivery, and every other possible scenario. 

I know a lot of people think that, now that I'm past when both my babies had died, I should feel like I'm safe and on the home stretch and just a bundle of joy!  But that's just not how it is.  My eyes have been opened and I am no longer in that joyfully innocent group of women who will ever feel "safe" at ANY point in pregnancy ever again.  In fact, the closer I get to my due date, the more I have to remember "fear is the opposite of faith, must have faith, do not entertain fear as it is an insult to faith."  If I have a mantra, that's it.  "Do Not Entertain Fear, It Is An Insult To Faith."  So while I try to push away the fear DAILY, I'm also not blind, innocent, or naive.  The closer I get to my due date, the more I feel like I've been SO lucky so far, and that my luck could still run out at any moment.  It gets hard to breathe.  Tears stay so close to the surface that I feel like I just want to hide in my room and cry nearly every day.  My heart literally hurts, sometimes to where I wonder if I'm going to have a heart attack!  But, I push it away.  I put on a happy face.  I rub my belly and tell her how much I love her and am so excited to meet her next month (I dare not wish her to come before SHE is COMPLETELY ready, it's just as scary to me as anything else).  I beg her to stay with me. 

Back to the jammies.  Why is it such a big deal?

Because I'm preparing for a baby that could still be taken away at any moment.  I've heard too many stories of having to pack up nurseries or box up clothes that were all washed and ready to go.  Buying these jammies is a HUGE leap of faith that I won't have to gift them to someone else or box them up for another pregnancy/baby.  It's a step where I'm forever trying to quash the fear and hold tight to that faith that I'm really going to get to hold (and keep) my little "Vash." 

Laugh if you must, but laying those items on the counter, swiping my debit card, bringing them into the house, and next will be hanging them up...  every step of it has made me want to cry.  But I'm refusing to allow myself to do so.  Because "fear is an insult to faith."  I've bought a few things along the way, even dug out old things from my other kiddos, but none has been with such intent - gifting these jammies to her on Christmas Eve...  it makes the assumption that she'll be there for Christmas.  Buying a girl outfit because we were told we're having a girl... it assumes we're having a girl.  Buying a gift for her assumes she'll get to open it.  That's much more realistic (as opposed to fantasy/dreams) than anything else I've done so far. 

So...  less than 4 weeks until my due date.  If you're a praying person, pray for me to be able to overcome fear and increase my faith.  Pray that this little girl will grow healthy and strong and happy.

Capture Your Grief: Days 9-15 in 2013

9. Music: This might be hard to capture in a photograph so why not post a youtube clip of a piece of music that reminds your of your baby/ies/child/ren. Why this piece of music?

Music just hasn't played a role in my grief.  Odd since music used to sing my life, but it hasn't with this.

10. Beliefs: Do you have a certain belief about what happens to us after we die? You might believe that we go to a heaven or you might believe that our bodies eventually turn to dust and that is the end of our story. Please feel free to share your beliefs whether they are religious, spiritual or not.

I think this is summed up well in the image I've shared several times of Taylor and the quote on the graphic...:
I believe whole heartedly that I will get to raise my children in the Millennium, doing what brings me both the most frustration as well as the most joy - being a mother.  This is an incredible opportunity to me and I look forward to it more than perhaps anything else. 

11. Emotional Triggers: What triggers emotions associated with grief for you? Is it the weather? A scent? Photos? Places? Holidays? Words? Certain people?

Birthdays, due dates, Christmas...
Taylor was due on her aunt's birthday but was born on her grandmother's birthday.
Seth was due just days after Christmas but was born on his uncle's birthday.
When we go to take family pictures and they aren't there, when we have to substitute our Molly Bears in place of our angel children, I remember them and it's a big trigger for me.
With another annual family picture coming up soon, I'm planning to crochet outfits for our bears again so our angels can be properly represented in our family picture.  This is a trigger for me.

12. Article: Have you read an article about grief that you would love to share with everyone? Please feel welcome to share who wrote the article and how the article resonated with you and also the direct link to the article if it is online.

If I think of anything in particular, I'll come back and edit this.  For now, all that is on my mind is that same quote by Joseph Smith that I posted above on day 10.  

13. Book: Have you read a book about grief that helped you immensely in your journey of grief? Please feel welcome to share the book and links to where it can be purchased so others can find it.

I read two books about grief.  However, I should probably re-read them as it was while I was still fairly deep in my own grief and I really don't remember much.  Again, I may update this later.

14. Family: What does you family look like now? Is it just yourself carrying your child’s heart in yours? Do you have other children? A partner? A pet? You may not have what society perceives as a family but we all know that just because you cannot see any children, that does not mean that they are not a part of your family.

This is my family now - my 3 living children, clinging to their angel siblings represented by bears, huddled around a gravestone to celebrate a birthday that didn't come with chubby cheeks and discussion about walking and talking and all the milestones met over the past year.  We'll be adding another baby to our family, hopefully next month, and hopefully without the need to get another bear.  My husband and I love all 6 of our children and are so very excited to see the beautiful, happy face of our newest addition soon.  I haven't had to consider talking to this new baby about her angel siblings because they're always remembered in our home.

15. Wave Of Light: Today is October 15th Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Light a candle at 7pm to help create a continuous wave of light around the world for 24 hours. Photograph your light! Please remember to share your location for this day as well. Wishing you all a ton of love for this sacred day of remembrance.

Today, I want to remember the angels that I've come to hold close to my heart, as well as my own.  And so I speak their names (in no particular order):

Grant Abernathy
Miracle Abernathy
Lily Robbins
Cordelia Casper
Luke Wood
Ayla Schneider
Autumn Phillips
Melena Harvey
Addison Johnson
Bryce Carter
Isaac Palmer
Porter Palmer
Jerom Shaver
Jocelyn Files
Liam Allred
Malachi Allred
Allison Mattes
Breckin Law
Brighton Law
Avery Friend
Caden Tozier
Clark Deneca
Little Fella Allen
Hope Lewis
Jude Hastings
Willow Hastings
Oliva Kunz
Skylar Fitzgerald
Harlee Fitzgerald
Matthew Fitzgerald
Vincent Valenzuela

And also Taylor Harvey & Seth Harvey.  So many angels.  So many grieving hearts yearning to hold their babies.  Many hugs and much love to the families of each of these babies who never came home from the hospital, who were born too soon, who were gone before they were even born.  So much love to each of you. There are so many more to add to this list, unnamed babies, babies not talked about, (and a few that I missed just because the list is so long) and this is just within my circle of extended friends.  Forgive me if I missed your angel.  PLEASE, write out your angel's name in the comments here.  I want to remember your angels.  All of them. 

Love to you all....

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Capture Your Grief: Day 8 in 2013

Day 8. Colour: What colour/s do you represent your baby? Why that colour/s?

Seth's is light blue due to the abundance of light blue in all of his NILMDTS photos, mostly his hat.  And with Taylor, I'm not really sure why, but purple (not lilac) and red (not pink). 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Capture Your Grief: Day 7 of 2013

Day 7. You Now: Where are you in your grief right now? How are you feeling? How far have you come? Are you wrestling with anything? Is your heart heavier or lighter now?

THIS is where I am in my grief right now.  This was last week, but still.  Today I am 35 weeks pregnant with the baby we lovingly call "Vash" (last paragraph) until we see her and can decide what her name really is.  Every day, I have to choose faith over fear.  Every day, when I start feeling her kick, I am so very reassured.  If I don't feel her, I have to think through and remind myself that she'll kick later, that she's fine, that she moved around yesterday, that she's probably just sleeping, etc.  It takes a while sometimes, but I try hard to keep my emotions in check.

As I approach my due date in a mere 5 weeks, I am feeling... well, I'm feeling.  Like I said, I have to talk myself out of fear.  I fear her dying still.  I fear a cord accident.  I fear a placenta issue.  I fear something happening during birth.  But, most days I'm able to push it all aside.  I'd say that's coming pretty far.

So, that's where I stand.  Constantly having to choose faith over fear, battling fear daily.  But my heart is lighter than it was.  I don't do that gasping-for-air crying anymore.  I get teary-eyed sometimes, but as far as my angels are concerned, I am at peace.  I have my purpose because of them.  I miss them, but my religion assures me that I'll see them again.  I know I won't see them in this life, but I'll see them again.  I miss them.  I love them.  But I'm okay.  I remember them every single day.  But I'm okay.  I am okay. 

Capture Your Grief: Day 6 of 2013

Day 6. Ritual: Do you have any rituals to help get you through the day? Maybe it is a daily affirmation or prayer. It could be that you light a candle or recite a mantra etc. Do you do anything meaningful on special dates for your baby?

Nope.  No rituals.  No daily affirmations.  No prayers that are specific to my losses.  I only light candles on rare occasions like birthdays and Oct. 15th.  No mantras.

On birthdays, we do cupcakes and flowers.  Now that the gravestone is set, we visit the grave for birthdays, too.  Since Taylor didn't get her own, her name is on Seth's gravestone, too.

The above 3 were Taylor's first birthday.  Chocolate cupcakes because every girl needs chocolate, and roses because she's a beautiful princess!

The below 3 were Seth's first birthday.  They actually had dragonfly cupcakes!!  And he got flowers, too because I had been eying those flowers for him for months because they reminded me of him.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Capture Your Grief: Day 5 of 2013

Day 5. Memory: What memory do you have of your child that stands out for you the most. It may be a positive or negative memory. When you think of your child what is the first memory that comes to your mind?

Two big memories of Taylor - first, sitting in a parking lot getting a text from my very dear friend, Ashley, who gave me the quote on this red image above.  This quote helped me SO much through both of my losses.  She said she felt like it was what she was supposed to say, though she had no idea what to say herself.  She was inspired to share this with me, because my Heavenly Father loves me and knew it was exactly what I needed.

Next was her birth and how absolutely horrified I was when I realized that my baby's body was flushed down a toilet.  I'm still ready to cry my eyes out just thinking of it - both because of how it makes me feel now as well as because of remembering my feelings then.  The pain of not seeing her is nearly more than I can handle.  I try hard to push those feelings aside and focus on that quote above. 

With Seth, obviously a huge memory was finding out he was a boy instead of a girl like the ultrasound tech said!  I studied him for a long time.  His muscular legs.  His open eyes.  His adorable nose.  His shoulders.  His knees.  His bone structure.  His facial expression.  Isn't he just beautiful?  He died at 16 weeks gestation.  That's still a legal age for abortion.  Can you even imagine that some people kill a baby that is this perfectly formed?  Look at him.  No, really look at him.  That little body may only be 6" long, but how incredible! 

Of course it makes sense that this would be such a tremendous memory for me, considering what I just told you about Taylor.  I didn't get to see her body, so his meant the world to me. 

Capture Your Grief: Day 4 of 2013

Day 4. Legacy: Do you believe your child left a legacy behind? It could be something very simple but meaningful.

As I explained on Day 2, I believe my losses lead me to a purpose - making angel clothing to help others feel a little comfort and love, and a little less alone during their loss.

These were all from August.  Hopefully I'll have my September stuff photographed soon to post.  I had to get a little help with some necklines on some of the new Taylor gowns because I was doing them awkwardly. 

Anyway, with every outfit I make, my angels' legacy is embodied.  This is what I was lead to do (who picks up crocheting as quickly as I did unless it was something they were called to do, like I believe I have been?).  Their lives had purpose, and this is it... to bring about love and compassion toward other angel parents.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Capture Your Grief: Day 3 of 2013

Day 3. Myths: Do you believe there are any myths about grief? You could write the myth on a piece of paper and photograph it.

I think I covered this last year in this post:  What (not) to say

However, to kinda answer things a little differently this year, I'd say here is a myth that bother me...

#1 - Time heals all.  This too shall pass.  You're still grieving, it's been so long.
As I've said before, people continue to grieve their lost sibling or parent or grandparent or friend years after they've passed.  Why would you expect any less when someone has lost a child?  As soon as you're pregnant, you start making plans - holiday plans (Seth was due Dec 28 so I began planning Christmas at home rather than with family), home plans (if Seth were born alive, we would have needed to consider building in the basement because we just wouldn't be able to fit 3 boys in one bedroom), budgeting (even with insurance, delivering a baby costs money, as do clothes and diapers, etc), and so much more!  When you lose that baby before he or she is even born, all those plans and dreams change.  You've lost a child AND the future you had envisioned.  And it hurts.  Every holiday, you think about how you could have or should have had another baby crawling around, starting school, or whatever is relevant.  Time helps, but it doesn't completely heal and the death of a child never passes.  Ever.

Sometimes I think I must SEEM like I'm "over it" because I don't cry so much.  Other times I think I must SEEM like I'll never be "over it" because I still do all my angel work and am constantly reaching out to people, trying so hard to help... which makes me think people must think I SEEM like I'm "over it" since I'm to a place where I can do that kind of stuff.

I just want to say that I think of both Taylor and Seth daily.  I think of them as often as I think of my three living children.  They're always in the back of my mind.  Other people thinking or speaking of them makes me happy.  I don't like thinking that they've been forgotten.  They'll always be mine and I'll always remember them.  Always.

Capture Your Grief: Day 2 of 2013

Day 2. Identity:
What is your child’s name? Why did you chose that name? What is the meaning of their name? If they were born, what were their birth details. What were their features? Who are they?

We chose this name because she died at 13w1d and was born at 14w1d - we never got to see her tiny body and it was too soon for ultrasound to show a gender.  We HIGHLY believe Taylor was a girl, but just in case, we didn't want to offend our little one, so we chose an androgynous name.  I went through the book "The Baby Name Wizard" and found a list of androgynous names.  I highlighted the ones that I liked best (Aubrey, Billie, Drew, Jody, Joey, Micah, Quinn, Reese, Robin, Taylor) and let Ben choose from that list.  He chose Taylor, which I was pleased with.  To read about her birth details, go HERE

Since then, I've found that her purpose was to introduce me to the community of loss mothers.  Being in the loss community already helped me with what was coming next.

As described HERE, we found out that we lost this sweet baby when I went in for my gender-reveal ultrasound at 19 weeks.  They were so positive that we were having a girl that the tech colored the gender-shot screen pink.  We chose the name Isabelle with no middle name, just as our little Taylor girl has no middle name.  Then I delivered my baby and found out that he was ALL BOY!  I pulled out my phone to look up my name list I had sent to my sister and read off all the boy names.  Ben said Seth was the only one that really stood out to him.  From there, we decided it sounded short and he needed a middle name, so I chose Micah to go with it (another name from our list). 

Seth means "Annointed."  Micah means "Who Is Like God?" (never understood why this is followed by a question mark).  However, both names are scriptural, biblical.  Seth was the perfect son of Adam (See D&C 107:43 or look up Seth in the Bible Dictionary) and Micah was a prophet (see HERE for more about Micah).  In our religion, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, we believe that children are without sin, they are not accountable for their actions until they reach the age of accountability (age 8, unless other mental handicaps are present).  This means that our tiny son died while still perfect in the sight of our Heavenly Father.  Although he lived in my womb, he was never subjected to the sins of this world, he never sinned, he was in fact quite perfect.  So the name Seth has ended up being quite perfect for our little boy. 

For his birth details, read HERE
As for his features - he was a mere 6" long and 3oz.  He was slender yet very muscular as he wasn't old enough to have gained any real baby fat yet.  His eyes were open (which they say doesn't happen for another few weeks after he had died).  He had some swelling on the back of his head from being gone for so long before his birth (remember, he died at 16weeks and was born at 19w4d) but his hat covered it so we could enjoy everything else without being afraid.  He had a cute little nose and chin.  To me, he was absolutely beautiful.  

Now, like I was saying, Taylor's loss had me enter the community of loss mothers.  That enabled me to know about NILMDTS and get the pictures of Seth that I treasure more than I can describe.  While we anticipated Isabelle's arrival, I had picked out some outfits hoping one would fit our little girl, and it gave me comfort to know she'd be dressed like any other baby.  Then, we had a boy.  I was sad that the clothes were no longer appropriate for our baby.  All the pictures of him are of a little naked baby, sometimes wrapped in a blanket.  Since then, I've learned to crochet to make angel clothing and sewn more angel clothing and all of it has been donated out to photographers and hospitals, hoping others will be able to dress their babies.  Of course I have a special place in my heart for the tiniest outfits, the ones that would have fit my little Seth.  Those are my favorites to make because they mean so much more to me.  

I lost my babies because there is a need in this world, a need to comfort grieving parents, to extend a hand of love to show grieving parents that they're not alone.  Making angel clothing is how I go about accomplishing the task I have been called to do.  I will likely always do it.  I hated that my baby was naked and cold.  We were so sure we were having a girl, though.  Who would have thought to bring boy clothes "just in case?"  I don't blame anyone.  It just makes me sad.  After everyone had left, before I gave Seth to the nurses so the funeral home could take him away, I had the nurses bring me a full-term baby hat to wrap him in, to keep his toes warm, to act like a sleeping bag because I hated him being so cold.  Yes, I know he couldn't feel the cold, but it made me feel better to have him warmly wrapped.  Hopefully, my efforts will help so that other parents don't have to use full-term items to wrap their tiny ones in.

So that's how I perceive their identities.  They introduced me to the loss community and to the needs of those who have lost.  The work I do is in remembrance of my sweet angels, and hopefully it brings comfort, even the tiniest bit, to other grieving parents.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Capture Your Grief: Day 1 of 2013

Day 1: Sunrise, the beginning of the photo journaling event capturing the grief in my world of pregnancy and infant loss.  Remember, in October 1988, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed October as National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. “When a child loses his parent, they are called an orphan. When a spouse loses her or his partner, they are called a widow or widower. When parents lose their child,there isn’t a word to describe them. This month recognizes the loss so many parents experience across the United States and around the world. It is also meant to inform and provide resources for parents who have lost children due to miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, molar pregnancy, stillbirths, birth defects, SIDS, and other causes.”

I snapped a few pictures "at" sunrise, but with the mountains in our backyard, it's hard to get much.  So this is about 45 minutes after sunrise as the sun peaks over the mountaintops.  I had to get it as I drove my oldest sweetheart to school, hence the mirror.  But, being on the road seemed appropriate since I've been traveling this road for a while now. 

For 2012's image