Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013

2013.

At midnight on December 31 2012, I stood with some of my closest friends on a beach, laughing as we tried madly to light sparklers with no success and then tried to get some flame from another group on the beach. As we watched the fireworks to the north and south of us I was full of anticipation for 2013. In one sense, it was a year of unknown: was Baby going to be a girl or a boy? Would they come early or late? What job would my husband find? How would I handle life with a newborn? But in another sense, I thought I knew what 2013 would hold: a baby.

And I suppose it did. Our sweet Ariella Jade was born at 9am on January 30 and we got to spend two whole days with her. Our baby; our forever baby.

That’s why I’m not ready to say goodbye to 2013. It will always be the only year in which we got to hold our daughter. I cannot say it was the worst year of my life, because it contained some of the best moments of my life. In 2013 we got to meet our baby, hold her, name her and create memories with her. In no other year will I get to clothe her, snuggle her or read to her, so 2013 cannot be all bad. In addition to that, I’ve spent 37 weeks of 2013 pregnant with Baby #2; it’s been hard and draining, but also wonderful. Feeling a little life wriggle about and knowing that at least one of my children is alive. I cannot say 2013 has been all bad. On the flipside, 2013 also contained the worst moments of my life: the drive to the hospital assuming that our baby had died, the confirmation ultrasound, leaving the hospital room and later, the funeral home.

When I stood on the beach one year ago, I had no idea what would occur exactly 4 weeks later. I miss that innocence, thinking that the worst that could happen was that our sparklers wouldn’t light and that 2013 was going to be an incredible year. I guess all I can say is that it has been an incredible roller coaster.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Simply Surviving

I realised the other day that I have only written one blog post for the month of December. That wasn't my intention at all, and a few factors have played into that.

Firstly, I literally couldn't write posts in my computer. For some unknown reason, all I could do was write a title but no text! I tried various things and nothing would fix it...only to realise after a couple of weeks that I have a Blogger app on my phone (how I'm writing this, so please excuse any formatting errors!) or I can use my husband's computer as it still works on there. 

Secondly, there was Christmas. I had promises a couple of people that I would write a post about how to help us at Christmas, but I couldn't find the words. I was so appreciative of the friends who asked what we wanted and those who mentioned Ariella in cards, gifts or messages. How gorgeous are these presents we were given?


I had decided at the start of December to find the joy in Christmas, even without my baby girl. We put up the tree, bought gifts and made some plans. I even joined a carols choir at church to try to force myself out of my rather small comfort zone. But by the time Christmas arrived, I struggled. A lot. Christmas morning was perhaps the most difficult morning in months, but the day got better and ended up ok. I spent it with my husband and we had a picnic lunch at the beach before a quiet night at home. It helped that he had three days off work, as I always feel better when he is around. 

The third reason I haven't written much this month is perhaps the most important. I feel like all my energy has been put into simply surviving. January is going to be huge - a baby's birth and Ariella's anniversary and birthday. These last few weeks of pregnancy have been so draining, and I'm not yet at my due date. Which means there are more draining days ahead. By the time I've made it through another day of being pregnant, I don't have the energy left for much else, including writing. And plus, what is there to say? I'm still pregnant, I'm still holding my breath, I'm still missing our sweet Ariella.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A Special Day


"I call upon the persons here present to witness that I Larissa, take you Marcus to be my lawful wedded husband. Marcus, you're my best friend; I'm so grateful God gave me to you to be your wife. I promise to love you unconditionally, to honour you with my words and actions, and to always respect you. I promise to pray with you and for you, to encourage and support you. No matter what problems we face - whether sickness, poverty, sorrow or otherwise, I will be faithful to you. I will laugh with you and cry with you, because you are my best friend, the love of my life. Marcus, I give you my heart and my love, from this day forward, as long as we both shall live."


Two years ago today, when I said those words, I had no idea that just 14 months later, my husband and I would face a sorrow greater than we could have imagined. And yet, through it all, I have never doubted his love for me, or mine for him. When I promised to always pray with him and for him, I didn't know that for months those prayers would be begging God for comfort, hope and strength. When I promised to laugh and cry with him, I didn't realise that sometimes the laughing and crying would be simultaneous.


Marcus, thank you for loving me like you promised; for always wiping away my tears and providing me with that desperately needed hug. Your patience and kindness astounds me frequently and never once have I doubted that you love me. I'm so glad you chose me.


Thank you for making me smile when I didn't think it was possible and for not minding when I am silly at serious moments. Thank you for keeping me calm (and being ok when that means letting me have a Josh Groban song on repeat!) and taking such good care of me and our babies. I'm hoping the next two years are easier than the two we've had so far, but even if they aren't, I love you. You're my reason to be brave.


Let them praise the Lord for His great love and for the wonderful things He has done for them.
Psalm 107:21

Friday, November 29, 2013

Pregnancy After Loss: Dreams for a Rainbow Baby

When a couple decides to have a baby, hope begins to form in their hearts. It's not just the hope of a child that develops, but hope for a future with that child. Dreams of what that child will look like, act like, behave like. An expectant parent dreams of the first smile, the teetering first steps and whether the first word will be mama or dada.



When parents are expecting a rainbow baby, those dreams still exist. But they aren't the dreams I think of first. Let me share with you what dreams are foremost in my mind:

I dream of a child who cries.
I long for a baby that keeps me up at night.
I hope for a child who opens their eyes.

I dream of a baby who will throw tantrums.
I long for a child who can hold my finger, not just my heart.
I hope for a child who breathes.

I dream of a child who giggles.
I long for a baby who laughs.
I hope for a child who smiles.

But most of all,

I dream of a baby who curls up. It's that simple.

I dream of a child who curls up on our chests when being held.
I long for a baby who is difficult to change because their legs are tangled up with their arms.
I hope for a child who makes us laugh with their flexibility.

Because it means they are alive.

To read all the posts in this series, click here.

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If you are a baby loss parent, what are your dreams for a rainbow baby?

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Pregnancy After Loss: Overcoming Hesitation

Today I am honoured to share my friend Brittany's story with you. Her son Samuel was stillborn just eight days before Ariella died. While I wish that both of us still had our babies in our arms, I have been so grateful to have Brittany to journey with this year. This is her story of the obstacles she has overcome when thinking about a rainbow baby.


For me walking the path of grief has led to many different feelings regarding another baby and pregnancy. At first, after my son was stillborn at 33 weeks, I was so overwhelmed by losing him the thought of another baby felt light-years away. I would think about having another baby as if it was a dream, or something for way in the future. I was very content with my three children and not sure that I even ever wanted another baby (although I figured that would change as time went on).

As time went on I became more and more adamant in my own mind that I did not want to get pregnant. I was scared by the idea that perhaps another baby would take Samuel's place in my heart and I might "forget" him (I knew that was far from true, but I couldn't even handle the idea of it). The thought of giving birth and holding another baby right after terrified me. Unbeknownst to me this whole time (or most of it) that I was so sure I didn't want to be pregnant I actually was. The day before the 3 month anniversary of my son's birthday I took a pregnancy test and found I was expecting. I was consumed with fear, a tiny bit of excitement (that the fear promptly squashed), frustration and a lot of uncertainty. I knew from the moment I saw those two lines that something was not right and this baby wasn't going to make it either.

The next day, as I wrestled with what-ifs I started cramping and bleeding. As the day went on it intensified to sharp pains and I was barely able to walk or stand. We went into the emergency room (of the same hospital where my son had been born 3 months before, to the day) and the doctor told me I had suffered a miscarriage and that I needed to have surgery to remove a cyst on my ovary. Surgery was scheduled for 5 days later and when I woke up afterwards I was I informed that I had actually had an ectopic pregnancy that burst. Honestly, I was so relieved. So much so that I felt guilty for not mourning losing another baby. I knew I wasn't ready to handle the emotional roller coaster of a pregnancy after loss and losing "Baby #4" (we have not named him/her yet, though we plan to) was so unexpected.

A little over a month later I found out that I have an autoimmune blood clotting disorder called, 'Anti-Phospholipid Syndrome.' It is this disorder that caused the placental abruption I had with Samuel. This brought on so many, many new emotions I've struggled with and it caused me to feel even more adamantly that I did not want to have another baby anytime soon. I felt as if it was my fault that Samuel died, and finding out that if I went through another pregnancy it would mean daily shots, extensive monitoring after 32 weeks, and probably an induction overwhelmed me. I am the kind of person that likes to know all my options, research each one, and find the route I am most comfortable with. My first two children were born at home, the second was a waterbirth and I had loved the comfort and relaxation of having my babies at home and had hoped I could still do that in the future. Knowing now that I can't and there are so many decisions to make and things to research made me sure I didn't want another baby.

I struggled with these feelings for a few months until God (and Larissa! :)) helped me to realize that my obsessing over when to get pregnant and wanting to have every little detail worked out was, in reality, not letting Him have control. As time has gone on I have become more excited at the thought of another pregnancy. We have not been blessed with a rainbow baby yet, but I know that regardless of the future God will bring me through it, just as He has with Samuel and Baby #4.

To read all the posts in this series, click here.
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Thank you Brittany for being willing to share your story with us. Has any one else faced medical issues that impact on your feelings regarding a rainbow pregnancy?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Pregnancy After Loss: Needing to Try

I've asked my friend Annika to share her journey towards a pregnancy after loss. The feelings of her and her husband are in contrast to those shared yesterday by Sarah. Neither are wrong or right, and their stories highlight the vast range of emotions that can be felt.


After we lost our first baby at six weeks we were desperate to start trying to conceive again and desperate to be pregnant again. Before we got pregnant the first time I think I was definitely the one who wanted things to happen quickly while my husband more relaxed and willing to wait until things happened for us. After we lost our baby he wanted to be pregnant again just as much as me. We would talk about it every day and it was on our minds all the time. We wanted our child here with us as soon as possible.

The devastation of losing our very loved little baby took a long time to overcome. It was a confusing time for us, missing our baby and what should have been while also looking forward to conceiving our rainbow and feeling conflicted about how we would feel when this happened.

We did some research and decided to wait a month after the miscarriage to let my body get back into it’s routine. Unfortunately ever since our loss each month has been unpredictable and confusing which has made trying for our second child a lot harder.

It has been nine months since we lost our little sweet pea and we have not yet conceived our rainbow. We have had two other very early losses since that time and while the desperation has gone we are just so ready to meet our children. It is hard waiting for them to come along but we know they will be here one day. We already love them so very much and have names waiting for them; Henry James and Stella Marie.

Some days it is hard to see the positives. Knowing that we have conceived four times, carried one to 6 weeks and the three other little sparks of life not quite strong enough to stay aflame. We love all of our children, and we will never forget each one, no matter how short their stay with us was. My husband is my rock who reminds us that through them we will feel no greater love and know no greater miracle when it is time for our Henry or Stella to be here.

To read all the posts in this series, click here.
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Thank you Annika for sharing your story. Fellow baby loss mums, have you felt similar?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Pregnancy After Loss: Waiting for My Heart to be Ready


Today, my dear friend Sarah is sharing about her journey towards a rainbow pregnancy. Sarah's daughter, Evie Caris, was born just over a year ago and went to Heaven a few hours later. You can read more of Evie's story on Sarah's blog, Life and Grace.


One night shortly after my daughter died, I was rocking my toddler son to sleep. Tears streamed down my face as I mourned the fact that I would never get to rock my sweet girl in this special chair as I had her brother a couple of years before. I was just heartbroken and remember thinking, “I just want a baby!” But almost immediately after those words came together in my head, this thought followed, “I don’t just want a baby ... I want my baby. My Evie. The one that was just taken from me.” And I felt that way for a couple of months. I needed Evie to be my baby. I needed to remember her sweetness and daydream about what could have been and allow the sadness of missing her to rob me of sleep. I needed her to be the only baby on my mind for a while and not allow another pregnancy to prevent me from grieving her and remembering her as I needed to.

As the new year rolled around about two months after Evie died, my husband and I started talking about adding to our family. He would be graduating from his master’s degree program at the end of that year and wasn’t too keen on the idea of having a newborn as he was trying to study for and pass finals. And I had planned, as my new year’s resolution, to train for and run a half marathon in Evie’s honor that spring. I thought that being in the early stages of pregnancy and trying to train for a half marathon didn’t work together so well. So with those two things in mind, we decided to start trying for another baby after I ran the half marathon, which meant the baby would potentially be born just after Josh passed all of his final tests. We were both very happy with the plan.

I don’t regret waiting to try for a rainbow baby – not at all. I feel like my heart needed it. And once the time came to start trying for another baby, it was springtime – the flowers were blossoming and the trees were turning green again. The rebirth of beauty in nature felt reflective of my mama heart – after the harshest of winters, I was ready once again to bloom.


To read all the posts in this series, click here.
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Thank you Sarah for sharing your story. Has anyone else felt similarly - that your ehart wasn't ready and some time was needed before it would?

Monday, November 25, 2013

Pregnancy After Loss: Things to Consider

Deciding when to try for a baby can be a difficult decision at the best of times, but it's a decision that becomes more complicated when the parents have experienced the loss of a baby. As well as needing to think about the normal things, there are extra factors that baby loss parents have to take into consideration. I'm not an expert by any stretch, but I wanted to share with you some thoughts on things that you may like to consider when deciding on a time frame for your rainbow pregnancy.


Test Results
Were any tests taken at the time of your loss that could impact on the success of a later pregnancy? For example, if you have had some blood taken to test for a clotting disorder, it would be wise to wait for those results before becoming pregnant again. If something as simple as taking some aspirin each day was going to drastically increase the odds of bringing home a living baby, that is worth waiting for. Whilst waiting for 6 weeks to get results may feel like forever, keep in mind that anything that increases the likelihood of a living baby will be worth it.

Your Body
I don't think it's news to anyone when I say that pregnancy is tough on a woman's body. Depending on how far along you were when your loss occurred, your body may have gone through immense changes (softening ligaments, moving muscles, labour and birth) and it might be in need of a rest. Will you physically be able to handle another pregnancy? Some doctors say you need to wait "x amount of cycles" before trying again, but others say that it doesn't matter. There doesn't seem to be widespread agreement, so listen to your doctor, don't be afraid to get a second opinion, and trust your instincts about your body.

Your Emotions
It's likely that you will always be at least a little bit afraid of being pregnant again. Considering what you have experienced, I'd say that is perfectly acceptable and normal! I remember hearing once that a good time to start trying for your rainbow baby is "when your desire for another baby is greater than your fear of another pregnancy." I cannot remember where I heard that, but I particularly like how this quote acknowledges that the fear and anxiety will always be there even when it's not the dominant emotion. Being pregnant and preparing for a new baby does somewhat limit your ability to grieve for your child, and you will experience all the normal hormonal/emotional effects of pregnancy. There is no need to rush your emotions.

Your Husband/Partner's Opinion
Your husband may or may not be ready when you are, and that is ok. There's no rule that says partners must be ready at the same time! He may be ready before you or he may take longer to be ok with another pregnancy. If another pregnancy is likely to affect your health, it could be a very scary thing for him to consider. He's already lost a child, and may not be ready for something that will affect your health too. Perhaps he needs more time to grieve without the distraction of preparing for another baby, or maybe he is not ready for the anxious nine month wait for a living baby. Please, whatever you do when deciding when to try again, make sure that you do not push your needs of desires above those of your husband. It would be worth waiting until you are both ready, because you will need each other more than ever during the pregnancy.

Significant Dates/Anniversaries
Think about potential due dates. Are you ok with your next baby potentially having a similar birthday? Are you wanting to avoid being heavily pregnant around the anniversary of your loss? You know better than most people that pregnancies don't always go to plan, but it is worth thinking about things like anniversaries and birthdays. Don't let your desire for a pregnancy right now override how you might feel if your babies were to share the same birthday or month.

Finally, I wanted to mention something that need not be high on your list of things to consider:

What Others Think
This point does not apply to doctors. LISTEN TO THEM! But when it comes to the opinion of your neighbour, hairdresser, long lost cousin or the stranger in the street - that is not important. It is your decision. People who know you well, such as family, close friends or a pastor, are a bit different. They may have ideas on when they think would be an appropriate time for you to try again; perhaps they want you to have another baby as soon as possible, or they may think it is best to wait. I'm not saying to ignore them, but you are the one who knows your situation best. Don't make your decision based on what others say.

Obviously, every person's situation is different. In case this was ever in doubt, over the next few days I'll be sharing the stories of a few of my friends. Each of them have different thoughts when it comes to the timing of pregnancy after loss. I hope that by sharing their stories, you will gain a better understanding of how different people approach this topic.

To read all the posts in this series, click here.
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If you have been pregnant after a loss, what things did you consider? Is there something you would add when talking to someone who is thinking about a rainbow pregnancy?

Friday, November 22, 2013

Pregnancy After Loss: The Paradox

Pregnancy after loss. It's the one thing you truly want but are truly terrified of getting. Before it happens, you lie awake at night hoping, praying, wondering when your little miracle will begin. When it happens, you lie awake at night hoping and praying that it won't end in another loss and wondering how you will possibly cope if it does.


The two lines on the home pregnancy test are only small, but they are enough to induce the strangest fixture of fear and excitement you have ever experienced. Will this be the baby you get to bring home? Please God, let this be the one you can bring home.

You feel like going out in public is going out in a minefield. Will you see someone who doesn't know this is a subsequent pregnancy? Someone who tells you "not to worry, it won't happen again"? Or maybe, just maybe, you'll bump into someone who gives you a hug and acknowledges it's both a wonderful and scary time. You don't know what to expect, and the unknown is hard.

You get excited about wearing maternity clothes again. But when the time comes, you can't bring yourself to wear the same ones as last time; the memories are too strong. It feels ridiculous to go buy new ones, after all, the old ones were only worn for a few months. But the need to have different ones cannot be ignored. It doesn't make sense, but then again, nothing on this journey does.

Ultrasounds are nerve-wracking. It's not enough to feel the baby kick during the scan, you need to see the heartbeat before your own pounding heartbeat will settle down. Instead of simply enjoying seeing your little baby on the screen, you spend most of the time hoping and praying that each measurement is what it should be and that every aspect of your little miracle is what it should be.

Seeing another pregnant woman is also on the list of things that are hard. They all look so carefree. Do they know how lucky they are? What a truly amazing thing it is to have a living baby, whether born or unborn? You feel jealous of their joyful naivety, but at the same time cannot help but wonder if they too are the 1 in 4 whose innocence about pregnancy has been harshly ripped away.

Feeling your baby kick and move around brings a sense of peace. But some days they move so much that it's slightly annoying, painful even. But you dare not admit that to anyone, because you know how blessed you are to even be feeling those movements in the first place. The same is true for general pregnancy aches and pains. The pain that you feel as your muscles and ligaments stretch is legitimate and yet, you know you should be grateful for that pain. It means you have gotten further in your pregnancy than many women ever do. The bigger the baby, the more chance they have of surviving...right?

The knowledge that this pregnancy is a gift, a wonderful miracle, is always with you. But at the same time, you're tired of being pregnant. It takes most people nine months of pregnancy to bring home a baby. You'll be doing eighteen months, if indeed you get to bring this baby home. Pregnancy isn't a walk in the park, it's tough on your body and you don't have the baby to show for last time's effort and strain. Your body is weary, but the simple act of acknowledging that brings waves of guilt. Don't you know how lucky you are? How many women would give anything to be in the position you're in?

You don't quite know what to do with the whole "nesting" instinct. After all, the baby clothes are still freshly washed from last time, the cot is still set up, the nursery is already ready. It feels silly to buy new things, it's not like the items you have now got any use. How do you balance wise spending with the need to have things different from last time? It's just one more question on the list of unanswerable questions.

Speaking of unanswerable questions:
How can you tell me everything will be alright? You don't know that.
Why did this happen to me? Why am I the one facing this paradox?
Will I ever be comfortable again - comfortable meeting new people, comfortable around little Ariella-aged girls, comfortable during a subsequent pregnancy?
Why do people expect this pregnancy and this baby to fix me? Don't they realise I don't need to be fixed, I need to be allowed to grieve?

And finally, why is it so hard to admit all of this? Why does it feel like admitting all of this somehow means I am not trusting God? That I'm not grateful for this little baby? Because I do trust Him. I am grateful for this little baby. But pregnancy after loss is one of the greatest paradoxes in life.

To read all the posts in this series, click here.

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If you have been pregnant after a loss, did you find it to be a great paradox? If you are yet to conceive your rainbow, do you already feel this way?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Pregnancy after loss

If there has been too things that have dominated my year, it is the loss of Ariella and my second pregnancy. Pregnancy is, I think, an interesting time no matter what your past experiences are. After all, there's an entire new person growing inside of you! But just as the loss of Ariella has impacted on all other aspects on my life, it has also impacted on this pregnancy.

A pregnancy after a loss is often called a rainbow pregnancy. The best definition I've ever heard is this: It is the understanding that the beauty of a rainbow does not negate the ravages of a storm. When a rainbow appears, it doesn't mean that the storm never happened or that the family is not still dealing with its aftermath. What it means is that something beautiful and full of light has appeared in the midst of darkness and clouds. storm clouds may still hover but the rainbow provides a counterbalance of colour, energy and hope.


Over the next few weeks, I'm going to share with you a few aspects of what it is like to be pregnant after a loss. For those who haven't experienced a loss, my hope is that this mini-series will allow you an insight into this world of pregnancy after loss. If you are currently longing for or considering a rainbow baby, I pray that this series might offer you some guidance and comfort as you deal with the overwhelming range of emotions. And if you have been blessed with a rainbow already, I hope this series can reflect and validate your journey. I also hope that you can contribute through the comments section, as those of us without our rainbow in our arms shall surely benefit from your experiences.

Here are some of the topics I will cover, but more may be added!
Dreams for a rainbow baby
The paradox of pregnancy after loss
Things to consider when planning for a rainbow baby
Conflicting emotions of pregnancy after loss

If there is a specific, related topic you would like to read about, please do just let me know. I'm sure something could be arranged!

Monday, November 18, 2013

When Wishes Come True

A week ago, I celebrated my birthday. And it truly was worth celebrating, because of all of YOU wonderful people. Three weeks before my birthday, I blogged about how I was dreading my birthday without Ariella. I wrote about how just the thought of my birthday was enough to make me get teary, until I decided that I wanted to make this birthday count. I shared with you my birthday wish - to raise enough money to donate a Heartfelt Camera Kit to a hospital in need.

I am so, so excited to say that my wish came true. As of today, we have raised $2,020 for Heartfelt! That's two kits and then some!! Two hospitals that will receive a great camera and a session with Heartfelt, two hospitals that will be able to provide bereaved parents with precious photographic memories of their darling babies. And Ariella's name and birthday will be engraved on those cameras. The fundraising page is open for 30 more days, so if you want to donate, you still can. Perhaps we can reach the amount needed for a third kit ($560 to go), but if we can't, that money will still go to Heartfelt and supporting their work. They are an amazing organisation and I am so grateful for them.

(PS - If you did still want to donate, click here to donate via credit card, or send me an email - loveisdeeperstill AT gmail DOT com - and I can send you PayPal details.)

As a result of the amazing generosity of family and friends, I could smile on my birthday. I actually had a really lovely day with my husband (including a delicious lunch at Fasta Pasta!). It was just a quiet day, but it was just perfect. And I smiled whenever I thought of the Heartfelt Camera Kits, knowing the difference they will make.

So even though this is one week late, I just wanted to say thank you to those who helped make my day one filled with smiles instead of tears. I'm so grateful to each and every one of you.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

How many?

How many ways are there to say I miss her?

How many ways are there to say that I'm not "better" yet?

How many times can I say life is really hard without her?

How many times can I say I'm not the same?


I miss you Ariella Jade...

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Find me elsewhere

Between my hubby being sick, me being sick, and general life, things have been a bit quiet here lately! I realised I never even put up the last of my Capture Your Grief photos...whoops! I'll get onto that soon, I promise!

In the meantime, I have been writing elsewhere, if you wanted to have a read.

Firstly, an article on Still Standing Magazine, which you can read here.

Writing about unwanted goodbyes on Still Standing

And today I had the honour of writing for Tash's blog, The Hugo Effect. You can read my post here.

Writing about the one thing I wish all bereaved parents knew on The Hugo Effect
I promise I'll write on here again soon!!


Saturday, November 9, 2013

Happy birthday Evie Caris

A year ago, on November 8 2012, a sweet little girl was born. Her name is Evie Caris, and just a few hours after she was born, she went to be with Jesus. Evie was blessed to spend her whole life being held by those who loved her most.

Sarah, thank you for your friendship this year. Thank you for the chance to remember Evie with you by wearing pink and butterflies. I'll be lighting a candle for her tonight. Much love to you, Josh and Micah.




Thursday, November 7, 2013

Sometimes I'm scared

Sometimes I'm scared to say what I really think. Because if I say "I would give anything to be able to kiss her perfect little cheeks again", I just know someone will say "one day you will." But it's not about that; it's not about the future. It's about now. Right now. It's about the aching hole in my heart that I have to live with every. single. day.

Sometimes I'm scared to talk about how long it has been since our sweet girl was in our arms. Because no one else is as aware of each passing day as I am. Because people assume I'm talking about something else. And it says to me that they have moved on.

Sometimes I'm scared to say just how much I miss her. Because sometimes it feels like people don't want to hear about her anymore.

Sometimes I'm scared to meet new people. Actually, I'm always scared to meet new people. When they ask if I have kids or if this is my first pregnancy, how will they react when I tell them about Ariella? Will they be awkward? Will they literally back away? Or maybe, will they ask me about her? But sometimes I'm too scared to take that risk.

Sometimes I'm scared to be honest. Because if I'm honest, it often means I'm blunt at the same time. And I don't want to hurt others; I feel like I should be considerate of them. But honestly? I'm tired of making excuses for others. Of qualifying everything I say in order to lessen the chances of offending someone. I wish I could scream from the rooftops that this is my grief. Mine and my husband's. Stop comparing yours with ours. Stop trying to make it better. Stop trying to fix us. This cannot be fixed. Just be with us.

From A Bed For My Heart's facebook page

Sometimes I'm scared that people think the hope I have in Jesus is the answer to my pain now. It's not. A fellow Christian said the perfect thing to us the other week - "while you would be comforted in knowing she is with our Heavenly Father, you must miss her terribly here on earth." Yes. We do. And the comfort we have in Jesus does not mean we miss her any less.

Sometimes I'm scared to finish blog posts where I want to finish. I feel like I should end on a positive or at least on a hopeful note. But some days just aren't like that...

Saturday, November 2, 2013

CarlyMarie, thank you

Most (all?) of you would know that I have been doing the Capture Your Grief (CYG) project in October. October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month, and a lovely lady named CarlyMarie orgnaised the CYG project. So many people took place all over the world, and many did so by sharing their photos in a Facebook event that had been set up. As you can imagine, the topic of pregnancy and infant loss and the related photos bring up a lot of emotions in almost everybody. Bereaved parents feel pride in being able to share their children with the world and their friends and family can gain insight into what it is like to be a baby-loss parent.

Unfortunately, for some people, the photos that were shared were "offensive". After 30 days of sharing and healing, some nasty comments were made in the Facebook event, and some photos were even reported. In order to stop the trolls and the negativity, Facebook deleted some of the photos. About an hour later, the entire event got closed down. For something that was created to be a time of healing, some immense hurt has been caused. It has not affected me directly, but I was both angered and saddened to see the impact that the words of some careless people have had.

As I mentioned above, CYG was organised by CarlyMarie. She does so much more for the baby loss community than just the CYG once a year. The artwork that she does has brought comfort to many families all around the world, as they see their precious children acknowledged. 

Carly, the community of SANDS Parents wants to thank you for all your hard work in helping to break the silence surrounding child loss. Here are the words of just a few of us:

From Tiona at 'In Loving Memory of Cash'

Tiona:
I took part in CYG and it was a really insightful project, I learnt a lot about myself and answered questions that I never imagined I could. I have also commissioned several of Carly's pieces in honour of my son, Cash. I support her 100% in everything she does for the baby loss community

Dani:
I loved the CYG project as it gave me a chance to remember my 'happy' memories with my angel. It gave me a chance to connect with all of you and get to know your angels too. It has been a great journey to undertake and I thank Carly for organising this event.

Annika:
I loved the project because it made me feel that my tiny baby mattered. My baby stood for more than just an "early pregnancy loss". CYG gave meaning to my baby's life and to our loss.

Leisa:
Carly - Never stop doing what you are doing. You are the voice for so many that are afraid to speak. Your work is incredible and we are all blessed to have you doing what you do. Keep on keeping on.

Larissa:
October was a difficult month, as it marked the time my daughter had been gone longer than she was here. But the CYG photos gave me something to focus on, and it was while taking my picture for that significant day that I realised I was smiling and laughing. Thank you for organising a project that allowed me to connect more deeply with the mums in SANDS and showed me just how far I had come in nine months.

Karin:
Carly - I can't put it into words what your work means to me. What you do for our community is invaluable and so important. Don't let the haters put you down!! Keep up your wonderful work.

Kellie:
Carly - I don't know you but you hold a very special place in my heart. The beautiful sunset photo in honour of our little Lillian will always be treasured. Thank you X

Raquel:
Thanks Carly for empowering me with the knowledge and tools to confront my grief over the loss of my son and start healing. This month has made an enormous impact on my state of mind and lifted the darkness replacing it with hope. Your web site was the first place where I felt safe to grieve Jacob without guilt, I have many of your beautiful photos surrounding me at home. We are strong together, don't let a group of people hiding behind a computer get you down. xxxx

Kara:
I have loved doing this project and am a little sad it has come to an end. It has been wonderful to have something to focus on each day, guide creative and thought provoking conversations with my husband (who contributed to my photo ideas and helped at different stages). I love sharing my life and loved ones through photos and this was a wonderful way to do that for Hayley. Some days were hard, some days healing but all helpful. I am so glad I did it. I would like to say thank you to Carly for this creative outlet and remind her there was so much more positive than negative.

Lana:
When I first saw this project my whole being recoiled and screamed no, I can't - I won't do this. Then it became a challenge, but as all could see I was not able to be creative, but had to follow form and structure. With a definite theme to respond to each day, it allowed me to question myself, to work through an aspect of grief each day. I'm so grateful to Carly for setting up this project project; I do believe the project and thereby she started me off on working through the grief and taking a step towards healing. It wasn't easy, but very much worthwhile. I am certain many benefited greatly.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Dear newly bereaved mother

Dear newly bereaved mother,

I couldn’t help but see you today at the cemetery. I saw your slow walk from the car to his special spot, I noticed the pain in your eyes as you loving tended to your boy’s grave and the way you lent on your husband for support. Emotions so familiar to me were painted on not just your face but on your whole being. I wished I could have jumped out of my car and offered you some comfort. I desperately wished there was something I could do. But when it’s been one month since your baby died, what comfort is there to be had? What answers could a stranger possibly have, especially when you are standing at the exact place you said your final goodbyes to your precious son?

Sweet mumma, I know what it’s like to be so overcome with the need to go to your baby’s grave but so overcome with pain when actually standing there. I know how wrong it is to place flowers on a grave when you should be placing your baby in the cot. The need to have everything perfect at your baby’s special place is one I am well acquainted with and one that hasn’t yet gone away. I know what it’s like to mother a memory, rather than mother a cooing baby. I know how hard it is.

My story is no doubt different to yours, as each of us travel along a similar but unique path. But newly bereaved mother, it’s only nine months since I was you; nine months since my daughter was born silently and still. To those further along this road than me, I am still newly bereaved. But even nine months along, I want to offer you hope. Going to the cemetery (or holding your baby’s ashes) won’t always be so painful, one day it might bring you peace. The walk from the car to your baby’s grave will get easier, and while your husband’s support is always there, you will get stronger and be able to do more on your own.

Dear mumma, I know you worry that letting go of the intense grief and pain is somehow the same of letting go of your little one. But it’s not; nothing will take away the love you have for them. I know you think about them every day and feel a flood of guilt if there is one day when you don’t. I want to encourage you that even if you don’t actively think of them, their memory is always with you, actively remembered or not. I know the outrage you feel when someone says something that implies your little one is unimportant. Don’t listen to them – your gorgeous baby matters, they are and will always your much loved child. You have every right to walk away from people who believe otherwise, but I know that sometimes walking away takes more strength than you have. My prayer is that there will always be someone alongside you to either help you walk away or comfort you in the pain of other’s words. Not everyone understands this pain, dear mumma, but some of us do. Even though you feel it at times, you are never completely alone.

Your baby is precious, and I’m so very sorry you don’t have them in your arms. It isn’t fair.

Sincerely,


The other mum at the cemetery


Saturday, October 26, 2013

How to catch a dragonfly

Once upon a time there was a baby girl. Baby Girl was so loved and wanted by everyone who knew she was on her way and her arrival was eagerly anticipated. Baby Girl's Mummy and Daddy were devastated to learn that her heart had stopped beating before her lungs even got the chance to breathe.

After Mummy and Daddy spent some time with their little one, Baby Girl was buried and her parents set about the task of making her special place look as special as it could. A bunch of bright pink fake hibiscus flowers was placed there, so her place would never be without some colour. A beautiful granite plaque was ordered and set in place, forever acknowledging Baby Girl's life. Mummy and Daddy visited regularly, bringing fresh flowers for their Baby Girl. But something was still missing. 

One day, Mummy visited Baby Girl at dusk. She noticed that many other parents had placed solar lights with their babies, lighting up the area and adding a touch of beauty to an otherwise sad place. And that's when she decided that a solar light would be a perfect addition to Baby Girl's special place. Daddy agreed, and the search began. 

For months Mummy and Daddy casually looked in the shops, searching for the perfect light. And then one day, they found it! A beautiful pink and yellow dragonfly, with blue eyes (just like Baby Girl). Not only would this light be beautiful at night, the colour in the dragonfly ensured it would look beautiful in the sun too. Mummy and Daddy were very excited to have finally found the right light for Baby Girl. They decided to buy two dragonflies - one for Baby Girl's special place and a matching one for their garden. That way, they could look out of their kitchen window each day, see their dragonfly and know a matching one was with Baby Girl. 

The day came when Mummy and Daddy could go visit Baby Girl's special spot to place the dragonfly. It looked as perfect as they had hoped! Mummy and Daddy left, happy to have a light for Baby Girl. They couldn't wait to come back at dusk one day and see the dragonfly lit up, joining the other babies' lights shining over their special places. 

But when Mummy and Daddy returned to Baby Girl's special place a week later, they were devastated to find the dragonfly missing. They searched the area, hoping that it had simply blown away in the wind. But they had no success; their dragonfly had gone. Mummy and Daddy had heard of things being stolen from graves but they never thought it would happen to Baby Girl's grave. But it had. 

Feeling pretty miserable, Mummy and Daddy decided to go back to the shop to buy Baby Girl another dragonfly, as well as one to keep as a spare. But when they looked in the shops, Baby Girl's dragonfly was no where to be seen. Three stores were searched and three stores did not have them. Mummy and Daddy decided to talk to someone at the store to see if more dragonflies could be ordered in, only to be told that the dragonflies were a promotional item and would not be back in stock. Mummy was particularly upset. Months of searching had gone into finding those lights, only to be undone by one heartless act. The matching dragonfly at their home no longer reminded her of precious Baby Girl, but of one person's callous act. 

Unsure of what to do and desperate for a matching light, Mummy went to the one place she knew people would understand her pain - the online community of Sands Parents. The support Mummy had found in this group of baby loss parents had been so valuable in the past and she knew it wouldn't fail her now. She was right. The response she got when she asked people to look in the local stores was overwhelming; so many people around Australia were going to look for Baby Girl's dragonfly, with one lady even asking her friends to look also. Their loving response helped restore Mummy's faith in humanity. 

After posting her request in the Facebook group, Mummy noticed that a friend in her home town was currently at a store that sold the lights. She hastily sent a message, practically begging him to look for the dragonfly. When he was unsuccessful in finding a matching one, he instead purchased a similar set to send and found out which stores would offer the best chance of finding the right one. The lights he sent now shine brightly outside of what would have been Baby Girl's room at home, a reminder of people's generosity. 

In the meantime, the search for Baby Girl's dragonfly contined around Australia. Members of the Sands community searched their local stores, sharing Baby Girl's story in the hope of locating a matching dragonfly. Mummy asked another online community (this one based in her home town) to try their local stores. Once again, the response brought her to tears. No one locally was able to find a matching dragonfly, but the fact that they had searched the stores meant more to Mummy than they will ever know. 

Then one morning, Mummy checked her phone messages to see this:


One of Mummy's closest friends, and a member of the Sands community, had found Baby Girl's dragonfly! It was all Mummy could do not to become a blubbering mess in the middle of the supermarket. Baby Girl could have her dragonfly back! Everyone in the Sands community rejoiced with Mummy, so happy that Baby Girl's dragonfly had been found. 

In total, three of Baby Girl's dragonflies have been sent to Mummy and Daddy, along with the two pretty-but-not-the-same dragonflies sent by their local friend. Not only will a dragonfly once again light up Baby Girl's special place, but Mummy and Daddy will have a garden of dragonflies to constantly remind them of the love and support shown by the communities they are in. 

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you catch a dragonfly.


Bloom where you're planted

I couldn't help but notice the lone purple daisy next to the driveway. I didn't even know there was a daisy plant there, I thought the only daisy bushes were further down. I took a second look to confirm that yes, this flower was indeed part of a small plant, hidden by some weeds and other bushes.

How odd, I thought to myself, one lone flower, so far from where I thought it belonged.

And then I heard something that stopped me in my tracks.

Bloom where you're planted, whispered the still small voice of God.

What? I asked. Bloom? Here? In a place of sorrow and pain? In a community that no one wants to be in, because the only way to gain membership is to lose a child?

The answer? Bloom where you're planted.



The flower was not where I thought it belonged. It was not where I would have looked if was to go searching for a purple daisy. I am not where I thought I belonged; I'm not where I would have looked if I was looking for somewhere to bloom. I argued with God for the next little while.

How can I possibly bloom here? I don't want to bloom here, I want to be somewhere else, somewhere that isn't a result of my daughter's death.

God's gentle reply was becoming familiar, bloom where you're planted.

So I guess that's what I'll do. I have my bad days, the days when I want to yell and scream at others, at myself, at the world. Days when I sit down to write and all that comes out are words of confusion and hurt; those are the posts that get labelled as "drafts", to be shared on a later day when I'm not feeling so vulnerable or afraid to be honest. The bad days are when the closest I get to blooming is being "blooming angry" that my daughter isn't here and the world has moved on. As the nine month anniversary approaches, those days are becoming more frequent. And it was on one of those days when I heard God's voice: bloom where you're planted.

So Deeper Still is me trying to bloom where I'm planted. Writing on Still Standing is me trying to bloom where I'm planted. Even simply getting out of bed each day is me trying to bloom where I'm planted.

This is not how it should be
This is not how it could be
This is how it is
And our God is in control
-Steven Curtis Chapman-

Friday, October 25, 2013

Do you remember? Do you know?

Do you remember my first baby?

Do you remember that it's only been nine months since we said goodbye?

Do you remember that I still miss her?

Do you remember that my husband misses her too?

Do you remember that no matter what happens with this pregnancy, my first baby died

Do you remember that I am a mother?

Do you remember?


Do you know that grief isn't linear?

Do you know that me sleeping in some mornings is my way of coping; that it is not a "luxury" and I wish it wasn't an option?

Do you know how much it means to me, to us, when you speak about our daughter?

Do you know stillbirth isn't something you can catch by talking about it?

Do you know how much it hurts when people act as though it is?

Do you know that my continuing grief doesn't mean I am not trusting God?

Do you know?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Capture Your Grief: Days 16-22

DAY SIXTEEN: SEASONS


When I think about Christmas, I feel a bit like this ornament: shattered. Last Christmas, I was almost eight months pregnant, full of excitement and anticipation. This Christmas, I will be just over eight months pregnant and I expect I'll have rather mixed emotions. Excitement and anticipation at the fast approaching birth of this little one, but knowing that Ariella's birthday is also approaching. I feel like this Christmas will be too similar to the last one, but without my little girl in my arms.

DAY SEVENTEEN: TIME


As of October 17, it had been 37 weeks and 1 day since Ariella was born. It's fast approaching the day that means she's been gone longer than she was alive. I have grand plans for that day: nothing. I'm not going to schedule anything, I'm not going to make any commitments. I'm going to allow myself to be as sad as I need to be.

DAY EIGHTEEN: RELEASE


I already blogged about this one. You can find that post here.

DAY NINETEEN: SUPPORT


Out of all the people in my life, my greatest support has been my husband Marcus. I literally cried when choosing this picture because it got me thinking about all the things he has done for me his year. He's a pretty incredible man, and I feel so blessed to have him. He's been an incredible support to me even though he's been going through his own grief. I love you Marcus.

DAY TWENTY: HOPE


This is another picture that I've already blogged about, you can read it here. My hope is in Christ alone.

DAY TWENTY-ONE: HONOUR


To honour Ariella, I am raising money for Heartfelt Camera Kits. For all the details, read My Birthday Wish.

DAY TWENTY-TWO: WORDS


This Bible verse has been one that I have clung to all year long. I cannot wait for the day when I get to Heaven, and death will no longer exist. My little girl will be in my arms again, and I won't ever have to say goodbye to her again. Ironically, while this verse promises that one day there will be no more crying, I cannot read this verse without tearing up!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Some rather exciting news

Some of you may have heard of Still Standing Magazine. It's an online magazine/blog dedicated to writing about all aspects of infertility and pregnancy/infant loss. Still Standing's mission statement is:
In the face of loss and infertility, our mission is to show the world that we are still standing. Holding fast to resilience and hope. Our mission is to help you embrace life for everything that it is after experiencing the loss of a child or infertility.
I can't remember when I first came across the site, but I'm so glad I did. Over the past nine months, I have found immense comfort and healing in the articles posted there. They encourage people to submit guest posts, and so one day I decided I might give it a go. After a particularly difficult day, I wrote a piece called Perfectionism and Loss. It was about my struggles with wanting (needing?) things to be perfect and feeling like a failure after Ariella's death. I submitted it as a guest post, and was rather stunned to have it accepted. It was published on October 14 and if you haven't read it already, you can find it here.

In the weeks between having the post accepted and it being published, Still Standing put out a call for more regular contributors on their Facebook page. Maybe it was because I was still on a slight high from having the guest post accepted, but I decided to reply. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to get picked, but in the spirit of "do things without being scared of failure" (that I wrote about in Perfectionism and Loss) I thought it was worth a shot. When I got an email from the editor saying that they wanted me to join the team, I think I went into shock. 

Me? Regularly posting on the site that has been one of the biggest helps to me this year? It seemed too crazy to be true. But it is true. As of November, I will be posting once a month on Still Standing Magazine! I'm so very excited, and also quite nervous. But looking forward to it nonetheless! 



Sunday, October 20, 2013

The tree of grief

There's a tree outside my house that, all year long, has represented my grief. Before Ariella was born, its branches were full of leaves and it was beautifully green. It looked so full of life. Soon after her death, the leaves started to die and then they all dropped. The tree entered into a long winter before tiny shoots of life began to show. It is now spring and the tree has much more life in it. It's branches are no longer barren and dry, they are covered in vibrant green leaves. Seeing the tree's leaves start to come back gave me hope that perhaps my joy would come back. A few days ago, I went out to the tree and saw this:

Capture Your Grief: Day 20

A cross. 

In the middle of this tree was a small cross. I couldn't believe my eyes! I wouldn't have seen it if I hadn't looked closely, but nevertheless it was there.In the middle of my "tree of grief" was a cross; a reminder to me that God has been with me throughout my grief journey. I had always thought this particular tree represented my grief and now I realise just how much it does. When I look at this year from a distance, it can be hard to see God in it. But when I look closer, He is there. Right in the centre. He always has been, even at the times when I didn't notice. 

I took a photo, just because I wanted to. I then realised that the prompt for Capture Your Grief day 20 was hope and knew this was the perfect photo. My hope is Christ, that in the chaos, confusion and pain of this year, He is always with me. Through Him, and Him alone, can I be sure that my daughter is safe and that I will see her again.

Grief has cycles, just like this tree goes through the seasons. It just so happened that the tree's cycle was the same as my grief's. My true hope is not the hope that my spring will come, rather, my hope is in Jesus Christ, who is with me throughout my journey, even if He is hard to see sometimes. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

When you don't want to forgive

The prompt for today's Capture Your Grief challenge was release. It was a difficult one - what have I released over the past nine months? Or what did I want to release? After a few days of thinking about it, I realised that I have released a few things: anger and control.

Some people have done and said some extremely hurtful things to my husband and I since Ariella's birth. I think I've been angry more this year than ever before. But I also know that there's no point in holding on to that anger. It doesn't do anything except make me stew over it and get more angry and hurt. And there's not a lot of point in doing that. I've also learnt that I really can't control a lot of things. To begin with, I couldn't control what happened to Ariella; I did everything "right" during pregnancy and she still died. I can't control what people say or do to me; I can control my reaction. Which brings me to the last thing I have had to release:

Unforgiveness.

Capture Your Grief: Day 18

As a Christian, I believe that God has forgiven all that I've done wrong and that I need to forgive others. Sometimes that is easy to do, especially if the offense was minor. But what about when I don't want to forgive? Do I have to forgive the person that referred to Ariella's pregnancy as a "practice run"? What about the person who went from speaking to me weekly, to only speaking to me twice in these past nine months? What about those people whose actions made me physically sick and caused a lot of anxiety? Do I really have to forgive them? Yes. I believe I do. But when it boils down to it, I don't want to.

So what do I do?

I have two choices: I can either retain or release my unforgiveness. I decided to go with the later, as hard as it was. I wish I could tell you that it was easy. That I was a "good Christian" and forgave quickly. That I have completely released my unforgiveness. But I can't, because that would be a lie. Even though I knew it was the right thing to do, I struggled a lot. However, holding on to the unforgiveness was only hurting me. Whenever I would think about it or see the people who had hurt me, it would eat away at me and cause more hurt. As well as believing God wants me to forgive, I needed to do so for my own sake.

I know I'm not the only person who has been hurt by people's words or actions after losing a baby. And that's why I decided to write this post. I don't have all the answers, but I wanted to share how I have been able to release the unforgiveness that I had been holding onto so tightly.

Firstly, I prayed. The Bible records a story of a man saying "Lord I believe, help my unbelief" and I found myself saying a similar thing: Lord, I forgive, help my unforgiveness. God wants us to forgive but He doesn't expect us to be perfect. And He never promises that it would be easy to forgive others, although he does promise that in Him we will have the strength to do so (Phil 4:13). I wanted to forgive these people, but at the same time, I just couldn't. I needed His help to deal with the unforgiveness.

Secondly, I had to choose to forgive. If I waited until I felt like I could forgive, I'd still be waiting. It wasn't a once-off choice either. Some days I had to make that choice multiple times. But over time, the choice became easier.

Finally, I want to encourage you that there's no need to forgive all in one go, take the steps you can and each step will help you get to the point when you can truly release your unforgiveness. Also, I don't think forgiving someone will remove the hurt at their actions. You are allowed to still feel hurt, even if you have forgiven the offender. Forgiving them does not make their actions right, but it does free you from the grip that their actions have on your life.

Forgiving someone is often hard. But as a Christian, I do believe God tells us to forgive others. And even if you aren't a Christian, I don't think unforgiveness is healthy.** It will eat away at you, whereas forgives provides freedom. It's a hard road to walk, but I truly believe it is worth releasing your unforgiveness, even when you don't want to forgive.

**I realised I had put "I don't think unbelief is healthy". I meant to write unforgiveness, not unbelief. I'm sorry!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Capture Your Grief: Days 6-15

DAY SIX: RITUAL

I had a lot of trouble trying to think of any rituals that I had for Ariella. I visit the cemetery often, but not on a set day or anything. She hasn't been gone long enough to have birthday rituals. So I did what I often do: I asked my husband for ideas! And sure enough, he had one. He reminded me that everyday I wear my Ariella Jade necklace. I actually have two of them, this one, which was gifted to me by the Adelaide Baby Wearers, and another from Held Your Whole Life (which will feature in a later photograph).


DAY SEVEN: YOU NOW
 8.5 months along the road of grief; a lifetime to go. I am pregnant again and some days are brighter than others. But no matter what, I'm still on the road of grief. Sometimes it's a lonely road, sometimes people forget that it is the road I am on. But no matter what, I always have my husband with me. I would have got him in the photo too, except he was the one behind the camera. Just like I couldn't have taken this photo without him, I can't do life without him.


DAY EIGHT: COLOUR

Red, white and teal all remind me of Ariella. They are the colour of our clothes in our Heartfelt photos, Ariella's aunt made this cushion and two quilts that feature these colours, and the sheets we had bought for her cot even had those colours! None of it was planned, but I suppose when you have to buy gender neutral things, your colour choice drops a little! While these three colours remind me of her, it's not a case of "I see them and think of her." It's more that red, white and teal are what I come up with when I need to have something!


DAY NINE: MUSIC

Rather than pick one song, I decided to pick an album. Beauty Will Rise, by Steven Curtis Chapman, is an album all about loss, faith and hope. Chapman's five year old daughter tragically died in an accident and this album contains songs he wrote in response. I love how the songs present a real look into grief and faith, and how they combine. That very issue is one I have been trying to figure out! This album played nonstop in my car for months and is still a regular feature. Particular favourite songs include Beauty Will Rise, Faithful, and Heaven is the Face. But I would recommend all of them!


DAY TEN: BELIEFS 

I believe that Jesus died and rose again, and that through His sacrifice, we can spend eternity in Heaven with God. Ariella just has a head start on me! I am in no way perfect, and I'm still working out exactly what faith looks like after loss. But if I trust and praise God in the easy times, I need to trust and praise Him now. Or else I didn't really have faith before hand. My daughter was stillborn, but my God is still good.


DAY ELEVEN: TRIGGERS 

I figured it was impossible to take a photo of everything in my life, so I went for this instead. While many, many things are triggers for me, one of the worst occurred when I flicked the calendar to August. On August 5 was written the words "return capsule". That day marked six months since Ariella's due date, and the day we should have been returning the car capsule we had hired. Instead, that capsule had been returned within a week of Ariella's birthday. Seeing those words was an unexpected shock, and reminded me both of how much time had passed and just how different to my plans that life has turned out.


DAY TWELVE: ARTICLE

I have read so many blogs and articles since Ariella was born and I thought it would be impossible to pick just one. But while I was scanning through some of my favourite blogs, I came across an article that had meant so much to me at the time: A Hiatus of Sorts, by my friend Sarah. In it, she describes how she needed to take a break from being positive, from feeling anything other than sad about her sweet Evie's death. I've always been an optimist, bu it was so, so hard to be positive after Ariella's death. When I read this article, it gave me the freedom to really feel sad and awful. To realise just how much my daughter's death sucked, and to know that acknowledging that didn't mean I wasn't trusting God. So thank you Sarah.


DAY THIRTEEN: BOOK

For the "music" picture, I photographed the booklet from Steven Curtis Chapman's album. Well, this book is his wife's response to their daughter's death. It really is an inspirational story, and I love what the title implies. It's a choice to see God in tragedy; it's choice to trust Him even when we can't see Him. We can choose hope, we can choose strength.
I also highly recommend the books Heaven is For Real (Todd Burpo), I Will Carry You (Angie Smith), and Celebrating Pregnancy Again (Franchesca Cox).


DAY FOURTEEN: FAMILY

Someone made a comment to me recently about "when we start a family". I was a bit stunned... our family began last year when I was pregnant with Ariella. It still existed even though she had died, and it expanded this year when I became pregnant with our second bub. Our family is a husband, a wife, a baby in Heaven (the missing piece of our hearts) and a baby on the way.


DAY FIFTEEN: WAVE OF LIGHT

October 15 is the International Remembrance Day for pregnancy and infant loss. At 7pm, candles are lit to remember the precious little ones gone too soon. They stay lit for one hour, and given the different time zones across the world, these candles create a "wave of light" in recognition of little lives lost. I lit five candles: one for my Ariella, one each for Baby Pearce, June Bug and Samuel, the babies of some of my close friends, and one for the other babies I know of who are no longer with us, including Evie, Lucy, Levi, Desiree, and Jonah.

 
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