Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Healing Love Letter to Ms. Body


Dear Ms. Body,

I'm not sure if I have ever told you before how deep my feelings are for you.  In all of our years together I feel as if I have always been holding back, withholding my true sentiments, my deepest emotions for you. You see now that my anger is subsided, I can see the beauty in all that is you more clearly now and I don’t know how to put my feelings for you into words.  

Ms. Body, when I sit with you now, meditating in silence, breathing in as your lungs fill with air, I am able to more clearly connect to all the energy that lives inside of you. When I stretch and move gently into downward facing dog and feel your muscles stretch from your Achilles heel up to your hips, I can appreciate your suppleness.  When I run with you, I marvel at your muscular legs pounding on the pavement full of agility and stamina. The things you can do are amazing.  The way you make me feel at times is too complex for words.    

Oh, Ms. Body, how I long to tell you of your beauty, of your exquisiteness. The curves of your structure and the softness of your skin should be forever memorialized in a statue only comparable to that of the Greek goddess Aphrodite.  When I look at your reflection in the mirror, me staring back at me, I wonder at the beauty of your charcoal blue eyes giving passage to our soul.  And the feeling of your silky feather like hair entwined between your fingers and brushing your lips brings me comfort of memories of a time when you were young. Not yet a woman, and the tranquility that existed between us then.  
Ms. Body, I have all these words, to describe your loveliness and your aptitudes, but I am still afraid to write the words of how I feel about you. How my heart aches to tell you, but I fear that you will betray me again. As you betrayed me on the day my daughter was delivered into this world, cold and forever sleeping.  Oh, Ms. Body, I used to blame you for this, but I have forgiven you for that betrayal, because I have learned that you never deceived me at all, but that you and I were both cheated.  

On that day you and I held her in our arms and we wept together. For the life that we had created was denied to us by the evils of this world.  A tiny virus more powerful than the brilliant strength of your muscular self, stole our little girl from the both of us.  For she will never be able to experience the love between a body and soul. A love like ours.  

There Ms. Body.  I have said it.  I have written the words that I have never had the courage to tell you. Through all the years I have stared at your face in the mirror each morning and denied you my thoughts and feelings for you.  But, Ms. Body, I cannot keep it to myself any longer.  We have been through too much together.  I am in awe of your abilities to create and bring life into this world.  On the day in the delivery room when Nora was brought into this world, I experienced your magnificent strength and grace. I now understand that I must no longer keep my true feelings secret.  I must shout it from the roof tops that I, Ms. Body, am in love with you.

I Love you Ms. Body!  I have not said it enough throughout the years, but I am saying it today, and every day moving forward.  You are my life, without you there would be no me. There would be no us. There would be no Nora.  You are my vessel to walk through this world with.  You were there the day I was conceived and you will be there up until the day that I die.  And for this Ms. Body, I love you. 

I Love You Ms. Body!  I Love You.


Ms. Soul

Monday, April 29, 2013

Letters to Nora - January 15th, 2013

January 15th, 2013

Dear Sweet Nora,

I wanted to write to you the story I read when your dad and I were trying to conceive you.  I hoped and dreamed and wished for you so.  Then I cam across this African story called a "Child's Song."  So honey, I am going to tell you the story now and imagine that you are in my arms as I read you a story to fall asleep.  Here I go.  Are you comfortable sweet girl, because it's story time before bed.  

A Child'S Song ~ by Sobonfu Some

There is a tribe in Africa where the birth date of a child is counted not from when they've been born, nor from when they are conceived but from the day that the child was thought in its mother's mind.  

And when a women decides that she will have a child, she goes off and sits under a tree, by herself, and she listens until she can hear the song of the child that wants to come.  And after she has heard the song of this child, she comes back to the man who will be the child's father and teaches it to him.  And then they make love to physically conceive the child, some of that time they sing the song of the child, as a way to invite it. 

And then when the mother is pregnant, the mother teaches the child's song to the midwives and the old women of the village, so that when the child is born, the old women and the people around her sing the child's song to welcome it. And then as the child grows up, the other villagers are taught the child's song.  If the child falls and hurts its knee, someone picks it up and signs its song to him or her.  Or perhaps the child does something wonderful, or goes through the rights of puberty, then as a waY of honoring this person, the people of the village sing his or her song.

And it goes this way through the child's life.  In marriage, the songs are sung, together.  And finally, when this child is lying in bed ready to die, all the villagers know his or her song, and they sing - for the last time, the song of that person.

At times I can feel your song, honey.  I know when I was pregnant with you I caught myself humming, not sure what it was, it wasn't a song I knew from pop culture or the radio, it was my own tune, that I now believe is your tune. I hum it now and it makes me sad.  It doesn't come as easily as it did before.  Probably because your no longer inside of me. 

I miss you so much, honey.  Oh, how your dad and I wanted to see you grow up, see what kind of person you would have become.  I wish I could have seen your smile and your eyes.

Honey, I know it's early to be thinking about it, and I would never be able to replace you in my heart or soul, but do you think your dad and I will have other children?  Maybe a sister or brother for you?  If you have any sway in the power of the universe, please help your dad and I get pregnant with a brother or sister for you, and one that will be healthy, happy, beautiful (like you), and out live your dad and I by 70+ years.

I miss you.  I love you. I wish you were here, so does your daddy.  He misses you a lot and it pains me to see him like this.  For both of us it hurts so much, honey, because we loved you so much already.

Love Always & Forever,


Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sunday at Grandma's: Grandma Gerry


In early March, my grand nephew, Brian, was killed in a motorcycle accident.  He was a handsome, quiet, strong young man who had just made a commitment to join the marines.  His life had been hard, with parents who gave him little stability.  My sister and her husband, Brian’s grandparents, gave Brian and his sister, as much love, normalcy and stability as they could as grandparents.  Without their love I think Brian would have been a lost soul.  

So great sadness and anger followed me around the week after Brian died.  I found myself taking my anger out on a large oak tree in front of the house.  I would sit and read Lindsey’s blog, cry a gallon of tears, and then take the dogs out before going up to bed.  While waiting for the dogs one night, I reached down and started grabbing chunks of snow and throwing it at the tree and sobbing about how unfair life was.  Being out in the country I wasn’t bothering anyone—no one could hear me.  I could cry, scream, and smash those chunks of snow against the tree all I wanted.  The release of the anger I had was almost immediate.  With each throw I could feel these emotions leaving my body.  I started laughing at the experience. 

The next morning I took the dogs outside for their morning bathroom break and I looked up at the tree.  There it stood in all its glory--so strong and determined--yet blotched with all the angry sentiments I had the night before. But the oak tree wore those blotches like badges of honor, as if to say when I can’t take it any more the great oak would be there for me. For several days until the weather warmed, it was a reminder of my journey from grief.  

Although I have made progress, I don’t think it is over yet.  Like Nora, Brian will never be forgotten.

-Grandma Gerry

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Way It Should Have Been

I woke up at 3 a.m. due to contractions every two minutes.  My back hurt and I was in exciting pain.  This pain brought me joy, as I knew my precious daughter was about to enter into my arms instead of kicking me from within my belly.  I called the hospital, told them of my condition and they said to come in. I wake my husband and say, "It's time," with a smile of joy on my face.

We drove to the hospital on the lonely empty road, talking about what it will be like in two days bringing her home in the car seat that eagerly awaits her arrival.  We get to the hospital and Nick helps me out of the car.  We walk down the long hallway and I have to stop and bend over because of another contraction.  When we arrive at the nursing station they prep me with smiles on their faces as we settle in for a long labor and go over our birth plan.

The nurse hooks up the fetal monitor and without a second glance she goes about the business of getting me ready for labor.  She has found her strong heartbeat, and the me in this story goes about her life, glossing over this little moment in time as insignificant, because the me in this story does not know that is the moment where the joy of my story ends.  But in this story, everything is fine.  I contract and go through more pain as I discuss with the nurse and the doctor my birth plan.

I get an epidural, as I do not handle pain well, and my husband and I settle in and watch T.V. as he proudly calls my parents, his parents, and my sister and brother-in-law to share the exciting news.  We are almost there.  We are almost ready to meet little Nora.  My sister arrives at the hospital with pre-emptive balloons and flowers as she is overjoyed at Nora's impending arrival.  She hugs Nick and makes a joke about me not having to be fat much longer.  I give her a playful, but dirty look and some smart comment, and we laugh and enjoy the last moments left without a child in our life.

Hours later the contractions start to get stronger.  The doctor comes in and says the words I uttered earlier, "It's time."   I push, and grown, and push, and hold my breath as the labor is hard and arduous.  I push again and bear down this time.  I hear the doctor say, "I see her head!" and Nick smiles at me while he's holding my hand.  He leans into my ear and says, "You're almost there.  I love you.  You're almost there.  You're doing great."  I hear him, but don't reply, as I am immersed in the pain.

I push one last time as I feel the pressure within my loins release.  I hear some movement from the nurses and doctor and then I hear the most beautiful sound of motherhood.  I hear my daughter cry!  She is screaming.  She is wailing.  I see her.  I can't take my eyes off of her as I breath heavily, tears streaming down my face, gasping for words.  Nick is still holding my hand and crying as we both look at our little girl, our beautiful little girl so full of life.  We watch as the nurse puts her on my chest and Nick comes close to Nora and I.  He says "She's so beautiful.  You did it honey! You did it! I love you."  And I reply, "I love you too."

We ooo and ahh over her.  We check her for 10 fingers and 10 toes.  She has them all.  She is perfect, in every way.  I feel her warm body snuggle into mine as she settles down and is no longer crying.  I kiss her forehead and hand her over to Nick with, "Meet your daddy, Nora.  He has been waiting so long to meet you."  And Nick puts out his arms and lovingly embraces his little girl for the first time. He coddles her and sways back and forth with her close to his heart, falling in love with the girl he will love for the rest of his life.

Nick and I invite the family in.  We pass our new daughter around to greet them all.  She meets he Grandpa and Grandma F, and we have to pry her out of Grandma F's arms to let Aunt Kristi and Uncle Zach hold her and play with her.  Nick introduces her proudly to his parents, Grandpa and Grandma H. and Grandma H. eventually places her into cousin Hannah's arms.  I am proud.  Oh, so proud.  Proud to share my little girl with our family.  Proud of myself for making a human being.  Proud to be a part of a life that works so beautifully.

Two days later Nick and I leave the hospital with Nora in her carrier.  We leave as a happy family, excited to introduce Nora to her home, her room, her puppy, her life.  We walk out, Nick and I hand in hand, me carrying Nora's gifts and Nick carrying Nora in her car seat.

We ride down the elevator with what looks like a sad couple.  They move away from us, from our happiness.  She turns into him and buries her face in his shirt as I notice a silent tear rolling down his cheek.  I look at Nick to catch his eye but he is staring into Nora's.  He does not notice this couple, or their pain.  The elevator doors open and we step out as a family.  The couple stays there, frozen in time.  As I walk away, I turn back to see the elevator doors closing on the couple as a muted wail erupts from the woman who is tucked into her husband.

I see this pain and have a moment of dejavu.  In my heart I feel as if it is a familiar kind of agony, but in my life I have never had to experience such grief. We have made it to the parking lot.  Nick says, "Honey, can you open the back door, I need to fasten Nora's seat into the car." I am jerked out of the eerie feeling that I know the couple in the elevator, that I know their pain.  That thought is fleeting now as I hold onto my beautiful daughter giving her kisses as her daddy fiddles with the car seat.

We are a happy family.  We have the rest of our lives in front of us.  We are surround in love and joy.  We are whole.  We are safe.  We are together.

That is the way it should have been.          

Friday, April 26, 2013

My Grief Project - Meditation

"She was no longer wrestling with the grief, but could sit down with it as a lasting companion and make it a sharer in her thoughts."  ~George Eliot

This month I have committed time to sitting meditation in an effort to heal my grief.  Doing this practice has allowed me to really spend time attending to my sorrow.  According to Sameet Kumar, Ph.D. and Author of Grieving Mindfully, in practicing sitting meditation on a daily basis and being mindful about my grief I am “giving myself permission to mourn.” As Kumar explains, that is the whole essence of grieving mindfully. 

In setting aside a time for grief and focusing on accepting my emotions without judgment, I am giving myself the gift of healing by allowing myself permission to grieve.  In doing so I am opening my heart, allowing my emotions of loss and sorrow to be heard, and permitting my body and mind to process deeper the pain and longing I have for my dead daughter. 

Thich Nhat Hanh, a famous Zen Buddhist Monk, poet, author, peace activist and spiritual teacher describes the process of meditation as “looking deeply into what is there and understanding the source, the deep cause of it, the nature of it.”  Meditation has allowed me to understand that my grief is so powerful and painful because the source of my grief is rooted in love.  The true nature of my grief is longing for a love beyond words.  The love of a mother for her child.  That is the nature of it.  That is the root of my grief. It’s beautiful really, and mediation has helped me come to terms with this. 

Besides allowing time for me to tune into my body and mind to connect the two in my effort to self-heal, meditation also provides other wonderful health benefits that we all could benefit from during a time of grief.  Many studies have been done on the power of mindfulness living and meditation.  Research shows that meditation reduces stress, improves the immune system, can reduce the physical symptoms of chronic pain, lessens the symptoms of depression and anxiety, and recent studies indicate that meditation can actually rewire your brain to be more content.  So even if meditation doesn't soften your grief, it can still improve your overall health and state of being.  I know that I need this right now.   

Ultimately, mindfulness is the practice of accepting life just as it is whether we are elated with joy or stricken with sorrow.  The practice of being mindful is returning one's attention to the present moment over and over again; this type of practice I believe can really benefit the mourning process.  Meditation I have found is a great way to be intentional and purposeful about experiencing the entirety of grief. 

I plan to continue to incorporate it throughout my healing process.  I suggest you try it.  The only harm it could do is make you more content.  I think it's worth a shot.

If you don't know how to mediate I have included a link below on how to get started. Then once you learn the basics of mediation you could try the guided meditations linked below.  If you are intrested in going deeper in your practice I have also recommended some books in the resource section.  

I personally really like the Daily Mediation for Working Through Grief book by Maratha Whitemore Hickman.   You can use this book daily to reflect for a moment on your grief before you go to bed at night or maybe right away when you wake up in the morning by reading it's short passage or quote for that day.  It really isn't associated with sitting mediation, but I have used it to each day by reading the passage for the day before I practice my sitting meditation. I find it insightful. 


Quick Instructions on How to Meditate:
How to Meditate

Guided Meditation:
A Place of Refuge Mediation
Meditation for Grief After Baby Loss

Grieving Mindfully by Sameet M. Kumar, PH.D.
Daily Meditation for Working Through Grief by Maratha Whitmore Hickman

Thursday, April 25, 2013

I Dreamed of Him, My Next Child

I never once had a dream about Nora as a baby in my belly or alive.  I had feelings; things I just knew.  I just knew I was pregnant, without missing my period.  I just knew that she was a girl.  I just knew a lot of things, but I never dreamed about her.  I never dreamed of her alive.  But last night I had a vivid dream, a dream about him, my next child.

In the dream I was giving birth to him.  He was moving in my belly.  As I lay there on the hospital bed, with Nick once again by my side, I was getting ready to bring my next child into the world, and I was scared.

I looked down at my once again swollen belly and all of the sudden I could see the outline of a baby through my skin.  There he was, a boy!  I could see his arms, legs, face, body, toes, fingers, and yes, his little manliness.

Then it was time to deliver. It was time for him to come into this world and fear washed over me. In the dream, I blacked out.  The next thing I remember is I was standing up and out came a baby that the doctor caught.  He was ALIVE! He was breathing, and screaming, and moving!  He was ALIVEHe was ALIVE!

He was small, but he was alive.  He was healthy, and I was in a different kind of shock then last time.  I couldn't believe it.  And then I woke up.

In bed, in my awake state, I was overwhelmed with the emotions of my dream.  I was happy...I was sad...I was scared...but I was hopeful.

I felt like I could do it.  I could bring an alive baby into this world.  Maybe my dream was a sign of hope, that life will be different.  Or maybe it was my mind rewriting the past for a wishful present.  I believe it was a sign; a sign of a future that is possible, no matter how scary.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Exploring the Birth Story - Hair

As a mom to a first child who was stillborn, at times I feel as if people don't want to hear Nora's birth story, as it is also a story of death.  People don't want to talk about death or be reminded that life holds no promises, even in the happy times of pregnancy.  But in order for me to grieve and heal properly, I believe my story, like any other mother's, must be heard.  That is why when Anna from The Birth Story Project published a version of Nora's birth story on her blog, tears flooded my eyes.  By posting Nora's birth story with other mother's stories of live successful births, Anna validated my experience.  She had shown me that even though Nora is not with me, that my birth story was an initiation into motherhood just like other women whose babies lived.  I thank Anna for that.

For a few posts this week I plan on exploring my experience with birth, both in my dreams and in my life, in different ways.  Re-shaping and discovering what it is like to frame the story with different words and a different lens to see if the words I chose to use change my emotions about it. Stories have power and when we tell our story over and over again we not only processes it more deeply but we also subconsciously change parts of it and reshape the story to fit our reality. I look forward to reshaping my story in an effort to heal and integrate the emotional pain and beauty of Nora's birth into my life.

Below is the story I submitted to The Birth Story Project.  It is a different version of her birth but told from a place of beauty and joy. 


At first there was hair.  I could not believe there was hair!  It was fine, like cobweb silk, and dark, the color of chocolate, like her father’s.  Her head was coned shaped from passing through my birth canal after 12 hours of labor, with 3 hours of arduous contractions and painstaking pushing.  How I worked so hard to meet her, not just this day, her day of delivery, but also the 9 months leading up to this moment.  I had sacrificed my youthful figure and moments of comfort for her. I had suffered through moments of anxiety and the long 9 month journey that was a test of my patience.  I would do it again in an instant. I would do it again for this day, when she entered into my arms and the cold cruel breath of this world brushed against her skin.

Her skin.  Oh, her skin.  Never have I felt such softness, as if my fingertips were passing through a gentle cloud from the heavens that one could fall asleep on.  As they laid her on my chest for the very first time, her skin to my skin, felt like such pure joy. Even being cold to the touch, her skin was gentle, smooth, supple, divine.  As the tears of joy and fear wept down my face, I touch my lips to hers. 

Lips.  Luscious, voluminous lips that caught a tear of mine as it rolled down my face and onto hers.  I couldn’t believe it.  I had created her.  We had created her.  The sweet chocolate hair, the silky skin, the stunning lips, the button nose, perfectly shaped as it curved out from her forehead to gently point up perfectly protruding from the center of her round, heart, shaped face. The previous hours of unbearable moments of pain, radiating like fire trapped in my loins, circling and roaring through my body as she sat, shoulder stuck between this world and that of the womb, caught on my pubic bone, keeping her in limbo, with her eyes waiting to open to meet the world.     
Those eyes, framed by perfectly arched brows on top with dark, long, flowing eyelashes on the bottom.  Her eyelashes encapsulated what whispers in the breeze should materialize as. The physical agony and pain I had experienced moments before had melted away as I stared at her eyelashes and took in her full beauty.  Never have I experienced love like this.  How could I.  A millisecond ago I was staring Hades in the eyes and in the next I was at heaven’s door, floating on a cloud that, little did I know, would soon dissipate beneath my feet and I would fall oh so far back down to earth.  But in that moment I just stared at her strikingly gorgeous eyelashes and eyes behind them.
Her eyes.  The moment I had dreamed about, when my eyes were to meet mine, here it had come and here it shall never be.  For I never saw the color of my baby girl’s eyes, and my dream of our eyes meeting each other in our bodily forms, never came to be.   My daughter’s eyes never opened to see the light of this world, because she was gone before she was ever to be born.  

My daughter was never born, not how you and I are born.  She lived her whole life inside of me.  I was her life.  Not metaphorically or symbolically.  No, I can really say, that I was her whole life, without trying to be self-centered or egotistical.  That was the extent of her existence and my only memories of her outside of me, were the short minutes that I held her in the hospital room where she was delivered into this cruel, cruel world.  
My daughter’s birth story might not be one of success.  She did not thrive in this world. She didn’t get the chance to.  But, my daughter’s story is still full of beauty and love.  Maybe, even more so, because her moments were fleeting and love was all she ever knew. 

She was stillborn and I was still proud.     

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Running with Grief

"The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start."  -John Bingham 
Training for the ½ Marathon

Bounce, pat, bounce, pat, bounce, pat: the sound of his feet against the gravel path.  Pant, pant, pant: the sound of my breath, heavy and shallow.  Every muscle of my body ached and my mind was weakening with every step.  “Can’t you find a path without snow?”  He stopped, looking at his phone. I stopped, my body bent over with my hands on my knees, catching my breath.  

“There is a paved path just around the corner.” He huffed out of his mouth and continued on the next exhale.  “Listen Lindsey, I run for a challenge...” I cut him off before he could finish, “Just go.” 

“Take my headphones.” he offered.

“I don’t want them.” I replied, “Just go.  Go!”  
As he jogged ahead of me and off into the distance I made a face consisting of a grin and frown at once.  A haughty sigh brushed through my smiling lips as I made a mental note to myself of how I'm lucky because this is the most Nick and I ever argue.  Then in the same instant, I frown as his word “challenge” reverberated between my ears.  I remember that we are actually the unfortunate ones. As I began jogging behind him I thought to myself, Haven’t we had enough challenges lately?  Why were we out here creating more obstacles by running 6 miles, on a crappy snowy day in April, preparing for a half marathon  in two weeks.  This is stupid.  

With this thought I continued to jog forward.  Placing one foot in front of the other, left behind by my husband.  Alone now with my many enemies of late including my body, exhaustion, frustration, impatience, and grief I tried my hardest to push forward, to find my groove.  It wasn’t coming.
My blood started boiling.  My body fatigued and my feet became heavier with every forward movement.  As my muscles weakened so, too, did my emotional scaffolding.  My whole being was crumbling under the weight of the task at hand; to finish the run. 

It wasn’t an emotional task, or so I had thought.  I had crashed head first into the dreaded “wall” that all true long distance runners talk about.  Except my wall was not brought on by the physical depletion of my body’s energy, it was brought on by the deep, untapped feelings that had been lying dormant from my grief.  These unwelcome emotions decided now was the time to arise and greet me at the door again with the house warming gift of negativity.

With my pace slowing and my legs getting weaker with every new landing, I realized I needed to make a decision in this moment.  I could dig deep and find the strength to move through the physical and emotional pain or I could give up and wait…but wait for what? I was out in the middle of some wooded trail.  My husband couldn’t drive the car back here and pick me up.  No, like with the conception of my daughter, I had made the decision early in life and now I had to follow through with whatever crap life threw my way.  Like my grief, the only way out of this situation was through it.  I decided to continue forward.  I kept running.  Well, I would call it more of a pace little bit faster than a walk, it didn’t really count as a jog.
And there I was, pushing through my breaking point.  My madness. My anger.  I used my anger as fuel to keep going.  Pat, bounce, pat, bounce, pat.  My pace evolved, slowly, but it evolved and found its groove again.  And then it sunk into what musicians, sports players, and psychotherapists call “flow.” You, know, that sweet spot in any task in life that you do where you are so engrossed in it that you lose track of time.  Where it’s as effortless as a boat floating on water, you just succumb to the moment, the breath, the meditation of it all.  For a moment I forgot about my pain, be it physical or emotional.  I forgot about my grief and I just flowed with my run.  I melted into it and it into me.

This is how I view the relationship between grief and me.  A battle at times for space within the same bodily vessel.  She tries to push out my feelings of joy and bring in her unwanted gift of negativity, but when I accept her, for all that she is, I learn how to appreciate her and the tools she provides me with like power and fuel for my run, for my passions, and for my life.  Eventually we learn how to live with each other as two happily cohabiting partners in some kind of “flow” that creates a homeostasis for us.  Each needing one another to feel balanced, to flow.

Running the ½ Marathon

This past Saturday.  My husband and I once again started out together, but this time instead of needing to argue before we set our paces we knew it would be best to go our own ways.  This at times is similar to how we both have to deal with our grief.  We are on the same path through grief like on the ½ marathon trail, but we need to take the steps at our own pace and own time.  

Bounce, pat, bounce.  Bounce, pat, bounce.  I had settled into my groove and did so for a good 8 miles, but as the trail continued, with no end in sight, the task of running became grueling.  At this point on the path I was alone, stuck in the place between other runners, where they were either a quarter of a mile ahead or behind.  I truly was on my own, like with my grief.  I was on my own and I needed to figure out how to push through this by myself and the undertaking was growing more difficult with every step. 

My muscles and bones hurt.  I was having a difficult time breathing, grasping for air and there was a throbbing stitch in my left side.  I wanted to give up at mile 9.  This was good enough, I thought to myself, but then I could hear my inner voice yelling, “Lindsey, if you can go through 12 hours of labor knowing you were going to give birth to your dead child, you can do this.”  I decided to keep my pace.

But, half a mile later I was back to walking with negative thoughts flooding my mind and pain shooting up my legs and throughout my body.  It was time to quit.  Then again I heard my inner voice say, “Lindsey, this run is a metaphor for your life since Nora’s death and for every day forward.  You just have to put one foot in front of the other and keep going.  You have done it every day since December 30th and you will keep doing it.  You can do this! This is nothing compared to the agony you run with every day.”  I pushed forward.

At mile 10 the physical and emotional discomfort had become unbearable.  I decided like this race, life sucked.  It was pointless.  I wasn’t going to finish in any decent time so why bother.  I couldn’t do it. Then the most amazing thing happened.  I don’t know if it was my voice, or Nora’s, but I swear I heard her say, “Mom, I believe in you.  You can do anything! You are the bravest person I know.” Tears started swelling in my eyes and to hold them back I kept jogging. I looked up, and I saw three birds sitting on a branch above me and that was my sign. 

Birds remind me of Nora, and the moment the birds came into view I heard her say, “I’m still here.  I am with you right now.” And in that instant I doubled over in tears.  Relieved I was alone on the trail as sobs came bursting out of my mouth and tears of sorrow from missing her rolled down my checks. Tears of discomfort from physical pain blurred my vision and tears of joy from my immense amount of love for her, and the relief I felt knowing she was still with me, filled my heart with the strength I needed to go forward.

A tenth of a mile before I reached the finish line my faithful husband was waiting there for me to run and complete the race by my side.  He had returned in his own time back to support me through the rest of my journey.  We sprinted together to the end and he cheered me on the whole way.  

I finished the race in two hours and forty three minutes. Not an amazing time but like my grief I took the race at my own pace and made it.  Also like my grief, I was never really alone in my travels.  My husband met me and joined me again when he was ready and my daughter never left me.  She was with me the whole time, showing me the way. Giving me strength and blessing me with her love.  

“I run for her because she never got the chance to learn how to walk.

I grasp at air because she never got the chance to breathe.

I suffer for her so she never had to.

I love life for her because she never got the chance to live.”

~Still Breathing…Lindsey

Monday, April 22, 2013

Letters to Nora - February 2nd, 2013

February 2nd, 2013

Dear Sweet Nora,

I am going back to work tomorrow.  I'm not sure how I feel about it.  I'm going back early, because I was supposed to stay home for three months taking care of you, but things didn't work out that way.  

I think about you everyday, even if I don't write.  I miss you, but I am starting to accept the idea that you are not here and that is the way it is.  It just is.  I'm trying to take care of myself the best I can by eating healthy, exercising, and being kind to myself.  Your dad is doing the same.  He is doing okay, but he misses you very much.  

Nora, I think about how you used to go to work with me, in my belly.  When I was pregnant with you, I would worry about what you would hear from all my client's crazy stories that I work with.  I was going to tell you when you were older, how you helped mommy in her therapy sessions in her belly.  He.He.

Also, while you were in my belly you traveled where your dad and I traveled.  When you were just forming, we went to Hawaii and I was crazy with morning sickness and had this intense ability to smell everything.  Your dad that I was nuts and we called it pregnancy nose or a really unfortunate super power, right.  

You also traveled with us to your dad's graduation from his master's program in Washington D.C.  I was so proud of him and it was that weekend, right after his ceremony that my belly popped out and decided to let you show to the world.  It was exciting.

Oh Nora, how I miss those times.  How I miss you.  I hope that you are safe wherever you are.  Nora,  I don't believe in God in the religious sense, but some how I know that you are still with me, in some shape or some form.  If it is even only in my memory.  But I still feel you, not like I feel you in my body, but I still feel your presence.  

Good night honey.  I will love you forever.

Love Always & Forever,


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sunday at Grandma's: To the Husbands in Our Life

To the husbands in our life:

(Don't worry, Lindsey and I each only have one!) Often you are a forgotten part of our grief-sharing on this blog.  Yes, you are mentioned, and your unfailing support and love is referenced frequently.  Yet, sometimes we do not give credit where credit is due...

...You are AWESOME (this word is on loan for a bit from me to you!).  We also know, that when you both took this gig you expected and accepted to fall into the shadows of your wives more often than not.  That's what marrying a Fritsch girl means.  So thank you for your humbleness and humility (and for pointing out when we needed to be humble or when we just plain ol' humiliated ourselves).   

You both are rare gems as husbands, and don't think Lindsey and I don't know just how lucky we are.  Perhaps we don't always show it (however I am probably more guilty of this than Lindsey is), but we know the gift we have been giving in marrying you.

That being said, I'd like to share my thoughts to each of you.

Nick, I knew from the moment I met you that you would marry my sister.  Lindsey is a spitfire, and only the right guy would be good enough for her.  You are that right guy.  I could see the devotion you had for her right away.  And I loved watching you two grow in this.  I don't think two people were more meant for each other than you two were.  Somehow everything about each of you is an equal match, and you balance and support each other so well.  Since you lost Nora, I have only seen your devotion and support for my sister intensify and deepen.  Again, a better match was never made, as you two have waded through this journey hand-in-hand and side-by-side.  You both refuse to leave the other behind, and you keep each other afloat on a daily basis.  It's incredibly beautiful and incredibly sad to watch.  You are an amazing husband and father, and I feel lucky to get to be a part of you and Lindsey's family.  I am happy and proud to call you my brother-in-law!

Zach, I know I don't say it enough, but I do appreciate what you have given me.  
You are a solid foundation at which I constantly hurl my tornadic ways.  
You keep me grounded and sane, are always rational, and accept me for my irrationality at times.  
You also keep our house clean (and our dogs watered) more often than I do, so thanks for that!  
You accepted the level of devotedness that I put into being an aunt.  Perhaps never fully understanding how one human being could be so happy for another, and so excited for someone that wasn't our child, but you let me be that way without complaint.  You understood the love I have in my heart for my family, and how excited I was to see that family grow.  Plus, I was going to be an AWESOME SAUCE aunt, so you knew this kid was hitting the jackpot in that area!  When Nora died, you were even stronger in your love and support for me.  You took care of me and understood the pain we all were going through.  I watched as you went through this pain, too.  And I love you more because of it.  
I have said it before and I'll say it again, I will never be able to repay you for what you have brought to my life.

Well, that's enough sentimentality for one day!  Today, you can bask in the sunlight from being outside of our shadows...(but just today, tomorrow you have to get back to your husband duties!)  

-Awesome Aunt (and Wife and Sister-in-law) Kristi

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Parkinson's Half Marathon in Madison, WI

Today, Lindsey is supporting our uncle, Bobby Nasett, who has Parkinson's Disease, by running in a half marathon in Madison, WI.  She is also doing this to honor her daughter, who will never know the joy of running, as part of her grief project.  Since Nora died, Lindsey has used running as a tool to help with her grief and to keep herself active and healthy.  Lindsey set a goal to run this half marathon, as well as another one in May.  

Just as Lindsey is inspiring others by sharing her grief journey, our uncle is inspiring others as he fights Parkinson's.  For the past 15 years he has taken his diagnosis of Parkinson's and used it to motivate him and others to work towards staying active and finding a cure.

Last year he put together his first Parkinson's 5K and Half Marathon near Madison, WI, which raised over $17,000 to fund various Parkinson's projects.  They put together the run again this year and Lindsey, Nick, and my husband, Zach, are all participating.  (I am stuck at an all day class and could not go...bummer).

Our uncle, Bobby Nasett, was also awarded the Jefferson Award for Wisconsin this year.  His story is inspirational, and can provide motivation to anyone facing a tough situation but refuses to let it get them down.

To read more about our Awesome and Inspiring Uncle, visit this link.

Good luck to all the runners and volunteers today!!

-Awesome Aunt Kristi

Friday, April 19, 2013

My Pair of Shoes

Today I am taking a break from reporting about My Grief Project.  I will discuss my progress on My Grief Project and Meditation next Friday, and then the Friday after that I will report on my experience with yoga for healing.

I am taking a break today due to the fact that I had a hard day yesterday. 
Well, hard does not really give it the credit it deserves.

You see, I am frustrated.  I feel at times that people who have not walked in my shoes really don't understand the depth of my pain.  They don't understand that I will be forever changed but not changed at all.  They can't seem to comprehend that I am not ready, nor should I be ready, to be 100% of who I used to be before the death of my daughter.  It has only been a little over 3 months.  My daughter should be in diapers now and I should be dropping her off at daycare, instead she sits in ashes on her dresser in an empty nursery.

So you might ask me ask what I need you to know. 
Well, I need you to know that I am doing pretty damn good for someone in my position. 
I need you to know that I am not over it and I never will be. 
I need you to know that you can't even begin to understand if you haven't walked in my shoes. 
I need you to know that I am not the same and please don't expect me to be. 
I need you to know about the pair of shoes I wear.
“A Pair of Shoes”
I am wearing a pair of shoes.
They are ugly shoes.
Uncomfortable shoes.
I hate my shoes.
Each day I wear them, and each day I wish I had another pair.
Some days my shoes hurt so bad that I do not think I can take another step.
Yet, I continue to wear them.
I get funny looks wearing these shoes.
They are looks of sympathy.
I can tell in others eyes that they are glad they are my shoes and not theirs.
They never talk about my shoes.
To learn how awful my shoes are might make them uncomfortable.
To truly understand these shoes you must walk in them.
But, once you put them on, you can never take them off.
I now realize that I am not the only one who wears these shoes.
There are many pairs in this world.
Some women are like me and ache daily as they try to walk in them.
Some have learned how to walk in them so they don’t hurt quite as much.
Some have worn the shoes so long that days will go by before they think about how much they hurt.
No woman deserves to wear these shoes.
Yet, because of these shoes I am a stronger woman.
These shoes have given me the strength to face anything.
They have made me who I am.
I will forever walk in the shoes of a woman who has lost a child.
~~Author unknown~~

This poem is not mine, it is borrowed from a mom who understands, although I do not know her name.  A dear friend of mine, that I have met through blogging sent it to me.  Today it made sense to post it.  Thank you, Pamela, for sharing your words of courage and support with me as we walk our paths of grief after child loss together, you as a grieving grandma to a beautiful grandson and I as a mother to my only daughter. 

Pamela is from the Netherlands and has a wonderful website full of helpful resources about stillbirth at erwaseens.org.  

Thursday, April 18, 2013

A Grief Meditation for Parents Grieving the Loss of Their Baby

This week I have been featured as an "Inspirational Mama" on Beautifully Bohemian Blog.  Check it out by clicking on the button below here:

Now back to the theme of the week - Meditation

During my month of mediation I have tried multiple different guided meditations online.  I have found some I really like and some that I don't find fitting.  I have yet to find one that truly relates to my situation of grieving the loss of an infant or unborn child.  Sometimes in the meditations I do like the guide will ask the mediator to think of happy memories of your deceased loved one in order to bring comfort to you.  I understand that this part of the exercise is supposed to bring healing, but for me it is painful because part of my grief is not having many memories with my child.

Meditations that bring up pain are okay, as in meditations you are supposed to sit with whatever emotions arises, but I thought grieving parents of baby loss like myself might need a more focused guided mediation specifically that relates to the situation we, as grieving baby lost parents, are experiencing.  If mediating on grief works for you, please feel free to try the guided meditation below.  If you would like to meditate to the audio version please click on the link at the bottom of the page.

Namaste (The Light in Me Greats the Light in You),

~Still Breathing...Lindsey   


A Grief Mediation for Parents Grieving the Loss of Their Baby

Sit in a comfortable position or lie on the floor.  Take a few deep breaths and release. On the exhale release the thoughts and feelings from the day.  As you do this, let the muscles in your neck relax, your shoulders drop, your face soften, letting tension you are holding in different parts of your body go.  Feel yourself lighten as you continue to focus on your breath.   As you inhale through your nose bring the breath deep into your belly, filling it with air like a balloon and then slowly exhale through your mouth. Fall into a rhythm with your breathing.  Breathing comfortably, at your own pace, and in your own time.

As you breath and feel comfortable in this space, begin to let whatever emotions arise come and go.  Accepting that they are there, noticing them, and then releasing them.  Letting go of judgement of your thoughts.  Just accepting them as they are and letting them pass.  Now, when you are ready, invite grief in.  Notice what emotions arise as you summon up grief.  Grief can bring up many emotions.  Emotions of love.  Emotions of loss.  Emotions of sadness.  Emotions of happiness.  Let them all arise.  Sit with them.  Accept them. Ask them what they have to teach you. And then let them pass, when they are ready to be released.

Now imagine your child.  Hold your child.  Spend time with your precious baby here.  Caress their hair.  Take in his smile.  Look into her eyes.  Listen to their giggles.  Embrace the feelings you are having with your child in this moment.  Let them come and enjoy this moment with your child.  If you would like, tell your baby all the blessings they have brought into your life.  You can share with them all the love you have for them in your heart.  Listen closely to your child, they will reassure you they already know the depths of your love.  They will reassure you of their safety and that all is right with the universe. They will tell you that you are forgiven by them as there is nothing to be forgiven for. They will tell you that they hope you can find peace as they will let you know they already are at peace.

Spend as much time with your child in this place and moment as you like.  Connecting with the spirit of your child.  Softening some of your grief by accepting its presence.  Making peace with your emotions.  Healing your body and soul.

When you are ready slowly bring yourself back to the present moment.  Remembering that this time with your child is always available to you.  You can visit your child in this place whenever you like.  Until you greet them again, remember what your baby has taught you.  Remember that your baby is at peace and hopes that you find peace within your grieving heart too.

It maybe easier to listen to this mediation in audio format.  To do so please visit the YouTube audio mediation of this script by clicking on the picture below.



Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Meditating on Grief

I breathe in grief... I breathe out pain

I breathe in pain... I breathe out tears

I breathe out tears... I breathe in sorrow

I breathe out sorrow... I breathe in the darkness

I breathe in the darkness... I breathe out light

I breathe in light... I breathe out love

I breathe out love ... I breathe in peace

I breathe out peace ...  I breathe in acceptance

I breathe out acceptance... I breathe in grief ...

And that's okay because I can breathe it out again

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Sitting With Grief

I sat down in her room on my meditation cushion. I turned on the YouTube guided meditation about grief and closed my eyes.  I don’t remember the words of the meditation, but I do remember the pulsating sound and hypnotic rhythm of the gentle music.  As my eyes closed and I sunk into myself I remembered being told to take three deep breaths.  I breathed in, I breathed out, I breathed in, and I breathed out. Tears started rolling down my face from both closed eyes and it felt as if light was filling my body.  The tears were shear pain and longing.  That is the only way I can describe it, my words fail as I try to capture an image of the overwhelming but comforting emotions.

As I felt the tears fall from the base of my chin down to my chest and roll down and graze my breasts a thought came to mind, “This is where she was supposed to be.  She was supposed to be there, feeding, suckling, living against my breast, but she wasn’t there.”  I let the thought go as I pulled my left hand to my heart and my right over where she used to live, my now empty uterus, her lonely home no longer in use.  I cried more deep silent tears and I inhaled and exhaled as I immersed myself in their wetness, yet warm pain.

Then as I breathed and sat with my grief, I heard a word, “Mom”, I hear it again “Mom” over and over again.  It’s Nora, she is talking to me.  All she is doing is repeating, “Mom, Mom, Mom,” but in such a comforting way that a smile moved across my tortured face.
Then my mind takes me to a beach, where Nora and I are dancing in the sand.  I hear the waves hitting the shore and see our feet in the sand as we walk hand in hand. She is a little girl, probably 4 years old.  She wears a yellow dress and I am in a maxi dress, as we are frolicking together on the beach.  There is no longing in this place, there is no pain.  Her chocolate color hair is pulled back in pig tails and she and I are laughing and giggling.  She points to things and says their name, inquisitively asking me questions.  I smile and laugh in the image, but in my reality I know that I sit on a cushion with my eyes closed, watching all this in my mind’s eye as if I were watching a home video of Nora and me.  At this realization a wail comes out of my mouth as I long for this image to be true.
Then I hear myself asking, “Why?  Why can’t I have you?” and she just responds as a wise old soul would, “No one can have anyone, mommy.”  I wail again as I know she is right, but I also marvel at the brilliant soul she is, so wise, so full of love, so special.  I hear her again when I say, “Why?” and she just repeats, “Mom, Mom, Mom.”  I ask her if I will have other children and she says yes.  I ask if I will have another girl and she says no, and I ache inside.  Then all of the sudden I have this desperate need to open up her urn that is behind me and find her.  I want to see her again, feel her, hold her; a part of me even envisions eating and consuming her ashes so that she is inside me again.  Then I hear her, I hear her child like voice say, “I am not there.  You will not find me there,” and she shows me an image of the breeze in the trees and the stars in the sky and she says I am here and here and here.  I cringe and cry more deeply again because I know this is true.
I ache for her.  But all I hear is my strong little girl say, “I love you mommy," and I can feel her leaving, the mediation music is slowing.  I don't know if she was there or if it was me, but the image is fading now and I feel scared.  I say I don’t want to forget, I don’t want to leave.  And there is no voice this time, but I am reassured from somewhere deep inside that everything is okay.  A part of me knows she is never gone, she is always here. She is always with me.
I begin to allow myself to float back to the here and now. I have one more flash of the scene of us on the beach and then my eyes open and through the puddles of water at their base I see the light of the computer in front of me on her nursery floor where I sit cross-legged on the cushion.
I grab for my computer.  I hurry to write it all down as I don’t want to forget.  I need this memory.  I need this moment.  I write, typing quickly with no attention to spelling or even coherence.  I need her essence I don’t want to lose her again.  The words come flowing out…my fingers move fast…and the tears swell up from a deep lonely place inside and pour out of my eyes and the words flood the page.
I take a deep breath.  A part of me is calmed.  A part of me is reassured.  I take a deep breath again and I sit in peace.
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