Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Sorrowful Sadness: The Story of His Key Chain

Waking up, in bed next to my husband to a silent house.  I was numb. There was no pain, no sadness, no depression.  I believe I could have laid on a bed of nails or walked over hot coals and not have noticed the pain.  As my body and soul were so emotionless. I was still lingering in shock and slowly the drops of pain were chipping way at my rock hard exterior.  Nick rolled towards me and rubbed my arm and said, "How are you this morning?"

I sighed. "I don't know?" I replied as I turned over on my back and watched the ceiling fan spin.  "What time is everyone coming over?"

"I'm not sure? I know they are bringing the gifts over to have the Christmas celebration we put off." He informed me about my daily events now, I believe as a way for him to think he could keep me from falling into a deep depressive state. I didn't have the heart to tell him, it would likely happen no matter what precautions we took.

"We are opening presents today?" I remembered quickly about all the gifts I had specially made for the family members to give to them when Nora was born.  Necklaces and key chains honoring each person's new role and relationship with Nora. When I bought these gifts with love and care, I envisioned Nora, my daughter being there as we both handed our beloved family members their gifts, honoring their new roles in her life.  At this thought I said, "It's time," to Nick as he was about to walk out of the room.

"It's time for what?" He said giving me a quizzical look.

"It's time for me to give you your last Christmas gift.  The one from me and Nora."  He looked down at his feet as I asked, "Are you ready?" He sighed, "I guess."

"Where is it?" He said referring to the gift.

"It's in your stocking.  I can go get it." I replied as I tried to get out of bed, but the physical pain started shooting up my pelvis from my swollen and traumatized vagina.

He stopped me, "Stay there. I'll get it honey.  You need to rest."

"Okay, thanks." I said.

He left the room and quickly returned to our bedroom with a tiny box wrapped in red snowman Christmas paper.  Nick crawled into bed and returned to the safe place under the covers where our bodies touched, as we craved touch now.  Replacing the touch of one another with that of our baby girl we were expecting to hold but never would.

Before he opened it, I said, "I'm sorry she's not here to give it to you." He was looking intently at me as tears slowly rose in the corners of his eyes.  He took a deep breath and delicately unwrapped the decorative paper that sealed in hopeful memories of what was not to be.  I never saw a gift opened so slowly with such fear of what was inside.  It was like his own Pandora’s box of emotions and he feared emotional chaos would unfold.

The wrapping paper was off and he gently held the tiny box in has hands.  His left hand moved away to reveal the prize inside, his right hand reached for the brass key chain that was the shape of a military man's dog tag.  He lifted the gift to his eyes and read the inscription I had engraved in the metal.


Wife & Daughter

And then the well of tears that waited in his eyes earlier was now spilling over as sobs exploded from his lungs and he hung his head in his hands with the gift still clenched between his fingers.  I had never seen a man so full of love and longing.  I had never seen a man so deserving of love, so deserving of being a father.  And all I could give him was a key chain.

I watched as he cried.  Then I cried too.  I bawled actually, wrapping my arms around him, and we melted into each other.  Holding each other and clinging to metal memories of a life never lived.   

Monday, July 29, 2013

Letters to Nora - I'm Sorry I Failed You.

July 16th, 2013

Dear Sweet Nora,

I’m sorry, Nora, that I failed you as a mother. I failed to bring your sweet, healthy body into this world protected and alive. I feel as if I have failed on the highest level. I couldn’t protect my own child, while she was INSIDE of me! What kind of mother can’t even do that? A part of me knows I didn’t fail. A part of me knows it’s not my fault. But last night I had the best and worst dream.

I dreamt that I could feel you inside of me again. I could feel your strong kicks and bouncy life force moving and jabbing around. In the dream I placed my hand on my belly as I was so happy to feel you there, and when I went to touch you through my skin. You were gone. My stomach flat and deflated. I didn’t understand. How could this be.

Maybe sometimes I still don’t understand. I can’t comprehend “how could this be?” But once I felt my flat belly and looked down and saw the lack of pregnancy bump, I knew I was dreaming. I guess if it’s awake or asleep, dreaming is all I can do with you anymore. Dream about what could have been, what should have been, and what was for a tiny moment, for what seemed like a blink of an eye. 

I’m so sorry, Nora! I’m so sorry that I failed you as only a mother can. I hear you in the back of my mind crying, screaming, “Mommy! Don’t think that way. You didn’t fail! You were the best mom I could have ever had.” But it’s so hard not to feel guilty, even though there is nothing to feel guilty about. It’s so hard not to feel responsible, even though there is nothing I could have done to save you. And maybe that is why. That is why things are so hard. Because there was nothing I could do. I was powerless to Mother’s Natures malice and destruction. You know, Mother Nature is so wicked, I don’t think she deserves to be referred to as a “mother” any more. For a true mother would never destroy her own child, as she destroyed you, as she destroyed me.

I miss you, Nora. Still do. Some might not understand and wonder, "It’s been six months, why isn’t she over this?” The reality is, I don’t think I’ll ever get over this. It just is now. And sometimes it’s hard to get used to.

Again, I miss you, Nora. More than ever. I hope you are well.

Love Always & Forever,


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sundays at Grandma's - Nora’s Garden, Finishing Touches

It didn’t take long for my family and friends to finish Nora’s garden.  After completing the yellow-brick road, we laid weed barrier and decided where the transplants would go.  I invited all to bring a plant from their existing garden to go into Nora’s Garden—a little bit of love from those that love her.  Family and friends not only brought transplants, but garden art to reflect their feelings.  My BF Holly brought shallow bowls she made with cement and hosta leaves from her own garden, and she gave each sister in attendance one of her creations.  I have mine siting near the start of the yellow brick road.  On it sits an iron fairy that Holly had found for me.

Along the yellow-brick road we placed a scarecrow—a gift from my family and friends via a certificate to a local garden center.  I have found representations for the witch, and Dorothy, but need to find a tin man and a lion.  These will be things I will continue to look for in my garden center excursions.

My brother Bob and his wife Nancy brought a few ‘baby’ hostas.  One of them is called ‘Remember Me’.  They also found a heart shaped stone, which was placed in the yellow-brick road.  Eventually I will have ‘Nora’ painted on it.  My sister Patti and her husband Gary brought a Lambs Ear—a soft, fuzzy plant with leaves that resemble large ears that any child would love to touch.  Patti also found a small garden trowel and had ‘Nora’s Garden (heart) 6-22-13 With Love’ inscribed on it.  It is beautiful and I am hesitant to put it in the garden, as I do not want it degraded by the elements.  Sister Candy brought some yellow oriental lilies, which add a bright spot to the center of the garden.  Candy also gifted me with the lovely tricycle found along the yellow brick road next to the Curly Worley plant that represents the Wicked Witch.  Sister Sue gave me a wonderful stone with an inscription of ‘Those that we hold in our arms a moment, we hold in our hearts forever’—so very true of Nora.  Brother Tom, who couldn’t be at the construction of the garden, just this week dropped off two Aldo Leopold-style benches that he built in child size for the garden.   One will be inscribed with Nora’s name, and as I have other grandchildren, their names will be added to the benches.  Although my other sibs, Don and Mary Jo, could not be with us, I know they were there in spirit.

My friends were just as generous.  Holly provided a Coral Bell, Bleeding Heart, Coneflower, and some Irises.  Pat provided a purple Cat Mint, which has a hummingbird that visits daily.  Julie stopped by several days later with a large box full of Stella de Oro’s which make a wonderful border around the outside of the garden.  All of these friends, along with Harriet and Joan, purchased a beautiful birdbath for the center of the garden.

Nora’s Awesome Aunt Kristi came down for a visit the weekend after it was done.  She brought along a couple of fairy garden ornaments and placed them in the garden.  My job was to find them.  I found one in the lilac tree and felt it wasn’t prominent enough and moved it to the Weeping Pea Vine tree, a perfect place for the fairy.  The other one is a garden stake and floats along side the yellow-brick road.

Nora’s Great Grandmother found many items to put into the garden.  A beautiful garden fairy sits underneath the weeping tree.  A stepping-stone that says ‘Love Blooms Here’ sits next to a beautiful daisy in bloom.  Several other diminutive garden ornaments sit among the flowers and stepping-stones of the garden.

At the very beginning of the yellow-brick road sits ‘Toto’, a garden planter that my wonderful daughters gave to me for Christmas.  It was to represent my two bichon dogs, but now has commandeered a prominent spot in Nora’s Garden. 

Each stone, each plant, each bloom, each garden ornament represents to me the love I have for Nora.  It is a living, breathing memorial to my first granddaughter and will forever remind me of her.  The moments I spend in the garden will be the moments I spend with her.

Plants give us oxygen for the lungs and for the soul.  ~Linda Solegato

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Inspirational Bereaved Parent - An Interview with Stephanie Dyer from Beyond Words Design

Today I am so excited to welcome Stephanie Dyer from Beyond Words Design.
Lindsey: Stephanie I am honored to be interviewing you today as an Inspirational Bereaved Parent. I came across your writing on Still Standing and then your artwork at Beyond Words Designs. Your beautiful paintings are what drew me in. They are powerful and so full of maternal beauty in some pieces while conveying loss without words in others. Your painting is truly a gift.

Stephanie: I am just so humbled that you wanted to interview me. The web is a really big place, and I love it when people go beyond just looking at my art and actually reach out to me!

Lindsey: Unfortunately, I am guessing the pieces that depict a mother's grief come from your own devastating experience of being told at 24 weeks that your daughter Amelia had Turner's Syndrome and then against all odds, she survived until 40 weeks gestation only to be stillborn. After her death you spent time sharing your grief with your husband and children and now say that you have "discovered joy again by doing good in Amelia's name and creating art that celebrates life and honors loss."

When did you notice your artwork begin to transform your grief into healing?

Stephanie: Lindsey, you are right . . . my work does come from my own grief journey. When we received Amelia's diagnosis, I needed something to anchor me in the middle of all the ‘crazy' I was feeling. I found my online community, but desperately wanted to be a part of something bigger. I wanted Amelia's life to be ~ for lack of a better word ~ more. I wanted to keep her alive and share her story with others. I was hungry for a way to be a part of the loss community in my own unique way. And it really just all developed organically from there.

I spent my pregnancy making memories of her, planning for her birth and funeral all at the same time. I was all consumed. Painting helped level me out. It gave me a place to be just a mommy who was trying to enjoy the life still alive inside her while at the same time, trying to wrap my head around the reality that she would die. Each piece I worked on represented a moment in time together, sort of like a visual time line.

After her death, my painting helped pull me from the edge. Grief was is all consuming, and when I stepped into my studio ~ to create ~ I got to be in this other world for a bit . . . a world in which I let my creativity take over. And as a result, the work became a lifeline for me in many ways.

Lindsey: That's so beautifully said.  So, you create beautiful journals for other bereaved mothers who have experienced a stillbirth, miscarriage, and even those journeying into their next pregnancy after a loss. You do this by using your artwork combined with your Social Work background to create a healing experience for mothers. (I absolutely love these journals).

How did you know you were ready to create something to help others heal from your own grief?

Stephanie: Wow, that is such a great question. I never really know if I am ready to share something ~ I just put it out there. Amelia taught me to be brave. Her short life helped me realize that I was not living mine fully. And even in the darkest times (and believe me there are still dark times), I have a choice. A choice to share myself or not. And most of the time, what I choose to share (a blog post, an art image, journals) is well received because there are so many loss families out there that can identify with what I create.

The journal series was created out of my own desperate need to fill a void. I was pregnant with my first rainbow baby (Silas), and walking around in this haze of grief. I was full of hormones, still in deep endless pain, yet pregnant with a new life. I wanted to feel hope again, to enjoy the pregnancy and the new person who was growing inside me. But instead, all I felt was guilt and anxiety tempered with a healthy dose of pessimism about the entire pregnancy. In addition, we were dealing with being unemployed and having our world crash down around us. It was horrible. Every time I wrote on my blog, I felt like all I was capable of expressing was bleakness, darkness, hopelessness, and pain. I grew tired of publicly sharing my hurt and getting little feedback on my blog, so I decided I would write privately ~ in a journal.

Yet, when I went to the book store with the intention of getting one, all I found were pregnancy journals with no real depth to them. You know the ones I mean, where all you get is a cartoon drawing of this little cupid looking baby, or worse ~ a pregnant barbie look-a-like, that drips of blind optimism, full of pages for shower gifts and how much weight you gain. None of these journals came close to what I needed. Not one had room for my miscarried baby or Amelia. None had space for the reality of pregnancy after loss or gave me permission to express the harder feelings I was having. So, I decided to make my own. It was just a natural choice to use my own art and tap into my ‘therapeutic' days as well as my own experiences. It just worked. And once I had the prototype ~ I was so happy ~ I had to share it. 

Lindsey: You also created the Donate Art project that supplies art and resources to hospital memory boxes, reassuring women in their darkest hour that they are not alone.

Does it help your healing to know you are helping other bereaved mothers in their healing journey? Do you think this is a needed part of your healing process?

Stephanie: Yes, absolutely it makes me feel that somehow my pain has a purpose ~ and I don't say that lightly. I am the first one to yell out "NO WAY, there is no consolation prize for my daughter's death, no silver lining." Yet, the reality is that I do feel that by sharing Art Cards, by sharing some of the best and most current online resources (which most hospitals don't know about) I am letting another family know that they are not alone. Something I wish I had that when I left the hospital without Amelia.

Lindsey: I wish I had something like that too. Finally, what advice do you have for newly bereaved parents or others looking to find something positive to do with their grief?

Stephanie: I was always taught to leave the world a better place than you find it. And that is all I am trying to do with my artwork. Doing good in your child's name is like a bit of a balm on a deep wound. It won't heal it, but it can sooth it a bit. Every time I get a message from a grieving parent about how my work has helped or inspired them, it helps my own pain a little.

I would also tell a newly bereaved parent to follow their heart, but make sure that they are not re-inventing the wheel. There are some amazing things being done in the loss community in recent years ~ and so many things have yet to be invented, created and shared. Everything in the loss community was conceived by a loss parent and we each do what we do in honor of our children. Feelings can be easily hurt and that doesn't have to happen. If you are driven to do something similar to another creative loss parent, just be sure to reach out to them first. Everyone has a voice, a purpose and mission and most are thrilled to share the journey for greater good. So, be bold in the name of your child and do something amazing for other people.

Lindsey: Thank you Stephanie for sharing your grief transformation story along with pieces of your artwork with us today.

Stephanie: Lindsey, thank you for seeing what I do and thinking enough of it to share your space with me. It is a real honor for me. 

You can find Stephanie's healing journals along with her beautiful artwork depicting loss and life at Beyond Words Designs. Here you can follow her blog and visit her shop. (She has super cool iphone cases. I got my eye on one.) Stephanie also is a monthly contributor to Still Standing Magazine and runs the Donate Art project which adds healing art and resources to memory boxes.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Did you think it would get better?

“Did you think it would get better?”  My best friend from college asked over our usual drink of choice, wine, as we sat next to each other in a loud, stinky, small town Minnesota dive bar, bringing back memories of our wild college days.  

She is my “Mom” friend.  She knows the bond between mother and child and I think she was trying to let me in on the honest reality that, even though never experiencing it herself, the fleeting thought of losing her child is something she would never get over. 

I wasn’t there yet.  I wasn’t ready to believe that it “wouldn’t get better.”  A part of me wanted to say, “Yeah, I thought it would get better!  I thought I would forget. I thought by this point I would be pregnant again or, like society believes, I could just wash my relationship with her and all the pain and sorrow that it has left behind away after a few months. In the days after her death I prayed for it being five months, six months, heck six years after.  I thought the pain would lessen by now.” It hasn’t.

So I replied with a sigh, “No. I thought it would be….I searched for a word that would fit but only found… different.”  As I sheepishly looked entertained by the water marks in my empty wine glass. 

She was watching me with love and care.  She was helpless on the other side of the table but her affection I always knew I would have, no matter what.   She could have run the other direction from me as the woman plagued with child death syndrome that I hear so many mothers seem to think is contagious.  But she didn’t.  There was a reason she was one of my best friends, because she went right there with me.  And what was more impressive, is that she wanted to go there and she knew I did too.

I sucked in a deep breath and said darkening thoughts that were lingering at the tips of my lips. “I’m scared.  You see, I’m content now.  The worst thing in the world has happened and I learned I can handle it.   I can survive.  There is a strange safety in where I am at right now.  I have nothing left to lose when it comes to the child department.  And I’m scared, because I know from the minute I try to even start thinking about becoming pregnant again, I put myself out there to be hurt again by mother nature, God, Karma, Life, whatever you want to call it.  The moment I conceive again I will live the rest of my life in terror that my child will forever only be borrowed, on loan, and ready to be taken back the moment I fuck up.”

Her eyes widened, not with surprise, but with realization.  She said the thing only a trusted friend of 10+ years can say, “I can see why you would feel that way.  But PLEASE don’t let that stop you from letting love back in.  Don’t let that stop you from trying again.”

I smiled in recognition.  I didn’t cry, but I cry as I write this.  Her words are true.  Her love for me and my future is apparent. She sat there as helpless as I was in not knowing how to fix the future without getting stuck in the safety of the present.  I heard her words.  I needed her encouragement.  I wasn’t angered as some might be and say, “What do you know.” Because her words came from a place of love and truth and that is all I ask of my loved ones.

“So, are you dating anyone lately.”  I had had enough and changed the subject.  She took the cue and began telling her silly stories in sarcastic tones that bring me comfort and humor.  While she was chatting away, I lingered in a thought she had planted that had been left behind. 

“What if it is possible, to let love back in?  What if it’s okay to let hopes for the future mingle with the comfort of the present, while honoring the past? What would happen if I found hope again?”

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Grandfather's Love

He held me.  As only a father can hold his daughter.  I was thirty but in his eyes it was the day I was born all over again.   We were sitting on my bed waiting for my mother who was composing herself in the master bathroom.  He was worried and would not leave her, or my side.  I had just gotten done showing Nora's NILMDTS pictures to my parents.

He wrapped one arm around my shoulder as I laid my head on his chest like the little girl I used to be. We were silent as I sniffled.  My mind wandered back to the few days before when she so confusingly died, but was born.

I was recalling my fathers words of disbelief when I told him over the phone at 3 am, the morning of her delivery, that she had died.  I had lost the baby.  My mind flashed a few hours forward to his worried fatherly eyes as he saw me in labor sweating and shaking from trying to fight off the infection that killed my daughter.  The only way to save my own life was to give birth to her corpse.  I remember watching him hold her for the first and last time, he breathed her in with only one eye because his other was glued to his daughter...to me.

And now on the bed, in my big girl room, as my exhausted body slumped against his chest, he whispered his fears and love for me in my ear, with the words,

"I would have traded places with her you know.  For you.  For Nora."

I didn't see a tear, but as I remember watching us in the mirror across the way.  I said, "Thank you daddy.  I know."

And then I cried.  I have been crying ever since.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sundays at Grandma's - Nora’s Garden, Part 2

I sent an email out to my family and friends about working on Nora’s Garden on a Saturday in June.  I was anxious to get into the garden and start working.  The only plan I had was the idea for the yellow brick road.  The day before my family and friends were to come over, my husband and I went to the local landscaping store to pick up some stone.  My husband Bob, an ex-military man, wanted to know exactly how many bricks I needed.  He is a planning type of guy—a throw back to his military days.  I didn’t have a clue!  So I made up a number to satisfy him—I said 16 to 20 large ones and the same amount of smaller ones.

It was relatively easy to pick the type of stone I wanted for the yellow brick road.  I picked the one that was the closest color to yellow and also had several sizes.  Knowing that I wanted this to be a child’s garden, I told my husband that I would need 20 of the 8-inch squares, and 20 of the 3 x 6-inch bricks.  We also grabbed a few bags of sand to level the stones with.  I was excited about getting the garden done.

Then it rained.  Not only did it rain—it poured, and it was still wet and rainy the next morning when my family and friends were to come over to garden.  Not wanting everyone to be a muddy mess, I cancelled Nora’s Garden until the next day—Sunday.

Sunday night it rained again, but luckily, Sunday dawned sunny and bright with a light breeze, so we went for it.  Not all of my friends and family could help out—some had plans, but there were enough hands on board to make quick work of the garden.

The first step was to tidy up the existing plants, and remove a spirea that had been in existence for 24 years.  My brother-in-law Gary showed up and volunteered immediately to dig it out.  With the help of my brother Bob, it was planted into a different garden where it is doing quite well.  My sister Patti went to work trimming the existing lilac.  Doing those two things really opened up the space and the garden started to take shape.  BF Holly and my sister Candy filled in the hole from the shrub and leveled the dirt.  Yeah—it was time to put in the yellow brick road!

I outlined how I wanted the path to go and Holly evenly placed the bricks to form the broken heart.  I had guessed the perfect amount (or Holly just made it work).  My sister Sue arrived and then all of us girls got on our hands and knees and dug out around the stones, placed sand for leveling and put the stones in.  The yellow brick road was finally in place!  I could just imagine Nora skipping from stone to stone singing ‘We’re off to see the Wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Oz”!
The work in Nora’s Garden will continue next week.  Watch as it takes shape!

You can bury a lot of troubles digging in the dirt.
~Author Unknown

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Inspirational Bereaved Parent - Guest Post by Victoria

Today we welcome Victoria from RootedinFaith. She shares how blogging about her love for her son Joshua has helped herself and others heal from the grief of losing a child soon after birth.  Victoria also shares how being rooted in her faith has provided her strength in her grief and healing. Spirituality and healing will be something I explore more in August. Stay tuned.  

But until then, lets give a warm welcome to Victoria and how writing about her love for Joshua has helped others and herself heal.


Victoria & Joshua's Story

My husband, Patrick, and I met on August 22nd, 2010.  We both quickly realized that this was different than any other relationship that had come before.  We fell in love fast and were engaged in April of 2011.  We got married on the 1 year anniversary of our first "official date," on August 27th, 2011.  We both knew we really wanted kids, but thought we should wait one year before officially "trying."  It was August 25th, 2012 when I first saw those two pink lines.  We were so excited!  August was definitely a good month for us!  We went through all of the normal first time parents excitement and nervousness.  We read books, we shopped for baby clothes, we did everything you're supposed to do.  Every kick, every heartbeat were all amazing and brought so much joy.  We were so filled with love for this tiny little person.  We were in awe.  We found out the Tuesday before Thanksgiving that this little one was a boy!  We made are families wait until Thanksgiving before we would let out the secret.  Everyone was so excited.  The holidays came and went and I grew and grew.  Every night we would sit on the sofa and relax, hands on the bump waiting for Joshua to kick and when he did, the look of pure joy across his father's face was enough to make me fall in love over and over again.  

On February 18th, 2013 we went in for a pretty routine 29 week appointment.  When we got to the doctor, my blood pressure was a little elevated.  I wasn't too worried about it.  It was a Monday and we rushed to get there after a stressful day at work.  Then the doctor told me that there was also protein present in my urine.  She mentioned something about pre-eclampsia and I was immediately sent to the hospital to be checked into Labor and Delivery.  Joshua and I were monitored closely for the next two days.  On February 20th, 2013 I had an ultrasound.  I was told that the amniotic fluid was low.  Joshua Patrick Denney entered the world at 7:09 p.m. on February 20th, 2013.  He weighed 2 pounds 11 ounces and was 15 inches of perfection.  He had APGAR scores of 8/9 and was strong.  I wasn't allowed to see him until the next day since I had to deliver on the god-awful magnesium sulfate.  Oh, but when I finally got to see him... I didn't know it was possible to love anyone that much.  He was so small, but so completely perfect.  He opened his eyes to look at me as I spoke to him.  He recognized my voice!  We got to touch him.  I got to feel his soft, curly, brown hair, just like his mama. Patrick touched his hand and I watched in wonder as he immediately gripped his daddy's finger tightly.  Again my heart melted.  I was smitten.  These were my boys!  Joshua made my love for his father so much deeper.  It was amazing. 

February 22nd, 2013 everything quickly began to fall apart. The nurse came in and asked how Josh was doing.  We recited what the doctors had been telling us,  "He is doing great.  He's really strong.  They even had to lower his oxygen levels while we were in the room, because he was breathing so much better.  We were told we would get to hold him today."  The nurse left and shortly returned.  She said, "I know you said Joshua was doing good, but I want to let you know that he's having a little trouble this morning. We are intubating him now."  We quickly, well as quickly as you can post c-section, got up and down the hall to the NICU.  I wasn't too worried.  We were told that he would have good days and bad days.  I assumed this was just one bad morning on this long road we had before us.  When I got to his NICU room, nothing could have prepared me for what I was seeing. They weren't intubating him, they were doing CPR.  The nurse looked at me and said, "We've been trying for 30 minutes and we need to stop."  I told her no.  I screamed at her to keep trying.  I prayed out loud and sobbed as Patrick held me with his own tears falling into my curls.  This couldn't be real.  This had to be a nightmare.  God wouldn't do this to us.  Not after everything.  He was doing so good.  Please let me wake up.  Please...  I held my tiny, beautiful, perfect son for the first time as he was taking his final breaths.  I kept kissing his head and telling him I was so sorry that I couldn't save him.  I kept telling him how much I loved him.  How much WE loved him.  Joshua Patrick, my first born, my son, went from my arms into the arms of our Heavenly Father at a little after 8:30 a.m. on February 22nd, 2013. I watched as my sweet husband held his son for the first and last time.  I cried as I saw the love and the heartbreak as he cried and said hello and goodbye all at the same time.  

After we got home from the hospital, I began writing on my long neglected blog, www.rootedinfaith.com.  At first it was just a way for me to keep our family and friends up to date on how we were doing.  It was easier than trying to answer all of the texts, phone calls, and messages that were being sent.  I found it hard to talk to anyone without breaking down completely, so this was a place where I could say what I was feeling and not worry about making others uncomfortable with my tears.  It became a place where I found strength - writing about my struggles with faith, my sincere belief that God is still the same God I believed in on February 21st, that He didn't leave us or abandon us...even though it feels like it sometimes.  It has become a place where I can connect with others who have walked this path before us and encourage those who have come along since.  I have met some of the most amazing, courageous, inspirational, and strong women and men through losing Joshua.  Don't get me wrong, I would trade them all and go back to my naive innocence about this world of child loss if it meant having my son back.  Still, I'm so thankful for this group of men and women who have made me feel less alone, less crazy - made me feel like there might be a light at the end of this tunnel.  

We are still very new in this world of child loss.  Through my often tear-filled eyes I have seen God doing amazing things through us - through Joshua. It is my daily prayer that God will use Joshua's story in some way for His glory.  I pray that I can encourage others.  I pray that I can help others.  I pray that God will use me in someway to share my faith and my hope in Him.  I know God has plans for us (Jeremiah 29:11 tells me that).  I know that He is with me and is moving me into a ministry for Him.  I'm not quite sure where this journey will take me, but I'm willing to follow wherever He leads me.  I am thankful everyday for the 7.5 months I got to feel my son grow inside me and for the 36 hours that he got to spend with us on earth even though it wasn't enough.  I know this life is short and that eternity is long.  I'm looking forward to the day when I get to hold my baby boy again and spend the rest of eternity loving on him and being his mama.  Until then, I pray that God will use us, will use our son to encourage and help those around us who are struggling, and to hopefully bring them a little extra faith.

My name is Victoria and I am head over heals in love with my husband (Patrick), deeply grieving the loss of our son (Joshua), and clinging to the Cross with all that I’ve got left.  I blog over at Rooted in Faith.  You can also find me on TwitterPinterestFacebook, and Instagram.
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