Pieces from The Mighty

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

I Want My Yellow Onion, I Want What’s Fair

Warning: This post contains This Is Us spoilers

Last night I tuned into This Is Us where I proceeded to bawl my eyes out as we watched Kate go through something that 1 in 4 women go through- a miscarriage (HopeExchange.com). At the end of the previous week we were given a glimpse of what this week’s episode would be about. I thought that I was mentally prepared to watch this episode, but boy was I wrong. This episode was more emotional than I had prepared myself for. The whole show hit home from the first few minutes when the ER doctor told Kate that although she should expect bleeding, there was no reason why she couldn’t go back to living her life, and that the good news was that since they were able to get pregnant once, that they could try again in four weeks. So many of us experience comments like these during some of the hardest days of our lives.

When we first learned about Kate’s pregnancy, she was scared to be excited about it because she was afraid that it wasn’t really going to happen. But then we watched as she did get excited about her baby. She was doing everything right, but in the end,  she still lost her baby.

One of the  most emotional moments of the episode for me was when Rebecca opened up about her own loss with Kate. Kate and Rebecca haven't always had the best relationship, but they are now part of the same club which is a club that no woman wants to be part of. Although their losses were different, it didn't matter. When Kate questioned how she could be this sad even though she hadn’t even met her baby or even knew if it was a boy or a girl. Rebecca didn’t try to compare their losses, but instead she told her that she understood because she had never held Kyle.  When you lose a baby, whether it is an early loss, a late loss, or a stillbirth, you still lose a baby. You are losing all of the hopes and dreams that you had for that baby. Rebecca told Kate about a time in the grocery store when the babies were still very little and her loss was still very raw. She had been holding her grief in, but that day it all came out. As I watched this part of the episode I related to it so deeply it that it hurt.

In the store Rebecca was breaking down over a bag of yellow onions. When she turned her back for a moment, they were taken by someone else.

“I want my yellow onion”

“I want what I came for, I want my yellow onion”

“It's not fair that I have to sit here and go without my yellow onion”

“I've been planning this dish for a whole week”

Those are just a few of the quotes from Rebecca at the store, but if you replace the word baby with yellow onion, you see quotes that run through every loss mom's head at some point.

I want my baby

I want what I came for, I want my baby

It's not fair that I have to go without my baby

I've been planning his life since I found out I was pregnant

So far, This Is Us has done a wonderful job at accurately depicting the pain of child loss. I might have bawled my way through this episode,but I was satisfied with the way in which they portrayed this devastating event.  It is my hope that they continue to tackle this difficult subject that personally touches so many.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Dear Birthday Princesses

Today we celebrated two very special birthdays! Delphine turning 5 and Alice Ruth turning 1! We are so very blessed with these two little miracles, and our hearts are so full!

Dear Delphine,

I can’t believe that you are already 5 years old.The years are truly flying by.  It seems like just yesterday you were born extremely early at 1 pound, 12 ounces. There were so many unknowns on the day you were born, but if I had known then what I know now, I would have not have cried as many tears or lost nearly as much sleep as I did worrying about you and your future. You are bright, beautiful, spunky, bossy, full of energy, smart, inquisitive,funny, perfect, and you have so much love in your heart.You are a Mimi’s and Papa’s girl for sure. You love to be in the kitchen with Mimi and run errands with her. Papa makes time to play with you every single night after dinner without fail- which I am certain is your favorite time of the day! You had a wonderful start to the year 2017 as Aunt Jessica joined our family! Your Uncle Bobo and Aunt Jessica got married and they chose you to be their flower girl! You did an amazing job!  The highlight of your year was most certainly our trip to Disney World! You enjoyed every single minute of our week there. Your favorites: the princesses, the rides, and the food! You love to be outside running, swinging, sliding, and playing in the sand and your Molly-doodle is always at your side! You have such a love for books, and it makes my heart so happy! You will just sit and listen to as many books as we will read to you!  You love to shop, especially at Target! Your favorite toys are Barbies, Shopkins, puzzles, My Little Ponies, and kitchen stuff. Your favorite doll is Baby Molly (Bitty Baby) and you love to carry her everywhere we go! You amaze us everyday with your imagination!  You don’t have imaginary friends, you have 4 imaginary “children” that go with us everywhere- even to Disney World! At our layover in Minneapolis, we had to stop in the middle of the airport and wait for your “children” as you were becoming hysterical that they were unable to keep up with us and falling too far behind! You are in homeschool preschool this year and we do school together 3 mornings a week. You love school and are doing really well at it! Last year right around your birthday you announced that you wanted to be called your “real” name- Delphine! Although it was a difficult switch for us all to make, I love that you want to be called Delphine because as I look at you I can see and feel the strength and connection between you and your namesake. This past year has been quite the adjustment, as you still have so many obstacles that we are trying to overcome due to your extremely premature birth. I know that you don’t understand why you have to make your eyes work together and why you have a “cutie mark” on your chest or why it is so important that you don’t get sick. I know you can’t possibly comprehend at this point in your life what chronic lung disease is or means- although you try! I know you get frustrated when we have to work on the correct way to pronounce letters and words and I know it is truly hard for you.  However, even with all of these obstacles that this year has brought, you have continued to flourish. You have accomplished so much this year! You now say your “f” sound correctly, something we had to work on day after day, week after week, month after month for over a year. You also mastered the left- right-left-right pattern- which was an obstacle for you from the ROP you had as a baby. Once you could cross over and do the left, right, left, you were finally able to ride a bike!  You might not always like having to do “eye games” and it might take bribery, but we are trucking through, and  I am so very proud of you. I look at you and know how incredibly lucky we are that you are here with us, and that the obstacles you are facing could be so much worse. My beautiful and perfect Delphine, we are truly blessed beyond measure with how healthy you are! You are our beautiful little miracle! You have had so many prayer warriors praying for you since the day you were born, and you are so very loved!

I love you so much! Happy Birthday Princess!

Dear Alice Ruth,

I can’t believe it has been a whole year since you were born. I always thought that after Delphine, that you were going to be my “laid  back child”, but you have proved me wrong! We should have known you would be high maintenance when you crashed your sister’s birthday! When you were born, we called you our “big baby” because you weighed a whole 5 pounds! Compared to your older brother and sister, who were each born at just over a pound, you really were a big baby to us! We now call you our little teapot because you are short and stout!  You are a mama’s girl through and through, and although at times (like when I desperately just want a long, hot shower) it can be frustrating, I will admit that I love that you are such a mama’s girl. You and your sister have such a special bond, and it just seems to be getting stronger as you get older. Your little face lights up as soon as your sister walks into the room. You seem to love everything about her….right down to her big girl, choking hazard toys! You bring so much joy to our lives, even when you are crabby (which honestly, is  a lot of the time).  You are so full of love and slobbery kisses!You are a sweet little nursing baby and I will forever treasure the time we spend together while you nurse. You are a lover of food and your favorite foods are: chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter cookies, and donuts! You are our child who truly hates sleep! If you nap it is a power nap and you are always up at the crack of dawn! Although 4 am is pretty early for me, I enjoy our alone time each morning. We sit in “baby jail” together and play toys. You love Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse and because our household is all about Moana, you love Moana, the movie and the music! It is the cutest thing to see you dance when the music starts to play!  You love to sing Pat a Cake, the Itsy Bitsy Spider, and I’m a Little Teapot! Your favorite toys are the Fisher Price Princess castle, and babies (dolls). You absolutely love babies, and as we go down the toy aisles at Target and you see a baby you make sure to yell ba ba! You don’t ride in a stroller like your sister, you are what we call our Tula Baby! You love it and start to dance and bounce around when I pull out the Tula and we have a nice long walk at Target!  No matter how tired I have been, I have loved every minute of our year together! You are adorable, perfect, strong willed and full of orneriness!

Happy Birthday to my sweet little girl!

Friday, October 28, 2016

Welcome to the World Alice Ruth

On Monday, October 10, I went in to my doctor’s office to have what I imagined would be my last sonogram of Alice Ruth since I had a scheduled c-section date of October 19th set. Based on previous sonograms, Alice Ruth should have been measuring well over the 5 pound mark by now. The sonogram measured her at 4 pounds 4 ounces, but my doctor was not concerned, which took away any anxiety I was feeling about her measurement.

On Wednesday, October 12, I went back in for my last doctor appointment! All of the "lasts" were so very exciting to me since I have never made it to the "end" of a pregnancy before this pregnancy! At this appointment and much to our surprise, my blood pressure was elevated enough for concern, and there was protein in my urine. The doctor also had difficulty getting Alice Ruth’s heartbeat on the doppler (which was extremely scary for me), so they sent me in for a biophysical profile to check on Alice Ruth. She passed the 30 minute test within the first 10 minutes, so she was doing fine! They sent me home with a 24 hour collection to monitor the protein. At this point my doctor was still hopeful that I could make it through the weekend and hopefully to my scheduled date.

On Thursday, October 13, I went back to the doctor's office for my very last p17 shot and to drop off the 24 hour collection to be sent to the lab. I was feeling pretty good, even with the turn of events. On Friday late afternoon, October 14, I received a call from the doctor's office saying that my 24 hour collection came back and that I needed to go immediately to labor and delivery. The test results came back with elevated protein, so they wanted me to get checked out by the hospital and then we would decide what to do next. My dad came home to watch Ellie....on her birthday eve, and my mom drove me into the hospital where I met up with Tanner, who was already there waiting for me.

The week of October 9th had been an option for a scheduled c-section, but we chose to push it on out to the following week with the hope that I would be home for Ellie's 4th birthday on the 15th. So, this is not what we were hoping for, but at the same time, how could we not be thankful to have made it so far in the pregnancy! And....we had Ellie's actual birthday party back in August since my pregnancy was so full of unknowns: there was really no way to know how long I would be pregnant and "just in case" we were in the middle of a NICU or hospital  stay for her birthday.

They got me all checked in and hooked up to the monitors. After several hours of monitoring and a chat with the doctor on call for my doctor (my doctor was now out of town for the weekend), they decided to let me go home with the understanding that if I got a headache or had any change in vision, that I was to immediately come back. I was also told that if I was careful, there wasn't any reason why I couldn't take Ellie to Target to buy some toys for her birthday and then onto a restaurant for her birthday lunch. I was home just in time to tuck my 3 year old in for the last time before she turned 4 the next morning.

Saturday morning, October 15, and my precious Ellie's birthday was a happy morning! Ellie was excited to have a shopping trip planned as well as lunch at a restaurant! Mi Mi , my mom, had also suggested that after lunch she could take Ellie into the party store for a bouquet of balloons....which Ellie was thrilled about!  Our first stop was Target and we were there about 3 minutes when I had the overwhelming feeling that something was wrong. I was cramping and having back pain. We went and picked up a few toys for Ellie and checked out and we headed home. I took benadryl and tylenol and rested for a bit to see if the feeling would pass, but it did not. Off we went to the hospital for the second time in 2 days!

Once again, my dad took Ellie and assured us that she would have a big day and not to worry about her. I was checked into the hospital and hooked up to monitors...again! My blood pressure was not alarming at all but I was registering some minor contractions. Since I had surgery 2.5 years ago to have a permanent cerclage placed (transabdominal cerclage), it is very important that I not go into full blown labor as I run the risk of it ripping out and causing serious issues for me.

The hospital doctor didn't seem concerned and since my blood pressure was within a normal range, she was planning to send me on home. It became very apparent that she (the doctor) didn't have any understanding at all about the TAC that was placed inside of me. The hospital doctor decided to check me, and it turns out I was actually dilated, which concerned us because that puts me at risk for the permanent cerclage to rip my cervix. However, the hospital doctor was not concerned.  At this point, Tanner became concerned as my contractions were picking up and he had no intention of leaving the hospital with me. He suggested that she contact either the doctor on call for my doctor or the doctor who placed the TAC since they were both extremely aware of my history and the need to be extra cautious.

We were very concerned that they were going to send me home dilated and contracting. When I was pregnant with Robby, I was sent home from the hospital (dilated and contracting) by a hospital doctor and was told that I was fine. That night I went into full blown labor with Robby, and later found out that the doctor at the hospital knew that my water was bulging at the time she sent me home, but sent me home anyway.  We know that my labor progresses extremely quickly, and we were scared that if they dismissed me that the TAC would rip and put my life and Alice Ruth’s life in danger.

I was very disappointed in the lack of knowledge that there was surrounding my permanent cerclage. During both of my visits to labor and delivery, I was made to feel bad about the fact that in 4 days, I was going to have a scheduled c-section. I was repeatedly asked by nurses and doctors why I would not even try to have a vaginal birth, even though I had already explained my permanent cerclage. In addition to my TAC, there were two other reasons for my need to have a c-section which were that I had an accessory placenta, and because of the way that Ellie had to be delivered (emergency c-section with a vertical and horizontal cut to my uterus).

Luckily, at this point in the day, a shift change happened! Two new nurses came in to introduce themselves and their faces seemed alarmed as they looked at the monitor. They both came over and felt my belly and commented on how hard it was and asked me if I was feeling that. Uh...YES! Next thing we knew.....the new hospital doctor was in and letting us know that she had placed a call to my doctor (on call) and to an on call Maternal Fetal Medicine doctor as to how we should proceed from here. Within a few minutes the hospital doctor was back saying that we would be going into surgery soon....and from that minute on, everything became a whirlwind.

Immediately there were papers to sign, an iv was put in, and surgical clothes were brought in for me and my mom. Tanner decided early in the pregnancy, that just like with Ellie’s birth,everyone would be better off with him waiting with my dad and my mom would be in surgery with me.

My dad dropped Ellie off to be with my brother and his fiance, so my mind was at completely at ease as I went into surgery-without any worries about how Ellie was doing. Very quickly we were out of the labor and delivery room and wheeling down the hallway to the operating room. Everyone was very kind and friendly...and all seemed to know my story of premature births.

I was feeling happy, anxious, and excited. It was such a different feeling than when I delivered Robby and when I delivered Ellie. It was just such a nice feeling to have, knowing that Alice Ruth had been in utero long enough to be born without the struggles that Ellie had. This c-section was very different from my c-section with Ellie, as with Ellie, it was a true emergency c-section with not much time to spare. With Alice Ruth, it needed to be done quickly for me and my body, but Alice Ruth was not in any danger. They gave my mom “the layout of the land” so to speak, what to touch, what not to touch, where to sit, and when she could and could not take pictures.The anesthesiologist was very personable and talked to us through the entire surgery.

The actual surgery did not take long at all and before I knew it, out came Alice Ruth. My first thought when I saw her was: Oh my goodness! She is so big! I got just a brief look at her as they were taking her over to clean her off and check her breathing. This is the point, the exact point, where I began to panic and the panic overtook some of the excitement I was feeling. The panic I was feeling was about:

Lung development.


Premature lung development was the reason Robby could not be saved.

Premature lung development is the reason that Ellie was on a vent for weeks on end, and then a cpap, and then a nasal cannula for her first 4+ months.

It is also the reason that Ellie was diagnosed with Chronic Lung Disease at 18 days old.

There were two nurses working on Alice Ruth and they patted her back and patted her back and patted her back. They suctioned her nose and mouth, over and over. They put the mask on her to give her breaths. All the while I could hear the beeping. It was a very familiar sound as I heard it in the NICU and then I heard for many, many months after Ellie came home. It was the beeping on a monitor and it was signaling that her oxygen level was too low.

The anesthesiologist (again) was just amazing. He kept talking to us and he kept things very light. He mentioned several times that many, many babies go to the NICU for just a very short time while the fluid clears from their lungs and their breathing evens out. As he spoke these words, I knew that he was right, but I desperately wanted my little Alice Ruth to go with me….to my room!

The surgery was completed….the doctor was finished and the room was clearing out. They started to move my bed towards the door to take me to recovery. All the while, the 2 nurses continued to work on my little one. The anesthesiologist then stopped them from moving my bed and told them that there really wasn’t any reason to make me leave Alice Ruth right now….to please give me this time with her. I could have cried. That was just the nicest thing anyone could have done for me at that particular moment.  

After (I don’t have any idea how long) a very long time, it happened. Her breathing actually became “normal!” They left Alice Ruth hooked up to the monitor so we could watch her oxygen level, and then they handed me my baby. I can’t even put into words the feeling I had as they handed her over to me!

We rode out of the operating room together. It was just the most unbelievable feeling. During Ellie’s NICU stay I watched so many women being wheeled out with their brand new babies on their chest, and now here I was able to experience this. I was able to do this thing that is so normal for everyone else.

Tanner and my dad were waiting in my recovery room which was just basically across the hall. They couldn’t believe how long it all took. After I was settled, Alice Ruth and I enjoyed time together….skin to skin.

My dad left the hospital to go and pick up Ellie and even though it was late, she came up to meet her new sister. After a short visit, my parents took my 4 year old, birthday girl, Ellie,  home to put her to bed.

Alice Ruth’s  breathing remained great and within a couple of hours, they removed the monitor from her and we had our first night together….me, Tanner, and Alice Ruth.

Sunday was a good day for both of us. I was recovering and Alice Ruth was eating, sleeping, and going through diapers….just like she should! Late on Sunday night they did a car seat test with Alice Ruth to make sure she could sit in her car seat and continue breathing regularly. The test was an hour and a half and she hated it….but she passed!

Monday morning, my 4 pound, 11 ounce Alice Ruth (she was down from her birth weight) was cleared to leave the hospital and so the only thing we were waiting on was my release. My doctor was back in town now, but I was sure she was very busy from being gone. The nurses let me know that she would not round until late that night. The gem of a nurse, Margaret, who had been taking care of Alice Ruth and me on Sunday and then again on Monday told me that she would go and call my doctor and ask if she would sign off so I could leave! I laughed….thinking she was teasing...and I said: “Just tell her it is Amanda Smith and that I am sure she knows exactly why I am so anxious to leave here with my baby!” Well, she wasn’t teasing, she did actually call my doctor, and she did tell her what I said! My doctor laughed and said yes, she knew why I needed to leave and told her to give me the dismissal.

Alice Ruth and I left the hospital less than 48 hours after my c-section….together.

This is the first time, after the births of 3 children, that my baby and I have been able to leave the hospital together.

Our little family truly has been so very blessed.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Love of a Parent is Forever

Holidays are difficult when you have lost a loved one. Of course every single day is difficult, but holidays seem to really be a kick in the gut. It is a time of love, laughter, and family. However, when part of your family is missing, it makes things a little (okay, a lot) sad.

When we were Christmas shopping earlier in the month, Ellie told me that she needed to buy Robby a present, so she picked out a small matchbox car. Ellie is three, and is really into every aspect of Christmas this year, so she also insisted that we wrap it up for him.

On Christmas Eve we went out to the cemetery where Robby is buried.  Ellie unwrapped Robby’s present, and played with the little red car on his stone. She had received a package in the mail  from Santa the day before, which included snow from the North Pole and some Reindeer food to sprinkle in the yard before bed on Christmas Eve. Ellie pulled both containers out of her Minnie Mouse backpack that she had packed up and then she “showed” them to Robby. She very carefully took the lid off of the snow, put her little fingers in the container,  pulled out some “snow”and then sprinkled it on his stone. She told Robby that Santa sent her this snow from his house. Then she opened up the reindeer food and did the same thing, as she let Robby know that now Rudolph would know where to find him. It broke my heart yet made my heart full all at the same time knowing that she wanted to “share” with her big brother. Her brother whom she has never actually met.  

When we go to visit Robby, I like to walk around Babyland and look at the different things that are out for the other angel babies. I  talk with Ellie about the different decorations that are out, and we say some of the baby names out loud. I like to say and hear Robby’s name said out loud because it validates his existence to me, so it has become natural to do the same for other angel babies as well. This year, I noticed several different stones that were decorated for Christmas. They were stones of babies who were born many years ago. These babies were born in 1980, 1986, 1992 and 1993. The 1992  really hit home for me because I was born in 1992. These parents,23 years later, still come to their angel baby's grave and put out Christmas decorations.

As I sat at Robby’s grave, I’m going to be honest, I cried...a lot.

I did not cry because I am living in the past.
I did not cry because I don’t appreciate the beautiful living child that I have.
I did not cry because I can’t move on.

I cried because this Christmas and every Christmas for as long as I live, I won’t ever get to see my little boy’s eyes light up on Christmas morning while opening presents.

I cried because he won’t ever have a picture with Santa.

I cried because the love of a parent is forever.

I’m praying for all of the parents who have suffered a loss- whether it has been a recent loss, or it has been many years. A loss is difficult whether it is new or old because  the love of a parent is forever.

“I'll love you forever,

I'll like you for always,

As long as I'm living,

my baby you'll be.”

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Ellie Is Three

It is hard for me to believe that three years ago today our sweet little Ellie was born. When I think back to that day, I have different feelings than what a lot of mothers have. That was such a scary day for us. When I went into labor that morning, I wanted to hope that my doctors would be able to keep Ellie in longer, but I knew that with my history, the chances were not likely. I knew that Ellie would be born soon, and that we would not make it to Thanksgiving (32 weeks) like we had been praying that we would.

For 7 weeks, there wasn’t a doctor in the NICU who would look me in the eye and tell me that Ellie would survive. It wasn’t until she was 49 days old that we received the glorious news from her NICU doctor that she would survive. Born 14 weeks too soon, she had a brain bleed, ROP (Retinopathy of prematurity), pneumonia at only a week old, Chronic Lung Disease after the first several weeks, and she was on oxygen-intubated for most of her hospital stay. She had so many setbacks, and at times I thought that the roller coaster would not ever end. We spent so much time going up and down, and then we would have some smoother days, then we would be back up and down again. Then it happened, Ellie finally came home. She came home on monitors and oxygen but she finally came home. Since then, life has not been easy.  Ellie had chronic lung disease, and because of that  we kept her isolated for such a long time in order to keep her as well as possible and to keep her from having to go back to the hospital.  We are still extremely careful about germs and what she is exposed to because  after 3 years it has become a habit more than anything, but we do continue to ease up every single day. Ellie’s doctor said a couple months ago that he believes that any and all of the problems that Ellie had when she was born have been resolved. He went on to say that he does not have any concerns about her. We are truly blessed.

Ellie was born on October 15, which happens to be a significant date for two other reasons. The first reason being that on October 15 , 2011, I found out that I was pregnant with Robby. The second reason is that it is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. The past two years I have not mentioned Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day on October 15th  because it is on the same day as Ellie’s birthday, however, I have been thinking a lot about it over these past few months, and I have started to form a new outlook on it.

Ellie’s birthday falling on October 15 is a constant reminder of how incredibly blessed we are. When Ellie was born, the outlook for her was bleak. She was so tiny when she was born- 1 pound 12 ounces. She was so small  and she looked so fragile. Her head was black  due to bruising from being stuck. We are truly blessed that she is here with us today. We are so blessed that instead of spending Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day honoring her memory like we do Robby’s memory,we are able to celebrate her life and that she is still living. Ellie’s outcome could have been so different, but it wasn’t, and for that, we praise God.Ellie brings so much joy into our lives, and she is a constant reminder of how great God is and how prayer truly does change things.  

So, today on October 15, we are going to spend the day celebrating our little miracle, Ellie. But we will also be remembering Robby,who we lost in February of 2012. 
We will be remembering the babies that I miscarried last month, in September of 2015. 
And on this awareness day, we will also be remembering all of the babies who have been taken too soon.

As we embark on Ellie becoming a “three-nager” I want to remember each and every day how blessed we are. Ellie is strong, tough, funny, loving, loud, energetic, demanding, extremely inquisitive, and a very strong willed child. We love each and every quality and characteristic that she has.  Ellie has such a strong will that some days are a challenge, but each and every challenging day is a gift, a precious gift.

Happy Birthday sweet Princess <3 We love you more than you will ever know!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Build Up Rather Than Tear Down

Grief never ends… But it changes.
It’s a passage, not a place to stay.
Grief is not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith…
It is the price of love.
~Author Unknown

Let’s talk about grief. Grieving is something that is brought up a lot in my blog, but I usually try to keep it to my end of year recaps, or Robby’s birthday blog. However, due to some recent events, I feel like I need to talk about it some more.

One of the many things that I have learned since starting my blog, and then starting Project Robby, is that I have opened myself up to a lot of things.

*I have opened myself up to good things such as meeting people who have such wonderful, giving hearts.
* I have opened myself up on this blog, sharing my personal thoughts,  in hopes of helping others.
*I have been connected with other loss moms.
*Through  the help of everyone who has donated, we are able to touch so many lives through Project Robby.
*We are able to bless families with hats and blankets that fit their tiny child. They have something special, and they are reminded that their child, no matter how early or tiny is special too.  

And, for all of these things, I am truly thankful. I have been blessed beyond measure!

However, in the past couple of days I have realized that along with all of the good things, I have also opened myself up to something that does not feel very good and something I did not expect- judgement.

As many loss moms know, grief is something that people very openly have an opinion on.  I am sorry to say that in the past I have been judged by a few extended family members and friends before, and I have learned how to accept their opinions, forgive them, and move on. However, up until a few days ago I had never  felt or realized that people who don’t really know me and are not apart of my life were also judging me openly and publicly. Judging me in the way that I am dealing with my grief from losing Robby.  After experiencing it, I can say first hand that it is a terrible feeling.

So, I would like to try to turn a negative (people judging my grief journey publicly) into a positive ( that someone might take a little bit of what I am saying in my blog and apply it) .

I will not get into the details of what all happened because the details truly don’t matter. However, I do feel that maybe God put this event in my life for a reason, and maybe that reason is for me write this blog. Maybe there is someone else out there who needs to read this. So, if you are someone who has experienced a loss,  if you are a family member of someone who has experienced a loss, a friend of someone who has experienced a loss, or maybe even just  someone who is looking for some perspective on the subject- this blog is for you.

Grief is something that is so very personal, and we all grieve in our own ways. One of my biggest pieces of advice to other loss moms (and dads) is to grieve however you need to grieve and grieve however long you need to grieve. Even with my recent run in with others judging me, this is still some of my biggest advice. I stand by that statement with my whole heart. I feel that you are not truly working through your grief if you speed up the process just to make someone else happy, or to dodge some judgement.  I have learned that if I step back quietly during rough patches of my grief I get labeled “insensitive,” “living in the past,” and “lacking compassion,” however, if I try to explain why I am stepping back quietly I get labeled “ insensitive,” lacking compassion,” and “living in the past.”

Do what you feel in your heart to be right- for you'll be criticized anyway. You'll be damned if you do, and damned if you don't.
So, before you offer an opinion to someone for how they are grieving, I want you to stop, think, and then keep it to yourself.

Please do not ever tell a grieving parent that they are not “normal.” I will tell you what isn’t “normal,”- having to bury your child. Trust me, that is not normal. Please do not tell them that they are bad parents to their living children because they are walking the path of grief. Being a grieving parent does not make you a bad parent!  It also doesn’t make you a bad parent when you talk about your child that has passed away  with your living child. Please do not try to tell someone that you “understand” their grief because you have a friend who suffered a miscarriage. Unless you have actually walked in the same shoes  as the mother who has lost her child, please just tell them how sorry you are that they are having to walk this path.

Before I lost Robby, I had no idea what to say and what to not say to someone who had lost a child.. I had no idea that certain things were so hurtful to parents who had lost a child. As part of my grief journey, I have been able to realize that most people say things so innocently, without realizing they are hurting me, and certainly not thinking that their words could be hurtful. Now, at this point in my grief journey, I am able to look past those innocent things, and take them simply as words spoken in an effort to be helpful. Unfortunately, I have learned that there are still people out there who intentionally say things to hurt me because in their minds my grief journey is not justified.  Instead of telling someone how they should be grieving, please tell them that if they need anything you are there for them. Whether it has been 10 days since their loss or 10 years since their loss, just be there for them.

“Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.”

I love that quote because it is so accurate. There are days, weeks, and even months now that are not very hard at all, but then there are days that the pain of missing Robby hits me like a wave. Am I sad all of the time now? No, I can honestly say that I am not. Do I miss my little boy? Yes, I miss him fiercely.  However, unlike after he first died, I do not sit at home and cry all day. Did I when he first died? Yes, I did.  After Robby died I just stayed at home so that I did not have to be around anyone, especially young children! That was where I was in my grief journey then (nearly 3 ½ years ago), but thanks to supportive friends and family, I have come so far from that.

When I think of Robby or talk about him with Ellie, I have a smile on my face because Robby was a blessing. When I talk to Ellie about her big brother, Robby, it is not ever in a sad way because I do not want her to think that Robby’s memory brings me sadness. Robby’s memory brings me joy because he  is my child. I wish he were here with us, but that is not our reality. However, someday we will all be together again in Heaven, and what a glorious day that will be.

I am thankful for Project Robby, because it has helped me to heal. I talked about Robby in public for the very first time during my KWCH 12 interview. It was a hard step to make because it made me vulnerable, but it was a step forward in my grieving process. Unfortunately, I have recently learned that there are people who might think that Project Robby is just a way for me to continue to “live in the past.” Let me be very clear here with my response to that, “It is not!” Project Robby is a way for me to take the pain of losing Robby, and turn it into something positive- which is to help other families who have lost a child. It is our mission to make sure that parents who have lost babies know that their baby was special, and is important. Through Project Robby, we want to make sure that each family has something special for their baby, and something special for the parents to hold onto. Working through my grief will be a lifelong process, and I want to help other families who are beginning their process. I want them to know that there is someone out there who understands.

“Sometimes the people around you won't understand your journey. They don't need to, it's not for them.”

I actually have a list of “milestones” if you will, that I want to be able to achieve. Goals. Steps forward in my grief journey. So far, I have marked off many of these milestones, and I think that in the next couple of weeks I am going to be able to cross off a major one as a dear friend of mine is expecting a little boy and she is due anytime now. I am so excited for her and her husband, and I can not wait to meet my (honorary) nephew! That will be a blog for a different day though! I want to thank this friend for the grace that she has shown to me during her pregnancy. She has been so kind, thoughtful, and compassionate and for that I am truly thankful. She is a wonderful friend, and I can’t wait to watch her experience the joy of having a baby!

I want to thank my family and friends who have stuck by me in this ocean of grief. Waves come, but then they settle, and I am thankful for those who have stuck those waves out with me. I am thankful for those who held my hand during those waves. However,  there are some people who have not stuck with me during the waves, and that is okay. It really is okay! Some people can not handle the waves, and some people want me to just act as if the waves are not there.  The waves will always come, but with the help of supportive family and friends I can swim through those waves, and thankfully those waves are not very fierce anymore.

The people who have stuck with me have been able to see my progress. My progress might be slow, but the friends and family who have been there  with me through the waves have been able to witness how far I have come. I have found that the people who judge me the most are those who could not handle holding my hand through the waves, and therefore dropped out. Unfortunately, they still think that I am at the same place in my journey that I was when they couldn’t handle to hold on any longer.  I wish that they could see how far my journey has come. I do not blame these people for not holding on during the waves, this is a hard journey. I am so grateful to the people who have stuck it out with me, because I know it has not been easy!

I will say it one last time:

Before you  offer your opinion to  someone for how they are grieving, I want you to stop, think, and then just don’t say it.

Next time you are tempted to pass judgement on grieving parents, I want you to really think about your words. Try to find a way to build them up and make sure that your words won’t tear them down instead. Maybe instead of judging this person you could do something helpful. Maybe  you could donate to a cause that is in place to help grieving families.

If you are experiencing a fierce wave of grief, or if you have questions on what you can do to help someone who is dealing with the loss of a child, please feel free to email me at:
projectrobby24@gmail.com . I would be very happy to lend an ear, pray for you, or try to help in any way that I can.

I have compiled a list of places other than Project Robby that help grieving families, and I encourage you to, instead of judging someone, help make a difference. Instead of spewing judgment, spread love <3

  • Molly Bears
  • Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep
  • Compassionate Friends
  • The Tears Foundation

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”