October 31, 2014

Day 31: Sunset

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Today is the last day of the #captureyourgrief project.  I have enjoyed doing my daily photos, and captioning them accordingly with the special prompts.  The project really helped me explore my grief, and figure out where it fits into my life and how I can live around it.  

Admittedly, after our memorial on the 21st, I lost steam with it.  I think after saying an official goodbye to Jackson and Lily, I was drained of my sad emotions.  As a usually peppy and happy person, my heart couldn't hold my sad feelings much longer.  I felt like I had gotten over the mountain top of the grief, and now I'm on my way down.  It's still a long, long way down, with a gentler slop going down, so it takes more time to journey through.  But at least I'm on a different path than I was before.  I'm happier.  I smile more.  I can think and talk of the babies without that huge pressure on my heart.  They are a part of my life, just as any children are, but also very differently.

So with that, I end this project with one of Jackson's beautiful sunsets.  The sky never ceases to amaze me each night, no matter the weather.  It's funny how something so normal and everyday never caught my attention before this.  It's almost always so beautiful.  I love thinking of Jackson, and Lily, as I watch the sky (and right now, the leaves too) light up on fire with the orange and the pinks and yellows and reds.  Like it's a painting, just for me :)

Thanks for sticking through this month of grief posts with me.  :)

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October 26, 2014

Day 26: Healing Ritual

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Now that we've gotten passed 10/21 - the "due date" and the memorial, I feel like I'm losing steam on grieving.  That's a good thing!  I don't feel so guilty moving on with life, enjoying the little things each day, and appreciating the blessings that God has given me.  I still have my moments and last week was very hard, but I am feeling a lot better.  I think the struggle through last week gave me lots of hope and strength.

Today's theme is healing ritual.  My healing ritual is my walks in the evenings, catching the sunrise when possible.  Now that the days are getting shorter, and chillier, and rainier, I haven't been going as much and I am sad about that.  Even though I am feeling better emotionally, I still need to get my butt out there and exercise.  I know it's good for my overall well being.  The weather looks like it's going to be nice and fallish this week, so I am making a goal to get out there 3 times, at least.  Next week after daylight savings, I guess I'll have to get used to walking in twilight or the dark.  Dave may have to join me for those!

I love my walks, and I know they helped my healing journey so far.  I listen to Oceans over and over, and pray or talk to Jackson and Lily, and just reflect on life and plan for the future.  It's been a great way to clear my mind each evening, and to be sure my priorities are straight in life.  It's help keep me stress free so far this school year too, and the walks have also helped keep me in a healthy mindset.  I always try to hit my 10,000 steps on my fitbit, if I didn't reach that goal at school.

I hope to keep this ritual up even through the winter, but I have a feeling that I may have to move the ritual over to the gym, or maybe some yoga inside.  I love being outside in nature, but dark and chilly walks may not be as enticing as a sunny and warm summer evening walk.  I'm going to miss those!

I am thankful for this healing ritual.  Cheers!

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October 23, 2014

Day 23: Inspiration

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I am still trying to catch up on sleep and energy after our emotional day on Tuesday.  It took a lot out of me, more than I realized, to plan our babies memorial and go through the official motion of saying "goodbye" to them both.  It's hard to make it through each work day without falling asleep!  I've been trying to rest as much as possible when I am home, around living life and trying to take care of the house and my family.  I'll get better at it.  I know I have to be easy on myself this week, or even this whole month, and follow what my heart and body are saying to me.  Yesterday I came home and went right to bed after a nice long bath, it felt good to take care of me and just be lazy.  Good for the theme of self-care yesterday.

I'm loving this month of grieving, and I know that sounds weird, but I mean it.  It's been really helpful to explore my feelings and what Jackson and Lily mean to me.  Of course, I'd rather have them here, but since that's not possible I'll make the best of it.

Today's theme of #captureyourgrief is Inspiration.  I chose this picture of some of the balloons (enviro friendly, with twine that is also enviro friendly) we released for Jackson and Lily because they are my main inspiration during this time.  They inspire me to learn and grow and live life with love and peace.  They have changed me for the better in so many ways, they are still changing me.  I have a long way to go!  Part of the way I can endure them not being here with me is thinking about them daily and letting them guide my heart and actions.  I hope that I make them proud, I know that sounds so silly, but I want to be a good mom for them and because of them.  Just as if they were here.

Thanks for being my inspiration, dear babies.  Love you!  

Time for mom to go to bed. ZZZzzzzzZZzzzz
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October 21, 2014

Day 21: Relationship

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Day 21 of #captureyourgrief is themed around Relationship.  It's fitting that Relationship is our theme today, because the day was centered in us remembering our relationship with our babies, however short and sweet that time was.  We are still fostering a relationship with them now, but in a very different way.  We are parenting souls in Heaven.  It's a sad way to be a parent, but when it's all you've got, you make it work.  We are making it work, somehow, being parents to "angel" babies...and learning more about our relationships with them now.
Tonight, our memorial celebration was hard.  It was a beautiful way to say goodbye, and there were many tears by everyone who came, but hopefully it was healing for everyone too.  Afterwards, we had a good dinner and fun time just hanging out and being together.  The whole evening, I could feel Jackson and Lily there, their presence made loud and clear by their absence, if that makes any sense.
Everything we did to honor them today is part of how I work on my relationship with them.  My writing, and making pictures, and the video, and artwork...these are all ways I spend time with my babies.  So, below I am sharing the memorial video I made, and the letter that I (tried to) read through my tears.  
These pictures are of all the special things we've done for them.  The pictures I made a few weeks ago are here, along with a shadow box I made for Jackson with all of his special things (his hat, onesie, footprints, our gone too soon card, his bracelet) and also the beautiful anchor that Heather made for the babies.  Heather and I also made small anchor ornaments for all of our guests to take with them.  All of these things will be going up on a wall in our home, a wall to honor them and remember them.

I guess I should warn you to watch and read with a tissue, because that was the reaction of my family and friends.  I'm sorry about that, but both of these items are my heart, and a special way for me to say goodbye to my babies.

I am hoping that after today, my heart will feel lighter, but fuller.  

Oh and THANK YOU for all the amazing support today.  SO many of you posted or commented about celebrating Jackson & Lily with us.  It was overwhelming and beautiful, and I can't thank you enough for participating.  Love you all <3

Click here for memorial video. 

Memorial Letter 10.21.14 - I read this to my family after we watched the DVD and after Ash lit their
candles and read some beautiful scriptures for us.  I'll post those another time, she did a great job.  

Dear Jackson,

When I first lost you I thought that I would have to spend all of my days being sad and consumed by my grief of losing you, I thought that was the only way I was able to be with you and remember you the right way. To move on or feel better would mean that I am getting over you. There is no getting over you...

As time went on I found that the days without you were getting easier to handle, not because time was healing my grief but grief was becoming part of who I am. Then I realized that I had to redefine grief because it wasn't just grief that was becoming part of me, but it was you.  As in the you who isn’t here, the you that is alive in Heaven, you were becoming a part of my every day life and each day it was not as sad as the last.

You made me a mother, and while mothering the spirit of a baby in Heaven is not what I imagined motherhood to be, it is a beautiful part of my life when I can get passed the sadness if it. I have had people tell me "I don't know how you do this, it seems too hard" but how I see it is this: Thinking about you and writing in my blog about you and walking to see your sunsets and sharing your stories with the world and creating pictures and albums for you is me spending time with you.  I’m being your mom and exploring who you are and who I am now that you have touched my life. I would do the same exact things with you if you were here with me, instead of Heaven. I am your mom, and that time together with you is so special.

I also can get through this whole grieving process without falling apart because of Jesus. He walks me through this sad time in our lives, and sometimes, especially those first few days and weeks without you, He carried me through it.

He has walked with me every step of the way through this journey. It’s hard to understand why He let this happen to us, but then I remember we aren't supposed to understand everything that happens in this world. Sometimes, we have to trust Him and blindly have faith in Him, because He is our God and loves us so much. He doesn't want me to be in pain or feel despair, and thankfully He has saved me from those things.

Am I sad that you are not here? Yes! But, how can I stay that way when I know that you were born right into Heaven? Your whole life will be there, with Jesus, and you will never know pain or sorrow or war or heartache or any of those terrible things that we has humans have to endure here on earth. You will only know love and peace and have firsthand experience of the glory and beauty of living with our Lord.  Honestly, what more could a mother want for her child?

Do I miss you? Yes. Do I wish you were here? Yes. Do my arms constantly ache for you?  More than I can bare, usually.  Can I explain this whole mess? No.  But, does our God know what He is doing? Absolutely. Will he use your life to change us and our world and bring love and hope? I really, really hope so.

I have learned that nothing on this earth is mine. It all belongs to God. You belong to God. I belong to God. We all do. So tonight, my little boy, we send these balloons to Heaven to say that we love you and miss you and to tell God that even though we are sad He wanted you there, we are trying to be ok with the fact that you are not. We are trying to not be selfish by wanting you here with us.  We are giving you back to Him, because you are His first.

And to our little Lily, I didn't know you long, but I love you and miss you too.  For those very few minutes we thought we were going to be the parents of twins, we felt special, terrified of course, but special because twins are a rare blessing.  I am sad you had to leave us so soon.  However, I am so happy you were there to welcome your brother into Heaven.

Watch over us, little Blands, and we will see you in time. I, for one, cant wait for that day.

Mom, Dad, and Ashley, and all of your loving family.

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October 19, 2014

Day 19: Give

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Day 19 of #captureyourgrief is Give.  Give means so many different things to me right now, I can't nail down just one concept of give...

I want to give to others in honor of Jackson, so that his short life makes the world better.

I was given such a short and sweet time with him.

I gave him a home while he was here with me.

People have given us so much love and support during our time.

I want to give him to the world, so that people know him and remember him.

We have given to baby loss and pregnancy loss charities in His honor.

God is teaching us a lot by giving to Him.

The Lord gives and He takes away.

God has given us so much....

See?  I can't figure out one thing for give, give means a lot of things to me.    

I give him to you, God, because he was yours first, and will always be yours.  But please, keep on carrying me through this, because I can't do it without you.  You give me hope.

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Explore, Gratitude, and other things...

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Today my heart is both light and heavy.  I feel that is my normal lately.  Finding the good and beauty is life and in everyday, while dealing with how terrible and ugly life can be.  All at the same time.

My heart is heavy for so many reasons.  This week, there have been too many heartbreaking events going on in the world of people I know.  It's so hard to understand why things happen the way they do, and it's so hard to fight to have faith and hope through all of those things.  It's a battle, it's between good and evil, and evil wants to win so badly.  Evil wants us to be sad and hopeless and mad at God, and it's so scary how easy that can be.  Having faith and hope is a struggle, because these sad events are outside of what we as humans can comprehend, and we have to find a way to be ok with that.  Its very tough.

As for me, I sit here at my computer, trying to plan my babies' memorial service on Tuesday.  I have to stop myself from screaming that I shouldn't even be planning this stupid service, I should have them both here with me now, going crazy over the fact that we have twins.  But here I am, planning out a tasteful way to help me and our family say goodbye to them, without making them want to crawl into a hole and die from the sadness of it all.  Sometimes life just isn't fair.

Our service will be small, really just our immediate families and a few friends.  I made a DVD, and wrote a letter to read to my family, that I will share later that night here on the blog.  We are doing our balloon release at 5:30 at mom & dads, with environmentally friendly balloons and twine so as to not harm the rest of the world.  Mom is making a nice dinner.  It will be sad, but it will be healing.  A final and official way to say goodbye, to give them back to God in our own way, because that is where they are, and that is where they belong.

I'll ask our friends and family on Facebook to participate in a few ways, if they want.  You can release a balloon of your own, or do an Act of Kindness in Jackson and Lily's name (I'll post ideas), or you can light a candle anytime that day or night for them.  There's no pressure, and no obligation.  If you do something, maybe take a picture or post a comment for us, so we know you are saying goodbye too.  

I've missed blogging about the last few days of #captureyourgrief and that is because we have been busy bees around here!  My BFF, Heather, is here visiting.  She came from Texas to help me with the memorial service, and just be here with me during this tough time in the grieving process.  It's been wonderful having her here! 

Friday we went to NYC for the day, which was so much fun.  We spent the day walking around and talking and exploring the city, which is fitting, because the 17th theme was Explore.  

Exploring grief is a lot like exploring a city.  I take in my new environment and I try to understand what it means to me and my life, how does it change me?  How do I interact with it?  Exploring grief is hard and tiring work.  But the more I explore it, the more I understand it, and the better I am at living my life around it.  Grief is not something I can ignore, I can't push it away and hope it disappears, it won't work that way forever.  Plus, ignoring it means I have to ignore the memory of my two little babies, and I just can't do that.  I explore the sadness and heartache for them.  I think I am in a good place in this exploration, but I still have far to go.  At least I am used to working it into my life, and the sting of it isn't as painful.  It's still there, but I have built a tolerance to it.

Yesterday was Day 18 and the theme was Gratitude.  I am grateful for so many things.  But I chose to pick Dave as my subject for yesterday.  He has put up with a lot these past few months, me and my grief and emotions as well as his own grieving.  He is strong and he keeps me sane and tries to help me through this whole mess.  He takes care of me and the house and little things that for me, it's just hard to think of or care about during this time.  As time has gone on, I've gotten better and less rotten about it all, and he is still here loving me.  Losing a baby or a child is one of the hardest strains on a marriage, and I can see how easy it is to give up on life, and each other, when this happens.  This is also hard work, keeping us together, when all we want to do is fall apart on the inside.  That was never an option for us, and we've tried to keep God and and each other first, knowing we can lean on Him and then each other to get through this time together.  So I am so grateful for him, and grateful to God for blessing me with him.  It's been a rough few months, but for Dave & I, we are stronger for it and love each other more and love God more because of all of it.  That's something to be grateful for.

Today's theme is give and I am still working on that one, so more on that later...

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October 16, 2014

Day 16: Retreat

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This will be short and sweet!  My BFF is here from Texas and we have a fun few days ahead of us, as well as some planning to do for the memorial for the babies next week.  We are going to NYC all day tomorrow, I can't wait!

My retreat over these past few months has been our bed.  When I need to be alone, or cry, or read a book or watch Big Bang to escape, this is where I come.  I love our room, I love how cozy and pretty it is, I love laying in bed and watching TV with Dave and just spending time here.  Frodo always cozies up to me here, and keeps watch over me to make sure I am ok.  I do a lot of my praying here, a lot of my writing here, and a lot of my remembering here.  

This is were I cradled my belly all night, the very last night Jackson was with me.  To me, that is not sad, it is special.  

It's not a grand or fabulous room, but I feel safe and OK here.  It is my retreat.

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October 15, 2014

October 15th Wave of Light

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Today is a pretty hard day.  I guess it's safe to say I hate this day.  While it brings some meaning and remembrance, I would just as rather not have to think of this day at all.

First, it's Pregnancy and Baby loss Remembrance Day.  A day for the whole world to remember and grieve babies who never got to take breath, or babies who died in their first year of life.  I'm glad there is a day to celebrate our babies, but it totally sucks that it has to exist at all.  Yeah, ok, people die and that is natural, but why babies?  Why can't they be immune?  

Second, our hospital was supposed to have a beautiful candlelight ceremony tonight, but of course this year...the year we lost our babies, they aren't doing it.  I know that people have lives and families and all of that stuff, but it's sad to me that this year no one could put it together.  If I had known this information way further ahead of time, earlier than the end of last week, I could have done it.  I feel a little cheated, but oh well that is life, right?

Third, and the worse part of it all, was that this day, October 15th, would have been my potential scheduled c-section.  Jackson's original due date is next Tuesday the 21st, and we are doing our memorial for him on that day, but this day hurts too.  Our doctors told us at the last appointment we had before we lost him that they would probably schedule me at just over 39 weeks for a c-section, because of the gestational diabetes.  On October 15th.  They don't like the diabetes babies to stay in too long, because they can get too big and cause more complications.  So today is sort of like a due date.  

We may have welcomed him into the world already, in my alternate reality.  

He'd be here, with us.  Instead of gone.

So yeah, today sucks.

It is sad to be part of this community, but hey...at least there is a circle of support for something as terrible as this.  We are a strong community too.  We are mothers of dead babies.  We are parents of angels.  There are little souls in Heaven waiting for us.  We are no longer afraid of death, because death means we can be together again.  We are the community of pregnancy and baby loss, and we are strong.

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October 14, 2014

Day 14: Light/Dark

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With my grief, there is obviously a dark side.  Dark is all I could see in those first few weeks after Jackson was gone.  I was sad, and lonely, and bitter, and all the terrible things humans can feel when life goes wrong.  I wanted to die too.  It was a very, very dark time.

Slowly, as time when on, light started coming back into my life.  Just for a teeny bit, and then I would feel bad or guilty for allowing light in after such a thing, and it would be gone - poof!  Then, it would try to come back, again and again, for longer periods of time, until one day I realized I had gone through a almost whole day of light!  

Then, I noticed, that light, after all that darkness...or should I say, in all this darkness, is so bright.  It's blindingly bright.  My good times are happier.  My laugh is more genuine.  My smile is bigger.  My heart feels the light so much more, now that it nows how dark the world can be.

It makes sense, that the more dark something is, the smallest light can be blinding.  That is what grief is like.  Dark all around, but when light comes back, it comes back...wow.

I hate the dark parts of this.  The dark is so heavy.  But I love the light.  I love how it makes my heart feel.  I am hoping that as days go on and I learn how this grief is part of me, the light gets even brighter, that it will get lighter.  I love that the light makes my life better, it allows me to see what Jackson and Lily mean in this world, and what they have done for me.  

Keep on coming, light...

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October 13, 2014

Day 13: Season

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Day 13 of #captureyourgrief is Season.  The "season" that I will forever associate Jackson and our loss with will be the end of the school year, and start of summer.

There is no fortunate time to lose a baby.  But I was very angry at the timing of our loss.  Oh, I understand that God's timing is perfect, and I do see that in our case because I didn't have to take time off work to grieve, I had a good 8 weeks of built-in mourning.  

I was very bitter when my water broke on the 3rd to last day of school, that I would be missing my last two days of the year.  I wouldn't be able to say goodbye to my 5th graders, I'd miss the graduation and the picnic fun, I'd miss the end of the year excitement in the air, I'd even miss the waving goodbye to all students as they drove away on the buses that last day.  I was angry!

The doctors all joked with me (when appropriate of course) because I was upset I'd miss the talent show too.  A dozen or so kids singing the song from Frozen, but I wanted to see it.  I hate missing important moments with my students!  I think I even begged the docs to let me go.  I think I was delirious, since I ended up giving birth on the last day and that would have been impossible.

I also was upset because a time that should have been fun, and exciting and relaxing, was completely the opposite.  I should have been celebrating another school year under my belt, basking in the sun by the pool with not a care in the world.  I should have been planning summer projects and decorating a nursery.  It's the most wonderful time of the year, when you are an educator!

But again, there's no good time to lose a baby, and I have to be thankful it happened when it did.  Financially, it worked.  Professionally, it worked.  It work in all the smart ways it should have, and God's timing is never bad.  It could have happened over the holidays, or right now when the baby would be 39 weeks.  All times are bad, so really, I guess I shouldn't complain.

I am sad though, that from now on a time of each year that should be fun and exciting...the end of the school year and start of the summer, will be tainted by our loss.  Jackson's birthday is June 12th.  There is no changing that or getting around it, and there will be no hopping over it or staying in bed that day, because it will probably always be a busy time.

Since we only lost him this year, I can't tell you how that time will be for me next year.  I am dreading it.  But maybe, just maybe, the fact that it's the end of the school year will help me be ok.  There's plenty to do and be excited for, and that may work out in my favor.

So that's my season.  End of the school year and early summer.  Those days will always be hard, but I know I can get through them.  I know Jackson wouldn't want me to be sad at a time where there is supposed to be lots of happiness.  I'll try, baby boy, I'll try.

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October 12, 2014

Day 12: Music

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Day 12 of #captureyourgrief.  Music.

I have one song right now that is my go-to song for this time of my life.  I've talked about it and shared it many times on this blog.  I listen to this song on repeat each day that I take my walk.  I usually get out to walk around 5 times a week.  I walk a little over a mile, sometimes more or less.  I listen to this song, I sing along, I pray, I talk to Jackson, I watch the sunset and take pictures of it, and I just let myself feel whatever I need to feel.  I don't hold back, if I need to cry, I let myself...right there on my walk with cars speeding by and people running up and down the hill.  

I adopted this song a week after we lost Jackson.  I was in the shower and needed a big cry and needed a good song to cry to.  This song came on and the truth and magnitude of the lyrics cut my heart right down the middle.  Trust without borders.  That is what this time of my life is all about.  Trust.  How does one trust God after the loss of a baby or a pregnancy?  I have no clue, but I'm doing it.  I trust Him, I know that HE knows what He is doing, and He will get me through this.

In oceans deep, my faith will stand.  I'm in a deep ocean right now.  But I trust You....

Listen here: Oceans (Where feet may fail) Hillsong United.  This song will forever be known as the song that helped me through our loss.  
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October 11, 2014

Day 11: Altar

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Day 11 of #captureyourgrief is Altar.  In CarlyMarie's terms, this is a place in the home that one honors their baby that has died.  

We don't really have anything like that, at least not yet.  There's not just one part of our house where I sit and think about Jackson and Lily.  I think about them everywhere!  I am working on a small wall that I will put my newly framed pictures on, and maybe an anchor and a shadow box with some memories, but I am not sure I'll call that an altar.

I'm not fully comfortable create a place of "worship" for my dead child.  My worship is for God.  That's a personal choice though, and I think its very sweet to build an altar to honor a baby, if that is something that is going to help someone through this mess.  While grief of a baby dying connects us all (who are doing this) and we are unified in that, it's also a very personal and private road as well.  There are so many things in "grief work" that can help us through this, and we can pick and choose which ones we want to integrate into our journey.

For me, my "Altar" is God.  The feet of Jesus.  Prayer.  Worship.  And I DO spend time with my baby during these times.  I pray for him, I am thankful for him, I ask God to watch over him and let him know how much I love him and miss him.  This altar is all over my world.  In my room, in my kitchen, in my garden, on my walks, in my car, at work, in the shower...everywhere.  I feel like I have had a constant conversation with God since June 12th.  I hardly ever stop talking to Him, or thinking to Him, there is a running commentary in my head to him all the time.  Jackson weaves in and out of those conversations too, many times a day.

Praying to God is a beautiful way to keep Jackson alive in my heart.  Learning to live a life of purpose and meaning and love is a way to keep him "alive" too.  He may not be here, but the memory of him is and... for him and for God, I want to live a good life.  I want to help others.  I want to make meaning of all of this.  I pray daily for that.  I watch for signs of how to help others, and what I can make of this grief.  

So no, I don't really have an altar for Jackson.  But I do have one.  It's existence is everywhere in my life, because Jesus is everywhere in my life.  I know that may sound cliche or cheesy, especially if you don't consider yourself a believer in any of this, but I promise you that life with Jesus is a life that is worth living.  No matter what terrible things happen, no matter who dies or leaves your life.  Jesus makes it better, Jesus makes you stronger, and Jesus will guide you and carry you through it.  He is my anchor.  He is my altar.

Need a place to start?  Try the Bible.  He'll show you the way!

P.S.  As a believer, I do not always agree with the statements that some "Christians" offer us as bereaved parents, such as "God has a plan" or any statement that starts with "At least..." or something like "God let this happen to teach us..."  

Do I believe that God has a plan?  Of course.  But do I like hearing that from someone else when it comes to my baby dying?  No, I'll just take my baby, thank you.  Forget the plan!  I'm not sure that Christians understand that these statements, especially to someone who doesn't believe in God, just push God further away.  And no one likes to hear that at least we can have other babies, or at least we have other children or at least blah blah blah.  I'm sure all these types of "Christian" statements are meant well, and not intended to hurt but to help.  

I think God can work good from bad.  I think He can take heartache and turn it into amazing, beautiful love.  I think He does have a plan, but that's because my baby died, that He can make something wonderful out of something so terrible.  Did He let this happen?  I don't even know how to answer that, as a person of faith.  I do know that He will help me through it, help me understand it, and help me use it to become a better person.  

My hope in saying all this is, that if you are reading this and "on the fence" about faith or God or Jesus, please don't let the insensitive things that Christian people may offer you turn you away.  Seek Him out yourself, and I am positive you will find peace and relief.  Remember that humans in general may say things that make them feel better about the situation, because their hearts are in the right place and they want to help, even though it may not be helpful.  I know it's very hard for someone who has not experienced this specific grief to figure out what the heck to say to us.  I hope that makes sense!  I'm not great at talking about this stuff, but I really wanted to get that out into the grieving parent world.  Jesus loves you, and can and will get you through this, all you have to do is ask, and forget about everything else! 

God bless,

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October 10, 2014

Day 10: Support

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We've had so many people support us and reach out to us since Jackson died.  It's amazing how many people came out from the world to show us love and support.  We absolutely appreciate each and every ounce of support we have gotten, and we cherish those who are still thinking of us and praying for us and sending us hugs everyday...those who check in on us and ask how we are doing and all that good stuff.  

When we first lost Jackson, the support was overwhelming.  Everyone wanted in on helping us out.  People sent us things, and provided dinner and wine and chocolate, and there were cards and Facebook posts and messages, all in those first few days.  Everyone wanted to be a part of it, wanted to know what happened, wanted to talk about it.

As the summer went on, the support, at least that intense kind, slowly dropped away.  I don't mean that in a bad way.  People move on, naturally, because they have lives and it's not their grief, and it's such a sad and taboo subject that no one wants to talk about it.  In my head, I became the girl who everyone was excited for because she was pregnant, to the girl everyone felt sorry for because her baby was stillborn, to the girl who no one wanted to talk to or be around because my baby died and the world doesn't like that.   That's how I felt.  I'm sure that is true in some ways, and totally not true in others.  

Grief is so contradicting too.  In the early days, you don't want to see people, or hear from people.  At least thats how it was with me.  I didn't want the support, I wanted my baby.  I wanted to hide.  Or, I just wanted to pretend that the pregnancy didn't happen at all, we didn't lose anything!  That doesn't mean I didn't appreciate everything people did for us!  I was overwhelmed with the love and the attention, but also with my own extreme grief.  As time went on, I felt ready to accept support, but in my head, the support was gone and all used up.  Plus, in our community - there are very few ways to get support for pregnancy loss.  Friends and family move on and may not want to talk about it as much, there aren't a ton of support groups, and it just feels a little lonely.

Grief makes people like me very sensitive, so I feel things acutely.  The loneliness and sadness and confusion were magnified and so overwhelming.  I can't always see things clearly and I think that was true in those first months.  Support was all around me, it just wasn't a physical thing that I could see or touch or hear.  

Anyways, I'm rambling.  Today is Day 10 of the #captureyourgrief project, and I have to give credit to some very special people.  

Day 10: Support.  Dave & Ash, Mom & Dad, Me, and God.

As for me, the strongest support in these past few months have been Dave and my mom.  I have to thank them because they have seen me at my best and worst in my grieving, and they are still here and still want to help.  They were here, physically.  I didn't really want to see anyone, but they plowed their way to me anyways and I can't thank them enough for that.  They made me get out of bed, or get into bed.  They helped me get out of the house.  They talk with me about my feelings and calm my fears and anxieties.  I can't thank them enough.  My dad, he helps in so many ways too, although he doesn't deal with grief very well and to this day will tear up if we talk about Jackson.  It's too painful for him, and he is dealing, but very slowly and in his own time.  But as for me, he's always checking up on me and making sure I'm doing well.  Ash too, in her own teenage way.  She doesn't mind talking about her brother and what his life meant and talking about the fact that he is in Heaven.

They are all ok with me talking or not talking about Jackson and Lily and the pregnancy as much as I want, I feel safe with them and know that they want to hear it and care, no matter how painful it is for them.  They never think or feel that I should just be over it, or think that I am grieving too much or too little, they accept my grief right where I am, wherever I am.  I am so thankful for that.

God is my biggest supporter.  Even beyond my family.  When I felt lonely, He was there.  When I wanted to hide, He made me be noticed.  He knows what I need and when I need it, and He taught me that I have to actually support myself during this time more than anyone else can.  This is a lonely journey most of the time, because everyone is moving on and the world is still turning, and I have to figure out for myself how to be ok with that and not hate everyone for it!  He helps me figure that out.  He helps me find my own strength.  He has carried me through this, and is still carrying me through, this terrible mess of loss.

Looking back now, I can really see that the beautiful support carried all the way through the summer until right now, it's weaved in and out of my life.  I couldn't see it at the time, but it was there.  It's still there.  Some of the support is physical and I can see it or hear it or touch it, and some of the support is quiet and helping from afar, like with prayers and good thoughts.  The fact is, there are a lot of people out there that love us and have been walking this journey with us, even if we don't see it or hear it.  Support can be invisible...but we can still feel it.  

So thank you, to all of you that have supported us and continue to support us during this tough time.  Your love and prayers have been crucial to us healing so well.  I really feel that way, we have healed very thoroughly so far, and I feel like we need to thank everyone who is reading this for that!
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October 9, 2014

Day 9: In Memory

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This week has been so crazy.  Every night there's something I have had to do that involves running out and getting some errand done.  All the things have been important, but I feel like I'm not taking enough time for me to heal and process this whole month and project, and that is upsetting because this is a crucial time for me to take some time out of my life and relax and heal.  

Tonight, I forced myself to work on a project I've been meaning to do since July.  I really had a vision in my mind of a series of photos I wanted to frame to honor Jackson.  I finally did it!  I was tired and not feeling like being crafty, but I pushed through and am I am so glad I did.  I love how it turned out...

I know the pics are a little hard to see.  The first picture was taken a few weeks after we learned we were pregnant.  I was maybe 7 weeks there.  The next picture is Dave & Ashley, holding Jackson's sweet onesie made by Blythe & Chuck, this was part of our baby announcement.  Dave is wearing the baby's Mickey Mouse ears that I ordered special.  The third picture is Jackson, at his 16 week ultrasound that we went did to make sure he was ok.  His little profile is so perfect in that picture - it's hard to believe that 5 weeks later he would be gone.  The last picture is his name that I drew in the sand at the Outer Banks.  A sweet progression of his short life, and how much we love him.

Then I framed these...

These are pictures that I had made by Carly Marie.  She does amazing beach art memorial photography and I got one made for each twin.  

Sometimes I feel bad that I leave Lily out of my grief work.  I do grieve for her, but honestly not as badly as I do for Jackson.  I guess it's because we only knew about her for exactly 5 minutes, and then we learned "she" was gone.  We didn't have extravagant dreams or plans for her.  But, for those 5 short minutes, I was excited (and terrified) to be the mom of twins.

So there we go.  Day 9 of #captureyourgrief is titled In Memory.  I've got a few more plans for crafts and projects for a small memorial wall, but those will have to wait.  For now, I am proud of these beautiful pictures.

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