A Bereaved Parent’s note to an ER nurse

July is Bereaved Parents Awareness month and before the month ends, I wanted to share an experience I had this year. I recently had my rainbow baby in February after I miscarried two babies within a year of each other. While his birth was wonderful and everything I could hope for, I found myself thinking about the two babies that I had lost and was consumed by some rough feelings. It was difficult trying to navigate the happiness of having a new baby while grieving the “what ifs” of my other children. I started reflecting on my first miscarriage and the experience. Obviously the ER trip was fairly traumatic. I remember every single thing about that day. The world stopped turning and I seem to have flashbacks of all the details surrounding that Sunday. Most of the details are just sad and awful. However, maybe the one “positive” aspect of the day was a wonderful ER nurse who took care of me. I have always wanted to reach out to her to tell her how much her sensitivity and kindness meant to me that day but the fear of not being remembered or seeming crazy stopped me. I worked at the same hospital as her and would occasionally see her in the cafeteria. On the Second Anniversary of my miscarriage, I happened to run into her which seemed like fate especially because me wanting to talk to her weighed so heavily on my heart but was so overwhelmed with emotions that I couldnt say anything to her. However, after I had my rainbow baby, I really wanted to reach out hoping that it would bring some healing and help with the emotions I was having. I found her on Facebook and I sent her this message. (Shared with permission)

“Hi! I am not sure if you remember me or if you will ever see this cause I know Facebook messenger can be a little weird. I just wanted to reach out to you to tell you somethings that have been weighing on my heart. I use to work in ICU as secretary from 2011-2014 and then I moved to work with the general surgeons. In January of 2017, I came into the ER experiencing a miscarriage. I remember every little thing said to me and somedays it still feels like yesterday. I recently had my rainbow baby and the two babies I lost before him have been on my heart. You were my nurse in the ER in 2017 and the only one that truly treated me that day like I had lost a child. You were so kind and even your gentle hand upon my shoulder to help console me spoke so loudly. When the doctor examined me, he stated what he thought was the full intact yolk sac that he had found. I hate myself for not looking at it. You did though and I take comfort in knowing that such a great person got to see what would have been my child. I see you from time to time in the halls or cafeteria and I’ve always wanted to thank you for your kindness but I’ve always been afraid of being too emotional. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your kindness to me that day. Being a nurse, especially in the ER, is one of the most toughest jobs so I want you to know how much you are appreciated and that those hard emotional days matter. Your patients see you and remember you. I’m sorry it has taken me so long to thank you but I just felt a pull to finally do it. Thank you for seeing me and acknowledging my pain. Acknowledging my baby, Page. Thank you for looking at “her” and seeing the beauty of what God creates. Thank you for your kindness and gentleness towards me. Thank you for being such a great caring nurse. I hope you always remember how much you are appreciated because I am sure I am not the only one who feels this way! Thank you!”
I held my breath as I sent it. I was so worried that she may not even see the message or that she wouldn’t respond. Days passed. Weeks passed. No response. I figured it went to an unknown folder and would probably never be seen but I said my piece and went on with my day to day life. Once I did send the message, I felt better so it did help and that was enough for me.

Probably about a month later, I was at Wal-Mart with my family and my 4 year old had to go to the bathroom. (Insert eye-roll) We all headed towards the back of the store and as we turned to go into the area for bathrooms, we passed the nurse I had sent the message to. My heart stopped. Should I say something to her? Stop her? I had my husband take the little one to the bathroom and I paused in the little waiting area. I back tracked to see if I could maybe still see her. When I turned the corner, she had stopped and was still standing there searching her phone. She asked me if I had sent her a message. I said yes and then we exchanged a beautiful long hug where she told me that she did see the message but couldn’t find it to respond! I got to thank her in person and cry a little. She told me how much my words meant to her and that she really needed to read what I said. I got to show her my newest baby. It was a wonderful moment and I was so happy that my words touched her heart. It truly was something beautiful that was able to grow from a moment that was full of despair.

On behalf of bereaved parents: To the nurses and doctors that took care of us and our babies- Thank you for seeing us and our children. Thank you for your bleeding hearts and holding our hands. Thank you for being a small glimmer of light when we felt consumed in darkness. Thank you for doing and saying all the hard things with grace. Thank you for grieving with us. We remember you. We think of you every day as we think of our children. You are a part of stories and lives. Some of you were the only ones to see or hold our children and I hope you know how much that means to us. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

To my amazing ER nurse Bryn,
I will never have enough thank yous nor words. Thank you for allowing me to share OUR story!

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Reclaiming My Birth: A Journey to Healing

  “When traumas, be they extreme or mild, are not resolved they leave behind a slew of painful, unprocessed feelings in the unconscious. These feelings are never content to remain silent and instead clamor for release. When they express themselves openly and without disguise this activates the healing process.” -Daniel Mackler

For the past year and a half, I have been struggling with an inner demon. An inner birth trauma demon. This demon made me full of sadness, anger, guilt, fear, depression,  and anxiety. I felt like I was a ticking bomb just waiting for a single word, person, or image that would set off me off and the flood of emotions would follow.  I have been told that the day your child is born is suppose to be the happiest day of your life. However, I could not correlate happiness to his birth. For that, I hated myself. What was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I just accept my son’s birth story and move on? Through all the crying, panic attacks, and flashbacks, I searched for anything that would help make me feel better. I knew that my husband and I would start trying again for a another child soon and I didn’t want to go into that pregnancy full of fear and anxiety. With time, I was getting better but my heart still felt heavy and anytime I talked about my son’s birth I was always overcome with intense emotions. I wanted to heal. I needed to heal. I was done feeling crappy for something that was in the past that I no longer had any control over. That is when I came across a birth reclaiming ceremony.

What is a birth reclaiming ceremony? It is the process of healing for a woman who feel indifferent about their child’s birth. It allows the mom to release any negative and heavy feelings she may have in her heart about the birth of her child. There is really no set definition on how the ceremony should go. Every mother wants/needs something different to heal so it can be changed and altered to each individual’s need. They normally take place in a peaceful environment similar to what the mom would have wanted for their labor/birth. When I came across the birth reclaiming ceremony information, I knew in my heart that this is what I needed to do for myself. I needed a way to replace my bad memories with good ones. Memories that looked like what I wanted to have. I reached out to a couple of my doula friends to help me conduct the ceremony and they graciously accepted. So I started planning and thinking of what I wanted to do during the ceremony to heal.

I had planned a home birth with my son. I had to be induced in a hospital due to pregnancy induced hypertension, however my blood pressure was never high enough to be put on Magnesium. I had every intervention under the sun and after the birth, I was left feeling defeated, disappointed, and overwhelmed. Going home to where I was suppose to give birth was just as destroying. Everything reminded me of what I didn’t get to have. My mother went to my house and took down all my affirmations and light I had set up so there were not up taunting me when I came through the door but their ghosts still haunted my memories. I knew they were there and it slowly drove me mad. I hated being at the house. But with a newborn, I really didn’t have an option so I was trapped in my own torture house. For the ceremony, I wanted to change the energy of my house to how it was before I came home from the hospital. It was peaceful, warm, full of hope and peace. A year and a half had gone by since my son was born and I finally felt semi ready to do the ceremony so I set the date of April 23rd which was the 2nd anniversary of when I found out I was pregnant. That day was full of so much joy and love and it felt fitting to have the ceremony on that day.

The week leading up to the ceremony I started getting really nervous and having a lot anxiety. What if I didn’t feel better after I did all of this? Would I forever feel broken? I wasn’t sure I would be able to handle the feeling  of “failing” something again. I contemplated calling the whole thing off but I pushed through those emotions. I needed to at least try. I began to set up my birthing space, again, just like I did in December of 2014. I hung up my bright white lights and one by one I took out my hand written affirmations to hang them on the wall. At this point, I was starting to feel really upset. I remembered writing those when I was pregnant. I remembered being so excited for my birth. If only I knew then what I know now. I wept when I read my affirmation, “It is almost over. You can hold your baby soon.” I felt naive and stupid. I put so much pressure on myself for everything to be perfect that my world turned upside down when that didn’t happen. I blew up my birth pool and I sat in my living room looking around wishing that I felt the same as I did the very first time I set it up.  There wasn’t relief of finally having everything ready only saddness of what could have been.

The 23rd approached and I braced myself for the emotional day ahead. The morning went smoothly, I texted my friends to give them the run down on how the afternoon would go and to make sure everything was in place. I had my three doula friends coming, each had a specific role as my “Guardians of Grief”. “T” was my photographer. I so longed to have beautiful pictures of my birth and it definitely upsets me that I have nothing to look back on so I wanted to make sure this day was well documented. “S” was my spiritual director. We share the same religion so I knew she would be able to open the ceremony with what would comfort me the most. “A” was my peace bringer. She was going to be my voice of forgiviness, hope, and healing when I wouldn’t be able to speak. All three together had a beautiful energy that they brought to the ceremony and I was so blessed to have each of them “doulaing” me through the process. I played my birthing playlist while I made my son’s BIRTHday cake. I wanted to add little elements that were suppose to happen at his original birth and one of those things was a cake for when he arrived earthside. I wasn’t  exactly sure how I would react at the ceremony. I had cried alot the past couple of days and I wasn’t sure if I had anymore tears to cry or if I would feel too embarrassed to really let go of my emotions.

4pm rolled around and all my candles were lit. The birth pool was filled with water, an herbal bath mixture that I was suppose to do after I had my son, and some flowers that I thought would look pretty on camera. I had my playlist playing, lights turned off, cake cooling, and I sat waiting for everyone to arrive. I was full of anxiety but knew there was no way to back out now. “T” arrived first and I showed her into my home, into my “birthing space”. She gave me a hug after she put down her things and I immediately started crying. She told me how strong I was for doing this. I didn’t really have the words to say but I think she knew that.  “S” arrived next and I met her at the door. She greeted me with a hug while saying, “Happy Birthing day, mama.” Cue more tears. I was trying to be strong but this day was long overdue and I knew I wouldn’t be able to resist my emotions. “T” started taking picture of my affirmations and my space. “S” was reading them all and “A” arrived and joined her in soaking in the enviroment.

After a little bit, I told “S” I was ready to beginning. She had several prayers picked out and they were beautiful.

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Next, we lit incense because I told them in the bible it says to let your prayer rise like incense and it was important to me to have that symbolism. We took turns saying uplifting words and releasing those positive feelings into the atmosphere. We said words like; healing, strength, love, acceptance, peace, forgiveness, hope, ect. It was a great start to the ceremony before we headed into the heavier stuff. DSC_0043 (4)

Next, we all sat down and I told them I wanted to recreate my birth story. I wanted a new story, one that would reflect what I originally wanted. My “Guardians” went above and beyond what I expected and actually helped me act out several things that would have happened had I been in real labor. They treated me just like how they would have if I was having my baby right then and there. We wrote a new story for myself. One where my water broke during the night, where I could walk around my neighborhood during contractions, I could sit on a birthing ball, I could get on my hands and knees to help with all the back labor I was having, I could get in the pool to birth my baby. They encouraged me to breathe and make low moaning noises just like I would have done if I was in labor. By this point, I could hardly control my tears. I broke down several times. Everytime, all that I could think of was, “This is how it should have been.” I stayed on my hands and knees for awhile leaning on the birthing ball. My son was positioned weird and I had major back labor the entire time I labored and I always said that if I could have gotten on my hands and knees it would have made everything so much easier. I stayed in this position, imaging my back labor away. “S” used a rebozo, applied counter pressure, and did some hip squeezes. Everything that could have been done had things gone as planned. Everyone took turns reading my birth affirmations out loud. It was perfect. I started feeling a little lighter. They didn’t rush me into the pool, they knew that would be my last step and “T” encouraged me to take my time to make sure I was ready.

 

A calm rushed over me and I felt ready to get in the pool. By that time the water was freezing cold and I wasn’t sure if I would actually be able to stay in for very long but I had to finish this part of the ceremony. This part was the most important part. I got in and I just sat there. I didn’t feel an overwhelming sadness like I did with the birthing ball. I honestly can’t explain how I felt. It was almost as if I was wondering in the woods not knowing where to go. This was the end of my journey. I was almost done. Slowly everything that had happened started seeming so small to me. I told “A” I was ready for her to read the letter I had written to myself. She began to read,

“Dear Sabrina,

          I know you. You are the girl that hates disappointing people. You are the girl that wants everyone to like her. You are the girl that says yes rather than no. You are the girl that wants everything to be planned and perfect. You are the girl that dwells. I know you. I hear you inside of me, crying, bearing the weight of the world. You put so much pressure on yourself and when you break, it is hard to put the pieces back together again. For the past year and a half, you have been broken. Right now, we will heal. We will stop obsessing and dwelling. We will let go and let the light of peace in. We had that light once. We were unafraid and ready to conquer the world. We can get that Sabrina back. It is time to heal.                                                                                                                             I won’t tell you that nothing you could have done would have changed what happened. That is most likely not true. You know that. However, I will tell you that nothing you do, no matter how many times you cry, no matter how many times you replay your story, will change the events that happened during those days. They happened. Your tears happened. Decisions were made. Whether or not they were the best options, they happened. Orin happened. Orin was born into this world on Dec.19th, 2014. You did that. He happened. Hypertension, induction, cervidil, external monitors, artificial rupture of membranes, Pitocin, confinement to the bed, internal monitors, epidural, foley catheter, fever, shortness of breath, an oxygen mask, purple pushing, 30 min time frame to push baby out before C-section threats, no immediate skin to skin, a kidney infection, and breathing treatments happened. All these things happened to you during the first 2 and half days of your hospital stay. You were disappointed, overwhelmed, sad, mad, and afraid. Afraid. You weren’t afraid of labor. You were afraid of disappointment. You were afraid of being judged. You were afraid of not being perfect. Everything you had planned, everything you prepared yourself for, was slowly slipping out of your grasp. You were afraid of not only failing yourself but the whole world as a birthing statistic.
       For the past year and half you have felt like one big birthing failure. You have tried to compare yourself to other birthing moms and you have tried to think of other things you could have said or done so as to have a different outcome than what you got. You don’t need to, Sabrina. This birth doesn’t define you. You are so much more than that labor. You did deserve the birth you wanted. You deserved evidenced based care and time to birth, not interventions especially when you and your baby were not at risk. I’m sorry you didn’t get what you wanted. I’m sorry you couldn’t bring Orin into this world filled with peace and on his own time. I’m sorry that you feel like you failed yourself and Orin. You didn’t. You did not fail. To every place in life, there are different paths and you just happened to end up on the bumpy, crazy path. Your end destination would have been the same but the difference was the path you had to take left you drained, worn, and torn emotionally. It is time to get on a new path. Don’t look behind you. Leave that journey in the dust. Yes, you still had to walk it and it will forever be a part of you but you do not have to continue to stay on that path. Let it go. Let go of all the fear, anger, sadness, disgust, and disappointment. Be at peace knowing that you didn’t get what you wanted but you now know better and you are going to rise as a stronger mother, doula, and woman because of it. Don’t let your heart stay burdened with this negativity. It’s ok to not love your son’s birthing story but it is not ok to hate yourself because of it. You cannot control what happened in the past but you can try to help prevent that event from happening again. Your next birth will be different. No two births are the same. I can’t promise it will be picture perfect but it will be different. And this time you will be prepared for whatever life throws at you.
         Forgive yourself. Forgive your doctors. Forgive anyone who ever had anything negative to say. Start fresh. Remember this day. Remember the emotions. Look around and take it in, replace your sad memories with new ones. Let this day define you, as a mother who is taking charge of her birth and emotions and healing. You are stronger than you know and you will not allow yourself to be controlled by the past anymore. Breathe in peace and exhale anxiety. You are amazing. You are brave. You are strong. Reclaim your birthing power. This is what you were supposed to have, own this moment. Let everything go and open your heart to love and light. Place all your sufferings at the foot of Jesus and let him carry you. You can do all things through him. You are enough and deserve to be happy. Let it all go and move on. Orin loves you. Rory loves you. Love yourself. Breathe in peace, exhale anxiety. Reclaim Orin’s birth. Reclaim yourself. Reclaim your confidence. Be still and be at peace. ”

“You did deserve the birth you wanted” I broke down. I wept. I let everything that had been held inside me for the past year and a half out and when I was done I felt like whatever had it’s hold on me had let go. I felt like all the bricks laying on my chest had been lifted off. I felt lighter. I felt peace. I let it all go. I replaced every single bad memory with a memory that was peaceful and full of love. I felt new and relieved. I was ready for them to bring my baby in. I felt like the mother he deserved when he was born. He came in and I was full of love and happiness. We did symbolic cord burning which was what we would have done at his birth. We burned away any other negative emotion that might have been and we burned away the ties to his past birth that had held me down. I accepted what I couldn’t change and I vowed to look brightly on the future and future births. We got out of the water and we ate his BIRTHday cake. I didn’t want to have a formal end because I didn’t feel like it needed an ending. The healing, acceptance, and relief was enough and I always want that to continue.

 

I love my son. I am so happy he is here. Now, I can be at peace with how he arrived. I will never fully be healed and that is ok, but at least I can say I found some peace to be able to move on from all my negative feelings and anxiety that was caused by his birth. I started this journey terrified for my next birth and I am now ready to try again. I believe  that if you are feeling down about your birth I would strongly urge you to consider a birth reclaiming ceremony. It doesn’t have to be exactly like mine. You know what you need to do to heal, if only a little bit. Some progress is still progress. Please reach out to your local doula and let them help you try to find some peace. I know how dark and lonely birth trauma can leave you. You are not alone. Reach out to me and I will personally help, no matter the distance. Everyone should have the right to be heard and try to heal. It worked for me, it might be able to work for you. Time plays no part. Trauma memories feel like events that recently happened so it is never too late! There is a whole community out there wanting to help you. Find your peace. Sometimes birthing without fear looks like birthing with fear but later coming back to fight those fears off and rise as a stronger, more peaceful person. I gave birth, not how I wanted too but without all those trials I wouldn’t be the same person I am now. I am thankful for the opportunity to grow and learn. “Out of suffering have emerged the stongest souls.” Those who feel as I did, I wish you nothing but peace and the strength to heal. Don’t rush yourself. In time, you will be ready and when that day comes, I hope you can find your inner peace again. Love and light to all.

Yes, sometimes Breastfeeding sucks.

Before I even knew I was pregnant, I knew I was going to breastfeed my children. I set goals for myself. I wanted to experience that beautiful, unbreakable bond. I wanted to gaze into my child’s eyes while giving them something that only I could make. Something that would make them grow healthy and strong. I wanted to love breastfeeding and tell women all about my awesome experience. I knew that the beginning would be rough. I knew that it could hurt at first as my nipples and breast adjusted to this new way of life. I knew I might experience mastitis, cracked or bleeding nipples, clogged ducts, and maybe even an occasional tooth biting me here or there. I took classes. I looked up almost every and any resource I could find. I looked forward to it.
Then I had my son.
The day he was born, as I walked from my postpartum room to the NICU where he was staying, I was going to try to breastfeed my son for the first time. I was trying to remain positive after my 43 hour traumatic labor experience because at least I had breastfeeding to look forward to. I prayed that breastfeeding would be something that would maybe go right. As I sat down in the rocking chair, in my son’s little area of the NICU, the nurse handed me my little baby, maybe the third time that I had gotten to hold him, and helped me to get him positioned with pillows and such. My nipples would not stick out very far though and we squeezed my breast and pressed them up against my son’s mouth. He was opening his mouth but, to him, he couldn’t find anything to latch to. We switched back and forth between breasts and tried changing baby’s position. I had several nurses come in trying to help us but nothing worked. Baby boy just wanted to sleep. I was leaking some colostrum so we collected it and put it in syringes for when he woke up later. One of the nurses gave me a nipple shell hoping that would help things a little. So I put them in my bra and went back to my room even more emotional upset then when I went in. I failed. I couldn’t even breastfeed the way I had hoped. But I was not going to give up.
I wore the shells and I went back to my baby. The shells created what seemed like fake nipples for him to be able to latch. We tried the left and he rooted and tried to latch but could not get it and was starting to get frustrated. The nurses all came in squeezing, squishing, moving baby’s head, just trying to get him on. But then my “fake nipple” soon disappeared so we went to the other side. On the right side, we worked to get him latched. He found the nipple that was created by the shell right away and started sucking but he wasn’t opening his mouth wide enough so it was very painful. So, of course, we had to unlatch him to get his latch wide enough so that it didn’t hurt. As soon as we unlatched though my nipple was becoming nonexistent again and he couldn’t find anything to stay latched on to. We worked and worked and worked. Finally, we just gave him some of the syringes of colostrum and I went back to my room with my shells and wept.
Fast forward through a week in the hospital of inverted nipples, struggling with getting my son to latch, finding he has a tongue and lip tie causing him to not be able to open wide enough to get a correct latch, tons of people pushing supplementing, a million break downs, jaundice, seriously considering just pumping, and then finally, a nipple shield. The NIPPLE SHIELD was my best friend. However, it still took us awhile every feeding to get a “good enough” latch so he could eat. He was constantly knocking it off and we would have to start over but when I got him on, boy did he eat. He was a marathon nurser. I only ever nursed on 1 side usually because he was latched for 30 to 40 min. His latch wasn’t perfect because I was still having pain but I didn’t care. It was worth it. He was gaining weight and taking in 3ozs at only a week old. It was crazy. But we got to go home.
Home.  Everyone said when we could go home things would get better. But it didn’t. I could only feel comfortable feeding him in the football position on our bed. I tried feeding him in other positions but we would struggle even longer than the 15 minutes it took to get him latched. We went to visit the Lactation Consultant and she told me just to work on trying to get his latch wider and start working on weaning him off of the nipple shield. I tried nursing him in the car that afternoon. I spent 30 minutes trying to get him to latch which included hitting the nipple shield, which was full of milk, off several times. I was soaked in my own milk, sobbing, and I vowed I would never try that again. So every feeding I was back at home,in my bedroom, on my bed, in the football position. Every feeding we struggled for about 10 mins to get latched and then he nursed for about 35 to 50 min on 1 side. With the nipple shield. With pain.
I cried. A lot. I didn’t feel this special bond. I hated that it was so hard for him to eat. I hated that I felt isolated. I hated that I hated it. But I kept on.
I had hoped when he got older that he would naturally get a wider latched as his mouth got bigger. That didn’t happen. So we went to see a doctor about his ties around 3 months and we got everything corrected. I prayed this would help and that everything would magically get easier and that I would love it. Nothing changed. No matter how I tried to adjust his lips or unlatch and relatch, I still had pain. I still had my nipple shield. My nipples would turn purple like they were bruised and about after 20 mins, I would always cry in pain. I used nipple cream like candy. I reached out for donor milk for those sessions where my nipples were too sore to nurse. Plus I was going back to work full-time and I had anxiety about being about to pump enough. I found a wonderful mother and we started giving my son bottles of pumped milk while I was at work or when I just couldn’t nurse anymore. I still tried to nurse whenever I could but around 4 1/2 months something changed. He started sucking different making our nursing sessions even more difficult than they already were. I was working full time. I would come home after working all day and soon after, my son would be ready to nurse so I would go to the bedroom and be back there trying to nurse for over an hour. By myself. And then it would be bedtime and I would go to sleep. My life turned into work, breastfeed, sleep, repeat, no change. I was already dealing with some postpartum depression steaming from my emotions from my traumatic birth and my isolated breastfeeding, which was sucking everything out of me, was driving me deeper and deeper in the darkness of depression.
At 5 months, I was in the darkest hole. I felt dead inside. The thought of stopping to breastfeed made me depressed but the act of breastfeeding was depressing me too. I was stuck. I couldn’t win. I had to get help. I reached out to numerous support groups and it helped some. Then, on Mother’s day, as my son and I did our usual fight to get latched and feed for an hour, which was the most painful time in our relationship because he was sucking differently. He was struggling. He was getting use to the bottle coming out right away, he didn’t want to work for the let downs anymore. I looked at him and said, “Ok. This is not benefitting you anymore. I worked so hard for the past 5 months to give you what I felt was best. Through all our struggling, you grew. You were healthy and happy. It was ok to stop. I can still pump and give you milk that way.” So I stopped. While it hurt that I wasn’t physically breastfeeding, it wasn’t destroying me. I started feeling even better emotionally. I was pumping and happy.
I pumped for the next 2 months until my supply was almost non-existent. I was tired of fighting my body. I was still getting donor milk so I stopped pumping too. And it was ok. I grew to understand that it was the breast milk that was important to me. As long as he was getting it, I could be ok. I know I will probably get some comments on why  didn’t I just use formula especially because fed is best but I know it is hard to understand if you weren’t in my shoes. Sometimes things don’t make sense. You don’t have to understand why I fought for so long when their were easier methods. This was important to me. My birth was important to me. I guess a part of me thought because my birth was completely opposite of what I wanted, I needed to fight even harder for the breastfeeding relationship I pictured. Do not belittle my choices or disregard my journey or emotions. Just accept it. For other women out there struggling, they need to feel accepted. They need to hear my story. It is ok to hate breastfeeding but do it anyways. It is ok that it didn’t come naturally to you.
My son is 15 months. He had his last taste of breast milk at a little over a year old. I never had mastitis or a clogged duct so for that I am thankful. He was sleeping through the night at about 3 months. He started walking at 10 months. He has like 8 teeth. He is happy. He is loved. I am not perfect. I did not fail him or myself. Even though towards the end, it wasn’t my breastmilk he was getting, it was definitely given to him with all of my love and I could not have asked for more. So while I didn’t get my beautiful, bonding breastfeeding relationship where I could nurse wherever and whenever, I still got a beautiful little boy who loves me with his whole heart. I did that. Not the breastmilk. I couldn’t give him a graceful entrance into this world but his first year was filled with love. Even through all the struggles and pain, it was all for love. That I could control.

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Sometimes “I love you” looks like…

As I drove to work this morning, I found myself trying to remember if I told my husband that I loved him before I left. It might seem silly but we always say, “I love you” whenever we depart from each other. The reason is a little morbid but if it was the last time that we would be able to see each other at least we will have that one last “I love you”. We never leave the house upset because we would never want the other person to live with those kinds of emotions that they would regret forever. I sat at the red light debating on calling him to tell him that I love him and that I hoped he would have a good day at work. Right before I did, my mother’s words popped into my mind, “Actions speak louder than words sometimes.” As I reflected a moment, I realized that I didn’t need to call him. Yes, he knows that I love him. I think saying “I love you” is still very important but sometimes the proof is in the things we do in our every day lives. They can often speak greater than words ever could.

Sometimes “I love you” looks like:

-Letting him sleep in till his alarm goes off for work.

-Making a pot of coffee before you leave even though you don’t drink it but you know your husband likes it.

-Using the backdoor instead of the noisy front door when others are sleeping.

-Washing dirty bottles left over from the night before.

-Taking out the trash

-Pouring the left over fast food drink down the drain before putting it in the garbage.

-Not sighing when you are eating noodles or hot dogs for the third time that week.

– Changing the channel to Disney Junior when the kids are around without being asked

-Being ok when you are trying to take a hot shower and “someone” (not naming any names) has to barge in the bathroom and poop.

– Rubbing her feet after a long day even if you feel like yours was longer

– “You’re right”

–  “I’m sorry”

–  Offering to do the evening sacrifice of children to the soap and water gods. (Yes it is that dramatic.)

–  Actually knowing where you want to go / what you want for dinner.

–  Not judging when she eats a big bowl of ice cream after her 2 bowls of mac and cheese…

–  Picking up a gallon of milk when you notice it is getting low.

–  Understanding that just because someone isn’t in the mood for sex it doesn’t mean they don’t love you.

– Watching a Disney movie for 100th time.

– Watching Ghostbusters for the 100th time.

– Midnight Superhero movie premiers.

–  Holding hands at Walmart.

– Putting the Desitin on the baby’s butt when your wife gets new fake nails so it doesn’t get under her nails.

– Playing Rock, Paper, Scissors to decide who has to change the dirty diaper.

– “You look beautiful”…. when she is wearing sweats.

–  Just letting her be alone and cry sometimes.

–  Not letting her be alone and cry sometimes.

–  Tagging them in everything on Facebook that you think they would love.

–  Waiting to watch new movie trailers until you can watch them together.

– A make out session with no strings attached.

– Keeping the conversation going during car rides or dinner.

– Just wanting it to be the two of you for an evening… And organizing it.

– Praying for each other.

– Taking showers together and not getting frisky.

– Sex. When someone isn’t the mood, if both are in the mood, or no one is.

– No sex. When someone isn’t in the mood.

– Doing the dishes

– Forgiveness

– Accepting that your significant other farts.. alot… and they stink.

– Laughing until you cry

And sometimes “I love you” looks like deciding that even though you drive each other crazy, are a little sleep deprived, and barely get enough “me” time, you want to bring another life into this world. A perfect mixture of you and the one you love. Someone that is the perfect example of your love. That is where I come in. A doula gets to witness at birth the love you not only have for each other but also for your child.  We get to watch that love grow and strengthen for 9 months.  It is a true privilege getting to watch the best example of “I love you”.

What are the different ways you and your significant other say “I love you” ?

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To my friend who lost her baby.

 

My beautiful, strong friend, what I wouldn’t give to be able to take away the pain you feel right now. I wish I could make everything better.

I still think about her all the time. I want you to know this. When we speak, sometimes I feel like you are embarrassed by your grief. You never have to be. I will never fully understand what you are feeling but my heart is broken too. If you want to talk about her. Please talk about her. Tell me about how you miss her. Tell me how you are angry at God. Tell me you are glad she isn’t suffering. Let everything out. I will always listen and I will always tell you that you have every right to feel those things. I will never stop you from being upset. I only offer my unconditional love and support. I have nothing else to give you. It may not make things any better but maybe it will make things easier for you in time.

I will completely understand when you grow distant at times. The texts won’t come as often and you won’t want to talk to me as much. You need time and space to heal. I promise to be here waiting for you. I won’t question you or think of you as a bad friend. I will see you as a person, as a mother, who lost the light of her life. I will understand that it might hurt you to see and hear me talk about my light. I know it is not because you do not love us. It is ok for your heart to devote all of its love to your baby. We will be here when you are ready and I will catch you up on all that you have missed.

I will never judge you. If you want another baby right away, great. If you want to wait, fantastic. I will never pressure or persuade you towards either direction. Only you know what is best for you and I will trust you and be happy with your decision. When you do decide to have another child, I will be excited for you. However, I will not dismiss the child you had before. This child does not cancel out the other one. I will understand that you will be even more anxious and paranoid during this pregnancy and that is ok. I will answer every text, every call. When you need me to tell you, “Yes, that is normal”, I will always be there.  It is ok to be afraid. I want you to know that it is ok to love another child. You do not have to feel guilty about having another baby. Siblings are not a bad thing. Having another child does not mean you love your angel baby any less. Having more children does not divide your love, it multiplies it. Not only will this child be surrounded by an abundance of love from mommy and daddy but also a watchful guardian angel.

When months have passed and seasons have changed, I will always think of her. She happened. She lived. She was here.  I never want you to feel like this is something you have to get over. Though her life was short, the love you gave her and still give her is never ceasing. How powerful and beautiful a mother’s love is. She will always feel you and you will always feel her. You carried her inside of you and because of that, she is forever a part of you. These past several months, I have learned a great deal about love and all the joy and pain that goes with it. How someone so small can make such gigantic footprints on someone’s heart is a beautiful thing. I know you miss her. I know you cry for her. Never be ashamed of that. You deserve to grieve for however long it takes. One day, you will wake up and miss her but it will hurt a little less. When that day comes, I will be here to talk about her. She will have siblings and cousins who will know her name. She will have a family that celebrates her birthday. We don’t want to forget her. No one wants you to forget her and move on. One day, you will smile at the mention of her name and not feel an overwhelming sadness. That day doesn’t have to be anytime soon. Take your time. While you do, I will continue to listen to you and comfort you.  My friend, I will always be here for you. I love you and your beautiful little girl. Always.

 

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“Look how she lights up the sky.”