Tuesday, May 25, 2010


I could never use Peyton's room for another baby. It is just too full of sadness. I look at the room, and remember what it was to collapse into it. I see the gifts that lay unopened, and the life that went unlived. I pass that room with my eyes cast downward, and only rarely, when my heart or mood compels me to do so, venture in.

I feel taunted at times by that little room. It calls to me from behind its closed door with an emptiness that reminds me of what I will never have. Peyton is gone. She never came home and she never will. The bunny waiting in her crib will never be cuddled. The hand crocheted blanket will never give her warmth. That room remains empty, and in doing so, that room remains cruel.

I have given a lot of thought to that little room. If I had it my way, I might cement the door shut. Or cut it off from this house completely. But then there would be the cement, reminding me of what is behind it, and I would be back at square one.

When we bought this house, we termed the little room with the big windows "the baby's room," long before we even started trying to conceive. It just felt like the perfect little room - bright, full of sunshine with views of trees and birds outside the window. It faces away from the street, so passing cars would never interrupt a child's sleep with the sound of their engines, or the cascade of their headlights across the walls. For months we planned Peyton's homecoming. Decorating the room. Washing and folding tiny clothes. Plugging outlets. Now, over a year and a half after her death, this little room sits stagnant, veiled by a layer of dust and time.

There is this Superchick song "Beauty From My Pain," that has become a bit of a rallying cry for me, a mantra, my theme song. If you'd like to hear the song, it's in my playlist. The entire song really touches me, but especially these lines:

Here I am, at the end of me
Trying to hold to what I can't see
I forgot how to hope
This night's been so long
I cling to your promise
There will be a dawn

After all this has passed
I still will remain
After I've cried my last
There'll be beauty from pain
Though it won't be today
Someday I'll hope again
And there'll be beauty from pain
You will bring beauty from my pain

This song has gotten me thinking about this journey, and though it has been the most difficult time of my life, there has also been beauty, in the form of a gift that my daughter left for me here on earth - my words.

I always "liked" to write, but was too busy to invest any time into it. Peyton, in her own little way, reminded me as she was leaving this world, that I should write how I was feeling, and for me, that has been the "beauty from my pain."

My writing has comforted me. It has been cathartic and healing and therapeautic, and at odd times, through exploring fiction writing, has allowed me to escape all of this, and so it just feels right that when I finally feel peace about packing up Peyton's things, and filling that little room with new purpose, that it should be as a writing space. Long time readers of this blog will say, "yes, we know, you have mentioned this before" and I have, but something I received recently makes the transition feel more possible, and makes me feel a little more brave.

I was speaking with my friend Angie over at, among other places, Still Life 365. Angie is an incredibly talented writer and artist. I expressed to Angie that I needed something beautiful, a piece of artwork to breathe new purpose into that little room. I wanted a starting point, something that would make the process of  transitioning the room from a place of cribs, changing tables, and diapers, to one housing books, dictionaries, and inspiration, feel more possible.

I needed a focal point.
I needed something to remind me of the beauty of this journey.
I needed inspiration.

Anyone who knows Angie, knows that her life has recently gotten a little more busy with the birth of her adorable son, so you can imagine my surprise when she contacted me to let me know that she had something coming for me in the mail. I went to the post office, and found this waiting for me...

Angie calls the piece "Inspiration and Instinct." Isn't it beautiful?

The quote along the top is a favorite of mine by James Thurber. It says, "Don't get it right. Just get it written."

She explained the piece to me, saying :

"The image itself I wanted to make fantastical and accessible. I made your hair long and flowing to give it an air of exaggeration, as well as extend your arms out to encompass novels and ideas. I have an old dictionary/ encyclopaedia, and I thought it would be cool to cut out the definitions for inspiration and instinct...

I thought it would be cool if you were inspiring not just painted swirling ideas, bits of paper, literature, but also these butterflies and moths, each an inspiration. Moths I always associate with night, and butterflies day, so they are supposed to inspire work day and night. I actually thought of painting them, but liked that between your hands was both fiction and non-fiction; painted and from a book."

Seeing this painting, holding it, brushing my hands across the canvas - it just felt "right." It is beautiful, and inspiring, and compels me to write. This painting needs a home, and I know that home is the little yellow room. Having this painting here, I am feeling a little more brave because it helps me to see myself in there, writing away and feeling Peyton all around me.

Thank you so much Angie!

*Angie's artwork, as well as many other fabulous items, are available at her Etsy store. You can visit that here: Kenna Twins


Please join me in praying for a little baby boy named Gether who was born on 5/19 at 5 weeks premature. He has overcome many battles (including his heart stopping twice) and needs prayers for strength and healing. xx 

Saturday, May 22, 2010

What should I say?

I spoke with a very compassionate woman today. She looked up at me with tears in her eyes upon hearing about Peyton and my infertility and asked... "What can I say? What would help?"

I struggled to answer her.

"Nothing," was the only response that felt true. "There is nothing that anyone can say."

Monday, May 17, 2010

1 Year and 175 Posts Later - Happy Blogoversary to me.

I started this journey, a full year ago today, on May 17th of last year, with a single desperate poem.

(Mother's) Day
Where I had imagined breakfast in bed,
I found only tears on my pillow.
Where I had imagined flowers and a card,
I found only flowers on her grave.
Where I had imagined a home of happy chaos and noise,
I found only weeping through silence.
Where I had imagined my child at my chest,
I found only emptiness and aching. 
Where I had imagined Motherhood celebrated,
I found only another painful reminder of loss.

~Kristin Binder

I can still remember how it felt to post that first time. Sitting home, crying, I couldn't help but wonder how the world could be so cruel.

I was seven months into my grief. Seven months into feeling alone, and misunderstood, and like I had no place to go and be heard. I was seven months into hearing platitudes like:

"everything happens for a reason"
"at least you know who your angel is"
"she's in a better place"
"this too shall pass"
"at least she was so young so you didn't really get to know her"
"it is God's will"
"time heals all things"
"God doesn't give you more than you can handle"

I was seven months in, I had the love and support of my family and friends, and yet, I felt so very, very alone. 

That first day my post didn't get any comments. I was this blog's only reader and knew it was quite possible that no one would ever find it, but none of that mattered to me. I had something I felt compelled to document, about what it was to outlive my only child, and this page, with its simple template, allowed an opportunity for that. 

I didn't know what I would say, or that anything I had to say was of any value. I didn't know that my words here would ever be read, but as that poem poured from me, I felt something - relief. It was cathartic. Healing. Freeing. My message was out there, my story was being told, and even if this page never garnered an audience, a hundred years from now, it would still be out there. A living history of that day, my first Mother's Day, without my child.

When I started this blog, I had never really read a blog (beyond the one my sister created to keep family informed of Peyton's health) or knew about this online community. I had no idea that over the course of the next year, I would meet so many women (and a few men too) who, like me, hurt for the children they loved and lost, or for the pain of having parenthood remain unfairly out of reach. 

Writing here brought me into this amazing online forum, a place where reading the pages of others who have walked this road, and posting comments in response to what they have written, opens up a form of dialogue that does as much (if not more) for the healing of my broken heart, than any drugs, or therapies could ever manage. Just as I have shared my daughter, my journey, and my thoughts with you, you have shared yourselves with me.

On that first day last May, I could never have fathomed what this blogging world would come to mean for me, the friends I would make here, or the way your stories would touch my heart and change my life. I couldn't have imagined that such a huge world of babyloss existed outside of my own heartache, or how bittersweet a feeling it would be, to meet some of the incredible writers in this community, to feel truly blessed to have them in my life, and know all the while that it is only through pain and loss, that we have come together.

Over the course of this year I have gone from the darkest depths of grief, to living with my grief. I have gone from never wanting to hold another child, to building up the courage to try again, to battling with unexplained infertility, the discovery of my blocked tubes, and our latest trials and tribulations with IVF. This road has been hard to navigate, and yet, behind each twist and turn, this community has been there, guiding, supportive, and full of compassion, and for this, I am forever grateful.

I guess that's really what this post is about. About saying Thank You. From the bottom of my heart. Thank you. For coming here and reading my words without judgement. For bringing wisdom to some truly impossible situations with your comments, and for never leaving me to travel this road alone. Thank you.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Tending To Our Wounds

"Don't you think it's unhealthy to talk about it all the time?"
"Don't you worry about what people will think if they read your blog?"
"Is writing about it really what you should be doing now? It's been over a year..."

When I was in college, my five roommates and I worked at a certain world famous theme park. One day I came home complaining about a man who I had called security on for having exposed himself. Nutty park patrons were something we all dealt with daily, and my story kicked off a sort of round table of griping about the weirdos that colored our days. I thought my story was the strangest, that was until one of my roommates, a hostess at a park restaurant blurted out, "you think you deal with weirdos, girl you don't know weird until you have dealt with the 'towel baby'. "

'Towel baby' was just that - a towel, dressed with sunglasses and a hat to resemble a baby. The park patrons who brought 'towel baby' were regulars at the parks, such regulars in fact that my roommate had been instructed during her training that she (and all the other employees) were to follow along with the couple's delusion.

When waiting on their table, staff were to comment on how cute 'towel baby' was, take food orders for 'towel baby', and treat 'towel baby' as they would any other child at the park. As they ate, the couple would sneak bits of food away from the table, to give the illusion that the child had eaten it himself. My roommate told me that she had heard that the couple had lost their child, and under the pressure of grief, the wife snapped one day and began treating the towel as it were her child. Not wanting to upset his wife's already delicate mental state, the husband went along with the front.

Many who heard the story of 'towel baby' would write her off as a wacko and laugh. I even came across a forum once devoted to making fun of this woman. In the years since I heard the story, I have often wondered how it was that someone could be driven to such a place mentally.

Nine years, and one dead child later, I have a little bit better idea.

I was telling the story of 'towel baby' over our IBMD lunch, when one of the mothers I was lunching with told me about a woman who lived on her street when she was a kid. She said the woman had lost her child, and would spend her days walking up and down the block, pushing a stroller with a doll in it. She believed the doll was her child. Neighborhood kids would taunt the woman, even going so far as to throw the doll into the river. "She believed it was her baby," this mother told me. "Can you imagine how traumatic that was for her to see what she thought was her baby being thrown into the river?"

The story was heartbreaking.

Images of bereaved mothers are often portrayed in movies and on television as women who have simply snapped. On the show One Tree Hill, a nanny went crazy and tried to replace her dead child, with the boy who was under her care. The villain in the movie The Hand That Rocks The Cradle went insane after, among other things, miscarrying a child.

Do you see a theme here?

Urban legends, literature, movies, the media, each offer depiction after depiction of women who have not only lost their children, but their minds, and honestly, having lived this nightmare of loss, the assumption that losing a child can send a woman over the edge doesn't feel all that far fetched.

There are no words to describe what it is to go on living after your child has died. No words to describe what that does to a person, or how it feels. For me, compound that loss with infertility, and the list of descriptors grows longer by the day.

Gut wrenching.

These are a few I would use, but even they don't do it justice.

My grandmother lost two babies back before women could talk about losing a baby. I thank God that she went on to have more children (one of which was my mother who went on to have me) but I don't really know how she did it. Especially not back then. Back then, some women would put on brave faces. Others became shut ins. Many, unfortunately, were unable to fall in line with society's expectations and grew too hopeless to go on living. Whenever I hear comments made to other BLM's about moving on, I think of these women, and I cringe. Is that what pushed them over the edge? One too many people passing judgement on their grief?

What society doesn't understand is that grief is not a phase, or a choice. Anyone who believes that the grieving have any choice in the matter are either incredibly lucky for having never faced anything so painful in their own life, or incredibly foolish. As a bereaved parent, you can choose to put your best face on, you can choose to put your best foot forward, and still end up drowning in your own tears because of the many varied day to day reminders of what you had with your child, what was lost with your child, and what never will be for your child. It is a long and nasty process, and if there were any choice in the matter, the bereaved would take it. We want to be free of our heartache but it just isn't that simple.

My child died.
It was horrific to watch.
There is no cure for that.

I started this blog nearly a year ago (5/17/09) with a poem I had written about Mother's Day. It was my first Mother's Day, a day I had envisioned during my pregnancy, and one that I was being forced to spend without her. That first Mother's Day was full of grief. My second was grief and anger at my lack of fertility. Sometimes I can't help but wonder how life can be so cruel.

This past year I have chronicled the occasional ups and many downs of surviving child loss while facing infertility. This blog has been my place, my catharsis. This has been my space to vent and be heard and understood and thank God for it, because it is only through being honest here, that I have maintained my sanity.

Some think that grieving openly is unhealthy but I beg to differ. It is suppressing our grief that is unhealthy.

Our grief is a wound, deep and in pain, and it has to be examined and cleaned and dressed for it to heal. Sometimes the same areas have to be cleaned two, and ten, and a hundred times, and if that is what it takes to heal, so be it. Not dealing with our grief would be like expecting a band-aid to heal a wound.

Placing a band-aid over a wound for the sake of not troubling others with the ugliness of what has happened is an invitation for infection. Sure it might look better on the outside, but beneath that clean, shiny bandage it would be festering (sorry, gross analogy) and could cause irreparable damage.

Damage that might make a woman believe a doll, or a towel, is her child.

I have been thinking alot about the 'towel baby', and the doll in the stroller. I have been wondering what makes them different than me, than you, than any of us in this God awful baby loss world.

Just like us, these women were at one point considered normal. They had their whole lives ahead of them. Just like us, these women rubbed their bellies, and anticipated their child's birth. Just like us, in some way or another, they witnessed the end of their child's life.

I think that is where the similarity ends.

Unlike these women, we have sought out the help and validation of others who are walking this path with us or have walked it before us. Unlike these women, we know how healing self expression can be. Unlike these women, we understand that what we are going through and feeling may not be the societal norm, but is perfectly normal under these circumstances. Unlike these women, we are lucky.

Yes, you read that right. Lucky.

Lucky because we are still here.

We know that we could try masking our grief, or ignoring it, but that doing so wouldn't make it go away, it would only cause it to manifest in other ways.

We are lucky because we are tending to our grief, and as impossible as it may feel at times, we will be better for it.

It is only through tending to the wounds of our grief that they can heal, and we can survive - sanity and all.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Signs Don't Get Much Clearer Than This

Anyone else see the three babies in the sky
in this picture from our IBMD balloon release?

How about now?
(Parden my sub-par outlining skills)

Here... Look again. 
Do you see them?

Three mothers gathered together to celebrate their babies.
Three smiling babies up in the sky.
Signs don't get much clearer than this.

I see some similarities. I think that was ...

Janessa looking to the left (top left clouds)

Amelia smiling eyes closed (bottom left clouds)

Peyton looking up and to the left (right side of clouds)

What do you think?

Monday, May 3, 2010

International Babylost Mother's Day 2010

How did you spend Sunday May 2nd?

This year, women who have lost their children came together in their own special ways to celebrate International Babylost Mother's Day, a day created by Carly Dudley to honor the never-ending bond between a babylost mother and her child.

IBMD was an incredible experience for me, and I was fortunate to spend it with two amazing fellow babylost blog mommas.

With me were Malory, mother to Janessa Marie, who writes the blogs  Every Life Has A Story and Mommy of An Angel

And Stephanie, mother to Amelia Rose, who writes the blogs Carried Through Grief  and Beyond Words Designs.
(Stephanie, Me, Malory)          

Our day started over brunch, where we met and exchanged Mother's Day gifts. The irony was that this wasn't discussed ahead of time, and yet we each felt compelled to bring something to the celebration that would honor our roles as babylost mommas, as well as to brighten each other's day.

Stephanie brought gift cards with personalized tags, and a beautiful mix CD of songs that were helping her through her grief. Malory honored each little girl with an angel bearing their birthstone. She also created the "beautiful mother" cards that you see on the table. I brought a candle with each girls' initials on them, to illuminate their pictures as we talked.

These beautiful little girls are Janessa to the left, Peyton in the center, and Amelia to the right. They remained the central focus of our table,  and our day, and  it was truly beautiful to see them there together.

After lunch, we headed to a secluded reservoir for our balloon release. We brought 5 balloons and 1 butterfly balloon for the release. The 5 balloons were sent to heaven, 1 for each of our daughters, 1 for all the other babies lost who had touched our hearts, and 1 sent to heaven in prayer to watch over all the other babylost mommas. Here are some pictures from our balloon release.

(Malory and Stephanie pick out their balloons.)

(Me working on the Momma's Balloon)

(Malory writing a balloon message to all of the babies that have touched our hearts.)

We walked down to the edge of the water and said a few words to honor the significance of the day.

The skies were clear and blue, and the sun was shining as we prepared to let the balloons go.


And when the moment felt right, we watched them float above us.


The balloons lingered for a while, dancing above us in a pack, before beginning their graceful journey into the heavens and out of sight. 

After our balloon release, we stayed together the remainder of the day, walking along the nearby river. We talked about our lives, our children, and our grief. We may have just met that day, but our connection was like that of three girls who had known each other their whole lives. We had so much fun in fact, that it wasn't until after 8PM that we finally said our goodbyes!

Child loss can feel so isolating at times, but yesterday there was none of that. There was no feeling left out or alone. Yesterday we were three mommas, in love with our daughters, celebrating International Babylost Mother's Day together. It was a day filled with laughter and tears and understanding.

Yesterday was beautiful.