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Missing You Still

Sometimes others have better ways of communicating how we feel. The documentary “Jacob” by Shawn Lovering did just that for me today. Watching the imagery of a mother walking aimlessly, searching for her son who also wanders alone through golden fields captures my heart’s constant search for my little boy as the days go by. Nothing about time helps to end our grief. Where there was love there will always be a feeling of loss and an aching urge to see them again. Especially with it being a year after our son’s original due date, I can tell you that some days it may get easier to live with the weight of that sorrow but it never truly goes away. Thinking of my sweet boy Owen, today, and always. ???? 

You can watch Shawn Lovering’s short but meaningful documentary here: Jacob

And while you’re here, could you please help us with these issues that are so important to grieving parents by signing this petition created by another angel mom? It takes only a second & means so much to us. Thank you! Click, sign & share: Petition to protect viable fetus rights

Acceptance & Forgiveness

Almost a year baby boy. Can’t believe how much we have endured in such a short amount of time. I feel like I’ve aged so much more than a year. Pretty sure I look like I have physically, with all the tears that have continued to swell out of my eyes and the crop of new, spiteful little grey hairs that have sprouted from the constant stress. But emotionally I notice the changes even more. It makes sense, I’ve carried the burden of your loss daily for over ten months now. Sometimes the load feels heavier, the pain sharper. Other days, my heart is lighter, more focused on the present. But it’s always there, making itself comfortable in the complex fabric of this messy, imperfect, yet still beautiful life.

Being your mom and having held you are of course counted as great blessings. I know I am lucky to have experienced your life for 7 months inside of me and that we were able to meet you, even if it was tragically after you had passed away. Is it greedy to wish for more? Some women don’t get this far in their pregnancies. I know this. I’ve lived this (and sadly witnessed it too). How heartbroken I have been, losing two pregnancies in their early stages before and after losing you. 

The first, before you, was our sweet baby Jordan who slipped away quickly and with the least physical pain. Still, I cried inconsolably over the weekend after bleeding more than I thought a person could. Having an ultrasound the next Monday to be told the baby was gone was just standard practice. We already knew. We silently mourned the baby we wouldn’t get to raise or see grow up alongside our daughter and waited to be able to try again. Back then I knew miscarriage was the loss of a child, but I let the doctors convince me that the baby was just a few cells. They didn’t care if I flushed the baby down the toilet or named him or her. They didn’t want me to bring anything in for testing (doctors won’t help look into causes of miscarriage until after three losses) and we didn’t know what to do with the little bit of tissue we saw floating down the toilet along with all that blood. So much blood. I still have nightmares, a deeply rooted fear of seeing blood when I pee, and I even wake up from sleep every so often with a strange sensation like I’m miscarrying again. Now I regret that we didn’t honor that baby’s life more back then and after losing you we decided to give our much loved and wanted baby a name, Jordan. (Jordan, I’m sorry for everything we did or didn’t do for you while you were here. You know you meant the world to me and daddy and we love you like all our other children. You will be in our memories and hearts forever.)

Our other little angel, Avery, clung to me for several weeks after we were told the pregnancy wasn’t viable (the baby stopped growing at 6 weeks, but we didn’t find out until our first scan at 8 weeks). What a devastating moment. After losing you too, I allowed myself to believe that surely this time everything had to be ok. I prayed so hard (to God, Jesus, Mary, the Saints of pregnant women, anyone who I could think of) for this pregnancy to be healthy, to finally have a sibling for your sister to grow up with. Our dreams were again shattered. At first I hoped and prayed that maybe the doctor was wrong. Not likely with this doctor, he’s the best high risk doctor there is. Yet, I waited anxiously, fearfully, and yes, hopefully, until the day the painful experience of miscarrying Avery began. Nothing happened for over four weeks, so I never expected it would be that physically painful. I called the nurse at my doctor’s office panicking, asking if I should rush to them or the ER. No, she confirmed, labor type contractions are to be expected. Over-the-counter drugs did nothing to curb the immense pain. The only thing that I could think other than, God please let this be over soon, was thank you God for allowing me to continue to miscarry our baby naturally. I didn’t want to have to have a D&C. I just couldn’t bare the idea of having another baby ripped out from my womb and I hope to be pregnant again one day, God-willing, so I didn’t want to risk having my uterus scarred at all. Of course being put under for a procedure scares the life out of me too. The last time I was put under, I woke up to the devastating news that you were gone. 

How could that have happened??? I’m still in total shock baby. I’ve fought depression like a fierce warrior with therapy, prayer, and of course, love and support from your daddy, your big sister and our family and close friends. I’m still fighting that battle. I can’t allow myself to be broken, lost, forever damaged by your death. I still need to be a mother to your sister, a wife to your amazing daddy, and keep living for them and everyone else who loves me. But it’d be a lie to say I feel better. No, I’m still devastated. Heartbroken. Traumatized. Angry. 

Without the truth and justice, how could there be peace in my heart? God teaches us to forgive even those who have hurt us most. Those who don’t admit their wrong or offer an apology. Ok, you got me. I’m not sure I can do it, but I’ll try baby. Not for them. Not even really for me. I do it for you. For you and your siblings, my love, because I need to be able to join you all one day in Heaven. I know I have to accept this new reality even if I don’t understand it or think it’s right. What happened to you, to us. But in order to get to that place where you are, I have to learn to forgive. It’s not easy, but I promise I’m trying.

Still, my heart breaks every time I read your medical records. Relive that day. Discover mistakes. Tell your story. So I haven’t quite yet given up on getting to the truth. How could I? You were our sweet, healthy, perfect baby boy. The apple of our eye and daddy’s spitting image. Those dimples, your curved little toes, just like him. No I haven’t forgotten you. And I won’t let anyone else. I promise. Even if that makes them uncomfortable. Even if I lose their friendship. Who cares. You are more precious to me than a friend who doesn’t want to hear about what I’m going through. That’s not really a friend is it? It’s okay. I still have plenty of real ones and have made new ones too. Even some that are pregnant or had babies recently and still manage to sincerely feel empathy for us without letting their own fears keep them from being there for me. This experience of loss has taught me both who and what is worth my time as well as who I am important to. In the end, we owe it to ourselves to spend our time with only those who matter most to us because life is short. I have you to thank for that very clear perspective. 

You, my little one, will always be in my ever present thoughts, be they of love, joy, gratitude, sadness, despair, frustration, fear, anger, isolation, anxiety, resentment or, in time, forgiveness. I may have to accept you are in Heaven, far away from my embrace, but I will always miss you and long to see you again Owen (my how I love to hear, speak and see your name, I wish that would be more often). For you I fight, our Little Warrior. I’ll be your voice and until there is change in prenatal healthcare, in the value of unborn babies’ lives, and in the stigma and silence of the loss community, I won’t just “move on”. Two words that should never be said to a bereaved parent, or anyone else for that matter. You’ve awakened me to a greater purpose. I wish it didn’t take losing you, Jordan, and Avery to do so, but I know now what God is asking of me. But better late than never right? 

Owen, I know you are happy where you are and though you may see me cry, sometimes even collapse under the weight of it all, don’t worry. I know God is with me even when I feel completely alone. He will help direct my steps. I won’t ever lose sight of His love or the blessings He continues to shower us with, even in this our darkest hour. Love always outshines every other emotion. But we have to allow ourselves to feel, even if that means being hurt. Never forget Owen, your mommy may be desperately sad that you left us, but I will always be happy that you are our son. I know you’re probably learning to stand and take your first steps in Heaven (because your cousin your age is doing that too down here). How I wish we could be there to catch you and cheer you on, but we are so proud of you and look forward to seeing everything you can do one day. Sending so many hugs and kisses up to you, Jordan and Avery. Good night our little angels.

Hope & Love

Red, bright red
Goodbye rings in my head
Red, white & blue
Happy 4th to you

Pain, real & deep
A life I couldn’t keep
Freedom from fear 
Hope & love live here

For our sweet Avery. You had only 6 short weeks of life in my womb yet we love you as much as the stars love the night sky. This pregnancy after losing Owen (& Jordan before him) was so bright & full of hope; I am thankful for every second that I got to carry you. Goodbye is just so long for now; I know we’ll be reunited in Heaven one day. 

Missing You & Loving You Always, Your Mommy

“If there ever comes a day when we can’t be together, keep me in your heart, I’ll stay there forever” – Winnie the Pooh

Goodbye Avery, Our Little Firecracker

It’s midnight, July 4th. Somehow I knew today could be the day I started cramping. My babies like to choose special days for their big moments. 

Naomi, after 18 months without one prior attempt to walk chose to start on New Years Eve. Unfortunately I was working and missed her first steps, but we all thought she surely chose the day to make it extra special. Whenever we countdown to the start of another year, I still reminisce about that day and what a blessing it is to see how much she has grown since then. Raising you, our sweet girl, is our greatest privelage and watching you reach new milestones keeps us amazed at how perfectly God made you. You give us so much happiness and we are so proud to be your parents.

We sadly miscarried our next baby, Jordan, the week of my best friend Toni’s birthday. Though the pregnancy didn’t last long, we had so much joy in those few weeks with Jordan, so it seems fitting that our beloved baby’s Angelversary week is shared with my most effervescent and impassioned friend. Knowing Toni, her birthday week will always be an exciting and fun-filled time. I’ll always picture Jordan dancing in the clouds amongst the twinkling lights of the night sky when Tia Toni is out partying on her birthday. Jordan, you were our very much wanted second child and we wish you could’ve stayed with us. But keep dancing my baby, we will join you one day. 

Then, attempting to save him, at almost 32 weeks gestation we had to deliver our son Owen via a crash/emergency C-section on one of his Grandpa’s birthdays. We would never forget the day he was born and went to Heaven, but sharing Grandpa Vick’s birthday makes this day even more special. My birthday is the day after my dad’s and we always loved celebrating it together, so it makes me happy to know that when we celebrate Grandpa Vick, we are also celebrating our sweet angel Owen. We miss you dearly baby boy and when Grandpa blows out his candles, we’ll remember the light you brought to our lives; Much too brief but still so incredibly bright and beautiful. 

And now we’ve been waiting for two agonizing weeks since we found out our baby Avery had stopped growing at our first ultrasound. We were shocked and heartbroken to be told that we were having a missed miscarriage, but I was determined to avoid a D&C or medication to end the pregnancy. I hadn’t had any cramping or bleeding though, so I was getting anxious it might never happen naturally. But of course Avery waited for the 4th of July to start letting go of mommy. Sitting on the toilet waiting to pass clots with extreme cramps and a heat pad on my abdomen isn’t really my idea of July 4th fun. But then again, this wouldn’t be my baby if it was an ordinary day. 

You think it’s because my babies know I have the worst memory ever? No, I would never forget your special days my precious children. But it makes me smile to think that they know their momma and are just trying to help me remember. Each of their days carries so much emotion and I know that though others are celebrating and thinking about the typical meaning behind these days, I’m focused on my babies and what it means to us. 

The Fourth of July is a day I’ll always love and cherish; Not just because it commemorates our freedom, but now also because it marks the day Avery finally decided it was ok to physically leave his Earthly home and continue to rest in peace in Heaven. I cherish the memories we made with you: Surprising Daddy with a “bun in the oven” and seeing his thrilled reaction, taking bump pictures in a new dress I bought for that purpose, watching Naomi and Daddy joyfully give you sweet kisses and talk to you through my belly though you were probably still too small to hear them, and even writing about you in a cute pregnancy journal, trying not to let my anxiety overshadow my excitement. We’ll see you one day our little firecracker and will remember you always, especially at the explosion of every firework. Just like them, your stay was short but oh so brilliant and marvelous. 

Until we see you in Heaven, Avery, keep shining bright with your siblings, Owen and Jordan. We love you all as much as we love your sister Naomi who brightens up our darkest days and brings light to every moment of our lives.

Forever Yours

Days go by,
Further from goodbye
Closer to hello
Never letting go

Memories of you
Tiny, precious, true
Nothing more real
Gone yet present still

Speak, breath, grow
A son I didn’t get to know
So much to learn, see, do
So little shared with you

From the first hello
My heart you stole
To the last goodbye
I never understood why

Your purpose is greater
Trusting in our Creator
Until we meet again
Your momma till the end

“Pain is my middle name”

No really, pain is my middle name. My birth name is Ana Dolores, and, as my fellow Spanish speakers (or Googlers) will confirm, Dolores means pain (it also means sorrow). My dad used to joke that they chose the name because of all the pain I caused my mom in labor (completely false, my mom has confirmed I was an easy labor and popped right out like an avocado pit without much pain at all, thank you very much). In truth, I was named after a close family friend whom my parents adored and my dad had nicknamed Dolores.

I remember that as an elementary school kid, I was fond of spitting out the phrase “Pain is my middle name” jokingly to other kids as if to claim that I was a tough girl, someone not to be messed with (despite my not so tough appearance: skinny, shy and in glasses). Then in high school I acquired braces and I began taking the nerdiest classes, so I started keeping this motto to myself. I wasn’t going to give anyone any more reasons to pick on me! I just started using it as a self-motivation tool to get through the trials of each teenage drama-filled day. However, I was lucky and had good friends and a wonderful family, so my childhood was sometimes challenging and annoying, but not very difficult.

Although it was my middle name for most of my life, I have to say, thankfully, my life has been quite blessed and relatively painless. Of all the sorrows in the world, the Lord has protected me from so many of them and that hasn’t gone unappreciated or unnoticed by me. I know I am so fortunate. I had experienced high school breakups, disappointments, lost friendships, work stress and even grief from some crushing close family losses. Yet until this year, I really have been guarded from having a life altering and devastating situation affect me. God always seemed to listen to my almost mechanical prayers. Mechanical because without great pain, I’m not sure how fervently I used to pray. From my experience, it’s not until you are knocked flat down on your face with a heavy blow and your are struggling to get back up that you will really truly reach out and cling to His hand. This is where I am at now, clinging to Him for dear life.

Pain is no longer my middle name. In fact, it is now Lepe because I dropped it for my maiden name when I got married almost 9 years ago. But in a twisted, unfortunate turn of events, I have endured more pain this year than I have in my 32 years of life. I write all this just to say, maybe I am tougher than even I thought I was back in those early survival-of-the-fittest days of grade school. Here I am, still standing, still breathing, still living and all with a fresh open wound in my heart. How, you ask? Well by the grace of God, first and foremost. Also of course thanks to the support and love of my husband, parents, family and friends.

But I’m really still just a scrawny little whimp. I get upset because I wear my heart on my sleeve. My husband always sneaks glances at me during sad scenes of a movie knowing that I will tear up and he still can’t understand how I get so emotional over something that is obviously fictional. He laughs because he thinks it’s cute that I care about the characters and says he loves that about me. I used to think as a kid that maybe I could cash in on it one day, you know, become an actor because after all the good ones could cry on demand and that was easy for me! But then I grew up and decided to go to school to be a psychologist instead to use my empathy to help others, only to realize at graduation that I didn’t think I could handle taking in everyone’s awful situations and decided not to continue with that career. That’s just my nature, extremely empathetic, easily upset and emotional.

But God has pulled me up from my bootstraps after going through the tragic loss of our son Owen and has made me survive a circumstance I would never have imagined living through before. Not only because no one ever imagines being in these shoes, but because I have found strength I never knew I possessed. But I don’t believe it is mine. It is His. He has carefully carried me through each day since Owen passed giving me hope and reasons to continue living, even with this heartache that constantly grips at my chest and threatens to take me alive. From the first day, He placed reasons before me to keep being strong: My fun-loving and confident husband who was now distraught over our devastating loss needing my strength and love to help him get through our most challenging time together, my beautiful and intelligent 4 year old (going on 15, she thinks she’s a “grown up”) who came in to the hospital to see me and looked deeply into my eyes knowing something wasn’t right but needing mommy to be okay and be the same great mom she deserves, the family that poured in overnight from all over that were there to comfort us but still needing to know we were going to be alright when they had to leave, the friends who sent cards, flowers, books, and came to visit just to let us know how loved we are and that we aren’t alone but still needing to feel like I wouldn’t change or let myself be broken by this… Somehow all their needs turned into reasons why I needed to get myself together, wrap up my swollen, engorged breasts and walk as much as I could after having a crash C-section to get myself released from the hospital as soon as possible. I needed to go home to make funeral arrangements with my husband and our good friend; I knew he would need me with him to make those crucial decisions and I wanted to make sure the family that flew in could all be there when we had Owen’s service so we had to get it scheduled as quickly as we could. Though it was the one time when I was probably most entitled to be a wimp and just cry my eyes out all day, life kept going and I couldn’t just wail madly for hours on end.

Four months later and I still feel like crying all the time, and I do anytime I feel the urge because I think I pretty much have every right to. But that being said, I know I am still so blessed. And since pain is no longer my middle name, I am determined not to focus on the sorrow and try to choose joy and peace as my new motto. Owen has taught me that life is completely fragile, unpredictable and sometimes painfully short. Sure, I will always have moments where I will look back at what we’ve been through in sadness and cry over what we no longer have. However, God continues to place reasons and needs to fulfill in front of me that keep me going one day at a time.

I am honoring my son’s legacy by seeking out change for better prenatal health care and spreading information that could help other families bring home healthy babies. As a family, we are hoping to make a difference for other future moms and dads by raising funds for the March for Babies (our team is Owen’s Angels if you would like to contribute) so we can help find cures and preventive measures that can be taken to save babies lives. I also am volunteering to create a Miracle of Life video for a pregnancy center that helps young woman make the decision to keep their babies or give them up for adoption. I am Christian, raised Catholic, and so obviously I am pro-life, but I never cared to get involved with the debate of this issue as I am also a feminist and would never want to impose my views on another woman. However after losing our son, I feel called to at least voice the opinion that I believe in my heart to be true; Every baby is a precious and miraculous gift from God and should be treasured and protected. He is the only one I believe should decide on the number of our days. Though we truly wanted our baby, his days were predetermined and we will have to wait to see him again when our time comes. Through great pain and sorrow, my own life seems to have a more deeper purpose. I love more fervently, appreciate more sincerely, give more freely, forgive more wholeheartedly, enjoy life more fully, and yes, feel even more empathically.

Maybe this is a lesson that must be learned the hard way. Until you are truly tested, I doubt you can know how tough you really are. And in that moment, you might realize, you don’t have to be so tough. God is there to hold you and bring you out of the darkness. He’s got this. Step aside and let Him show you what He can do with your life. It’s going to be more amazing than you or I can imagine. That is His promise and that hope keeps me going.

For all my fellow mamas and anyone else struggling with terrible, life-crippling grief; Stay strong and trust that He will help you through this journey. ????

A Difficult Question

“Is she your only child?” That’s a question I’m still struggling to decide how to answer. Often asked harmlessly by acquaintances, like last week at a kid’s party, it’s a question that throws me into a downward spiral for days. Of course, they see my perfect, sweet four year old daughter running happily about and wonder if I would like to have more beautiful children like her; Or even more importantly, do I plan on giving her a sibling? And the obvious answer to me is, We have other children. We have a son. My equally treasured and loved baby, Owen, whom we lost unexplainably towards the end of my pregnancy this October. And, if we’re speaking honestly, I also had another child I miscarried too early to know his or her gender, so technically we have three.

But how honest should I get with those who don’t know my circumstances or how devastating their question is to me? I try to be candid of course; I explain my losses, trying not to get upset, and hoping that it won’t make me into the “Debbie Downer” of the party. Most woman are sympathetic, especially those who are finished growing their families and have no fear of my bad luck rubbing off on them. But I get this feeling from other young moms who are still in their childbearing years that what I’m saying might be too much for casual conversation. Though they listen (with terror in their eyes), I feel like I need to censor what I say so as to not worry them if they plan on having more kids. Truth be told, I am worried whenever I hear of anyone getting pregnant and all I can do is secretly pray that everything goes better for them; That they can get to keep their healthy babies. Please God. Don’t let this happen to anyone else. 

My son is gone and that’s a pain I have to continue to endure until I get to hold him again. Meanwhile I am trying to wholeheartedly enjoy the special moments I get to share with his sister. I know I am lucky and have a lot to be thankful for, but I am still struggling to be okay; the pain, sadness, loneliness, emptiness, hurt and anger of losing our son makes my postpartum depression even worse. Our loss has changed our lives and challenged me to try to rebuild my heart from all the shattered pieces. I’m not there yet, but I’m in therapy and trying to focus on the good, taking it one moment at a time.

At the end of the day, I just have to tell myself this is God’s plan. I heard a DJ on the radio yesterday say, “we have one child in the target and the others still in the quiver”. With that he was saying, our children are like arrows and the target is heaven, so we have to remind ourselves that the ones we have lost have already made it to that amazing place. Meanwhile we all must continue to take aim at that bullseye and try to earn our way in. It somehow gives me a little peace knowing we have our son waiting in the target and the rest of us will hopefully join him when it’s our time. Our three children will still get to play joyfully together some day; This is God’s promise of eternal life for all who follow him and a truth I cling to when I am desperately missing my son.

So I guess I’ll just keep on trying to be honest when I reply to that no longer simple question… It may be painful, but it’s true; We have three children, although only one is with us now.

Little Heartbreaker

Little Heartbreaker

Our beloved, beautiful son
Too perfect for this earth
Forget other heartbreaks
This one is by far the worst

Thinking of him always
The boy who stole my heart
Forever mommy’s angel
Forever together and yet apart

Loving him more each day
With a smile hiding the pain
Searching for his signs
Until we hold him again

Looking for answers
Finding faith is best
Our little heartbreaker
How truly he is missed