Full Circle

Tomorrow marks the first day of our final 10 days with Teddy two years ago. There are two types of deaths, the sudden and those that play out over time. Teddy’s death played out over ten days. Prior to that as much as we knew he would die we remained hopeful. Hope is a life line. Without it, it all felt impossible. Two years ago we drove to SickKids in Toronto for a routine fetal echo. Two years ago we sat in a room, a doctor walked in with a look written all over his face. I knew by his eyes Teddy journey was ending way sooner than I was ready for. It was the moment my stomach hit the floor and my heart caught up to it shortly there after. It was confirmed the end was near, he was an incredibly sick little boy and the doctor thought he might survive a few hours to maybe a day. He gave us ten. Ten days that were incredibly hard, so hard there isn’t a word in the English language to articulate it properly. Ten days that were the greatest gift Teddy and God could have ever given me. Because he didn’t die instantly, because we had these days together I don’t have one day that feels hard to relive but ten. It is the ten day pilgrimage to the birth of our third son, the only day in my life that will ever hold the full range of beauty. The birth, the death, the baptism, the love, the only and final good bye.

Two years ago I was preparing for his birth, his death, his funeral. Last year I was busy creating cards to celebrate him while spreading his message of love. This year I hold our newborn. Every year is so different from the last. I believe as each rolls on I will reflect on each year and see the growth, the pain, and the gifts. The common threads through it all I believe will be how my love is unwavering, my gratitude is abundant, my heart longing for him, and his importance in our family.

Sunday we baptized our precious Zooey Helen. A day filled with love, but leading up to it felt heavy, and a day I actually wasn’t ready for. I spent time in the couple weeks leading up to it trying to figure out my emotions and sort out what was really going on. I couldn’t bring myself to order a cake, I couldn’t arrange the party afterwards. I was paralyzed and it wasn’t something I haven’t ever experienced before. I want Zooey to have a Mother that can be fully present in her moments. I wanted this for her birth and for her baptism and the reality is it is impossible. Those were experiences that I shared with Teddy, and doing them again was hard. The truth is her brother died. He died before she was born and because of that, it comes with sharing at least those two moments with him. He didn’t have any more moments in his time with us so they are the only two they have to share and I believe Zooey would generously give us all of that. She might even be honoured to do so.

I have realized throughout the past few years I have these moments that I am forced to go full circle. Zooey’s birth and baptism were one of those times. As I was figuring what I was really feeling with the baptism I was lead to look at what I feel when I am at Church. This building houses so much life for Ryan and I. Even before we were married Ryan and I attended Church. We always sat upstairs in the balcony. As we were planning our wedding I would sit there envisioning this magical day that was in the horizon. We said our vows, promising on that stage to love and support each other with God as our helper. I had no clue at that moment how much we would actually need his help in the next few years. Once we were married my dreams of our wedding day switched to envisioning the day we are parents and could proudly baptize our children. But years went by as we watch so many other families doing what we desperately wanted for ourselves. We sat in that balcony praying fiercely to be blessed with a child, and held back tears as we watched the other families go before us . Finally our day comes, not once but four times, only one of these baptisms wasn’t on that stage, it was in the hospital only hours before we said goodbye forever. Our Teddy made his way to that stage but it was for his funeral. So where we said our vows and baptized two children I stood reading Theodore’s eulogy. We never did sit upstairs regularly since that day. Instead we sit up front one seat back from where we sat that day we honoured Teddy and those seats almost always remain empty. So as the weeks went by and Zooey’s baptism approached I would often look back up and think of that girl. The girl who once thought optimistically of the life she thought we were intended to live with no clue the significance the walls around us would hold. I thought about those tears I would hold back in church and would fall once we left after witnessing a baptism. I wondered if any of those families felt as I did on this past Sunday. Not knowing their story, they too could have felt very conflicted. Could there have been someone else looking upon us not knowing our story and feeling what I once felt? This Sunday during the service after Zooey’s baptism Pastor David talked about judgment and as he spoke I thought about not the judgements I have made but more about all the assumptions.

The circle is complete, our last child is baptized, the day was perfect and exactly as intended. I am grateful for having those hard days that forced me to look deeply and sort out what it was about. I see it all clearly now, I see the importance and the role faith has played out in our life together. Zooey’s baptism allowed me to connect the dots in a way I am not sure I ever would have without it.

I am not sure what these next ten days will feel like as I make my way through them. What I am sure of is it will be a mixed bag, it will be different from the last two years and different from all the rest to follow so I intend to remain very present, to find gratitude for this unique journey, to feel it all, and to grow as much as possible through it.

Being blessed isn’t about living an easy life, but living one rich with lessons, with growth, and having the ability to find gratitude even in the hard moments. Because we are blessed our life is rich.

xoxo Momma Bear

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Shrapnel of Grief

44 days ago we welcomed Zooey Helen into the world. 688 days ago we welcomed and then said good bye to our dear Teddy. Exactly 100 months ago Ryan and I consciously started trying to create our family. 3 days ago we had our final midwife appointment for our lifetime. It marks the last day of the family growing stage for us and sent us off lovingly into the family raising stage of our life. Having spent 100 months creating and growing a family this final appointment left me reflecting back on all those days, all the moments of being broken, being brave, all the joy, all the love and everything in between for us to be walking out of that office on Tuesday with a full heart and arms.

Those aren’t just numbers that represent a day passed, they are numbers that represent the most changing time of our life. The numbers are a representation of the time which allowed for growth and for a total rebirth of who Ryan and I are today. The last few days has had me reflecting on relationships. How they have evolved, how new ones have emerged, how some have been lost. Going through fertility challenges and then experiencing a loss of a child I see how many common threads they share and how they equally can put a strain on many relationships in your life. It is hard for everyone. I see how true the saying “people are in your life for a season, a reason or a lifetime” and I see throughout the years how some have fit into a category.

For the most part I am totally at peace with how relationships have evolved even the ones that didn’t survive the storms or the ones intended for a season. I do struggle with how people have been effected by our personal struggles. There is one person in particular I haven’t been able to shake how everything has changed, how so many days I wish I could go back in time and we could be who we used to be to each other. It was always easy, being together was always good for the soul, leaving feeling better than you arrived. It felt safe, she is always loyal. She always has good advice, and ear to listen and heart full of love. Time together never felt like enough, we could talk for hours over a simple cup of tea. She would be the first at our door when life once again handed us a shitty deal and always the first to celebrate when life was being kind and the first to meet our babies. I can’t stop wishing she wasn’t hit by the shrapnel of my life, my grief.

Moving through grief your perspective is narrow. It is hard, so hard to see all sides of situations or even at times when you do, your heart hurts so much it is easy to feel angry anyway. It makes it so hard to be a good friend. To be the person you once were, the person who had room for problems others faced. With this particular friend two things happened which I can see so clearly now. Life wasn’t always light for them, but as many people they weren’t able to bring their problems to me when my plate was so full. By not doing so shared moments were passed, and space between us was created. Someone else filled the void created by not being the person they went to for support. It changed the landscape of the friendship, I missed out on parts of their life. Being a person that I care deeply for, it was so easy to be hurt by them, even when they didn’t do anything wrong, the layers of grief changed our day to day interactions.

There was moments I became so angry, which was just deeply hurt feeling because I felt like I lost so much when Teddy died. There was loss in every aspect of my life, from close family members, to friends and basically everything in life as I once knew it. Everything changed and at times it was so hard to accept.

This friend had the most beautiful baby boy only months before Teddy was born. We shared our maternity leave when my second son and her daughter were born. It was amazing and when we found out we were pregnant again together we were so excited to share this experience once again. We were going to have two boys within a few months of each other, we both were looking forward to the life we would all share throughout the years. Then my baby died and it was simply impossible to do so. It was just one more layer of loss.

Being 100% honest I so desperately wanted to still be included, but I couldn’t and it was so hard to accept. As more time rolled on and the time we should have spent together drinking tea and talking about life was turned into me being swallowed up in grief and her no doubtably feeling our absence but also building closer relationships with others. Teddy was meant to be her son’s best friend, that was the way we intended it and she also lost that. She felt his loss deeply, I know this to be true. Our friendship was set up to be rocked purely by the situation we were presented with. I was so mad at her at times, but it was never her. It was real life. I wanted her to be drinking tea and sharing baby time with other Moms, I was just so mad and hurt I no longer belonged. I was so tired, I couldn’t ask for what I needed. I just wanted my friend back, I just wanted to be the friend I once was again. I wanted it all to be light, and to be easy but it just wasn’t possible.

I remember the day before Teddy’s first birthday I popped by the baby group as the group leader wanted to hand out Teddy’s Choose Love cards in celebration of him. I arrived and the four girls I should be with had Teddy not died were drinking tea, chatting and all four of their baby boys were there crawling around. They looked so happy, as they all deserved to be. They didn’t see me. I left with such a clear visual of what I desperately wanted and was missing. Unfairly I was hurt by this friend, she did nothing but kept living the life she deserved and the one I wanted for her. But sadly of the four girls it was her my heart chucked daggers at, because it was her my heart was truly connected with and missed deeply. I became angry my baby was dead, and I didn’t get to spend my morning with friends, instead I was driving around alone distributing cards in memory of him. It felt so unfair. I wanted my baby to be alive as well. I wanted the life we had envisioned.

At the time it was so hard for me see it all as it really was. Intellectually I always knew but my heart was broken and this was a layer of it and emotionally was not capable of seeing it clearly. I am so grateful for perspective. I see how much she loved us through it all, I see she was given an impossible hand to win with, I see she felt our loss deeply, I see she loved Teddy as well, I see she also felt his absence and I see she too probably wished I could be the old me and for everything to be different. She lost her friend as well, her #elsupremo.

Grief is so powerful, it doesn’t have mercy on those around it. Shrapnel flies and so many people get hurt. I know in this process many people have been hit by our shrapnel. I am so sorry for each of you and in particular this friend I speak of. Grief is messy, holds no boundaries and is unforgiving. Time though allows for perspective, it allows the fog to lift and clarity to be regained. If you have been hit by someone’s grief shrapnel please give them time, give them grace and give space if needed but just hold on if you can, clarity will come once again. You may never receive the loved one you once had, they are forever changed but maybe just maybe together you can find your way to building a stronger house than the one that had blown down if you still have the foundation remaining.

I am grateful that the foundation to this friendship is still there. I am grateful and hopeful she will be in the category “for a lifetime” and that with time we will rebuild our house. It might not be the pretty tea house it once was, but I have faith it can be stronger. I have moved through the heaviest parts of losing my son and am now in a space where I can once again be a friend, one who can help carry the load of others because mine is once again lighter. I look forward to helping carry some of her load when needed as time moves on. I will be forever grateful she didn’t shut me out, she always stood by even if it was at a distance, I know being hit by our shrapnel has caused pain, and I am so sorry for that. She chose to love us even when it wasn’t easy. #alwayschooselove

Thanksgiving Reflections

Happy Thanksgiving,

Thanksgiving is my most favourite holiday. It is a time family gathers and focuses on sharing fellowship and good food without material gift giving involved. The fall is my favourite season, not because I love winter and it is around the corner but because you can feel change, the change is fresh, the air is clean and crisp, the leaves are so beautiful and makes the most beautiful crunch as you walk across them, and then for many it is another stage in life with going back to school, starting school, never returning to school after a graduation. It is an opportunity for a fresh start, an opportunity for rebirth. I love that Thanksgiving is a time that people reflect on life and the blessings they have received. For some this isn’t a regular practice and it brings to the forefront what there is in their life to be thankful for. Even on our darkest days there is gratitude to be found.

Long before Teddy I started a gratitude jar, and every evening I would write something I was grateful for the day and put it in the Jar and at the end of the year or when I really was feeling down I would read through them all changing my vibration and lifting my heart from where it was sitting. After Teddy I stopped writing on those little pieces of paper, not sure why, maybe because I was writing so much more on my blog and in my notes section of my phone, maybe I was simply far too exhausted, but I never stopped using gratitude as a way to remain in good or increase my mental health.

Teddy’s journey pointed out how very important the practice of gratitude really was for me. Through him and our experience together I learned quickly to articulate how I was feeling and then ask myself “okay so what is the gift in that?”. Seeing that my feelings held purpose allowed me to honour them exactly how they were, even the super heavy dark ones that felt so hard and uncomfortable, it allowed me to feel okay with them just being as they are knowing that they will change, nothing was forever and a wave would come and carry me for a rest soon enough. Through it the purpose was served, a lesson was learned and I was forever changed by the growth.

This year our Thanksgiving looks a lot different. We have so much to be thankful for. But so much of my gratitude comes from the lessons I learned through Teddy’s death and having to live without him. He changed who we are as a family. But what I didn’t know was who would I be as a Mom of a newborn after experiencing such a loss. I now know I am a Mom who has slowed down, who truly knows how quickly these newborn days go by and as hard as they are I find gratitude for them daily. I am a Mom who has made hard choices because when asking myself “what is the most loving choice for everyone involved” the answer didn’t line up with what I personally truly desired but without wavering honoured the choice that put love for all first. I am a Mom who now knows what it feels like when our family is complete. It is the most satisfying feeling to feel whole, knowing all members of our family are here and accounted for and now we all can just love each other through our intertwined journeys in life. I am a Mom who watches my two oldest boys love in a way that makes my heart sing. They have always had copious amounts of love for each other so it shouldn’t be surprising that the love for their sister would be endless, but it is the tenderness that truly gets me. Everyone should be loved so softly and intentionally as these boys love Zooey. So my gratitude this weekend is for the family we have created, with a huge emphasis on remembering Teddy for all he has given us, to bring us to where we are today. My heart would never have known a love so deeply if it weren’t for him. He is loved, he is missed, and he is remembered. He is LOVE.

My wish for my boys is to grow up knowing the value in gratitude, to know the healing power it holds and for them to incorporate it in their everyday life not only on Thanksgiving. Every day is a day to give thanks, even or maybe more so on our hardest days.

One Thankful Momma

The Mystical Mother

When I sit back and think what it is to be a Mom, like a really good Mom, not just to hold a title but provide what a child young and old truly desires I have to go back to the little girl within me. Spending time evaluating the Mom I was given, the Mom I wish I had and the Mom I want to be, all which makes me wonder if the being this Mom is more of a mystical creature, or a rare gem that few are truly blessed to have.

Who are you oh wise one? Better yet where are you? The little girl inside me screams to be mothered by this special mystical creature. I wonder how many people also knowingly or unknowingly are feeling the void of such gem.

To be loved unconditionally. Without judgement, to have the security to know that regardless what choices I make, behaviours I display or words I speak that the love is constant and unwavering.

To be loved more than you hate, or lack, to be put first under all circumstances. For your love to be larger than your jealousy, that your selflessness means you want anything and everything that brings positivity and love into my world even if that means it takes something away from you personally. You will always choose to simply love me more and sometimes that comes with sacrifices.

Pride, you see my accomplishments as if they are also yours. When I win you win. You see the beauty within me, for who I am. You see the potential I hold and always encourage me to take world by storm and experience it all.

Your love is so large that you show up. When you come to my home, you are helpful. You take back your Mothering role and help with all the physical tasks possible. You never forget you are the Mom and love Mothering when the opportunity arises. Your love is large enough you want my life to be easier even if temporarily.

Your love is so large that you show up, without hesitation show up emotionally. Your Mothering skills kick into high gear when my heart is broken, wavering, struggling, or feeling tender. You hold space, you find the words, the gentle touch that says together we will make it okay, tomorrow will be better.

You rejoice in my joy. Large and small moments that bring me great and little joy make your heart sing. You lift me up and feel this joy within me. You understand joy within me is also within you. No amount of joy I feel can take away from you, on the contrary it fills you as well. You wouldn’t do a thing to intentionally stand between me and joy but clear the path so that the joy can be amplified.

You provide a sense of security. To know that you will always show up. You will always do what needs to be done and that my heart, my life, my family is safe with you. You can be a soft place for anyone I love.

To enjoy each other’s company. To share a laugh, to remember a lifetime together, to talk about all that has yet to come, to dream about the impossible. To enjoy a friendship now as adults.

To love without expectations. To feel grateful to have a family, to be open and honest and to do what it takes to be a part of the family your children have made, to fit in without demands. To be okay with life’s imperfections and understand we own our roles.

To share gratitude. To verbally share your love. To see the blessings you have been given by being blessed with the family you have. To understand with gratitude abundance comes. To see life as a beautiful gift and treasure it as such. To be honest always, but by speaking from a loving heart, not jealousy, anger, or other emotions. To understand when we all choose love, we all win.

Does this creature exists? Being a Mom is hard. Being one, I know always making the right choice isn’t easy, sometimes the hardest choices are the most loving. I have to believe if our choices are driven from love, like true selfless love than maybe we can find our way to be closer to this. I think of what our world would look like if everyone had a Mom who could Mother them in such a way? How much more of a secure and loving world we might live in. Becoming a Mom has responsibilities and it is a job that is never ending. Not everyone can be a rare gem, maybe not even me. What I see so clearly is we all deserve to have this creature in our lives, to be loved in a way only a mystical mother can.

Maybe I can’t be this Mom everyday, but every day I can try. For the days I fail, I will give myself grace, and pray my children will as well knowing I am not mystical, I am imperfectly human but my love is powerful and my heart is overflowing with it for each child today and until the end of my days.

12 Months of Lessons. Hello 2017

As we are turning over the calendar page to begin a new year I am feeling open and optimistic that 2017 will bring love, peace and joy.

Starting a new year for our family is a time we reflect upon the year we just lived, we review our goals we had set, we create a photo album containing moments captured during our family adventures and everyday life, and Ryan puts together a video containing clips with moments we have captured throughout the year. Every other year doing this ritual feels good, we feel proud of all we have accomplished, all the adventures we experienced and grateful for all the memories we have made with friends and family. This year is different. This past year was hard. Harder than any year we have lived to date. I hope it is the hardest year we will have to live. I see all the pictures of all the moments we experienced as a family and as beautiful as they are, and as much gratitude I have for those moments I see Teddy missing. I see my eyes in the pictures and in many I see how the light was dimmed. I see pain, I see through my eyes as if they are a window to my soul and see all I have felt this last year. It is hard for me to see. I also see the light being let back in as the pictures progress. The final family picture of 2016 was our Christmas picture we put on our cards we sent out and my eyes are finally full of light again. When that picture was taken I had a great sense of peace and my heart was filled with gratitude and joy.

The first year living with grief teaches you a lot. I am grateful for the lessons and as hard as this year has been I wouldn’t change it. I have learned we are stronger than we ever imagined. Being strong looks different every day and means something different to different people. Being strong for me has been the following.

  • Accepting when my heart was far too heavy to continue with my everyday life, and allowing myself to feel and honour all that my heart was feeling.
  • Waking up everyday and parenting two beautiful boys when my heart was so broken, and couldn’t help but see Teddy missing every time I looked at them.
  • Talking openly and honestly about our experience to help others who have experienced a similar journey feel less alone.
  • Keeping my heart open to allow joy, love and peace in when it would have been easier to shut my heart down and protect it from future heartache.
  • Choosing to seek help from many avenues and being committed to finding peace. I attended a grief retreat, went to counselling with Ryan, had Reiki, saw a Shaman, spoke to our minister, talked honestly to those I trust to hold my heart gently and without judgment, attended peer grief meetings, and wrote about it all, especially when it was hard and messy.
  • Allowing myself to feel joy and love for those in my life when they were blessed with beautiful life moments. It was hard at times for all involved to separate our heartache and the joy of their blessings.
  • Having the realization that our level of grief and sadness doesn’t equal our level of love for the one who died. You can love that person deeply and have a heart filled with joy for the life you are living even if it is without them physically present.
  • Openly admitting when my heart was heavy, life felt messy, and then also openly sharing when joy and peace have been welcomed and was allowed to stay.
  • Accepting help, asking for help, and learning to lean on others.
  • Giving grace to friends, family and even strangers who have been unknowingly hurtful, and to all who have judged not knowing what it feels like to be us. I have also had to give myself grace in times I have spoken words driven from hurt, or moments it would have been easier to be angry, place blame and/or have unloving feelings towards myself.
  • Finding peace, and welcoming it to stay took a lot of strength. I can say a lot of the time peace now stays for weeks. I have moments that feel heavy but they are mostly fleeting. This isn’t to say I don’t have times when sadness hangs around a bit longer or that in my life times won’t feel hard but by allowing peace to stay has given me more strength to allow emotions to be flowing in and out freely. I no longer hang on to them. I am more present and more open.

Being strong never looks exactly the same twice. It isn’t the same for different people and one’s strength can’t truly be judge by others, not even by those who have experienced a similar loss. We have all been blessed with unique circumstances in life, we have been gifted hearts that feel deeply and journey that is unique to its own. Knowing that it would seem like commons sense how we navigate a journey of deep loss would also be unique but so often people compare and judge. We judge ourselves amongst other’s journey with grief and the people on the sidelines tend to judge what they see looking in. Both equally unfair to everyone involved.

I have learned when we experience a loss the ripple effect is larger than we initially imagine. As time rolls on the realization that the loss continues in many forms. You are excluded from events or activities because either your heart can’t handle attending, or because you no longer belong. Relationship change some become stronger and new ones are formed, and other times the cracks in a relationship become very apparent and you are unable to unsee them. The death of someone you love is multi layered and is always unique to the individual.

Practicing mindful gratitude has taught me that in my darkest days there is always a glimmer of light to hold onto. Being grateful for blessings and teachings because of a loss doesn’t mean you are grateful the person died

Grief isn’t a party of one. It effects all those who love, share space and interact with the person experiencing the grief. It takes a village to get through it. We are all called to be apart of each other’s life experiences allowing us to grow, to become more compassionate and more aware of all that others experience in life. We can’t live it all ourselves but we can learn though those around us. It truly is a gift.

I have realized once you experience a life altering moment the old you is gone, a distant memory, and a person you and others might miss. The new you may be a better version of the old you, but it takes time to find your way there. It is one of the ripple effects to grief, and an added layer of loss but also could be a blessing.

I have learned that we all have our own medicine. What I need to navigate this journey isn’t necessarily what will work for others. There is no right or wrong way to do this. Everyone has to be true to themselves and support each other in the manner that works for them. There is no room for judgement but plenty of room to hold space, and offer love.

I have learned the old me was an incredibly judgmental person. The new me works really hard not to be. I understand as much as anyone how hard it is to not judge, to trust that a person is doing what is best for them, to trust people are genuinely good and the words they use and the acts they commit are based on love.

In 2017 I wish for a community that holds space for those in pain, shows an abundance of love, even when it is hard to do, and that we all consciously choose to not judge others, rather trust them instead.

Life is full of mountains to climb and valleys to pass, struggles in life are real. We all face them, they never look the same from one person to the next but what we all have in common is that fact we struggle. If we all spent more time loving ourselves and each other, our time here on earth will be that much easier. The load for each of us would be lighter. Worry is the thief of joy. If for the next 365 days we can choose love and encourage those in our communities to do the same I can only imagine what 2018 will feel like.

Reliving the Pilgrimage 

Finding Joy. The five of us.
Teddy’s Love Cards
Teddy’s BDay! Look for all his green orbs

One week ago we celebrated our dear Teddy’s first birthday and since then I have had time to reflect on what the days leading up and after actual day felt like. I wasn’t sure what to expect, we knew this was important milestone in our lives and we needed to celebrate him and not mourn him. We miss him, there is a layer that wishes things could be different but we have accepted they can’t be, they never will be and because of that we have been on a journey of finding peace. Because of this it was important our focus was on his lessons, his purpose and not being consumed by our own heart’s desires for things to have ended differently. He deserved a celebration, he deserved to be with us in spirit and see us choosing joy, choosing love and choosing to keep living.

Not knowing how this was all going to feel I felt compelled to keep focused on his lessons about love and mostly the one about always choosing love. So I made 9000 LOVE cards and asked for people to help me spread his message to as many people as possible reaching those I could never have alone. This project worked, I was focused and reminded daily our choice to celebrate. When I originally had the idea, I thought I was being bold to think with friends and family we could pass out maybe a couple hundred. I am forever grateful for those who even handed one card out as well as those who received a card and felt loved, and/or possibly chose love when maybe they wouldn’t have without the reminder.

Beyond keeping focused on his purpose I had the privilege to relive our journey together but from another prospective. I made the ten day pilgrimage starting with the day we were told he was in heart failure ending on Teddy’s day of birth. I looked at every belly picture that popped up in timehop wondering if this was the last. I remember what I did every day, either before or after being checked for a heartbeat, I saw pictures of my other two boys, looking at them and seeing what babies they were too, and how they truly had no clue what was our family’s reality. I saw the Mom who mothered two children right up until she had to go to the hospital, the Mom who desperately didn’t want her life to change so hosted the annual Christmas party with friends days prior, and the Mom who went to prenatal yoga with a room of other Moms who had no clue her baby was dying but went because Teddy deserved it. I saw the Mom who wasn’t wasting a second with her dying son, who wanted to give him everything he deserved and believed he deserved it all, even a lifetime of love. I saw the Mom who went and lived life publicly, going to the grocery store with a brave face and talking about the pregnancy as if it had a different ending to spare the stranger or acquaintance the uncomfortable moment. I also saw the few moments I openly shared my baby was dying with a select few and realizing I chose that person unknowingly for a reason, and one in particular openly shared about her loss as well, right there in the grocery store. She shared her journey and sent love to me to carry me through mine. I was so grateful for her and Lanthe.

The day we were admitted to the hospital and the day Teddy was born was crystal clear to me. I saw the strength it would take to do what Ryan and I did. I saw the Mom who realized the end was near, she was sick. I saw the Mom who drove herself the hospital to get the tests and then making the choice with Ryan that the doctors were right and we needed to go home and prepare for a birth of a baby we would never bring home. I saw myself in my bedroom packing my bag and collecting the few things that were bought for Teddy. I saw the Mother that was scared, heartbroken, but didn’t want to waste the last few moments filled with fear or heartache knowing there was a lifetime left for that. I saw the Mom who took a few moments to write to her baby thinking it would be her last love note. I saw that brave woman, I saw the strength it took to simple move through the motions knowing what the ending was going to look like.

I woke up at 3am on Dec 9, probably around the time I needed to get an epidural the year prior and remembering every hour leading up to his birth at 11:22am on December 9th. I could see the beautiful sunrise, I could see Michelle and Ryan sleeping in the window as they have in previous births (Ryan with his heated blanket and Michelle with her hypnosis playing in her earbuds) I could see the birthing room which had low light, a layer of sadness and yet lots of love. I watched Ryan, Michelle and all the medical staff move through the final leg of that journey. We were all amazingly strong and blessed to have been chosen to be apart of his short life. I watched Teddy be baptized and blessed, I watched Michelle so lovingly give Teddy Reiki for his journey home, I watched him being held by his father, his Grandmother, and myself, I saw the love and the beauty in something before living it I would have had a hard time seeing how a day like that is truly the best, most significant and love filled day one could ever live.

As I walked that pilgrimage to our final moments together and then afterwards my heart broke for that woman, the old me. The heartache she has endured is unbelievable and my heart broke for me now knowing I am, who I am today for living through it. It is heavy having to feel what it felt like the first time around, then having to experience how it felt from the other perspective. I assume each year will be different from the next. I am sure each year this pilgrimage and the woman who originally walked it will need to be honoured by the new me. I suspect the emotions will feel different each time. The one constant will be our love and gratitude for Teddy. He is a blessing not a terrible event. I can say with all certainty knowing what I know now that if I was told on day one this was the outcome I wouldn’t change a darn thing. It was worth it. All of it. He was meant to be a part of our family tapestry. He is the most beautiful woven thread of us all, he shines bright and is our constant beacon of hope. He has proven to us what we are made of, how solid our foundation of love is and how important each and every day God gives is to live our purpose. Time doesn’t make our value but the legacy we leave behind does.

Thank you so much for all the messages on Facebook, all the posts, all the loving words. I did not respond to them all, I saw them and felt immense love and gratitude but emotionally wasn’t able to respond to each one. Thank you for all the ways that Teddy was celebrated, visited and shown love to us as a family.

This past year has been about love, gratitude and growth. It has been messy, it hasn’t always been easy for those who love us. We are forever grateful for those who chose to continue to show us love and to show up in our lives especially when it was messy. Thank you for reading about our journey. Thank you for using his name (any one of them Jeddy, Theodore, Theo and Teddy). Thank you for continually choosing love. Thank you for allowing me to share, without your support I am sure I wouldn’t have. Thank you for sharing your stories with me. Thank you for sharing when an emotion or an experience I shared is something you felt or experienced as well. Thank you for sharing with me how sharing this has helped you. Thank you for sharing my blog with others you think it would help. I am not sure how but we have had over 22,000 views from 68 different countries. I know many blogs have way more but I feel humbled and amazed how Teddy has been travelling spreading love and hopefully giving people some comfort and a sense they aren’t alone in their journey all around the world. Thank you. If you found us , it was for a reason and I feel blessed to have you on the journey with us.

With Gratitude and Love

Ally

My Loss Made Room For Growth 

Grief opened the door to my soul. It ripped me wide open and held a mirror in front making me take a hard look at who I really am and giving me the opportunity to take inventory of all the beautiful aspects of me and all the ugly. I had the option to take this mirror, study all that it reveals and work really hard at bridging the gap between who I am and who I ideally would like to be.

In 19 days we will arrive at Teddy’s first birthday. This day is approaching and at times I can’t believe we have survived, at times I am so full of love and joy while thinking of how far we have come and how much change within us has occurred, and then I have the moments that make heart hurt deeply as I think about all that has happened without our sweet boy beside us. I have been spending my time thinking about our journey from the perspective of change and I am blown away with the level of positive change that has occurred within myself and within our immediate family.

I am far from a perfect individual, as I write this post today I have a list of things I want to improve upon but I am not the Ally Williams I was before this journey presented itself, I wasn’t a bad person but like anyone I was limited to my experiences and to the lessons I had learned in life so basically I was just a much younger version of myself before this all began. This experience for me wasn’t about survival but about growth and wanting to coming out of this stronger, wiser, less judgmental, more compassionate, more empathetic, deeper, and with a mind that was broader. I knew this journey for me was presented for growth, this wasn’t just a terrible loss but one that came with great purpose and I refused to allow this to be all in vein. I embarked on a journey of being 100% open and honest with my support system, I told them exactly what I saw in that mirror, I was honest about the gaps, I was honest about my moments that were ugly and messy, when I said terrible things out of anger or thought unkind thoughts. I owned my shit. Because I was open, honest and presented all of me on a platter to our counsellor, Shaman, and Reiki Master they knew what we were dealing with and that is when magic happened. Not only did we work on putting my heart back together but we took the deconstructed version of me and worked on putting it back together in a way that was much closer to the version of me that I wanted to see while looking in that mirror.

As this journey wasn’t all about loss but also growth some of the changes have given me a whole new level of peace I wasn’t aware I was lacking. People in my life who used to ignite strong feelings now have no impact, the power is gone and I am light. I now can see the light in them because I know it is in me too, sometimes that is all we have in common and that is okay. I see our world and those in it so differently now and I am forever grateful.

December 9, 2016 will be a celebration of so many things. We will be remember the anniversary of the best day of our life, the day Teddy was born was the most significant day we will ever live. The birth of your child is always significant but when you only have that day, when that day it is all you will ever get together in the physical world, that day becomes more valuable than all the gold in the world. I would do anything to relive those moments with him. We will take time to reflect on all the work we have done as a family to better ourselves, to keep moving forward with love and honesty and becoming such a solid unit that we are unbreakable. Time will be spent reflecting on all those who have loved and supported us in big and small ways throughout this past year. Without every single act of love and remembrance this journey would have been very different, our gratitude is endless. What we are most excited about it is celebrating all the lessons of love Teddy taught us. He had purpose and this purpose was all about love so we have plans to celebrate and spread this love with as many people as possible on this day.

Life is beautiful, no one said it was easy but the beauty is bountifully. For our family we have had a few road blocks that we have needed to navigate our way around and each time we have looked back saw what a beautiful detour it really was. Like most detours, they are inconvenient, not planned and can pose great challenges but can come with opportunities should you be open to see them. When our journey with Teddy began we chose to be present from the beginning, we weren’t going to be seeing blessings from the review mirror but in the moment they were presented and maybe this is why for us it has been the most life changing of them all. As we live our days and years going forward we will not be asking for a map but simply riding the journey that is presented and feeling all that there is to feel, the good, the beautiful, the hard, the ugly, we are here for it all.