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.

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness – Article in Local Paper. 

October is Pregnancy and Infant loss Awareness Month. 1 in 5 pregnancies result in a miscarriage and 1 in 100 births end with a baby passing away before, at or shortly after birth. I personally have experienced both. My early loss was my first son Jack’s twin early in pregnancy in 2012. It was physically painful, extremely scary, and emotionally heartbreaking. Our second loss was December 9, 2015 when our third son Theodore was born and passed away from a Congenital Heart Defect. This loss is profound and has taken our family on a beautiful journey learning to love fearlessly and unconditionally.

Reflecting upon my early emotions from these losses I realized both times we felt alone. We didn’t openly talk about our first loss and with the loss of Theodore we choose to be open in hopes that those who walk this journey after us will find comfort knowing they aren’t alone. No two journeys of loss are the same, but there are threads that are woven in the fabric of a heart broken from the loss of a baby that are mirrored in each loss. I have found being able to speak and write openly about our journey to be therapeutic.

I often wonder why, with something so common, do we have a culture which is uncomfortable talking about miscarriages and infant loss. What I know to be true is that healing happens when the pain is acknowledged, when the name of your baby is spoken, and when you are loved through your journey no matter how messy it gets. Living your forever without your baby is hard, mothering a child you can only hold in your heart feels incredibly overwhelming and impossible at times but with the love and support of your community this can feel lighter. It can feel bearable.

The day Theodore was born and left our physical world was the day a new me was born. I have had to be gentle with myself as I struggle to figure out whom that new me really is; how to navigate the world with a broken heart that will never mend and with a void that can never be filled. I see my son missing from every moment of my life. It is impossible to see my two boys and not see the third missing. I also see him present everywhere. He has many ways to tell me how close he truly is especially at times my heart hurts the most.

Experiences like these leave you at a crossroads choosing between walking the path that allows you to form a hard shell over your shattered heart or becoming open, vulnerable, and honest. Knowing the path would be harder but so much more rewarding, we chose the latter. Our family is forever changed in most beautiful ways because we are walking this journey by choosing the route that leads us to love fearlessly.

Many couples have silently carried the loss of a baby for decades. A parent doesn’t get over a loss like this but the loss can feel lighter with time and sharing helps lighten this load. Throughout this month, share your experiences with one another. Talk about the babies we no longer can hold, use their names, and ask questions. It is time we break the silence and embrace the truth about life. Babies die. It is heartbreaking but true. There is no shame and it doesn’t need to be uncomfortable. We can comfort and lift each other up, if we can be open with the reality that this happens to many.

http://www.intelligencer.ca/2016/10/03/healing-comes-easier-when-we-discuss-our-loss

Heartache & Joy Can Coexist. 

I am not expert on grief. Grief and I have only been acquainted for 9 months. But I have become an expert on my grief, not my husband’s, and certainly not yours, but my own ever changing journey of grief.

This is the thing about grief; no two people have the same journey; not even if two people lost the same baby, or father, or sibling, or pet. The journey will always be experienced differently. It only makes sense to me that this would be true since we have all experienced a very different life leading up to that loss. We all have very different relationships with our support networks and different relationships with those in our lives who aren’t supportive. But mostly it comes down to the fact that we simply have a very different lens through which we view the experience.

Meeting those who have experienced a loss very similar to my loss of Theodore has shown me that as much as we have similar threads woven in our hearts, we are all very much on our own journey. The authentic sharing of our hearts and feelings allows space for these differences. A deeper connection is made when a thread that feels so close to a thread you carry is exposed or when you hold space for a thread that isn’t something that you have experienced or feel but can love that person whole heartedly while meeting them where they are at.

The last few weeks have really made me take a hard look at my journey and all the experiences I have gone through. I have encountered some of the most beautiful people who can surprisingly do all the right things, which often include doing nothing but sending love openly and acknowledging where I am at without judgment. Then there are those who are able to offer love as long as it doesn’t distract from their personal happiness. Experiencing this a few times I have realized our society is very uncomfortable with allowing heartache and joy to coexist. Life isn’t linear. It has many twists and turns, hills, valleys and mountains. It has moments that leave you bursting with love and joy as well as moments that are heart wrenching. It is unreasonable to think that we would all be at the same place at the same time. The only way to fully support each other through real life is by allowing both heartache and joy to coexist in a beautifully open way. One simply can’t distract from the other; allowing both to be present makes it authentically beautiful.

After digging a bit deeper within myself and wondering why people struggle with the notion that heartache and joy can coexist, I found myself returning to the judgment piece. Often people who have experienced a loss of any kind feel judged. Those surrounding a person experiencing loss are often peeking in a window to that person’s world looking for signs of them “getting better”. People love to say statements such as “you are doing amazing” or “you aren’t getting better” or even “you seem to be getting worse”. The truth is all of that is garbage. It is just a judgmental perspective even when said out of love. The truth is “better” or “getting worse” are just your judgmental observations of my grief and have nothing to do with me. I have just been me experiencing my emotions. They may last a minute, a day, a week, a year, or a lifetime and anything in between. I don’t feel better or worse, I just feel. Sometimes it is heavy and may look like it is getting messy and sometimes it is light and beautiful but one isn’t better than the other. It truly is nothing more than IT JUST IS.

Maybe if people can view the hard stuff in life without judgment and accept it for what it is, then it will become easier to allow space for it right beside another person’s beautiful happy moments in life.

Because no two people’s experience with loss is identical it makes it impossible to compare journeys and leaves no room for judgment. The hard truth is you simply can’t fairly judge what you don’t know. It has been said a million times but, there is no timeline for grief. I personally don’t agree with labeling stages of grief. It just is. Meeting a person where they are at, with no judgment, while loving them through it all is the only way to support one another in life.

My only advice to loving a person experiencing grief is to acknowledge their feelings, give them endless amounts of love and recognize that your impressions and judgments about their grief is truly about you and not them. They are just feeling what their heart feels just like you do every day about a million other things.

 

 

Newly Bereaved Parents

 


To the parents of a precious baby who left your world too soon.

I am so sorry your baby couldn’t stay. You aren’t alone. I am sure today you are feeling more alone than you have ever felt in your life. I am sure you are thinking what just happened, never happens. It unfortunately does happen and it happens more often than anyone would care to admit. You aren’t alone. You have a whole community of parents whose babies just couldn’t stay and who left behind broken hearts that will never be mended. The most amazing thing about hearts that are broken in this way is that they often hold the desire to help and love other parents through their journeys. When you are ready you will find these parents.

Your journey will be unique to you. As you navigate the coming days try do so with love in your heart and gentleness towards yourself. The day your baby left, a new you was born. This is going to take time to learn who you are now and there is no right or easy way to do this. Give yourself grace, you deserve it.

What I have learned about losing a baby is that they leave such powerful legacies and provide such purpose. There was nothing you did to deserve this; you are the Mother of all Mothers and the Father of all Fathers.

I wish with my whole being you weren’t reading my letter. I can feel the heaviness of your heart and of your arms that are aching to hold your precious baby one more time. This feeling will stay with you forever but with time will feel less painful.

When I think of grief I visualize a great big ocean of water. At the early stages it is all heavy. There are no ripples; it is pure grief. As time passes you will be given waves of peace. The waves come and sometimes they are short and other times you can ride them for a little while. With time these waves come closer together and they stay longer. I remember feeling so guilty when the first wave arrived. I remember thinking “how is it possible to be feeling at peace”. I even questioned if I truly loved my baby since it seemed unfathomable I could be feeling joy, peace, or anything but sadness after my world crashed and my baby left us. But what I have learned is to be gentle with myself. Feeling these things are not only okay but it is what your child would want for you. Welcome the waves, ride them for as long as they will stay, and then when the grief returns be present with it as well.

As you enter back into the world, remember grief holds no timeline; your feelings are yours and uniquely yours; no journey will ever be the same even though there are some common threads; and finally choose love when it is an option. Relationships change after a life event like this. No two people will react the same as they navigate a loss of this magnitude, but if you can find space to offer grace to others and to yourself then you should be able to find your way to loving the new you and to becoming okay once again.

I am so sorry this is a part of your life story. I am sending you love and light as you find your way.

Yours Truly,

Theodore’s Mom

Mother’s Day

moms boys

Mother’s Day. 

A day to honour all Mothers. There are all kinds of Mothers. Of course there is the obvious Mom, the one walking across the street holding their little one’s hand, or the Mom with a grocery cart filled with giggling children. Then there are the Grandmothers. They are easy to spot, especially when with kids in tow. You will see what we call “Grandma wounds”, kiss marks all over their face.   

Then there are the women who don’t have any children, who haven’t experienced pregnancy but desperately long for a child of their own. 

What isn’t obvious are the Moms who can no longer have a child with them on a day like today to celebrate due to a miscarriage or their baby born still. 

We also have the mother who was able to have the blessing of sharing a life with their child but then along the journey they are taken from illness, an accident, or some other reason that they are no longer together in this physical world. 

I am 4 of the 5 types of Moms described here. I have my two crazy boys who everyone loves when we go grocery shopping as they are busy flirting with all the ladies. That is me the obvious Mom . The kind of Mom people are comfortable with on a day like today.  I wasn’t always this mom, Jack was created after 3 years of praying and desperately longing for him with the help of IVF. He was bittersweet, Jack in the early stages was a twin and Ryan and I experienced an early loss of his womb mate. Recently I became the other type of Mom who lost a baby. Theodore was born on December 9, 2015 and passed away a mere 22 minute later. 

The three Mothers Days while we were actively trying to create a family were incredibly hard, I cried every year. I wanted nothing more than to be a Mom. I realize now I always was. 

Then my first Mother’s Day was what felt like true Mom was so bittersweet. I was the mom that most are comfortable giving well wishes to on this Day. I felt so blessed to finally be holding a baby and celebrating but I was holding space for the baby we lost so early on. 

This year brings a whole new set of emotions. I have two beautiful boys. They make my heart sing. No matter how amazing my boys are or how much I love them doesn’t prevent my heart from longing for the two I no longer have. My arms ache for Theodore and my heart carries all the what ifs for our early loss. 

Approximately,
1 in 16 couples will experience infertility.

1 in 4 woman have an early pregnancy miscarriage
6 in 1000 births a baby is born still.
7 in 1000 children will pass under 5 years

With numbers like this we have to be aware how many women are falling into one or more of these categories and honour all types of Moms today. Being a Mom is hard work. The mom who is physically parenting on a daily basis deserves the Happy Mother’s Day hug. The Mom who didn’t get the chance to feel her baby move inside the womb deserves the Happy Mother’s Day hug. The Mom who said hello and goodbye at the same time deserves the Mother’s Day hug. The Mom who said goodbye months or years after birth deserves the Mother’s Day hug.  Then we have the Moms who are still praying for their intended family, they equally deserve the Mother’s Day hug. 

Being a Mom is the love in your heart not what you hold in your arms. So as you go on about your day, there is a good chance the woman you see or talk to is in fact a Mom even if it isn’t obvious.