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

Capture Your Grief – Who Are They? 

Theodore Rutherford Williams. Also known a Theo, Teddy, and my forever baby. He is a son, a little brother, a Grandson, a nephew, a cousin, a friend. He was a boy who was loved long before he was transferred to his forever home, my womb. He spent 3 years in the freezer and 3 months of that with his brother Jack. He is a teacher of all things to do with love. He has been my biggest blessing and largest heartache. His life was short but full of purpose. Every second of heartache is worth it to have spent 3 years in my heart waiting to be transfer to my womb, the 30 weeks in my womb and the precious 22 minutes after birth. My gratitude for him choosing me as his Mother is unending. He shows me how close he is in a multitude of ways, I feel so blessed.

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.

 

 

Your Thread is Forever 

Teddy playing with his brother last Sunday morning. (Look for the green orbs)
Teddy my sweet,

I come to you today with love and gentle arms that hold you dear. Life has been ever changing since you came and left our physical world. My life has always been forever evolving, I have been given a blessed life in that way. Since you enter my life, my world changes so quickly, sometimes from moment to moment and sometimes in ways that are permanent but it is those shifts I am most grateful for.

I have days that my heart is so heavy I wonder how I can carry this weight for the rest of forever. I also have days where my heart is light, it feels beautiful, I see things that remind me of you and instead of sadness it brings joy. I know I need to walk the path that leads me to joy. To the place you would want me to be, yet walking it is scary; to let go of the heartache, to allow it to slip a way without fear it may never come back. I have been so scared to make this choice as it feels like I am walking away from you. My brain knows this is not the truth but my heart can sure make it feel as if it is. I am choosing to be brave, I am choosing to allow some of the pain shed from my being allowing space for more joy to grow.

You are a thread that is woven into the fabric of our family. A thread that is so important because with it we are stronger. This is a thread that can never be removed, can never be forgotten, and now without it we simply wouldn’t be us. I have had fear people with time wouldn’t see your thread woven into the fabric of our family. I have had fear people wouldn’t see how important you really are or how much you matter. The truth is I know, your Dad knows, your brothers know and those who love us know how special  you are so maybe that is all that really matters. It is enough that only we know and those that are close to us who choose to understand will also always know and maybe it is time for me to be okay with allowing you to just be uniquely you and loved by those close to us just as you would had you lived.

I know as I walk this journey with you I can’t make a wrong turn but I can make better turns. I can make choices that can foster a life with more love and more joy and by doing so doesn’t take away from you but adds to you and your value to our family. I want our family to be woven with a multitude of colourful threads all equally important as the next. Your colour will always shine bright and be visible to our family.

Walking the path to joy isn’t always easy. I have learned that we need to protect our hearts sometimes. We have to take time for ourselves and that is is okay to not put ourselves in situations that triggers heartache. Recently those who truly love us, have been extremely loving as we have chosen to tend to our heart’s needs and we are so grateful for the unconditional love we have received.

Teddy, I am always here, I will always love you. Till the day we meet again you will be loved, this much I know is true.

Your Mommy

PS – Thank you for showing up in our pictures this last weekend. I love it when you show up.

Blame – Please Shhh 


Theo my Angel,

Today is a day like any other. You are on my mind endlessly. I was making lunch today as I wondered how I ever accomplish anything when my mind always seems to be on you. I feel like our life must be on autopilot. Even though it has been 253 days since you left our physical world it still feels new to have my mind 100% preoccupied. I have never thought about a person or a thing so much in my life.

I just put your brothers down for a nap. Jack is sleeping in the hammock and Patrick in the trailer. We are just finishing up another week at the lake. As they both were less than excited for a nap I wondered if I would have ever had successfully laid 3 boys down for a nap at the same time? Would we have had the peace and couple hour break to refill my own cup by reading or chatting with your Dad on the beach? I have these thoughts and they come with so many mixed emotions. I feel like it sounds like I am grateful to only have the two boys because it is easier and I do get breaks I am sure wouldn’t have gotten had you been here. It makes me feel like I am a terrible mother for enjoying some of the realities of your death. My brain knows this is crazy but my heart can’t help but want to punish me for enjoying these moments especially since I am so conscious of the fact I wouldn’t have this if you were still here. I know it goes without saying I would always choose you over any sleep, break, book, or chat.

I have slowly started to realize how much I do blame myself you aren’t here. I blame myself so many people feel such pain from your absence or witnessing our pain and how much everything in our life has changed. Intellectually I know I am not to blame but there is something that whispers, “without me there wouldn’t be a you, without you people’s hearts wouldn’t be so hurt”. Maybe it is easier to accept your loss if I can pinpoint blame, maybe it is natural to want to find fault, maybe one day these whispers will go away as they will no longer feel true and no longer be floating around.

I find it easy to be grateful for all the ways you have made me a better person and have given me a new lens in which I see the world but I struggle with being grateful for thing such as more sleep, extra free time, a less hectic schedule and even the more one on one time I have with your brothers. I love my time with them, just knowing I have it because you are gone is something I struggle appreciating.

I promise you I will find a way to silence the whispers, to allow myself to unload the weight of the blame, and accept what I know to be true; that this was all meant to happen and we all needed to experience this loss together.

Grief is funny, when you think you have things figured out changes within you take place, you see things that were always there but didn’t realize and with that you have a whole new set of realities to work through. Grief work is hard, it is ever changing and never ending.

I love you Theo, you are my beacon of hope, I see you everywhere, and am truly grateful for you, all of you.

Your greatest fan, your Mommy

Surviving the Tsunami of Grief


My love Theodore,

I am here, one with you in our hammock over looking Papineau Lake. The sun is shining, the wind is blowing a beautiful breeze and I am laying here with our crazy dog Jam beneath me while Patrick is sleeping and Jack is fishing with your Dad and Great Uncle Freeman.

You have been on my mind endlessly. I have spent much time in the last week thinking of how hard I crashed after riding a pretty long wave of peace. How depleted I felt, how the permanence of you being gone hit so hard and realizing how I will wake up in 20 years and have days like I just experienced.

I wrote you last from your resting place, I was the saddest I have been since you came into my world . My sadness stole my strength, my ability to function and complete simple tasks for three days. Filling my car with gas is an example of something I simply couldn’t do. My strength was replaced by endless tears, a tap was turned on and near impossible to turn off. You see grief is nothing more than a storm that comes and goes. Sometimes it is a beautiful rain shower and other times it is as crippling as a tsunami. I have now experienced the tsunami and the power it comes with.

I am so grateful to have felt it. To have lived it and to be reassured that the calm will always return and I will be okay. The calm did come, life went back to our new normal and your brothers have their Mom back and your Dad has his wife once again. We laugh, we love and we live. The tsunami temporarily steals that all from you. My heart aches for those who feel this on a more regular frequency.

So here I am with you, thinking and feeling so grateful for all you give me. Your gifts are ones I would give back in a heartbeat to have you in my arms if that was an option but it simply isn’t. So being open to see these gifts even if it is by having to look in the rearview mirror helps me to continue to grow and remain open for change. Having the tsunami hit allowed me to feel what many feel when struggling with life, sometimes you just can’t push the hard stuff aside, suck it up and get on with life. Sometimes life says enough! Enough is enough and you have to sit with it and feel it all. I appreciate the new perspective. I know it will be a matter of time before another hits but I am grateful for the variety of storms that come allowing me to feel such a wide range of emotions and gain a broader view which enables me to be much more empathetic. For now I am enjoying the wave of peace and holding you in my heart in the most loving way I can.

As I lay here I envision how it would have been, me and you rocking ever so gently in the hammock, the breeze blowing and you sleeping peacefully in my chest. I love you, I will never stop imagining all what could have been. Sometimes it hurts to think of and sometimes I can dream peacefully and full of love. Today I feel the latter.

Loving you is easy.

Your biggest fan, your Mommy

Carrying the Weight from Loss is Exhausting 

img_5321

My littlest Theo,

I am here today with you, listening to the water lap up on the shore of the Bay of Quinte. My heart is so heavy, it is tired. I can’t stop wishing from every fibre of my being things were different. Missing you are words that are pale and seem to fall very short of how I feel.

We have lived 224 days without you. Life around me seems normal, the world is still turning, people still have love in their hearts, people still act out of hate, and the everyday routine seems to not have skipped a beat. Anyone looking from the outside would probably think it looks like our life too is back to normal and all is well. You could be our boys living in our home and think the exact same thing. Yet it is all a farce. We are tired, emotionally and physically. Walking around living everyday life carrying the weight of the loss of you is heavy and hard work. Behind every smile, laughter, trip to the grocery store, books read to your brothers, and the other 101 items on a list of simple tasks we all perform each day is your Mom who is doing this all with a 100lbs of grief on her back, and at times a paralyzing force around her that she has no choice but break through and put on a brave face, take on real life and do all that needs to be done.

Your Dad and I are exhausted. After a full day with your brothers, a full day at work for your Dad, then dinner, bath, books and bed we have very little time or energy to feel you. Like to really feel it, to talk about you, to move forward and to unload some of the weight.

We need a break, a break together. Time to focus on each other, to be at home, or not rush home, to cry together, to laugh together, to not cry, to sleep a full night, to fill our tanks without taking care of real life. Today until tomorrow morning we get a break, your brothers are happy as can be spending the night with your Poppa and Markin Williams. So here I sit, with you feeling all I have pushed aside because I had no time or because I was simply too tired to go there at times.

When you passed there was a sense of urgency to help us and we are forever grateful for every act of love but needing help isn’t over. This wasn’t a sprint, and it isn’t a marathon but this is our forever.  We aren’t just normal parents walking like zombies from the grind of having a 2 & 3 year old we are those zombies with an added load that holds a weight that is often too heavy to carry and we need rest. I pray that all of your friends in heaven have parents that are being loved and helped years after they were separated. Those who haven’t suffered a loss of a child will never understand that it isn’t just a emotional exhaustion but a physical one. Having time to refill physically allows time for the heart to also refill with peace. We all have tanks that hold love, peace, and physical energy. These tanks need to be refilled otherwise just like a car you will stall.

Theo, my sweetest little man I am sitting on top of where you were laid to rest, writing to you,and having the closest to a “Mommy Theo day” we will ever have. My heart weeps for you but I am so grateful to have this time with you nonetheless. Your Grandparents just gave us a really great gift.

The sun is shining, the wind is blowing a beautiful gentle breeze and the water sounds calming. Together we share this, as you are all three of those things. I feel you blow through, I feel your love shining down with the warmth of the sun and the sweet sound of the lapping water is as gentle as your love for me and all those who we share space with.

I miss you in immeasurable ways. Today, tomorrow and always. You are my son of all sons, the one I hold in my heart and to never be held in my arms again.

Your forever loving Mommy.

Happy Half Birthday 

Happy 1/2 Birthday Theodore,

Oh sweet boy of mine. As I type this exactly six months ago you entered the world and laid upon my chest. Your sweetest little heart was still beating and you looked ohh so incredibly perfect to me. Your Dad, myself and all those who were blessed to bare witness have been forever changed and I believe in the most beautiful ways.

You chose the perfect people for your first birthday party six long (or short depending on the moment) months ago. I feel that love the room was filled with and the moment you entered into the outside world that love grew tenfold.

The last six months have been the most life changing months of my life. When you were born so was the new me. I have had to learn to live without you and get to know who the new me really is. I haven’t mastered either but there has been evolution. With every step forward my ability to turn around and see where I came from allows me to see where I am going. It is like coming out of a fog.

This morning I met your beautiful friend Isaac’s Mom at the lake to celebrate you both. You both chose a beautiful morning to be born and you chose a beautiful morning to celebrate your 1/2 birthday. I can see you both looking down on us with hearts full of love, pride and an amount of sadness. With every flower we tossed in the lake to represent each month you have been gone for I could feel you, I couldn’t help but think it is only time and in the grand scheme of things time is nothing and we will be together again one day. When that day arrives I know it will feel like we haven’t skipped a beat.

I hope you two have a wonderful day together as I know I will with Isaac’s Mom.

You both are missed deeply, truly and loved beyond measure.

I love you,

Your forever loving Mommy.

 

Finally Home . . . 1 year ago today. 🐘

Littlest Theo finally home
Couldn’t have been happier to take my baby home that morning.
Theo my forever baby,

One year ago today you came home. The only home you were ever going to know here with us. You were welcomed in to my womb with love and anticipation of the life we were going to finally live together. Your Dad and I talked about you all the time ever since you were created and then put on hold for about three years. We wondered who you were, were you a girl or a boy, would you survive the thaw, would you start to grow once transferred to my womb, and then how amazing our family would be once you were earth side with us . Never once did we think that after being transfer and developing into the most beautiful baby that would have been the only time we had with you.

Babies die, but not ours. It honestly wasn’t in our realm of possibilities. You get past a certain stage in pregnancy and you have this false sense of security. It never crossed our mind that a baby we created out of desperate love and longing for a family could beat all the odds of conception, grow and then be taken. It seems like a cruel joke. Not many people get to fall in love with their baby years before they are implanted into their body. It wasn’t just a potential baby it was you Theodore Rutherford Williams.

I look at the picture that your Dad took of me moments before you were transferred home. The innocents in my eyes is so beautiful. I was just so in love with you and so excited we were all finally going to be a family and taking you home was one of the best feelings in my life. I felt so at peace that day. I was so ignorant to what this journey was really all about. Your Dad and I prayed together that morning and our prayers were answered we just simply had no idea what they really were going to look like once answered.

Well, what a year we have had! How blessed am I that I had the opportunity to have you with us for your whole lifetime. I carried you every minute of your beautiful life. The life we shared was of pure unconditional love. It was simple and it was easy then. The second leg of this journey is what is so dang hard. Living my life so far away from you, loving you as any mom loves their child and never being able to feel that love back in the traditional ways. It steals my breath, and at times feels impossible to catch.

Sunday I am off to a lodge two hours outside of Winnipeg. For five days I am sharing space, hearts and stories with 25 other Moms who love their babies as fiercely as I love you and also who can no longer hold them in their arms. These Moms are from four different countries and all different backgrounds but we share something that binds us so closely, only we know what it is like to Mother a child you can’t hold, see, kiss, and watch experience life. Only a bereaved Mom knows how tender the love really is and how one’s heart can still beat after being so broken in ways that will never be mended.

I look forward to five days of just you and me Theo. You and me, healing, living, and feeling peace together. Life is so busy with regular life, two precious boys and a loving husband at home. This gives me time to just be present with you for a few days and to celebrate you as the son you are to me with women who truly get it. I have no idea what this week will look like, and frankly I am open to whatever comes.

Thank you for the most incredible year we have just had together. You changed me in ways I didn’t know needed to grow, we shared the most beautiful 8 months I have shared with anyone, I learned a new depth to love and the gifts have been abundant. My heart is heavy with pain, but it is filled with so much love for you and has enabled me to love others in a deeper more pure way. This is all because you lived. I need you to know that I would never have made a different choice. Even if I knew before you were transferred that you would die, I would still to choose those eight months and a broken heart. Living a life where you never existed to me is a life not worth living. Thank you for choosing me.

Your forever loving Mommy.