Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Happy Birthday, Mary Claire!

     I walked outside in October 12 and it hit me  . It took my breath away . The cold fall air . The first of the season . It all came rushing back . I was there . On her grave , in that chair , with Colin on my lap . My family was around me. Here I was , again .  The smell of the air , the cool breeze and my broken heart .
     Mary Claire Malone , November 1, 2007 .  You would be 11. Each year I think about what you might have been doing . This year you would be that cute little tween . You would be adored by your brothers and look up to your amazing adult big sisters . But this wasn’t Gods plan . 
     Gods plan . How do we embrace that ? Most often it’s not what we want or had thought out in our head . How does this time of year sneak up on me - every year . How am I not more prepared ??? How does this happen ??? 
     This happens because we are human . There cannot be grief where there hasn’t been love . We are mothers and fathers . It’s not the natural order of life to lose a child . Grief is a balance and flow of tears and joy .
     I choose to embrace Gods Holy plan . I rejoice in the precious life of our youngest child . She has taught me that I need to let go . I need to live and love fully each moment . Each and every moment is a treasure . I take nothing for  granted and realize that time is the greatest gift you can give .
     Thank you Jesus for allowing me to be Mary Claire’s Mommy . Sending you all my love in heaven on your 11th birthday baby girl  ❤


Sunday, October 14, 2018

Grieving Parent, You are Not Alone

Blog post by Autumn Purdy
Dear Grieving Parent,
What I want to say to you if you are suffering the loss of your child: I know this heartache. I live it every day. I understand your pain. You are not alone.
What I would want you to know about me: I have lost children, too—six, to miscarriage. The losses no longer haunt me, but I’ll never live without the pain. I don’t want to live without these sorrowful scars, but the grief no longer defeats me. We named our children, and that gave us tremendous peace. I call them by name, silently in my prayers, remembering their tiny, yet, significant lives. They are a part of me, my marriage, our family, my story.  
What I would do for you if you told me about the loss of your son or daughter: I would hold your hand and ask if he or she had a name. Then, I would say that name out loud with you to acknowledge and affirm that child’s life, no matter how short he or she lived inside or outside your womb. Named or not, your child was real, true, loved, and deserves to be known.
What I would ask you: What can you tell me about your child(ren)? What would you want others to know about them? How did your loss unfold? Tell me anything, or everything. I will listen, and laugh and cry along with you. I will marvel at the joy their life brought to you, and I will grieve all that you have lost. I will stay with you until you have nothing more to say, and together, we will sit in silence and solidarity of being parents whom have loved and lost.
What I would tell you now is: Thank you for sharing your pain with me. Thank you for trusting me with your vulnerability. I will hold the knowledge of your heartache sacred within my own heart. I won’t forget you or your children, either.
Please, remember: You are never alone
In prayerful lament,
A friend 
October is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, and October 15th is a special day dedicated to raising awareness for pregnancy and infant loss. At 7:00 PM tomorrow night, please join us in lighting a candle, praying, and speaking out loud the names, and honoring the memories of all the children taken from us too soon. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

And Then It Snowed....

I love snow! I love how still and quiet it is when it's snowing. I love how beautiful a fresh coat of snow is. I love how excited the kids get.

I love that since we moved here two years ago, this is my view when it snows:

Last week was a rough week. It was our first cycle trying to conceive with our new doctor all the way in Chicago. (She's a Reproductive Immunologist.) I'll spare you the details but it involves 34 pills and one injection in my abdomen a day. It's exhausting. And last week I learned that our first cycle failed. I was already feeling quite sensitive and angry that I was even in this position. Again. I'm angry that after I lost Alex, I lost Henry. And then I lost Olivia. Why? 

And then, it snowed.

You're thinking, "But Amy you love snow!"

Yes I do.

But when I looked out at the woods, I was hit with a totally, completely unexpected wave of grief. Because it snowed.

You see, when I was pregnant with Olivia, the time that I most associate with that was January. And I know we all remember January, right? Unbelievably cold weather, snow, wind....

When I think of Olivia, I think of being pregnant and bundled up on my couch in front of the fire with my husband's hand on my belly. I think of how cold I'd get just using my doppler to hear her heart beating. And when it snowed, it brought all that right back. 

It was so unexpected that I couldn't even fight it. I think there's a lot of grief that I have buried. I had a lot of fear over the future when I lost her. And the snow was my final undoing. 

At the same time, I was amazed at how something as simple as snow could be such an unexpected trigger. But I guess that's why they're unexpected triggers, right? We never see them coming. And those are always the worst ones. 

We can brace ourselves for things like holidays, angel birthdays, due dates, baby showers, etc. But things like snow...well there's just no way to see that coming the first time it happens.

And I suspect there's no way to win that battle, is there? 

I try to remember these things when the wave knocks me down:

1. We grieve because we love. 

2. The pain will get better.

3. The pain will get better.

4. The pain will get better.

It was because of that love that the next day, I pulled myself together and went outside with my son to build a snowman. After everything we've been through, I look at my two children and I wonder how in the world I was able to have them. They are clearly my two miracles. 

I'd love to hear about others' unexpected triggers and how you work through them! You never know who you might help by sharing!

Friday, October 3, 2014

I Carry Your Heart

This post is dedicated to my sweet Alex, who's third Angel Birthday is tomorrow, October 4. 

Right after I had lost Olivia earlier this year, someone told me that every mother carries fragments of the DNA of their children in their blood for the rest of her life. Apparently, as a fetus develops, some of those cells cross through the placenta and are carried around in the mother for years.  

We literally carry them in our hearts.

Which reminded me of one of my favorite poems from E.E Cummings, I Carry Your Heart.

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                      i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

We carry all of our children in our hearts, whether they're here on Earth with us or watching over us from Heaven. But I feel this especially hits home to my three Angels. 

"The root of the root, and the bud of the bud, and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows higher than soul can hope or mind can hide."

Life. New life- the root of the root, the bud of the bud. 

I will never forget Alex, Henry or Olivia any more than I'll forget my living children Ella and Kevin. I'll carry them all in my heart for the rest of my life. It's actually quite comforting to me that I'm carrying around their DNA, it makes me feel as if it's proof that they really existed. 

Three years ago, my life changed in a way I never thought possible. I haven't been the same since then. Losing Alex feels like the starting point of a lot of chaos and heart break in our lives. We lost Henry 16 months later, and 12 months after that we lost Olivia. 

I've heard other loss moms say that people comment on how different they seem, "She's just not the same anymore!" as if that's a bad thing.

I'm definitely not the same person I was before. There are times when I know I'm not the fun-loving person I once was. And I know that sometimes people miss that person. But I don't. 

This experience has showed me a lot about who I really am. It's led me to my faith, to my friends, and strangely, even to a greater self-confidence. 

I'm not the same person I used to be, but I'm exactly who I'm supposed to be. 

I will carry their heart in my heart forever. I will never be without it. Wherever I go, they go.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Grief Is Ugly

Grief is Ugly
By: Kambra Malone

Last week I was thinking that Gabriel’s ninth birthday was coming up. That was a fleeting thought between putting together Kieran’s First Holy Communion celebration and getting our high school kids ready for their out of town crew regatta.
Today I woke up and found a sweet message from my friend Erin Foster. Erin was wishing me a good day and remembering Gabriel…….remember Gabriel!!! A flood of tears came to me. How on earth did this sneak up on me? What kind of Mother am I?? I started my day with a FB post of “I feel entirely blessed” and am ending my day with “The hole in my heart is gaping”.
After I read Erin’s message I changed my profile pic to Gabriel’s head stone.
My personal friends know that this year 2014 has been unreal. It began with a baby shower, my husband in the hospital, my son in the hospital at the same time, my partial foot amputation, Ellie ( our daughter who just had our first grandchild) was in a terrible car accident, Brendan’s confirmation, Rowan’s birth and Kieran’s First Holy Communion all since January 1.
I left this afternoon. I went to flowerama and bought 11 carnations with a blue bow around them. Nine of the carnations for Gabriel’s ninth birthday and two extra for my friends baby’s far away that she can’ t go to their grave. The lady at the counter asked me who were the flowers for?” I normally would go into the “Oh it’s for my baby in heaven” . Not today. Today I said “ For a friend”. I didn’t feel like sharing. I was in a daze. I drove to the cemetery crying all the way. I walked out to Gabriel and Mary Claire’s grave and laid the flowers down. I noticed a shiny thing in the grass. I picked it up and it was the Holy Family medal that our son had left on their grave April 12. I took the medal and pushed it into the soil beside the grave marker. I kept crying – felt a pain I haven’t felt in Nine years. WHY? Why today?????
I don’t know. The hurt was so deep.
Grief is UGLY. It is cyclical. It never goes away. It finds new places to go. Then it’s back again. It was back today for the first time in a very LONG time. It felt like the day we found out he was dead.
Gabriel you are “Back In His Arms Again”. I deeply love you as I love all of our children and now our grandchild Rowan. Love is real. It is beautiful. I pray tomorrow I feel Love and not grief.
Happy Birthday, Gabriel Frances Malone. Your Mommy loves you so very much. xoxo

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

"I'm Fine"

We've all seen the jokes floating around e-mail and Facebook about how when a woman says, "I'm fine." it really means quite the opposite. And as much as I hate to admit this, for me at least, there's some truth to that.

When I give the "I'm fine" response, it usually means I just don't want to talk about it for one reason or another.

When it comes to me talking about how I'm doing emotionally after the loss of my babies, it's the answer I give because I just honestly don't know what else to say. Most people you encounter probably don't even really want to hear the long explanation of how I'm really doing because it makes them a little uncomfortable. And sometimes I just don't even know where to begin! And there's even been a few days when I've felt like I just dared someone to ask me because I was so angry that I was really going to tell them how I was and not care.

A lot of times, for me, the response of, "I'm fine!" is how I stay strong. I'm a wife and a mother and I have jobs and responsibilities and my time to be "not fine" is very limited. So I am forced to find a way to be fine all the while thinking, "I have to be strong for my family! I have to be strong to make it through this."

But there is one very important thing I've learned this time around: there is a lot of strength in admitting that you are *not* fine. 

It takes strength to ask for, and to accept, help.
It takes strength to tell someone how you're really feeling.
It takes strength to admit to yourself that you're not always "fine". 
It takes strength to know that it's perfectly ok to not be fine all the time. 

Not being "fine" is not a weakness. And maybe if more moms going through a loss were able to openly admit on any random day that they are, in fact, not fine today, more women would feel better about not being fine. To make the new definition of "fine" in this circumstance mean that we're hurting, we're experiencing something that's unbearable and something that we'll never understand, and that it's normal and good and how we heal. We're fine. We hurt, we cry, we long, we smile, we laugh, we scream, we yell.

We're fine. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Things That Were Taken

My best friend delivered a healthy baby girl this morning. She and I have been through a lot together over the last two years, her having experienced her own pregnancy loss and infertility journey. I was feeling pretty proud of myself all day yesterday that rather than feeling sorry for myself and the loss of my own baby girl, that I was excited for her. She was finally becoming a mother to a baby that would get to come home with her! It sounds so cliche but it really is a life changing, defining moment. In fact I'm not sure there's any other joyous event in life that even compares.

But when I received a text from her at 4:30 this morning announcing the birth, suddenly I felt robbed as I realized the birth of a healthy baby is no longer my reality.

Pregnancy loss robs you of so many things. The greatest loss is of course the life of your child, but there are so many other things you lose that you never realize right away.

Sometimes you lose friends and family members who either don't acknowledge your loss as being significant, or it makes them too uncomfortable to acknowledge or talk about. I need to surround myself with people who are comfortable it the topic comes up. I need to be around people who let me acknowledge them as my children and not my "miscarriages". 

Sometimes, you lose hope and faith. Will we ever bring home a  baby again? Why has God put us on this path? Why do my babies die?

And sometimes, you lose that naive state of pregnancy being that pregnancy=baby. When we see our loved ones announce a pregnancy, there's a very confusing mix of emotions. For me personally, it's not that I'm not thrilled for them because I am. But I'm also very envious. And I'm also terrified for them. I don't want to see them experience what we've been through. I don't want them to have to understand this. But because of what we've been through, to me, pregnancy=loss. 

This morning I realized yet another thing that I've been robbed of. I don't remember that joy of having my newborn baby placed in my arms for the first time. I certainly feel joy at having my children, looking at them and loving them. But I honestly can't remember what that joy felt like when they were born  because so much has happened since then. When I think of my birth experiences, the first emotion that comes to mind is the sorrow and the pain of holding my teeny tiny babies who didn't make it. I don't remember the late night feedings as we learned to nurse, I remember the late nights of empty, aching arms in the hospital. I don't remember the nervous excitement as we brought home our baby, I remember the crushing pain as I left the hospital without my baby. When I try to remember, I only end up feeling even more robbed that I didn't get that and I'm filled with longing to have the chance to realize that again.

I feel of all the random things I've been robbed of, this one has me the most angry. The birth of my living children was so special and someday, I do think I'll be able to remember that happy feeling better as the raw pain of our losses fades. But I'm mad that for now, it's so overshadowed. 

Hope and joy. Two things that represent so much in our lives and it's so easy to lose sight of them in the midst of sorrow and pain. Stolen right out from under our hearts. 

But as the saying goes: 

Beginnings are scary, endings are usually sad, but it's the middle that counts the most. Try to remember that when you find yourself at a new beginning. Just give hope a chance to float up.

And it's my personal belief that when you find hope, there you will also find joy.