Willow Beatrice

We went the hospital early Monday morning for our set induction at 39 weeks. It was such a surreal feeling. We were so scared and were worrying about what could go wrong. I constantly wanted to hear her heartbeat. Our nurse Sara helped out with that. I was a little nervous at first she had such a big personality and I generally don’t care for that when I’m stressed. I shut down and tend to get annoyed with people. Sara was great that she changed my mood, made us laugh and kept on making fun of Tony. She was so amazing and the perfect person to have with us during that day. 

That morning I was joking that I was hoping for an 8 hour Labor and it turns out that is what happened. I was induced at 8, hard labor started at 12:30, one failed epidural, a second epidural and then Willow was born. Willow was born January 23rd at 3:59 pm, weighing 7lbs 11oz and was 21 1/2 inches long. 


When our doctor placed her on my chest I began to cry. I could believe she was here, crying and alive. I just couldn’t believe it. To be honest I still can’t. She had dark brown hair, the same lips and long skinny feet like her sister. We think Willow looks more like me then Berkley did but the girls look so much like each other. 

She has changed so much in the last three months . She is already full of so much personality. She is always “taking” and giving us huge smiles. 


I constantly find myself thinking about how grateful I am. When I’m burping her, she stands leaning against me and her hair brushes against my face. I melt and my heart feels so full. We are so in love and we are so excited to watch our baby grow.

I’m grateful for the little things

It has been a little over a year since our daughter Berkley passed away. This year has been hard and complicated to say the least. We have learned a lot this year about pain, ourselves, the grieving process and the world we live in. The loss of our daughter has changed how we look at the world. It has made life harder, it has made us more grateful and it has given us a deeper understanding.

At times it is very exhausting having to carry the weight of the loss. The first year felt as if we were just trying to survive, grow and understand the pain. We would celebrate our small victories moving through the grieving process. We started to participate in life again and actually began to enjoy it again.

It taught us a lot about ourselves and made us go through an existential crisis. We questioned the meaning of our lives and what the purpose of our life is supposed to be. It’s not an easy thing to do when you are in deep grief but, I guess that’s when it happened. It made us look at every aspect of our lives. The good and the bad. It is hard and it is painful. At times we feel very lost still and it’s hard to make decisions.

Losing our daughter gave us a deeper understanding of life and compassion for other people. I have seen people lose children before but, I couldn’t have imagined the depth and length of pain they endure until we experienced this pain ourselves. It made me look at other people that are struggling with their own battles with mental health, sickness, loss, personal issues, addiction, or any other thing a person has struggle with in this life. I know now that I will never know what they are going through. I know now that I don’t have a right to pass any sort of judgment on how they handle the battles they are enduring. We are so unique, we have different coping mechanisms, and all have been given different battles.

I know for me it was the little things that helped us survive, heal and helped us learn to live again. It was the friends and family that stood by our sides. The strangers that reached out to us. The random letters, messages and people reaching out to us months after we lost our daughter. It was the people in our lives that waited for us to return. It was being told after months of not being myself that someone saw a glimpse of the “old me”. It was when people would tell us it was nice to hear us laugh again. It is when you bring up Berkley in a conversation, when you still ask how we are doing, when you still allow us to have rough patches and when you haven’t put a time limit on our grieving process.

We wanted to do something in honor of Berkley and we participated in the Hope and Hearts walk for the Missing Grace Foundation. We set out just to walk. We hoped a few people would walk with us and maybe raise just a little money if we were lucky. We ended up having a large group of our friends and family join us and  we raised $3,300. We had many people that we love donate and reach out to us that couldn’t make it to the walk. We are beyond grateful for everyone that supported us.

With everything we have endured this year we are grateful for the little things. Thank you for allowing me to say my daughter’s name. Thank you for standing by our sides and being patient with us as we travel this journey. Those may be little things to you but, the mean the world to us.

Pregnancy after loss


I am almost in my eighth month of pregnancy with our rainbow baby Willow. My second pregnancy has been similar to pregnancy with the Berkley physically.  Mentally it is completely different. In the beginning of the pregnancy it was very exciting and gave us a renewed sense of hope. The summer flew by and were some of the happiest months we have had in the past year. The highlight of the summer was finding out that we were expecting our second daughter. I was going to try to tell our family together the gender of the baby but, that didn’t happen. I couldn’t even get into the car without starting to make the first phone call to tell our family we were having our second daughter.


Tony and I both really wanted a second daughter but, knew it was most likely going to be hard to have another daughter. Ever since we found out Berkley was a girl we had imagined raising a daughter and wondered what it would be like to have a daughter. We will hopefully know what it is like to raise a daughter in a few months. Things are complicated after you lose a child and are expecting another. I am scared that when I look at Willow I am going to wish for Berkley and that breaks my heart. Having a second daughter gives us a second chance to raise a daughter but, we will always have the void in our hearts where we should have had that chance with Berkley.

The farther we get into this pregnancy the more we begin to shut down emotionally. It’s almost like my mind is trying to protect myself incase something heartbreaking happens. The feeling is very strange and hard to explain. I am very in love with Willow. We want her here in January safe and healthy. There is some sort of disconnect with me realizing that we really are having another child in less then eight weeks. Whenever I catch myself imagining our life with Willow I stop myself and make myself think of something else. It is very hard that not only did we lose a daughter, we lost the ability to enjoy the beauty of pregnancy and engage in the excitement of the process.

We are doing our best and I’m ok with that. It’s hard for us that we are so scared and shut down but, we are trying our hardest. We both are enjoying her movements, reading stories to her at bedtime and just started on her nursery. I made her a beautiful floral mobile to hang above her crib. She will have all of her sister’s things but, we have began to pick up a couple things that are new for her.

It feels as if we are holding our breaths until she is here. Worrying about movement, hiccups, tests or ultrasounds is stressful. So far things are going good and she is doing good. We are hopeful and are trying to believe fully that she is here to stay. I am doing several things to try to keep my mind right. I am going to the gym a few days a week, going to therapy, reading blogs written by women that have/are going through this same journey, and trying to focus on the beauty in each day even when they are hard. Pregnancy after loss is hopeful, beautiful, sometimes sad, hard and complicated.


 

 

Hoping for our rainbow


Written 5/30/15

I cannot believe we finally have a positive pregnancy test. When you make that decision to try to have children each month that passes by waiting feels like it takes forever. So far I am fortunate that it hasn’t taken too long each time we have tried. My heartaches for families that struggle for months or years to concieve. It’s just not fair that so many wonderful people have to struggle, when others get pregnant and don’t even grasp how lucky they are.

Right now I don’t really know how to feel. I am definitely happy, guarded, and cautiously optimistic. I want to be happy and nervous like the pregnancy with Berkley but, I feel like I wasn’t scared like I am now. I was affraid of the worst happening but that was in the back of my mind overshadowed by my naïve sense of security. Thinking it really doesn’t happen to everyone so I hope I’m fine. 

I am scared now because, I am happy right now yet, very affraid. I don’t know what I would be like if I have to endure another loss again. I just want to be like the lucky ones. The ones that just get pregnant and deliver healthy children. I know I will never be that lucky because, I am so scared by the very traumatic loss of our first born. Each pregnancy will most likely be stressful and full of fear because, I know what intense pain that lays on the other side of the pure happiness. What I would do to be naive or have any sense of normalcy and have a happy pregnancy like I did with Berkley.

Happiness

Written 7/10/15

It has been a little over 8 months since our daughter passed away and life is beginning  to change. We decided to take a vacation for our anniversary that was May 29th. We headed out to visit our niece and to go back to Glacier National Park.


Glacier is such an important places for us. It is the most beautiful place we have ever visited in our lives. We first went out there two years ago and fell in love with it. I was sitting on a ledge on the side of the mountain looking at a bright green valley that had several small water falls running down the side of it. In that moment I felt an euphoria come over me and I thought to myself this is what heaven must look like.

When Berkley died I had nightmares and racing thoughts as I tried to fall asleep every night. I would replay our real nightmare. That night would start to replay over and over in my head. It was torture. That is why I would drink a lot or drink Nquil for a couple months to try to escape from our nightmare. When that didn’t work anymore I learned to replay our trip to Glacier out in my head. I would think of every detail from that trip the beauty, happiness and hoping that was what heaven was like.


This year we went to our happy place and that feeling returned. We laughed, hiked, camped, reconnected with ourselves and each other. I think this week in our happy place helped us find our happiness again.

Which brings me to fourth of July weekend. We have been hermits when it comes to interacting with friends and extend family. This past weekend was filled with family, friends and happiness. We went to Brainerd and surprised our friends at a racetrack that they were at. It was such a great day.

At the end of the day I was just sitting there with them and I felt that euphoria feeling again. I haven’t felt that feeling for a very long time, let alone just feeling happiness. Happiness without the but or what ifs. Just happiness. I wanted to start crying because I am so grateful to just be able to feel that feeling again.

 

 

Pain and Time

This pain is so unimaginable and I have never felt this intensity of pain in my life. When I was in high school I lost three very good friends of mine. One a year starting in 9th grade. These were some of the closest friends I had and when I lost them it was the closest I have been to feeling this type of pain. I still think about them on their birthdays and the time of year they passed away especially.

The days after I gave birth the Berkley the pain began to rise. Many nights would be spent crying hysterically until I would fall asleep. Some mornings I would wake up only to start crying like that again until I fell back asleep. I would make myself get out of bed, try to eat, and take a shower. If I did those three things It was a win. Tony stayed home with me for the first week and then my little sister flew in from Florida the next to stay with me. Even though I wasn’t much company.

I was in so much pain physically and mentally that I shut down. I couldn’t have imagined the pain until I had experienced it myself. There were times that when I was crying my arms would ache like there was a need to hold my baby that was so far away. I could also feel pain searing through my bones as I lay in bed crying hysterically. There were many times I would get into the shower start crying, begin gasping for air, my knees giving out as I sat huddled in the corner of the shower trying to pull it together or at least catch my breath. I began to have panic attacks on a regular basis and I was lucky if I only had one a day. After one of my panic attacks I went to the bathroom to get tissue to blow my nose. I looked at myself in the mirror and didn’t recognize the person staring back at me. It was like I was looking at a stranger. I took a picture to send to my sister to see if I had officially lost my mind.

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Mentally I wasn’t doing much better. I do not know where that month went. I was on autopilot. I remember going through the motions but, I wasn’t in my body it felt like. I was like a zombie if I wasn’t crying. I remember staring out the window one November day. Knowing it was deer hunting as I sat there wearing a long brown sleeve shirt and my blonde hair pulled up into a long ponytail. I fantasized about just starting to walk through woods and fields until someone accidently shot me thinking I was a deer. Thinking to myself that I don’t know how anyone survives this pain and not wanting to live without my daughter here with us.

My husband is my rock, my world, and knows me better then anyone in this world. I would think to myself when things were at the lowest, “I Love him, I love him, I love him”. During this painful time I could remember what love felt like.

I spent my days trying to dig out of the hole I was in. I fought everyday to survive, change, and grow from our daughter’s death. My friend sent me books that she read when she lost her son. I found Facebook groups, blogs, websites, and my doctor made us come in to see how we were doing too. That is when we began therapy also. I read many psychology articles to try to understand what I was going through emotionally. Slowly days became a little less painful. I could make it out into public and return to work. I could make it through work without having a break down most days but would lose it as I drove home by myself.

Slowly as days passed we learned to carry the pain, we began to cry less days, and could think about our daughter in a beautiful way. As I began to have good days Tony began to have his break down days. He had carried me for so long and put me first even through the death of his daughter. Most people think that it is me suffering so intensely from the loss of Berkley but, my husband carries the same pain as I do. He just doesn’t express it like me.

Our daughter would almost be 10 months old right now and the pain is changing. The pain can hit me like it did before in the early days but, that doesn’t happen as often. The pain has turned into an ache for her, wondering what she would be like or where she is today. We see her life as a beautiful thing and can feel the love we have for her over anything else. Beautiful sunrises and sunsets remind me of her the most. They give  me a sense of hope and remind of her beauty.

 

 

 

 

Our second child


Sharing the news that I am pregnant with our second child publicly is scary for me. With my pregnancy with Berkley I was announcing right at 12 weeks when I was “in the safe zone”. I was the happiest I had ever been expecting to be mother soon. Now I am scared to tell the world that we are expecting our second child because, I do not want to have to publicly announce a child has died again.

We are beyond grateful that we are expecting our second child to join our family this January. We are very happy but know this pregnancy is so much different from our last. Physically the same but, mentally much different. 

We found out on an early Friday morning as we were getting ready to leave for our road trip out to Montana. To be honest when I saw those two lines show up pregnant we were beyond happy. I also felt there is no way this baby is going to stick around. I mean why would it? Here we are going on 16 weeks and it’s still hanging in there like a champ. 


The farther I get into the pregnancy the more it sinks in that we might be bring a baby home in 5 months. I am detached from this pregnancy in a way that I am in love but, haven’t allowed myself to feel the love like I did with Berkley yet. I know this baby deserves all the love that Berkley had but, now I also know the pain that is on the other side of that love. I have an amazing doctor and a new therapist that has a lot of experience  working with mothers that have lost babies. They both reassure me that what I am feeling is very normal.

I know I will love this child just as much and know in my heart I already do. I saw it already on a ultrasound at 12 weeks and we find out this weekend what gender our second child is. We are very excited and already have names picked out for both genders. 

Tony, me and our families are beyond excited.