Sunday, September 1, 2013

This day

It is the Sunday before Labor Day. This day is the reason I feel such a pull to be surrounded by those I love. Why I hate to miss church. Why I light a candle at church and sing to Gods glory. 

Two years ago, on the Sunday before Labor Day, I was given a precious gift. Aidan was born. I became a momma. 

Last year we chose to hop on a boat and just be. We turned off the phones, left the computer behind, literally left the country. We celebrated and remembered. We took the time to ourselves and allowed ourselves to heal. 

This year, we are staying home. I have tried to think of ways to celebrate and honor Aidan this week. I have some special things planned. While I know they will never truly live up to him, they are my way of saying thank you and passing on his goodness. 

This week is tough yet a favorite. It is my chance to revel in the gift of my son. It is my week to share of God's love and mercy. 

Today was spent surrounded by family. Celebrating the new life that has been born in the past year. I couldn't help but think of Aidan and how similar the days were. Aidan's Sunday was a day of awe and being surrounded in Grace. I don't see that day as goodbye. That day was everyone's hello to the tiny boy who would leave the biggest legacy. 

This week the tears will fall and I will miss him with all of the rawness, but I will also smile and hopefully honor him in a way he deserves. 

As I sit here watching Kellan sleep, I can feel the wholeness of Aidan. I know that Kellan is so much of his brother. Our connection to heaven. Our gift from above. 

It's not his birth date, but it is his Sunday. His beautiful perfect Sunday. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A legacy

I wanted to take a step back and pay tribute to a woman who helped the loss community in central Arkansas immensely.

When I think of nurses on labor and delivery, I immediately think of the happy deliveries. They are the ones who push a momma through labor and then turn around and hand that beautiful baby to the families. They are a face of comfort and joy.

Until, you aren’t that typical family. Your baby has died/is dying/will die. You are in a state of shock. You are numb. You are terrified. And then you are expected to labor and deliver all of your hopes and dreams, knowing you won’t get to see them come true. It is here that you hope and pray that you have a nurse like Treasure Grier; someone who even in the darkest moments is a ray of light, a woman of unending grace and infinite compassion.  Someone who will look at your baby and be able to show you their beauty and make sure you have every memory possible. A nurse who wouldn’t shy away from your room because she is uncomfortable, rather she embraces your entire family and loves your baby without limit.

Treasure began paving the way for grieving families long before most others. She recognized the need and wanted to make sure that these families were able to honor their children. She stood at the front of the pack and made sure no baby was left behind. Treasure became the coordinator for the bereavement program at her local hospital, Love Lives. Bracelets, bears, hats, clothes, layettes, books and pictures all came to be because of her dedication: all precious memories that countless families have because of her heart. She was more than a nurse. She became a part of your family.

I didn’t deliver Aidan at Treasure’s hospital, but as time crept by she still filled that role for me. All of my questions, all of my doubts, all of my fears….she was able to give me some answers. She was able to give me the knowledge I needed to begin to heal.

She is one of the first people who believed I could carry a baby to term. She promised to walk the journey with me and be my nurse. She started the hope that grew to be Kellan.

When I think of her, I think of someone who radiated joy. I see her in her scrubs, I hear her laugh, I feel her tears when she talked of the babies, I soak in the love she had for her own family. She saw the best in everyone and was determined to make us all be that person and nothing short.

Today is August 6th. One year ago today, Treasure ran into the arms of all of those babies she cared for. In her earthly life, she loved our babies and carried their families through the darkness. For the past year, we have loved her and carried her legacy on. Each and every life she touched has been changed.

 We are group of nurses, moms, doctors, friends, family and we are all connected by a woman. She left us much too soon, but we are all determined to finish the task. We will break the taboo. We are shattering the silence. With each and every day we walk in her footsteps. Every step is a promise to remember, honor and treasure these lives.

Friday, July 12, 2013


There are moments in life that define you. In the past two years, I've had A LOT of them. I've learned the true meaning of compassion and grace. I've witnessed pure strength in the face of overwhelming sadness. I've faced fear head on and relied completely on my faith. I promised that I would keep Aidan's  legacy alive and ensure that he made a difference to the world. 

As I sat in a hospital room tonight, I was taken back to our own room and the time I spent with Aidan. I was able to share our journey amd hopefully ease some of that burden for another family. The most important lesson I learned from our way to short of time with Aidan was to make every moment count. Memories are all that I have and I am so thankful that I made them. Now I want to share that knowledge and encourage others to do the same. We are not guaranteed tomorrow so why waste today? 

I have also learned to trust in my faith and to lean into God when there just are no words. And truly when you are looking into the eyes of grieving parents there are no words. You must simply draw your strength from him and allow him to lead. If you can do that then You are truly the hands and feet of God. 

I live, truly live, each day for Kellan. I'm no longer just trying to survive the waves of grief. I can finally draw a breath and feel it filling my lungs. I can find the joy in purely being alive. I breath, eat, pray, and truly enjoy each day. All for Kellan. 

But in moments like tonight, these I do for Aidan. I draw my strength and my courage from all of his 14.6 ounces. His perfection allows me to see these families and their babies and see only love. Not death. His life inspires me. 

My heart breaks every time I hear of another baby passing. Prayers are lifted. If I can, I reach out. 

And for the first time, tonight I raced home to be with Kellan. My miracle. My joy. 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Thankful for What?

In the time "before Aidan" I like to think that I was grateful. However, I know without a shadow of a doubt that I wasn't nearly thankful enough. I didn't appreciate the moments in the present and was usually hoping that the current good times could happen again. I was always planning for the next time instead of enjoying the moment I was being given. I couldn't live in the present because I was already looking ahead.
Of course, time stopped when I went into labor. Suddenly I couldn't look forward. All I wanted was for time to stop or even go backwards. I spent those hours cherishing every kick. Memorizing every heartbeat. Thankful that so many took the time to come visit.
Then, when the unthinkable happened, I needed time to freeze forever. I have never been more thankful for patience, tears, words, silence and the compassion to allow us to love Aidan as much as we needed. For the first time I was truly present in the moment. Moments that will have to last me a lifetime. Moments that are some of the most precious.
In the almost two years since then, I have learned more everyday to appreciate each smile, laugh, tear, hug and snuggle. I have loved with all of my heart and then some.
Since Kellan's arrival, I find myself losing time. I lose minutes, hours and occasionally days. Not because of the exhaustion of a newborn, but because I am so immersed in these moments. Moments I wasn't sure I would get to have. Moments that I often think of Aidan and know that I am getting a second chance.
The big moments are fantastic. The moments that I have thought about and dreamed about are even better in this reality.
But, the small moments are the ones that I am really soaking in. The snuggles, the coos, the early morning feedings, each new development....all of them are so precious. The past 10 weeks have flown by. My heart has been so full. I've even found myself cherishing the hard moments. The ones where I miss Aidan so much I think I might just break again.
So yes, I am that mom.
I laugh at his cries because they are the most beautiful sound.
I laugh at his pout because it looks like his Daddy.
I cheer when he poops because it is one more diaper I get to change.
I smile through the bittersweet moments because they are moments that belong to both of my boys.
I take the time to pause and be thankful when I get to fold up a stroller and put it in the trunk for another use.
I had to stop writing this and go rock a fussy baby to sleep and it was quite possibly the highlight of a pretty terrific day.
I find healing in these moments. And for that I am so thankful.

Monday, June 10, 2013

You came to my rescue

Almost two years ago, I stood in a room and had my child baptized. I held him while being surrounded by Evan and our parents. The pastor who had married us was there reciting words that I cherish. Honoring one of the few wishes I could control. We promised to honor and cherish. We thanked God for this life and vowed to make sure it served a bigger purpose. We remembered our own baptisms and renewed our faith. It was a holy moment. A moment that took place in the back room of a funeral home. A moment that has allowed me to maintain a grasp on sanity on the worst of days. Because the moments and days that followed were the hardest I have ever known. 

No parent should transition from a baptism to sitting at a mahogany table discussing arrangements and browsing burial options. The moments in that room are the ones that wake me up at night. They are the ones that bring me to my knees. They were the beginning of the end of my time with Aidan while here on earth. 

This past Sunday I got to do it again. I got to hold my child and present him for baptism. I got to do it in front of all of our family and friends. I got to smile and soak up every moment of Kellan's perfect day. We made the same promises. We said the same words. I felt the same holiness. 

Every moment we get to experience with Kellan is tinged with a bitter sweetness of those we miss with Aidan. But this moment, this moment I got with both. 

One of my favorite songs is "You came to my rescue". It touches the deepest parts of my heart. I sing it often. We sang it Sunday. 

Truly, I know that these boys are my rescue. They are my reason for living. They are Gods glory. I'm just lucky enough to carry the title of momma to them. 

Falling on my knees in worship
Giving all I am to seek your face
Lord all I am is yours

My whole life
I place in your hands
God of Mercy
Humbled I bow down
In your presence at your throne

I called you answered
And you came to my rescue and I
I wanna be where you are

In my life be lifted high
In our world be lifted high
In our love be lifted high

Thursday, June 6, 2013


Life in this new normal is always tinged with a sense of anxiety. An extra dose of fear. What if something else happens? What if I have to say goodbye to someone else that I love so dearly?

Of course, during Kellan's pregnancy and delivery the fear was amped up. There is also a sense of expectation (for lack of a better word). I spent so long preparing myself for the worst case scenario just because I live with the reality that it does actually happen. I refused to be caught off guard again.

That first week of Kellan's life I was convinced something was going to happen. With every cry, grunt, nurses check, Dr's appointment, car ride, hour of sleep I would attempt to prepare my heart for what was to come. Attempt being the key word there. As much as I thought I could "prepare" myself for another battle, I was desperate to not fail him. I so badly need him to thrive and fill my arms.

He will be six weeks on Saturday and I had finally gotten to the point where I was trusting my gut. I was starting to believe that I just might get the upper hand on the anxiety, when the words heart murmur were uttered. Out of nowhere. I was totally unprepared. And it shook me to the core.

Some people will question why a murmur would seem so scary. People have murmurs all the time and are totally fine. But, in my world I can no longer live by that rationale. I am all too aware that the usual or status quo isn't a guarantee. Bad things happen. For no reason. Without warning.

Today, Kellan and I traveled to Arkansas Children's Hospital to the heart clinic. Our pediatrician referred us, with our history she wanted to have him seen. We were quite the scene. A terrified mom pretending to have it all together while she pulls her month old miracle around this hospital in a wagon. This little boy and I are quite the pair!

Thankfully, after lab work, vitals, ekg and two wonderful doctors he was deemed perfect. Perfectly healthy with little to no murmur. No follow ups, no reasons to worry. I was allowed to breath and walk out relieved. 

I will never be able to take these moments for granted. Another gift from Aidan and his legacy. 

Hearing that he is perfectly healthy and congratulations are truly gifts. 

On this side of grief every single thing is different. Literally. I'm learning it over and over again. 

Tonight I am just flat out thankful. Thankful for Kellan's health. Thankful that I am able to be thankful because of Aidan. Thankful that I can see the joy in this beautiful mess. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Finding my voice

This month over at Still Standing.
What happens when the fear creeps in? What happens when you feel the anxiety taking over? What happens when you have so much joy, you are afraid you aren’t allowed to grieve anymore?
I am sure it is different for everyone, but for me, I lost my voice.
Last September, less than two weeks after Aidan’s first birthday, we found out I was pregnant. From that moment on I started to feel it slip away. My ability to “talk it out” has gotten harder and harder to do. I still vocally talk about Aidan whenever possible. I think about him every single day. But, as the pregnancy progressed I found it harder and harder to write. I have at times been criticized for being so open and I think that took root while I was pregnant. How could I talk about missing my son, when I had been blessed with the opportunity of another child? Why would I want to dwell on that when there is so much joy? I just didn’t know if people would still want to hear about Aidan.
In the past weeks, I have been encouraged numerous times to come back to this safe place. I have been asked to please come back to writing. Not for anyone else, but for myself. And for my boys.
It’s strange that I am more nervous about writing this, than I have been anything else. Telling Aidan’s story is sacred. I was writing to survive. I now know that I can survive and in that knowledge I feel more exposed. I am more protective of Aidan and Kellan. If someone judges my writing about them, are they judging our decision to have another baby? To include Aidan as much as we do? Are we not including him enough?
At first, it was the fear of losing another baby that froze my words. My pregnancy with Kellan was one of extremes. From joy to fear, excitement to pain, endless waiting to praying for more time it was a glorious beautiful testament to our determination and desire. Kellan is one of the most wanted, loved and prayed for babies. At the same time his brother is one of the most missed boys I’ve known.
It is the juxtaposition of these two boys that really caused me to lose my voice. How could I possibly write about the two of them and stay true to both of them? Is it possible?
In the past month, I have felt more like a mom of two than ever before.
I have been recognized as a mother of two more than ever before.
In that, I have felt the pull. I have felt the tug of needing to write. I am beginning to find my voice again.
I am learning that even though we have Kellan in our arms, we are still allowed to share Aidan. I am allowed to carry one child in my arms while still carrying Aidan in my heart at all times. I can speak of them both. Some people won’t understand. Some will judge. Others will embrace us as a family of four. And then there are those who will stand beside us.
I am a mother of two incredible little boys. I am a mother who is proud of her boys. I am a mother who is finding her voice again. I am a mother who is still standing.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Journey in April (Still Standing Magazine)

What’s in a name?

This month I wanted to ask you all, what’s in a name? How do you decide? What is important to you, when it comes to naming our children?

When we first heard the words “It’s a boy!” with Aidan, I immediately saw what I wanted for his life; who I hoped he would grow to be like. We had been tossing around names for weeks, but suddenly I knew. I knew that our little fighter would be Aidan. His daddy had picked that name and suddenly it just fit. He was our fire.

I also knew that he would be Thomas. There are many Thomas’ throughout history that have made a difference. That has had an impact on the world. I grew up with one. I was lucky enough to know a man named Tom Martin. He was a bigger brother that I never had. He taught me things like knot tying, canoeing, the art of water balloons and how to stand up for what you believed. As we grew up, Tom joined the army. On October 14, 2007 Tom was killed while in Iraq. He died a hero. His legacy lives on through an amazing family. I wanted my son to have that same kind of impact.

I had no idea how quickly Aidan would do these things. I could have never imagined that he would fulfill my hopes and dreams without ever taking a breath.

So, when it came time for us to pick a name for Aidan’s little brother, I knew that the name was vital. It was the first step on this child’s path. We tossed around name after name. None seemed to be “the one.” Then, one night my husband looked at me and handed me a name on a notepad. “Kellan.” Kellan means warrior. It was perfect. It had everything I was looking for. Strength, ended in “an” like his brother so they are forever connected, and carries part of my mom’s maiden name. It was meant to be. We chose Kent as his middle name, named after his papa, my dad.

For me, picking out a child's name is one of the first life altering decisions we make as a parent. It is the foundation for what will be. It is the beginning of a beautiful story. It is the thing by which our children will always be known.

I love saying our boys’ names. I love hearing their names.

So, what’s in a name? To this mom, it is everything.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

What do you do in their room? (The Journey)

We are going to try changing up The Journey piece for a few months. We are going to try and focus on a topic and invite you to come and share your perspective with us all. I’m hoping that we can connect and reflect and hopefully even reach another parent who is walking this journey with us.

There are so many things that you are just never prepared for when you don’t get to bring your child home. One of the hardest things was coming back to a house that included his room, but he would never grow up in. We shut that door and it became the room we didn’t enter. I couldn’t even open the door without falling apart. Let alone go through his things. Finally, with the help of two of the strongest women I know, we redid Aidan’s room. Instead of his nursery it became my sanctuary. His things were proudly displayed. It was my safety zone. It was the proof that his life counted.

                I couldn’t imagine trying to create another nursery. Planning Aidan’s was planning my dream. How was I supposed to do that again? With this pregnancy it has been a delicate balance of excitement, anticipation and overwhelming fear. All of this has gone into Kellan’s nursery. I wanted something all his own, while simultaneously including his big brother. Was this possible? Was it fair?

                I strongly believe that all of my children should be treated equal. While I realize that doesn’t mean we will do for Aidan as much as we will do for Kellan, I do believe that we should still do for Aidan. I want Kellan to know about his big brother and the impact that his life made on mine. I think it is important.

                Feeling these things, I couldn’t just pack up Aidan’s things to be replaced with Kellan’s. Instead it is the “boys’ room.” We went in a completely different direction with the design and colors, but made sure to keep parts of Aidan present. In our journey with Aidan, the elephant has become vital in my healing. The elephant has become a representation of Aidan for many. Knowing this we have chosen to do a big top type nursery. In it is a very special mural that is of the barn scene in Dumbo. Momma is holding Dumbo in her embrace protecting him from the harshness of the world. It just seems fitting. Because, after all, isn’t that what we are all doing? Mommies and Daddies protecting our children. Both those in our arms and those who are walking ahead, but never out of our hearts.
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