Railroad

Lately I just don’t have a lot to say, or I think the problem is I just can’t find the words to express everything inside. My heart is full. My arms feel half empty, but somehow life is just alright, in a very complete and satisfying way.

This weekend I’ll hopefully be on my way to a the Haven of Hope retreat. A retreat for bereaved mamas, with children in Heaven of all ages.

A day in a little town I’ve never been in, but heard so much about, surrounded by a few women who get it. The bittersweet aftermath of death and love, and everything in between.

Wish me a little luck. I am supposed to say a few words, and I might be a tad nervous.

 

Home

I heard this song and it captured me instantly. At first I was convinced Mumford and Sons sang it (doesn’t it sound like them!?). I love this song.

As I listened to the lyrics, they reminded me so much of the sisterhood I found after we lost Jenna in the online baby loss community. We made this place, this safe haven of writing and blogs a home of sorts.

A home we never asked for. A home we never wanted. But a home we find ourselves in at one time or another, nonetheless.

If you get lost, you can always be found.

At first my blog was my everything. It was the place where I let my heart cry, scream, hurt, question God and remember my daughter when no one else would.

But this place has become so much more, and now it does sort of feel like a home I want to be in.

It is safe, completely surrounded by beautiful people left and right who I don’t know from Adam, whom I will most likely never ever have the chance to meet in person – but we have this bond. And it is a beautiful, unbreakable one.

Something about that life-changing, earth-shattering pain that brings you from the depths of hell to the most unexpected mountain top one day… unites like almost nothing else can.

Have I mentioned how thankful for these women?

Because I am. Everyday. And more than anything I am sorry for any woman that has entered this place, this home. If you are in the thicket of pain, the face of confusion, anger and possibly depression… we get it and you have a place here.

Visits

I know it won’t be like this the whole nine months (or at least I don’t think so) but I can’t feel grief right now. I can hardly feel that part of my heart at all. I guess I am so focused on 1. being so tired to do anything these days (once upon a time I was a night owl) and 2. constantly trying to do everything ‘right’, I don’t want to lose this baby. I think of Jenna everyday, just as often. I haven’t forgotten her. But that sadness, I think it is just on hold.

I have the rest of my life to feel that pain don’t I? I think my mind/body/heart must be in survival mode.

With Bubby it had only been five months or so, and quite literally I had to push myself out of this hole of grief. It was extremely hard to say the least. It felt like betrayal, and it still does. Something about being sad and being able to let the tears fall about the loss (as infrequent as that may be after three years) makes me feel closer to her.

It feels like betrayal.

But on the way home I discovered something that deep down inside I already knew.

It seems like all the important conversations happen in the car. We were having a conversation about baby names. We decided we won’t be sharing the name of the baby until he/she gets here. We will be finding out and sharing the sex of the baby though. Anyway, as Pete was rattling off ideas for boy names (I’m sorry, but boy names are HARD!), I listened. But as I listened my eyes were fixed on the gorgeous sunset we were driving right into. There was so much pink reflection on the indigo clouds. I don’t know how she entered our conversation, I think Pete mentioned how beautiful the sky looked. For him to notice, you know it was a good one. I told him the pink skies means she must be painting tonight. It hit me right then, that she is as much a part of our world as ever. I might not get the chance to sit by her bedside and feel her tiny, tiny hand wrapped around my giant finger, or gain that closeness in tears at her loss, but there are moments… and she will visit again. 

I am sure of it.

Grief is Like an Onion.

There are layers and layers. And with each layer you peel back, the tears fall until your eyes sting so bad you feel like you just can’t go on.

But with grief (not my experience with an onion by a long shot), I think there comes a day that you develop a tolerance, at first a survival mechanism, to be able to withstand the turbulent waves of sadness, disappointment and guilt. Slowly this tolerance becomes more than surviving, it becomes living.

After we lost Jenna I became a hermit overnight. I dreaded going anywhere. The mundane rituals of getting gas, going to pay a bill, stopping by the store to pick up some bread and milk, was too much. It was torture to think of doing anything ‘normal’ after burying our daughter. Being at home was a safe place. I didn’t have to hold back tears, or wear a mask behind closed doors. There were no pregnant bellies or baby girls to avoid.

Slowly, slowly going places became easier. I wasn’t so aware of the grief, and the cloud of sadness that seemed to always be there.

Last night, I found a part of the old me again. And it feels so good…

Sometimes you don’t realize things about yourself until you start talking out loud.

Last night I was telling Pete I really am not a homebody.

I LOVE to go places, see things, do things. In the middle of conversation I caught myself being me again, going back to something I haven’t been able to enjoy these past few years, and something I’ve really been missing. I don’t have to spend a whole lot of money or any money (hence my new obsession with Houston on the Cheap). I am passionate about taking Bubby places and enjoying these last few months of just me and him during the day. I want him to know he is so loved, even with a new baby on the way.

He has been super clingy these past few weeks. I think he knew before we did. He likes to hold my hand, everywhere we go – to the bedroom to make the bed, walking around in the backyard. It makes getting things done (i.e. typing) nearly impossible, but it’s adorable and I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you I love it :)

But last night I realized that part of grief has slipped away, and I’m more than okay with it. I’m not just okay going places and getting out of the house, I want to. And it feels like a little bit of this load has been lifted off me, to be able to enjoy one of the things I used to love so much.

At Sunset

(written June 2, ’12)

At sunset I found a peace in the evening sky. The colors give quite a show, and it’s almost like the colors the sky paints at the end of the day is the grand finale… like their work for the day is finished. And what a masterpiece it is to behold.

At sunset my face was covered in tears. Seriously, desperately missing my girl. The clouds, the sky is the one of ‘closest’ things I have to connect her to my world.

At sunset it became increasingly obvious that while this new baby will most likely be our last, and we are coming to the end of growing our family, something still feels undone. Missing.

And I realized it will always feel this way, no matter how many new babies we bring into this world, a part of the quilt will always have threads hanging out, looking and feeling like such a mess.

And I hate it.

There, I said it. I am so happy I could cry, and I have – cried many tears of joy that God has put this tiny miracle inside me. My mind races with the things he/ she will say, do. And now that I see Bubby I understand a little more of what to expect in a baby… child… toddler.

But. For fear of sounding unthankful I am drowning in a vicious circle of fear, guilt and grief. I’m sure pregnancy hormones are not helping. 

I keep telling myself, we’ve been here before, and to some extent we have. I have. I’ve carried a rainbow baby. With fear, dread and constantly begging God to let me keep this one. The begging has begun again. He keeps reminding me gently to give it to him. And it’s something I wish I was better at.

What can I do, really? But drown in this not-knowing? I want to hear his/ her heartbeat. I want to know they are okay. I’m almost in a state of denial that I can’t really be pregnant because I must be so early on, but the sickness and nausea, and cravings have set in.

On Memorial Day I decided I would take that test. The two lines showed up almost instantly, and right there I realized our world has changed forever, again. We were so excited. Tears of happiness and joy. It felt surreal. A new little person. Pete keeps whispering in my ear, “I’m soo happy!!”

His chipper spirit is exactly what I need these days. To believe that everything is okay.

At sunset, as I sat on the edge of the trampoline, with Bubby bouncing away behind me… he dried those tears. He came over and popped his head ever so close to mine and mumbled something to me that I wish I could understand.

The tears and grief were muted, never completely gone, but at sunset I got to visit her… for just a little bit, and reconcile some of the things this new journey might bring.

New Life

I should be used to this. Not able to explain a single moment with one adjective. So much joy, gratitude, and excitement to meet this new little person.

And a touch of anxiety. I want to fast forward through these months and know that everything will be alright.

But right now, we are resting in the good news the Dr. A gave us yesterday.

Baby is measuring at about 7 weeks, and looking quite perfect.

I will be publishing a few posts I had written as drafts while we were waiting to go to our first appointment. It was HARD not to just tell you why I had major writers block lately! ;)

More soon xx

ps- the winner from the Signazon Rolled Canvas giveaway was #20, Rebecca (please check your inbox, Rebecca). Also, Ashley from Signazon informed me that they are holding another giveaway for $100 credit on their Facebook page! Enter here.

So This is Love

He must carry love in his pockets.

Or maybe he stores it in his toy box along with his favorite cars and balls.

This kid is full of mischief (and that is an understatement), but he is so full of love. Yesterday he had himself covered in neon green highlighter.

He has been repeating “I-Youuuu” (Read ‘I love you’) when he hears us tell him that.

But today is a day I didn’t want to forget.

At dusk, on the way home I reached back while driving to hold his hand. I thought he might be sleeping, he was so quiet.

He grabbed my hand and said “I-Youuu…” I don’t know if he fully understands what that statement means (I doubt it actually), but it was just so neat to hear him say it… all by himself.

I shut the music off, glanced back and in that moment my heart was so full.

I love love love being his mama. It’s times like this when I wish I could bottle this age up forever.

Giveaway {Toby and Max Jewelry}

One of my lovely sponsors, Sandy from Toby and Max Jewelry is giving this piece below to one lucky reader!

About Toby and Max Jewelry:

Sandy (owner and designer) is inspired by words and phrases that bring people comfort, humor and a belief in themselves. The uniqueness of her designs has brought about a large following of devoted collectors.

To enter this giveaway leave a comment sharing how you would use this piece (wear it yourself or gift it to a friend).

For additional optional entries:

+ Follow Small Bird Studios on Facebook, through email (be sure to verify your subscription), Twitter

+ Follow Toby and Max Jewelry on Facebook

+ Visit Toby and Max Jewelry on their shop and share your favorite piece in a comment

+ Follow Toby and Max Jewelry on their blog

A winner will be announced one week from today :) Be sure to leave a separate comment for each thing you do/ follow!

 

Clean + Fresh

I can breathe again!!! I am so happy with the way the new look turned out. I hope everything is a little easier to find. I also changed the way I am doing sponsorships, ultimately decided I still want to keep them, just simplified. So be sure to email me if you’re interested in sponsoring :)

fran@smallbirdstudiosDOTcom

In other news, if you have a moment be sure to check out my first post on Preemie Babies 101 today. I am honored to be a part of Hand to Hold‘s new blog for Preemie parents, and just have a full heart that I can share our journey with Jenna there. They are doing a wonderful job at including all aspects of the NICU experience, including bereavement and palliative care. Click here to read my post on Father’s Day.

More soon :)

Xo

If you asked me…

If you asked me about Bubby, I’d tell you he is living up to the term terrible two’s. I am a little overwhelmed sometimes, but I feel so guilty for having bad days. Because what I wouldn’t have done to have days like this with her…

If you asked me about the magazine, I’d tell you it’s taking off at an astronomical rate. Sadly. I cannot believe so many people can relate, but on the other hand it feels so good to be able to create this thing, and give back this way with these amazing people. And… we now have a father who is contributing on a monthly basis.

If you asked me about breaking away, I’d tell you it’s happening. I just don’t always find the time to blog about it. Sadly when the magazine went live, my blog sort of took a back seat. Hopefully with the new blog design underway, it will be better motivation to come here and write. Something about the design makes me feel blah. I am just ready for change I think. The new design is very different than this one, but I’m SO excited about it, I hope you like it too.

If you asked me about my day-to-day routine, I’d tell you I miss having friends. I have friends, but circumstances just have a way of getting in the way of making plans.

If you asked me about my house, I’d tell you it needs a good cleaning. And right after I finish this post, that is just what I intend to do. Something about a clean house helps me breathe a little better. And feel better inside.

If you asked me about my heart, I’d tell you I’m looking forward to a few things. One being a trip to Chicago in September (hopefully). While I’m there I’ll hopefully get to see my friend Dana. Yep, September cannot get here fast enough!!

If you asked me about the card line, I’d tell you I have been meaning to make the time to create more. It is something I absolutely love to do. I have an idea for the calendar, just not sure if I will be going through with it. We’ll see :)

If you asked me about today, I’d tell you that it’s a beautiful day after yesterday’s hard rain that I don’t intend on wasting! :)

Happy Saturday friends xx

Rolled Canvas Photo Giveaway

This is such a sweet giveaway. When Ashley from Signazon approached me I was so excited about sharing their product with you!!!

I am so in love with this canvas print of Bubby!!! The turnaround time was phenomenal and the customer service was awesome! If you need stickers, decals, magnets, etc, these are your people!

Today, Signazon is giving away one custom-rolled canvas print (up to 18″x25″), includes Fedex Ground shipping.

To enter, leave a comment with what you’d like printed on a canvas print.

For additional, optional entries:

+ follow this blog via email or RSS

+ Follow Signazon on Facebook

+ Follow Signazon on Twitter

+ Connect with Signazon on Google+

***Be sure to leave a separate comment for each thing you do/ like

A few more links you might enjoy from Signazon –

+ Canvas Prints

+ Custom Car Magnets

A winner will be announced in one week :)

xo

***THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED***

The Journey

Grief is the craziest emotion I’ve ever felt.

It doesn’t have one expression or face. I think that’s what makes it so hard to recognize. And even more confusing for well-meaning friends and family who think you are over everything on a ‘good day’.

It never, ever makes sense.

Sometimes it looks a puddle.

Sometimes it looks like the storm that caused the puddle.

Sometimes a fierce, relentless storm with typhoons and tornadoes.

Sometimes it looks like a volcano waiting to explode, where something as small as a word, song or smell can send you into a balling mess.

Sometimes it looks like a calm ocean.

Sometimes it looks like the butterflies dancing in the grass.

And sometimes like today, it looks like this blank canvas.

I see my daughter’s pictures, and I am instantly filled with so much longing.

No tears, but there is sadness.

Not necessarily beaming with a smile, but there is joy.

You’d never know I lost a daughter if you see me in a store. And you’d never know about the ripples she has sent through this world at only 13 days old.

But if you take a glimpse into my heart, my hope is that you might also get a glimpse of me learning the steps to this crazy, almost forbidden dance between grief and joy.

Gifts

I have been wanting to join in on Ann Voskamp’s 1000 gifts link up for a while, and today… since all I am really doing is watching The Wedding Planner, while my little man naps… I think it’s a good time to start.

On Mondays, I honestly never know what to write about anyway because my brain is missing the weekend, my heart is missing my hubby and well, I just don’t know how to just jump into work sometimes even though I LOVE what I do. I think this will be a great start to each week, with counting off the gifts all around me.

#1… heart rocks. but even more thankful for my precious friend Deanna for sending me five of these lovelies!!

#2… this little man at the incredibly busy age he is at. he lights up my world. today he wrapped up his cookie monster toy in a blanket and tried putting him to sleep.

#3… colorful buttons.

#4… this hot pink reflection in the sky a few evenings ago. i was driving, but since the road was empty, i put my flashers on, and got a glimpse of it with my phone. #tooincredibletomiss #shepaints

#5… the other day at grandma’s house.

Flying Lessons

If you look out from my backyard you’d see this awful looking tower. But I’ve grown to somewhat like this tower. From time to time I see a large bird flying around it, landing and staying awhile. My guess is it’s nest must be up there somewhere.

The other day I could have sworn I saw a mama bird giving flying lessons to her baby bird right next to this tower. They took off from this tower, and the flying lessons began.

She and the smaller bird would be flying close together, she’d wrap around and then hover right underneath the smaller bird. When this would happen it looked like one bird (you couldn’t see the smaller bird on top). They would then separate… the mama would fly a little bit away again, and the smaller bird would fly, begin to fall… and she’d scoop him up again.

I watched in utter amazement.

Watching the mama bird and this baby bird made me think of Jenna. Birds are kind of her thing. So this made my heart swell with tears and joy.

Thinking of how much I would have loved the chance to teach her to spread her wings… and fly. Encourage her to chase her dreams, and become a beautiful young lady.

But really, more than anything I love little moments like this. The little moments that come so unexpectedly and so out of the blue. Little moments that make heaven feel just inches away, for even a short while.

Even tears can be healing.

That mama bird will never know the sweet moment she gave me, getting to witness something so precious.