There is no footprint too small to leave an imprint on this world.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Chasing Simplicity

A year ago we were trying to get through our first Christmas without Jane. It was difficult figuring out our new normal, our wounds of grief were fresh and painful. But we were still in our "bubble" of spiritual strength. You know that feeling around you after you have a new baby in your home? Our bubble was just like that but magnified. Heaven was around us and carrying us. We were surrounded by so much faith and love and service, both on earth and heaven. We felt so many people cheering us on. We had several packages coming every day, so many prayers and texts and gifts and visitors to help us feel buoyed up. Last Christmas was hard, but definitely our most spiritually centered one yet. 

I thought this year would be easier because I had survived one Christmas before. It was easier in the sense that Jane's death isn't so fresh and new. But this Christmas season was just a difficult as last. With neighbor treats to bake, Christmas cards to mail, gifts to buy, packages to wrap, several (Fourteen!!)  holiday parties to attend, suitcases to pack, hundreds of miles to drive and all the busy-ness that comes with Christmas. All of those things are nice and fun, but our simple Christ-centered Christmas we felt last year seemed to slip away too easily from us. 

I craved that last Christmas. We just cherished every quiet moment with our little  family and felt connected to Jane. This year in the rush of meeting all the Christmas to-do's it was hard to feel her near. 

The weeks leading up to Christmas were a whirlwind and I had to intentionally schedule time for myself to just be still. It was more difficult to find still moments then rushed moments. I was reminded of an incredible conference talk by President Uchtdorf several years ago. Finally, on Christmas evening, after getting to a point where I wasn't a person I recognized or enjoyed being. I lost my emotions to a pillow; I gave myself the time, even though I felt like I should be doing a half dozen other things, to read it again. The talk is called "Of Things That Matter Most." 

I realized this month how badly I NEED quiet, calm and relaxed time every day. I cannot handle an over scheduled life. It makes me, grumpy, stressed and anxious and I lose the closeness of the Holy Ghost that I desperately need to endure this life. I don't feel Jane near me often, but the only times I ever have felt her near were in those alone and quiet moments. There has never been a busy, franctic day when I have felt her close. There is a lesson to be learned in that. There are many opportunities for growth in our lives that we are missing out on because we have overscheduled ourselves. 

"Let’s be honest; it’s rather easy to be busy. We all can think up a list of tasks that will overwhelm our schedules. Some might even think that their self-worth depends on the length of their to-do list. They flood the open spaces in their time with lists of meetings and minutia—even during times of stress and fatigue. Because they unnecessarily complicate their lives, they often feel increased frustration, diminished joy, and too little sense of meaning in their lives." (President Dieter F. Uchtdorf "Of Things That Matter Most") 

It will be my personal goal this next year, and especially next December, to simplify life. To chase after simplicity because it is harder to find than busy. And for now I will enjoy one of my favorite months, January. 

When I was first married my Mother In Law taught me one of my favorite lessons. For years January was dreaded because all the fun holidays were over. She taught me January was the beautiful calm after the storm. A time to just be and reflect and enjoy life. I love January! "Of Things That Matter Most"

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Reality check: I'm still the mom of an angel baby

Today is hard. So often people tell me I am so strong, I handle losing my baby with grace and faith. And it's always nice to hear that, but sometimes I just want people to see a reality check on my life. Some days, I just can't move. I can't focus. I want to lay in bed all day. I'm so emotionally exhausted that my body aches. I have strong boughts of anxiety wondering, "what will happen next?" I live in this reality where "it probably would never happen" really happens. Losing your daughter totally unexpectedly to an illness that still nobody can figure out is highly improbable, but it's my reality. 

I worry sometimes that other angel moms read posts I have written that are optimistic and feel like they are failing somehow. That they compare their bad days to my good days and think that they just aren't strong enough. That would be the opposite of what I ever wanted someone to learn from my experience. 
I am human, my heart breaks over and over and over, I cry hard, I wish she was here again, I get depressed seeing toddler girl toys that I won't get to buy my princess for Christmas this year. I have these days too. I'm not superhuman. 

So here is my reality check post. For myself, for other angel moms and for my friends. Unfortunately, I don't live graciously and thankfully every day. Today is just another day I can say that I survived. And not much more. 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Power In Women

Today as I sat in the women's meeting at church I learned a seemingly obvious, but powerful message. It's not that I didn't know this before, but I really understood it today. The instructor asked us to think of and share an example of a woman that has influenced our life. I'm pretty sure every eye was wet in the room as examples of gentle, but influential women were shared. 

As a group of about 40 women sat crying together I could see the real power in women. In our tears we all recognized the most influential women in each of our lives were the gentle, loving, kind and sympathetic ones. 

Today I really learned that women are powerful! Powerfully compassionate. Powerfully selfless. Powerfully sympathetic. Powerfully faithful. Powerfully noble. Powerfully gentle. I could list a hundred more attributes, but you get the picture.

In a society that is well-intentioned in trying to make everything between women and men equal, we tend to sometimes miss the point. Us women do not need to feel inferior to men because we are different. We have some qualities that are similar, but why can't we be proud and embrace that women tend to be more compassionate and tender-hearted then men? That certainly doesn't make us less important that we sympathize and care for people in a different way. Though impressive and praise-worthy, we don't need to command armies, rule a nation or even a corporation to have the most lasting and sincere positive influence on this world. In fact as we all thought about the women who we are grateful to for their example, not a single politician or CEO was named. It was mothers, grandmothers, church leaders from our youth, neighbors, teachers, and friends who found us in our most desparate times and never gave up on us. 

"When the real history of mankind is fully disclosed, will it feature the echoes of gunfire or the shaping sound of lullabies? The great armistices made by military men or the peacemaking of women in homes and in neighborhoods? Will what happened in cradles and kitchens prove to be more controlling than what happened in congresses? When the surf of the centuries has made the great pyramids so much sand, the everlasting family will still be standing." -Neil L Maxwell 

I love being a woman! I love that I cry easily for my friends and family when they are in pain or turmoil. I love that I see ways to serve others. I love that I think of friends who are struggling and take a moment to pray for them. None of these make me weaker or any less important then my husband who is literally keeping people alive in surgery. In fact, he may save lives but I can create them. I love that my strengths, while different then Bryan's, can match in magnitude to his. 

Sunday, November 2, 2014


The reality of this month has come crashing into my life today and found itself a spot to reside in my heart and nerves for about 4 weeks.
Jane's birthday on October 1st was tough for me, I anticipated it being really hard but hoped the anticipation would be worse then the actual day. It wasn't, the whole day was just trying to survive. I really did love all the #elizajanelove that was spread that day. It made me feel less alone, more loved and that Jane still lives in so many people's hearts. But the sadness and anxiety of what I didn't have was still almost too much to bear.
As we are exactly two weeks away from the anniversary of Jane becoming an angel, my mind floods with vivid memories and flashbacks of that horrific day, my nerves are on edge, my body aches to feel her body again. The further out we get, the less I can remember the feel of her tiny body, and that breaks my heart.
I have said about a dozen times already today I just want to skip this month. I want to decorate for Christmas tomorrow and pretend that November doesn't exist. I don't know how I am supposed to survive this month again. I don't know what is expected of me and what I need to learn, but right now I don't want it. I want this month to just be any other 11th month of the year and not have any special significance to our family.
But as I was perusing Facebook, something really struck my attention. Someone asked the question, "How early is too early to put up Christmas?". The response from someone that they love having a month and holiday completely dedicated to seeking out their blessings and recognizing them helped me realize I need that in my life right now. November we celebrate gratitude and the many things we do have in our life. And that is probably what I need to combat the attitude of focusing on what I don't have.
I do have a literal perfect daughter. She has attained heaven and all it's blessings without having to endure the trials and suffering of this life. I have two sons who adore and love their baby sister with all their giant hearts. I do have a husband who is pretty much the epitome of perfection packaged into a hot little gift for me. I do have legions of angels on earth and in heaven who constantly surround me with their love. I do have the indescribable joy of getting to have my daughters spirit that is full of the purest love come visit and comfort me in my times of deep sorrow. My daughter has become my greatest spiritual teacher. I learn from her and she comforts me. Our roles have been reversed for a time.
I will try to continue in my month of gratitude because I need it. We all need it. In the seasons of our life when we feel desolate and empty, how much more do we need to force ourselves to see the good that still exists?  

Part of that gratitude just may be gratitude for free agency to put up Christmas whenever I want. I love Christmas and it makes my heart happy. I can be grateful with some snowmen and angels around, right?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

I Can Do Hard Things

I wrote up a post several days ago updating on our family situation. It has weighed on me the last couple days and I haven't felt like I should publish it. This has never happened, I have never felt so conflicted about whether I should publish a post. 

To sum up the last post; I haven't been well. Pregnancy is a hard thing for me. Being sick and tired constantly are hard enough, but my anxiety has been the worst of it. It has been barely tolerable at best, and totally dibilitating at times. Laying in bed for hours waiting for a moment when my anxiety eases to fall asleep, then waking up at 4 am to a panic attack every single day isn't the best way to start your morning. 

I asked Bryan to give me a priesthood blessing a week ago, the night before Jane's birthday and also the night before my first OB appointment. What Bryan and I both felt was that this pregnancy is a trial I have the opportunity to grow from. That through this deep trial, I will have compassion and appreciation for those around me who experience similar symptoms in pregnancy. 

That honestly is not what I wanted to hear and I have dug my heels in, said enough is enough and I want to be better. But that didn't work either. 

Today I have watched two Mormon Messages videos that have brought me back to humility and helped me remember that Heaveny Father did not leave me comfortless after I lost Jane and He isn't going to start now.

 The first lesson I learned is: I am enough. I don't need to impress anyone with my put-together house and cute outfit. I don't owe anyone an explanation to why I haven't had makeup on in over a week or why my son watches 3 hours of tv a day so I can take a nap. My love for my family is enough. My messy, but mostly sanitary, house is enough. My strength to just play for a little bit and then let the boys play on their own for most of the day is enough. 

The second lesson I learned today is: I have the power to endure. Every morning for the last month I wake up feeling like I will explode, but so far I have kept living another day. The power I have is enough to make it through another pregnancy. I can endure this because I have enough faith that my Heavenly Father loves me and has a greater plan for me than I have for myself. 

Some may think it logical to question God's existence at this point, after all He isn't answering my prayer the way I want Him to. But I have felt the reality of my Heavenly Father in such miraculous and sacred ways this year it would be so short-sighted of me to turn away now. Especially when I obviously need divine comfort more then ever. He has answered prayers with such mercy and love I can certainly try to have a little faith for a few months while I pass through another trial. 

Just like any parent teaching a child a difficult lesson...learning to ride a bike or eating healthy food...the difficulty yields greater blessings. In these cases; having fun and growing a healthy body. 

I can survive this pregnancy because I can do hard things

Monday, September 15, 2014

Ten months

Tomorrow (9/16/14) is 10 months. Ten months since I held my baby girl. 10 months ago I didn't think I could make it to today. Let's be honest, I didn't think I could make it a week or even a month. I wrote how I survived breath by breath, minute by minute. That was all I could do. The clock moved so slowly and I just kept taking another breath. And then another.
Everyone told me time will ease the pain, not take it away, but will ease it. I have felt that the last few weeks. I still, and always will, ache in my chest and wish I was holding my baby girl. I often try to visualize her at what her current age would be. What words would she be saying? She was a smart little whipper-snapper, I wouldn't be surprised if she had some teeny baby sentences already. How much hair would she have? I bet she would have loved Sophia the First. And I would have loved having some girly time.
My days seem to feel normal. A "new" normal. I have carried the grief long enough that my back has shaped itself to carry it without noticing quite as much. Don't get me wrong, anyone will notice a heavy sack of bricks they carry 24/7, but it gets easier as your muscles develop. I do recognize grief is not linear. It is like a wave and goes up and down. I never know how far back down I will go when this wave peaks. I still have some days when I just don't want to be happy, get ready or smile. But I have adjusted to that just being part of who I am now. I am an emotionally complex person, that is my new reality and I am okay with it. I am so grateful for people who love me the way I am, and understand.
In just 2 1/2 weeks it will be Jane's 2nd birthday. I am honestly terrified for this day. It's going to be hard. I want so badly to have pink balloons and princess's. I want to see Janie's face as she opens a new doll. I can't have that. I have some dear friends organizing a celebration and day of service for us (which will be announced in more detail on Facebook soon). I am hoping at the very least to have a day of peace and perspective. To know I will get every lost birthday with her someday, but for now I need to just be patient and grateful for the many blessings I do have.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


Today has been one of the greatest days an LDS mother can experience. Today, my brother in law has been reunited with our family. He has been faithfully serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints for the last two years in the Phillipines.
The separation is difficult. We are only allowed weekly emails and bi-annual phone calls home. It has been a mixture of emotions for me and I'm not even his mom! We are so so proud of him for choosing to serve the Lord and the Filipino people. We are grateful he has gained these experiences; but heartbroken for the family vacations, Christmas's, birthdays and just about every other day that we don't have him physically with us.
I was able to FaceTime my in-laws at the Salt Lake City Airport so I could see him arrive and be apart of the emotional homecoming. I could not stop crying! (The boys were totally confused why I couldn't stop crying, they thought I was sad he was home.) The reunion was so full of love. I am sure the tears I couldn't hold back were because this reunion was a small glimpse of what I have awaiting me when I see my Jane again.
As hard as this time on earth is without her, I'm proud of her strong and righteous spirit. I ache, but know she is doing the Lord's work. I wish I could see her right now, but in wishing that I am taking away from the glorious work she has been called to do. I realize that now, it was my epiphany today. I want my sons to serve missions to grow in character and testimony, so I wouldn't wish them home. The same is with Jane. I should not wish away the eternal work and glory she has.
And when that day comes, and it will...I have to always remind myself that it will... our reconciliation will be the most joyous moment! I don't believe there are words to properly describe the celestial and perfect joy I will feel to have my princess back in my arms.
I'm happy today. I am so happy. I am grateful for this truth my Heavenly Father taught me. And using my family to teach it to me. I love them and am blessed to be in their lives.
I read a great talk by Russel M Nelson titled "The Doors of Death". The following paragraph was on my mind this afternoon, "Moreover, we can’t fully appreciate joyful reunions later without tearful separations now. The only way to take sorrow out of death is to take love out of life."

Be still, my soul: The hour is hast'ning on
When we shall be forever with the Lord,
When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love's purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: When change and tears are past,
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.
verse 3 "Be Still, My Soul"
(Sorry for the super grainy pictures, but let's celebrate the miracle of FaceTime!)

Saturday, August 2, 2014

My take on the Saratov Approach

Our thoughts and experiences tend to color the way we view life and interpret things. That is why a book, poem or art can mean different things to everyone. Tonight we watched the movie Saratov Approach and I noticed so many parallels to my trial of losing Jane. Most of the characters in the film experienced some of what I have gone through.

The missionaries, Elder Tuttle and Elder Probst, were living a good life. They were doing what they were supposed to be doing. They had solid faith in the gospel. But they were chosen to endure something scary. Their fear, then faith, then fear, then faith was so familiar. I feel like that daily, even hourly sometimes. But one of the Elders repeated his first discussion to bring himself comfort. Sometimes when our faith is shaken, we have to make a choice to have faith in what we already know instead of fearing everything we don't have answers to. 

The poor mothers of those missionaries were inspiring. Though some aspects of our situations are very different, there were many the same. They were grieving the loss of their child. Scared, confused, trying to cling to faith. One mother stood in the hallway and stared at a framed portrait of her son, and I thought, that is all she has right now. With Jane's beautiful portrait hanging on a wall right in front of me, I felt the pain that I too have to settle with a picture of her beautiful face for now. As we saw prayers coming from all over the world for their family and all the gifts, notes, flowers and kindness; I found myself getting emotional. We received so much. So so so much. The Probst and Tuttle family may have been scared and confused, but they were not alone. And neither were we. I will never have the right words or ability to express my gratitude for so many people who surrounded us in a bubble of faith and pure, Christ-like love. As I type this, my cheeks are wet. I love you, thank you for loving me.

The moment when the Elders were told to get ready to be executed, they looked at each other and asked how they were feeling. To their surprise, they were calm. That took me back to our time in the hospital. It was crazy, like CRAZY. There were at minimum a dozen people running and shouting around the ER. I was incredibly nauseous, probably from shock and had a lot of anxiety in my hands and legs. But I remember feeling an unexplainable calmness. That may sound contradictory, anxiety and calm, but it's how it was. My physical body was in shock, but I knew, with ABSOLUTE surety that everything was okay. Whatever the outcome, we would be okay. I don't know how many angels it takes to bring a shocked, anxious, mother of a dying baby to that much faith but I don't doubt there was an army of angels with us.

The last significant parallel I can think of now was when the missionaries were released. It was in a field of white snow, completely white. I love snow. I especially love big heavy snow storms. They feel celestial. I wish I could know what Jane saw when she was received into heaven, but endless white is what I imagine. As the missionaries ran with pure relief and joy because they were safe, I was reminded that my Jane knows pure joy and she too is safe.

The reunion those missionaries had with their family and friends was 1,000 times more sweet because they had tasted something 1,000 times more bitter. They knew what was truly good because they had experienced truly bad. I dream of that reunion with my baby girl and am anxious to see her again.

Sunday, July 20, 2014


I had a hard morning. My moments of overwhelming grief tend to be random, they just hit me and I can't move. This morning I hadn't gotten out of bed when it just hit and I couldn't stop crying. My family was leaving for church and I just couldn't move to get myself ready. So I stayed in bed crying until they left.
The moment the door closed and the house was quiet, I felt Jane with me. In church we always learn you have to be still and quiet and patient in order to feel and receive direction from the Holy Ghost. That is exactly how it is for me and Jane. When I feel her I am still and quiet and alone.
She brings so much peace with her. It always calms my trembling body and aching soul. After a few minutes of feeling her so close to me, I had gratitude in my heart. What an incredible girl she is. She turns my moments of grief into gratitude.
I am thankful for my Jane. I am grateful I get to be her mom, what an honor. I am grateful for the opportunity I have to try and be a better person everyday because I am always reminded of what I have waiting for me if I can live a good life.
I am grateful for an all-knowing Heavenly Father who needed his daughter back, but in the meantime would look down on me so compassionately and send me so many tender mercies I don't have room enough to receive them all. He knows I ache, and knows that what was taken can never be replaced in this life, but has provided so many other blessings to help me navigate through the grief and pain.
I am grateful for the revealed truths that God gave to Joseph Smith that children who die in infancy are saved and perfect. That they are "too pure, too lovely, to live on this earth." I would be in a scary place if I didn't have so much knowledge of where we go and our state of happiness after we die. I don't worry about Jane. I know she is happy. I know she is safe. That knowledge is an incredible gift. One that I am always, always thankful for because I am constantly thinking of Jane.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Jane's Official Diagnosis


That's how it feels when you finally get the cause of death for your daughter. It has been 8 months since she passed but we just received her cause of death yesterday. 

The result? Systematic Inflammatory Response of an unknown origin.

I will let Bryan explain that to you in doctor terms: 
systemic inflammatory response of unknown origin: an inflammatory response of the whole body usually related to infection but not always so. The criteria for SIRS is two of the following four: tachycardia (fast heart rate>90), tachypnea (fast breathing>20), fever, or high white blood cell count.

So basically, they have no idea why Jane died. It could have been an infection, but not necessarily. It has been a very weird evening for me since we found out. Like I'm stuck in limbo. Not having real closure. I feel like I should be upset, but I can't be because I don't know what to be upset at. I'm upset at nothing. Nothing being the lack of diagnosis. 

I am not okay tonight. I just want to curl into a ball and not come out for a week. I can't believe this is really real. It can't be. I am not this person who can survive tragedy. 

I do take comfort in my initial reaction to hearing the news. That this "nothing" that Jane apparently had was God's way of getting her home. If it was meningitis or cancer or "nothing" the end result would have been her mortal death and return to her Savior. At least the way He took her was so quick and painless; it was very merciful. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Surviving Intern Year

For our (almost) 9 years of married life, years have been measured by school. They begin and end in May/June. Even though Bryan isn't a student anymore, his years of training are still measured this way. Today he finishes his first year of residency, or Intern year. Today, I feel more like this is our New Year then January 1st.
Intern year is tough, to put it lightly. It is equally demanding physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally.
One year ago:
We moved away from Vermont, the state that will probably always have my heart. It was hard. We started our lives in a new area, which is always intimidating. Making friends, finding a new routine and figuring out where we fit in again. Bryan started a new job, where he felt responsible for people's health and lives. He was humbled, scared and had a constant feeling of inadequacy. His hours were long. We didn't see much of him and when we did he was exhausted.
All of this is typical to a medical Intern Year. It caused a lot of stress in our family and depression in my life. It was a dark and difficult time from June to November.
During our church's women's session of General Conference, the Prophet, Thomas S. Monson gave a talk which hit close to home about a wife surviving residency. I sobbed as I listened to it and felt like it was just for me. One of my favorite quotes now has come from this inspired talk,
"My dear sisters, your Heavenly Father loves you--each of you. That love never changes. It is not influenced by your appearance, by your possessions, or by the amount of money you have in your bank account. It is not changed by your talents and abilities. It is simply there. It is there for you when you are sad or happy, discouraged or hopeful. God’s love is there for you whether or not you feel you deserve love. It is simply always there."
June through November of 2013 was the hardest 5 months I had been through to date and I knew I still had 7 more months of Intern Year to go.
November came around and his schedule was lighter and we saw some happiness returning. Only to have our life thrown into the eye of a tornado just 2 weeks later when our baby daughter died.
No, THIS is the hardest thing I have ever been through.
So for the next 7 months we balanced the demands of intern year with the grief of losing our princess. But to be honest, intern year felt a lot easier now that we truly knew hard.
Today feels like we reached the peak of a mountain. We did it, we survived intern year. It isn't our Everest, that will come in 3 years when he finishes residency. But this is a significant triumph.  When we started medical school a good friend of ours was finishing. And she said "you will be amazed at the person you will become and the things you can do when medical school is over." She was absolutely right. And that still applies now. I am amazed with what we have had to survive and endure. It wasn't always pretty, but we did it.
I am grateful for our "Sherpas" who guided and helped us along. We have been blessed with the most incredible ward family who has taken our load many times. We have felt encircled in the most loving, protective, supporting and patient embrace by everyone around us. Including many strangers who have sent us messages and letters. We truly are blessed.
Life is hard, but it is not meant to be endured alone.
"We were not placed on this earth to walk alone. What an amazing source of power, of strength, and of comfort is available to each of us. He who knows us better than we know ourselves, He who sees the larger picture and who knows the end from the beginning, has assured us that He will be there for us to provide help if we but ask. We have the promise: “Pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good. (Doctrine and Covenants 90:24)”
"I am done!!!" happy dance

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Always on my mind.

It's been a while since I wrote on the blog. It's not that I haven't wanted to, I just haven't felt impressed by anything in particular to write about. It has been a really hard month in my grieving. I feel like I am back at square one. Confused, anxious, overwhelmed, sad and full of "why's."

I was reading in a book yesterday that a good friend of mine sent me, "This Is How We Grow." The author is a clinical psychologist and has been through her share of grief. She says,
 "I have been filled with an abundance of "why's" in my days. Some can be answered and provide deeper understanding, but many will never be answered in this life. Sometimes, in choosing to question "why," we choose to remain stagnant in our learning. We choose to stay in the dark- alone, frustrated and angry. The question I find more helpful is "How?" "How do I carry on?" "How do I do what I'm being asked to do?" "How do I learn from this?" "How" is a question of commitment, a question of action, a question of faith. Though we may not understand "why," the answer to "how" is always there."

So I got out my journal and wrote all my "why's." She is right. All but one of my questions will not be answered in this life. Then I wrote my "how's". All but one of those questions I could answer. And the answer to all of them required more spirituality, more holiness, more faith and more patience.

Why does Heavenly Father command us to read scipture, pray and think of Him everyday? It is for our own peace. So our spirit can be mighty enough to challenge the "why's" and keep moving forward.

There is not a minute that goes by that I don't have Jane on my mind. I am constantly thinking about her. Constantly. When I get to say her name and talk about her it is like a little release of all that is stirring in my brain. I love my perfect princess and all that she has taught me.

I'm going to make it a goal whenever I have a "why?" to turn it into a "how?" I am hoping this will be the change I need to have a better month.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

To the mothers who have lost a baby.

I have had many privileges to meet women who have lost a baby and connect with them. It is genuinely my privilege and honor to be trusted with someone's deepest parts of their soul and anguish. I wish I could give them all a hug so tight that it would keep them from falling apart. I have been thinking about these women and the thousands of other women I don't know that may need to connect to another "Angel Mom". I wrote this with them in mind. All the things I wish I could say if I could meet them.

You will survive.
I know you feel like you can't breathe. I know your arms physically ache for your baby. I know you feel like there is no possible way you can keep moving forward. I know you feel empty, lost and scared. Like you have anxiety and depression running through your veins.
But I promise, you will make it.
Your breath will come because you're still alive, even though sometimes you wish you weren't. Your arms will be filled again with the love of others; other children, friends, family, neighbors, even strangers at chick-fil-a. You will keep moving forward one second at a time, then one minute at a time, then one hour at a time until one day has passed. It will be like that for a while. But the clock will eventually speed up and the days won't seem to last forever.
You will make it because you don't have another choice.

Your child is happy and safe
I have always believed in Jesus Christ and had a strong religious upbringing. But there comes a time, even for us who are raised going to church, that we figure it out for ourself.
Immediately following Jane's death, even while we were still in the hospital, I felt confused and unsure. I had heard the answer a thousand times in my life; she is in heaven (aka the spirit world). But I just wasn't sure. My faith had been completely shaken.
I called one of my best friends Heather and her husband Jacob while in the hospital. A couple who had a stillborn baby boy, Levi,  16 months before Jane died. What I remember most is how much crying we did together, 3,000 miles apart. I needed to know how my faith could survive such tragedy. She said the most perfect thing to me. Her faith didn't, but she has re-built it piece by piece and the pieces she has are more treasured then before. So that is where I started. And I found that it came back together quicker and stronger then before.
I know personally how easy it is to question God and His plan for us on earth. What is his purpose in taking beautiful children away from parents? I had a very simple decision to make.

Choice A:
Do I choose to believe Jane is in a happy place, surrounded by love and beauty? That she has occasion to be with our family in spirit and bring us her love. That God had a specific plan for her and she was needed back in the spirit world.

Or Choice B:
I can choose to believe she is gone. She has left us and either a cruel, misguided God has taken her or there is no God, therefore no life after this and she is gone forever.

Which one sounds more pleasant? Ya...I choose A. And it isn't naive to believe it. One makes me happy and brings me peace. The other causes insurmountable anxiety and fear. Why wouldn't I choose A? It is absolutely the logical choice.

You will become a different person.
In my first post on the blog I mentioned how I didn't know who I was anymore. I didn't recognize myself. I couldn't feel happy. I couldn't smile, laugh or show any emotion besides grief. It scared me to not recognize myself. Losing a child changes you. But it's mostly for the better.
My anxiety and depression have gotten worse. But my patience is broader. My sympathy for strangers has increased. My desire to do good and be good has grown. I don't care as much what others think about me, as long as I am doing what is best for myself, my family and what makes me feel complete. I desire more compassion, more sympathy, more love, more patience and all other good things. I like the new me better then the old.

You will be happy again
Everything has an opposite. Cold/hot. Happy/sad. Joy/grief. Our grief has gone as deep as any human can probably endure. With that, comes joy that is beyond comprehension. The huge joyful moments are still few and far between, but when they come they are a whole new level of understanding and peace.
Sometimes you have to choose to see those moments; but they are there.

Your grief will always be a part of you
(this one is added from my sweet friend Heather Dahle who I mentioned above)
"Loss isn't something you get over.  It is something you work through.  Grief is the process of working and adjusting to your new "normal."  It isn't always a linear progression.  It can be messy, and sometimes it doesn't make sense.  There are relapses, backtracking and detours.  I might never be done grieving the loss of Levi (Heather's son), and I'm okay with that.  I recognize that many of my most sacred and cherished experiences are a result of working through my grief."
I want to add to what Heather said my own confirmation of this truth. I know I have only been through this process a short 6 months but I have experienced those "backtracks, relapses and detours". The hard days truly are so difficult, but they are so important. They bring me to my knees, they draw me closer to Jane and to my Heavenly Father. They are part of becoming that new and better person.

Talk about it
I think one of the worst things you could do right now is to keep your thoughts and emotions bottled up. Talk to friends. Don't stay silent. The more opportunities you get to share your babies name or stories about them the better you will feel. If you aren't ready to open up to other people, get a journal and open up there.

You are not alone
There are so many moms who have lost babies. When you become a member of this special club, you feel the need to help the other members. Especially the newest ones. Reach out to us and let us comfort you and help you. Send me an email or Facebook message. I would love to hear about your sweet angel and how you're feeling. We can help each other!
Not only are there other "angel moms", but there are neighbors, friends and family who want to help. Open up to them and let them in.
Though all of us can sympathize with you, your journey is unique to you. But even then, when you feel nobody truly understands your pain, you are not alone. Your Savior knows your pain exactly. He has already carried your sorrow. You are not alone! There is absolutely no way you can do this yourself, turn to Jesus Christ for relief.

Even though I haven't met every woman who has lost a baby, I love them all. Truly, truly love them. They are my sisters and comrades. And this was written based on the specific circumstance that I know, but I would imagine many of it applies to anybody who has survived someone close to them.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

He Is Risen! Easter thoughts and activities

"There would be no Christmas if there had not been Easter. The babe Jesus of Bethlehem would be but another baby without the redeeming Christ of Gethsemane and Calvary, and the triumphant fact of the Resurrection." -Gordon B. Hinckley

Easter 2013
This week has been emotional. I have tried to completely block out the thoughts of little girl’s Easter dresses. So, mostly my emotions have been of gratitude for my Savior. A kind of gratitude I have never felt. More than just a sincere thank you. Like soul-rejoicing praise and honor.
My testimony of the Savior and his purpose on earth have grown immeasurably. Because of the events of this week 2,000 years ago; I will have my daughter again. Because of His ultimate sacrifice He can empathize with me. Because of His pain I will never be alone. Because of His death and resurrection, Jane will live again.
I will have my daughter again!!! I can't say that enough or have too many exclamation points!
I have wanted Ethan and Nate to understand how relevant Easter is to our family now. I wanted this week to be more about Christ and less about chocolate bunnies and plastic eggs. I want them to know why we will see Jane again.
Here are a list of some things we did, if you want to try some in your home too. I would love to know if you do. I would love Jane to be used as a visual for your testimony or your children's testimony about this topic. I would love Jane Love to grow in your home! In fact, I am going so far as to start using a hash tag: #elizajanelove
Share your pictures of anything and everything you do, see or think about with Jane Love. It brings me comfort knowing she is still alive in your hearts and thoughts.
I asked a friend of mine what some of her Catholic traditions are this Holy Week and we have implemented some of them in our home.
-We read scriptures together every night, and these were the scriptures we read this week:
Palm Sunday: Mark 11:1-11.
Monday: Mark 11:15-18.
Tuesday: Mark 14:3-9.
Wednesday: Matthew 26:14-16.
Thursday: John 13:1-5.
Friday: Mark 15:21-39.
Saturday: Mark 15:42-47.
Sunday: Luke 24:1-9.
- She shared this link with me with great kid-friendly Easter activities and lessons:
- We were going to do a Passover dinner but that day ended up being a pretty bad one for me. I plan on doing it next year.
- The darling Activity Day girls in our ward Easter egg’d our house and put out 24 plastic eggs for us to find, they left 1 egg empty to represent Jesus’ empty tomb. I
Favorite Mormon Messages:
Because of Him (new this year, SO SO GOOD!):

Mormon Channel Bible Videos:
He is Risen (A 7 minute video, that is a synopsis of all the below videos):
Chronological videos of the Holy Week:
Jesus Warns Peter and Offers the Intecessory Prayer:
Jesus is tried by Caiaphas, Peter Denies Knowing Christ:

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

God Be With You Til We Meet Again

One of my biggest fears doing this blog (I am embarrassed to admit this because it seems selfish) is that everyone will assume that I must be doing okay because I occasionally post about the joy I feel by being Jane's mom and the perspective I see in some good moments. I am terrified of losing the shoulders to cry on when I need them. I am scared that the texts, private Facebook messages, phone calls, emails and letters will stop. I need them so much. They keep me from burrowing into myself. I am an extrovert, my cup is filled by people being around me and supporting me. I need the security of friends holding me tight, whether literally or figuratively. Even if you live 3,000 miles away (which a big chunk of my friends do) I feel wrapped in love and support from every loving outreach.
Today while listening to pandora the song God Be With You Til We Meet Again came on. It was a beautiful rendition by Paul Cardell that can be seen here. Of course this song brought me to tears since it is commonly used as a funeral song. I sat on the couch, got out my hymnbook and sang along in my head. I knew Jane was close to my heart.
This song took on a new perspective to me in that moment. It wasn't an assurance of where Jane is and who she is with, I already know the answer to that. It was a reminder from sweet Jane that God will be with ME until her and I meet again.
Until then, "With his sheep securely fold you."
I have been familiar with this song and the parable of Jesus being our Shepard and we are his sheep for decades. Yet, today it clicked. I love those ah-ha! moments. They are the perfect mix of "I can't believe I never put that together, duh!" and "I just put that together all by myself!"
The words 'thank you' feel so inadequate in expressing my gratitude to His 'sheep' that have reached out to support my family. The love we have been given is astounding. I have felt "securely folded" in the most loving embrace from everyone.
 I love that; securely folded. I imagine the warmest, tightest, safest, most loving and sympathetic hug.
Today, Jane reminded me how lucky I am to have all of you. And I can imagine how grateful she is that we are being taken care of in her absence.
Can you imagine how much brighter this world would be if we took advantage more often the moments to "securely fold" those around us? I promise you that there are dozens of people who would be lifted by a phone call, letter, text or Facebook message. There are people, like me, who need to feel supported.
Find them. Reach out to them. Love them.
And when you do, think of Jane and the Jane Love you are spreading.