Please don’t read this… unless you will hold me and all moms of infant loss with overwhelming compassion. Please don’t read this unless you can set aside all judgments and preconceptions you may not even realize you have. Please don’t read this unless you can respond with kind words and encouragement.
This past year has rocked my world. I crumbled. This blog is different. This blog recounts the last twelve months. One thing that has helped me in my journey of grief is finding other moms that share my fears, irrational anxiety, pain, terror, tears, anger, and sadness. It helps to know I am not crazy, and I am not alone in my grief. It is ok for a mother to grieve the loss of a baby she did not get to take home, and it is ok if that grief is hard and ugly. So this blog post is a glimpse into my journal from the past year — and maybe there is a mom out there who is going through the very few ups and many downs and more downs of the grief journey that I have walked. Maybe she will find comfort in my pain.
I am asking you, please don’t read this unless you are willing to take an honest look into a mother’s grieving heart and not pass judgment.
Day 1: May 4th, 1:00 am
Dear God, You protected me that night in the hospital room. We brought our daughter into this world even though she had already gone home to you weeks before. We were able to hold her tiny perfect body in our hands and witness the amazing love with which you created her. As horrible as that day was, You made it good, and I will be forever grateful for the joy I was able to feel when I met my Gabriella.
Day 3: May 7th
Despite my best efforts with cabbage cream and compression, my milk came in. What a punch to the gut. Seven years ago I cried for nights upon nights wishing my milk to come in to feed my first daughter. And now my milk comes in, it’s physically painful, and I have no baby to feed.
Day 4: May 8th
It’s Mother’s Day. My body is healing fine. There is a drastic hole in my heart, and I just can’t celebrate today. I just want this day to pass as quickly as possible. It hurts so much.
Day 5: May 9th
We went to the funeral home today. It felt like we were sleepwalking. It was a good thing my husband was driving because I was only half there. I remember sitting there as we looked at the tiniest urns they offered, trying to decide how big an urn we actually needed for her tiny body. I remember thinking that I shouldn’t be here picking out an urn for my daughter. The first time I should be making decisions in a funeral home should be after I lose a parent. You aren’t supposed to bury a child. This is not how the order of life should go.
Day 8: May 12th
Today we went to the beach. I needed to get out of the house and yet not be with people. We grabbed Starbucks and sat on the beach on this gloomy day. We looked at the ocean. We looked at the waves. The cold, gloomy day is unusual for May, but it suits me. The big ocean is comforting and reminds me that I am small. This life is small. But heaven is forever and this life here is barely a spark in a forest fire. And even if I hurt this bad for the rest of my life, the joy of being with my baby in heaven will last forever. The ocean is big. My pain is big. My God is bigger.
Day 16: May 20th
We celebrated the very short life of Gabriella Faith Warren with a very small intimate service surrounded by family and friends. It was beautiful, and the message was uplifting. Our pastor talked about the gentle way Gabriella was carried by angels into the arms of Jesus. That is such a sweet image. I was touched by the people who took time out of their busy schedules to come that day, rearranging their plans to support us. Even when it was so hard for them to be there – some physically and some emotionally – they still came. I noticed. But even with a beautiful message and wonderful support, I still felt sick. I didn’t want to be there. I wanted to be in my bed. I wanted to hide under my covers. I didn’t want to come out ever.
Day 64: July 6th
I have severe anxiety about life. I need help. Today I called a therapist’s office. That was one of the hardest phone calls I have ever made. I am so glad I did, and I am excited to get help.
Day 72: July 14th
After several calls ending with me in a heap of tears on the floor, I give up. I can’t figure out insurance and the correct process to get the help I need. I have been transferred twice to a suicide hotline because they can’t help me find the correct insurance code. I feel stupid because I can’t answer the questions they are asking. I feel hopeless because I can’t even figure out how to get myself help. The process of trying to get help has hurt me so much, and I am so much worse than when I made that first call. I get that the system is broken, and it isn’t because of people not caring, but I can’t help but feel betrayed by the process. It shouldn’t be this hard.
Day 73: July 15th
My pastor and mom stepped in, found me a therapist, and took care of logistics. Maybe I will be able to figure out how to go on after all.
Day 84: July 26th
I have had two appointments with a therapist. I wish I could have done more before I had to leave to go back to the Dominican Republic. Getting help is always a good idea, and I am so glad I found someone to talk to even if it was only twice. God willing, I will be able to get on that plane.
Day 90: August 1st
Here we go again. We fly to the Dominican Republic. Again. I feel sick to my stomach. I have to leave the tiny box of Ella’s ashes. I get she is not there. I get she is heaven, but it doesn’t make it any easier. I feel as if I lost her all over again. I don’t want to leave her behind, but I am not sure they would let me take her into another country. I’m not ready to leave her. I don’t want to do this. Lord, give me strength.
Day 107: August 18th
This is the day we had planned to welcome a baby into our home. I am hiding from the world. My husband has taken my girls, and I stayed home to cry and write. Here is my prayer:
A mother’s prayer on the day her baby should have been born:
Hold her tonight
Rock her safely in Your arms
Kiss her forehead for me
And let her tiny finger hold onto You
Have the angels sing to her
Tell her of my love
Tell her I’m coming
Someday I will hold her, too
And Jesus, if it’s not too much to ask
Please hold me tonight as well
My heart is breaking
All over again
I don’t understand
And I wish I could know more
Show me how to feel safe in Your grace
Help me continue each day forward
Help me see through the tears to tomorrow
Help me live the rest of this life
Reflecting Your love and not my pain
For not wanting to give her back to You so soon
For clinging to the pain
For not wanting to let go
Put back together my broken heart
Teach me how to rejoice again
Make my paths straight
And help me move forward on them
Carry me, Jesus; I don’t know how to do this alone
Kiss her once more before she falls asleep
Tell her I love her
And I will hold her soon.
Day 111: August 22nd
Today we started homeschooling our two girls. This is a first for me. Will it be too much for my fragile state? There are a lot of good reasons for our family to homeschool. But if I’m honest, I just don’t want to send them to school. I don’t want them to be gone from me all day. I don’t want to worry about them all day when they are out of my sight. Am I a horrible mom to make this decision that so greatly impacts their lives, mainly because deep down I am not ready to be apart from them all day long?
Day 124: September 4th
Today I started a blog. My husband bought me a domain name for my birthday. It was a gift of support. A gift that said I believe your writing is important and valuable and I want you to keep going. So I started a blog. I am not sure where it will go or what I will write, but I have a place to process. I am not a talker by nature. I do much better getting my thoughts out on paper than in actual words I speak.
Day 165: October 15th
Today is Infant Loss Awareness Day. Today I am at the beach for a mission event. Today all around me kids are playing in the pool. Moms are laughing. Missionaries are meeting. I am crumbling inside. Today I feel far away from the world. I feel like no one understands or sees me. It is a complicated balance of not wanting anyone to know my pain, but so badly wanting to be understood. I feel alone.
Day 198: November 17th
There are two babies here in the mission field that are near the age Ella would be. I see them, and I see where she should be. I see the babbling she should be saying. I see the feeding I would be giving her. I see the diapers, sleepless nights, and struggles of bringing a baby to another country. Oh, how my heart longs for those struggles. Today we made turkey footprints with the little kids. Today I painted the feet of those babies. Those tiny beautiful feet that would be about the size of Ella’s feet. I wonder if those moms can see the pain in my eyes when I am near their babies. I wonder if they know that even though it hurts beyond words that my baby is not here, I am still glad their babies are. I hate that it hurts to be around their babies. And I wonder if over time the hurt will subside.
Day 205: November 24th
It’s Thanksgiving. I can’t even. I don’t feel thankful. I don’t want to be thankful. I just want my baby. Can I just hide in a hole until after the holidays? They hurt so much. Why is this still so hard? Why isn’t this getting easier? What is wrong with me?
Day 182: December 1st
Today we hung stockings. There is a stocking up for Ella – made by my sister. When others remember her, it means so much to me. She will be remembered in our home always. It will not remain empty. We will fill it with gifts for a baby girl. We will deliver these gifts to the hospital where she was born. We will celebrate life – even when it is hard.
Day 212: December 25th
Today we went to take a family picture after the Christmas service. We took several and then several more. Each one had something horribly wrong with it. The light was bad. Someone was in the shadow. Someone wasn’t smiling. I just wanted one good picture on Christmas. But I can’t seem to get a good picture. Everyone could have been perfectly smiling in the best light, and it still looked so wrong. Someone was missing from our photo. How can we take a family picture when our family is not whole? God bless our sweet friends who continued to take our picture and never once tried to reason with my craziness. This is hard.
Day 251: January 9th
After Ella died, I started making a playlist on my phone. I called it “healing.” It was full of Christian songs and hymns that were uplifting and yet somber. Blake called it my sad music. At least it still had a hopeful message even if it all sounded melancholy. I played this playlist almost every day because it was so much better than being alone with my thoughts. I played this playlist every day until today. Today I put on country–I wonder what made me do that. Maybe that is a good sign.
Day 311: March 10th
Today I flew to Texas. I went to a retreat called Hope Mommies. Today I was surrounded by other mommies that lost their babies. Today I walked into a room that had Ella’s name and picture up. Today I wore a name tag that said “Ella’s mom.” Today others asked me about Ella. Today others asked to see her picture. Today I felt seen. Today I didn’t feel so far away. Today I didn’t feel alone. I hope every mom that has lost a baby has a chance to feel the way I felt today.
Day 336: April 4th
We are month away from Ella’s birthday. I expected that day to be hard. I did not expect to start having a hard time the month before. I wonder when she passed away inside me. What day did she go up to heaven to be with Jesus? That day will go by, and I won’t know it was a special day for her. I just have May 4th. The day I gave birth to her. The day I said goodbye even though she was already gone.
Day 366: May 4th
Today is one year. One year since my world shattered. People ask “how I am doing,” I wish they would ask “how are you doing today?” Because how I am doing overall is too complicated an answer that I don’t even understand. Overall, I am better than I was six months ago. But I am still very much broken. I am so thankful for the hope of heaven. I am so thankful I will see Ella again. That assurance doesn’t take away the pain of living every day on earth without her. I have come to accept and firmly believe that that pain is ok. I can rejoice that my baby is in heaven and deeply hurt all in the same breath.
Today we will celebrate Ella’s life, just the four of us. It is still overwhelming for my fragile self to be around a lot of people, and today my husband and my girls need all that I can give. So to give them my best, I have to celebrate Ella with just the three of them. Our plan is to deliver gifts to the hospital where she was born to celebrate life because life should be celebrated always. Then we will go drink Starbucks on the beach. We will look at the waves. We will look at the ocean–the biggest ocean–and I will take comfort that although the ocean is big, my God is bigger. Although my pain is big, my God is still bigger.