One year old. One whole year. You would’ve been one year old today.
I imagine what you would have looked like. Would you look like the rainbow baby, your brother, that we were just blessed with five months ago? Would you have curly hair or big eyes? Pouty lips or chunky legs? I imagine you as a beautiful little girl, with the perfect skin, daddy’s nose, and mama’s eyes.
I can see you taking your first steps. Red hair bouncing as you stumble towards me. I can see your brother and sisters cheering you on. I can hear you saying “mama” for the first time. I can see you smiling at daddy when he walks through the door. I can hear your sweet giggle.
But I won’t. I won’t ever hear you say mama. We were robbed of that life with you. Your life. You were taken from us at only 9 weeks pregnant. Your tiny hands would never hold mine and your little feet would never learn to walk and I will never know what your sweet giggle sounds like.
Our new baby Beau will never replace you but he sure does make it easier to live without you. I still feel you missing. Missing from our daily lives. Missing from our living room, our home, our hearts.
I felt selfish today. Your due date. I felt selfish as I snuggled your brother Beau so tight. I was giving all of my love to him when I should be sharing my love with both of you. I didn’t mention you like I should have. I should have talked about you today. So you aren’t forgotten. But I still can’t. I can’t bring myself to say it out loud. That you are gone and taken from us. I can’t help but think we’d have a beautiful little girl running around right now. I can’t talk about it yet.
It seems like forever ago. It feels like I’ve been missing you for so long. One year old today. I know you would be beautiful. I believe that is why our baby Beau is the best baby. He is double the sweetness because you were watching over us when he was made, sprinkling some extra special sparkles on his little life.
Heaven has you now. You are an angel baby. Every butterfly that stops to say hi, I will think of you. And I will say hi back to you. Until we meet again sweet girl, I’ll always love you. Happy birthday.
You lose a baby. Then what? Life doesn’t just stop. Your grief doesn’t just go away. Days pass. You somehow keep going. Things get easier. Your grief comes up every day but it doesn’t tear you down the way it used to. You’re stronger. You’re braver. You’ve grown to know your grief. You manage it better than you did at first. But just when you least expect it, every now and then it will still bring you to your knees.
New hope emerges. It seems like it’s been forever. Forever since you felt that feeling. The feeling of hope and excitement and giddiness, and all that comes with the thought of a new baby.
You see those two pink lines again. God is telling you to hang in there. You are scared to death. With each doctor’s appointment there is so much anxiety. So many nerves. But with each month that has passed, you start to believe this could actually happen.
You really don’t truly believe this baby is real until you hear that first cry… or until you feel that first latch. Everything about this is different. You notice every moment. You feel every touch. You take in every smile, every milestone. This baby is real and here and you just can’t get enough. You notice every little crevice and roll in those chunky baby legs. Every diaper change. Every bath. Every time he wakes you up. Every giggle. Every smile. You don’t have any other care in the world when he’s looking at you with those big round eyes.
There is something truly special about a rainbow baby. This baby isn’t a replacement. The memories of before are still there.. but this baby reminds you that there is hope. There is joy again. And it’s that much sweeter.
I write this as I sit here waiting to go into labor. It could be any minute or it could be days. My impatience and anxiety are growing yet I am trying to treasure every last moment. I have all of the third trimester things right now… my body hurts, I spend most of the time going to the potty, I can hardly breathe anymore, and don’t even think about asking me to bend down! But through all of that I am constantly reminding myself how lucky we are and the road that brought us here.
It was the fall of 2018 when we decided maybe another baby was in the cards for us. We have a big family and we wouldn’t trade it for anything. We are literally made up of his, hers, and ours. Gene (my husband) and I each had two children before we got married and in 2015 I gave birth to our son Brady. That pregnancy was a dream. It went by fast and everything about it was easy until my placenta wouldn’t deliver. My ob had to manually remove it but that was the worst thing that happened during our entire pregnancy and delivery so hey, not bad for our first try at babies!
Fast forward to December 2018. I saw those two pink lines on a pregnancy test that told us we were going to be parents again! I called and made the confirmation appointment a few days later, only to be let down later that same day when I started bleeding. They told me it was a chemical pregnancy and if I hadn’t been tracking my periods I wouldn’t have even known the difference. There was no sac. No baby.
I was heartbroken. I had gotten super excited already in just the few days that I thought I was growing a tiny human again. December came and went and with it we lost our beloved pet shih tzu of 8 years as well. December was a whirlwind of emotions and sadness but wouldn’t compare to what was coming.
We got pregnant again on our next cycle. Wow! We started telling ourselves all the things you say when something positive comes after tragedy. This is meant to be! God works in mysterious ways! There’s always light after darkness! We just needed to be patient! All the things.
Later in January, we went for an ultrasound at 9 weeks. There was our little bean on the screen! My palms were sweating. Gene looked like he was going to pass out. Something wasn’t right. No heartbeat. To say we were devastated is an understatement.
I had birthed 3 babies with no complications. How could this be happening now? Was something wrong with me? Were we only meant to have Brady and that was it? Should we just be grateful for the beautiful family we have? So many unanswered questions. So much doubt. So much guilt. So much heartache.
I chose to get the D&C because honestly I just couldn’t bare to go home and sit and wait for my dead baby to literally leave my body.
Just when I thought my body was starting to recover, two weeks later on Valentine’s Day, I was in my classroom having a Valentine’s party for ten bright eyed third graders when blood started gushing down my legs. This is graphic so if you don’t want to know the details, skip over this next paragraph!
I went to the teacher bathroom and was passing softball size blood clots. I managed to waddle outside of the bathroom to the phone to call my mom who also works at school to come to me. We ended up going straight to the Women’s Center where I was admitted to (of all places) the Labor and Delivery floor for the next three days.
I had to walk the halls so the clot would pass while listening to newborn babies cry and watching pregnant mamas prepare to meet their unborn babes. There are no words. It was a huge setback.
The following months we tried to get back to “normal.” Finally summertime came and we enjoyed life again, spending more time in the sunshine and with family. Time was healing us.
July 2019 was a good month. In August, I saw those two pink lines again! Only this time I didn’t get too excited. I didn’t freak out like I wanted to. I didn’t tell the world that we were expecting again.
We went for an ultrasound at 12 weeks. Scariest. Day. Of. Our. Lives. Everything was fine! Baby bean was growing. From then on I never got comfortable but I was hopeful. We found out at 20 weeks that I had a low lying placenta. They assured us it would correct itself and it did. We decided that we weren’t going to find out the gender. This was our surprise rainbow baby.
When you are pregnant after experiencing a miscarriage, anyone who has been through this will tell you that there’s always a trickle of doubt in the back of your mind. Even at 38 weeks pregnant, the moment you notice you aren’t feeling baby move will send you into a frenzy. You will be nervous for every single prenatal appointment. You will continue to think “Is this real?” You will pinch yourself just to make sure.
Time is a funny thing. When I look back on this journey in particular, I think about how I felt then. How I couldn’t see past my grief. I couldn’t believe that I could get past that empty feeling. I didn’t think I would ever feel like myself again. Grief never really goes away but it changes.
I think about the baby we lost every day. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t wonder what life would look like today if that baby was here. Was she a girl or a boy… would she have had red hair and big brown eyes? She or he would be 8 months this week.
So we made it this far. We are at the end of this pregnancy. Just when we think, “We did it!,” a national pandemic hits the US. Coronavirus. One baby shower cancelled and a change in birth plans… leaves us with no birth photographer and our other children won’t be able to visit us in the hospital. This has tried to bring us down. The anxiety and fear that has set in surrounding this virus has been overwhelming. We are nervous about being in the hospital where there are known cases. We are worried the baby, or any of our kids, will get it and have to go receive treatment without us by their side. It is terrifying. But we will not let this ruin what we have waited so long for. This happiness. This joy.
We are only days (maybe hours!) from meeting our rainbow baby. We are overcome with excitement and gratefulness. Our entire story has led up to this. And I know this isn’t where our story ends and I am nervous about how our delivery will go! We are praying for a healthy baby.
Maybe it’s a “thirties” thing.. but you begin to see your life as a novel God has written for you. There’s a setting and a plot… even characters. There are chapters. There is heartache and tragedy. Love and happiness. We are starting our next chapter and it just feels right.
I’ve always been a homebody. Ask my mama. When I was in preschool, I would cry and cry during nap time because I wanted to go home. When I was a little girl, I hated sleepovers. My mama even had to come get me once from a friend’s house late at night because I wouldn’t stay. As a grown up, I LOVE to travel but my favorite place will always be our home.
After Gene and I got married and we became his, hers, and ours… we began taking trips and opened our hearts and children up to how wonderful it is to travel. We aren’t rich by any means but we make it a priority to take vacations each year. We have made our own tradition to take the kids somewhere different, somewhere they’ve never been, every year. We are fortunate and proud to be able to provide these experiences for our children. Traveling with a big family is definitely something they will always remember!
This pandemic has put a halt to life as we know it, especially to anyone’s travel plans. Who knows if we will even get to take a vacation this year. As sad as that makes me, it doesn’t bother me to stay home. I’m not one to always have to go somewhere. I value the time I get on the weekends to stay home and clean. I always find a way to be productive around the house. There’s always a project that can be done! Gene is the same way. He would much rather be at home in the yard with the kids or grilling in the backyard than running the roads.
I know there’s many of you that say you aren’t cut out for being a stay at home mom or that homeschooling isn’t for you. But for me, I could actually swing it. If you know me, you know how organized I am. Creating my own schedule for the day and organizing our day for the kids is definitely something I could thrive on.
I know this isn’t true homeschooling fashion. I’m totally fine with letting them sleep in, and letting them go outside to play. Honestly, what’s being required of them now that school is out is too much. Yes, they are used to sitting in a classroom at a desk for 7 hours a day but they can’t possibly do all of that work they would normally do at school, at home.
Number one, there are too many distractions here. My home is not set up to be a learning environment. Number two, I might be a teacher but I’m not a Spanish teacher, okay? I can’t assist them with everything. They need help from teachers that they would normally receive in the classroom but it’s not that easy to receive that kind of support at home. Number three, our kids don’t know what to do. This is a crazy time and they are just as unsure of everything as we are.
So no I’m not going to make them sit at our kitchen table all day. I’m going to let them go outside and play. I’m going to let them watch movies. I’m going to let them go on 4-wheeler rides and sit by the fire pit past bedtime.
I know this pandemic is an awful, terrible thing that has caused so much disruption and chaos, illness and death. We are disappointed that we, like the rest of our country, are having to sacrifice many things we love. We may not be able to travel again for a while. We aren’t going to be able to have the kids visit our hospital room when the new baby is born. We can’t spend this spring going fun places. The girls may not be able to celebrate their birthdays the way they’d like to.
But above all of that, today we are healthy. Today we are together. Today we can hug each other. And we are just going to take one day at a time being grateful that the world has slowed down a little bit.
We may be quarantined, but honestly there’s no other place I’d rather be.
I’m not superwoman. I’m not a miracle worker. I’m just a mom who likes a clean home… and likes the value it brings in raising our kids!
I’m not going to lie.. there are days and times when it’s NOT the neatest. Muddy footprints. Dog hair. Spilled milk. Pencil marks on the wall. You name it.. our kids have probably done it.
So when I say I’m a mom who likes a clean home… I do… but I work my butt off cleaning up after everyone on a daily basis. (And have come up with a whole bunch of life hacks along the way!)
Here’s how I do it. I’m giving you all the secrets!
1. Make the kids help. (And hubby too!)
One day when our kids are married their spouses are going to thank me for training them so well! The truth is I can’t maintain this house all on my own! It’s a team effort. Unloading and loading and washing dishes are a daily chore for our kiddos. Laundry? Uh yea they do their own! And from time to time they vacuum and sweep for me!
2. Set expectations in your household.
All humans who live in my home know how I like my house. They know if they track muddy prints in I’m not going to be happy. They also know if I walk by their room and see dirty clothes all over the floor, I’m definitely going to stop and say something about it. They know better than to leave dirty dishes on the table. Once you set these expectations and don’t let them get away with failing to uphold them, life will be a whole lot easier. Think about how much of this you don’t have to worry about because they will just do it… without you having to ask!
3. Do something each day.
I was getting overwhelmed on the weekends trying to do everything in one day or sometimes just a few hours. It’s so hard when your weekdays are busy with work and after school activities. I was waiting to do it all on the weekends which most working mamas probably do! For me, it’s much easier to break my household chores up and do a little bit every day! Find things that will help you accomplish this such as a Swiffer Wet Jet or by keeping your favorite multipurpose cleaner out in an easy to grab spot. My biggest challenge is keeping my floors clean. I chose that to be my daily priority. The Swiffer has made keeping the dog hair to a minimum and saves me a lot of time! It’s a quick and easy way to go over the floors in the evening either with the wet pads or dry pads. Pick something that’s feasible to do every day and commit to it!
4. Have a take-your-shoes-off at the door rule!
Hands down the easiest way to maintain clean floors is by making sure no one wears shoes in the house. Our home is definitely a no shoes zone! If you think about everywhere your shoes have been… public restrooms, mud puddles, stepping in dog poop… then you would jump on the opportunity to enforce this rule!
5. Declutter often.
Don’t let things pile up! Dedicate a weekend every few months to go through kids’ rooms and discard broken items or trash and donate toys and clothes that are no longer wanted! Do the same thing with the other closets such as the coat closet, linen closet, and YOUR closet! Recognize “clutter hot spots” in your house and rearrange or change things up to force you not to leave “stuff” laying there. For us, the kitchen bar always gets piled with random “stuff,” including mail, wallets, can coozies, pens, and the list goes on. I put a cute wire tray there with a basket in it for mail and a lamp beside it to deter my peeps from piling stuff up on an empty counter. Trust me it works!
Being neat and clean isn’t just me being seriously OCD! It’s teaching our kids how to be independent and responsible. It’s also teaching them how to give things up, because having an abundance of material items isn’t necessary to be happy. It teaches them compassion when they choose which of their old toys to donate to Goodwill. It teaches them teamwork. Have you ever seen THREE kids unload the dishwasher at one time? Our kids have it down to a science! It allows them to contribute to running our home. Acceptance. We aren’t just the mean ol’ parents fussing at them to do stuff. We value their hard work! They aren’t just spoiled rotten and lazy… which don’t get me wrong sometimes they are! But they are being taught to work hard for rewards. They are being taught that we work for what we have and that things don’t always come easy to us in life. We are teaching them that life is full of “I wants” but first we have to do the “I musts.”
I’ve read blogs where mamas believe in spending less time worrying about cleaning. That the dishes can wait because they are only going to be little once. And those mamas are completely right. It’s NOT always all about keeping things neat and tidy. There are times we say “screw it,” let’s enjoy staying outside a little later than normal because it’s a nice evening. Oh, we definitely do that too! But keeping a clean home is more than that. Our time with them as kids is going to go by so fast. And we will always, always make time to enjoy them. I’m also looking at the big picture. I’m thinking about teaching them these values. I’m thinking about what they will be like when they are raising their own families.
I am proud of how we are raising our big family. So yes, my house is clean and neat… even with four kids living here!