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New Beginnings

When everything burns to ash, be a phoenix and rise and begin again.

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It is the beginning of the school year and what better time to start afresh? It’s been a crazy, super short summer and frankly an awful year, so rather than wait until 2018, I’m happy to begin a “new year” now at this, the beginning of the new school year. My kids are loving their new teachers and I’ve decided its a great time to start a new blog, learn some new things and share it all with you here.

In the awfulness of 2017, we all got into some bad health and fitness ruts and our bodies were suffering. I had shingles, my husband had a gout attack and I lost 2 teeth. In short, it’s been a physically bad year. After that, we decided to reclaim our health and fitness. We are reclaiming our health as a family by making simple changes – drinking more water, eating more fresh fruits and veggies and less processed foods, being really intentional about what we put in our bodies consistently and fueling our bodies well. We are reclaiming our fitness by exercising on a regular basis, being more active during the day so we can sleep better at night and really trying to get enough sleep. Its not easy, but we are doing our best. We are not only trying to reclaim health and fitness, but wellness and wholeness, too.

Our physical new beginning started months ago when we started making simple, healthful changes. My mental new beginning started July 31 when school started for my kiddos. My blog new beginning is now and I invite you to begin again with me. Let’s get fit and healthy together, beginning now.

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The Grief Kraken is Still Here

Everyone wants to know in the beginning if this will get any better. Will it get any easier? Will we survive? Will we ever thrive again?

Because it sucks.

Like a kraken to your heart and soul and energy, it sucks the happiness and joy and hope and desire to live right out of you and then, in true mythical monster form, it keeps sucking. It’s a continual suck. It sucks the color and sensation from you then bleeds, sucking the color and sensation from everything around you in a never ending spiral.

Sometimes the suck is gentler than others. But it never stops and no matter how gentle the suck, each suck leaves marks.

Marks like tiny grief hickeys. Places where it hurts to touch. It seems like everyone can see it. Like a hickey on your forehead or chin. You can sort of hide it with make up and a smile but then the makeup shows and only serves to make it obvious that you’re trying to hide something. And the smile isn’t quite steady enough to fool anyone. But just the hint of grief is usually enough to make others not want to look any deeper. So we smile and put on the cover up. It’s easier to ignore the monster than to acknowledge it. But it doesn’t make it go away.

The constant suck is draining. Debilitating. It lowers the bar of our best on so many levels. We think we can no longer live our best life because we imagine our best life as being with all of our children.

But we are wrong. On some levels. There is no better or worse life. There is only the life we have, the day we’ve been given, the moment we are in. Though it may not be what we had hoped and dreamed of, though it for sure does not have all of the little people we wanted and thought it would have in it, it’s the only life we have. It is the life we grieve and we both love it and hate it.

For grief is a face that no rhinoplasty can improve. It is what it is. It’s an ugly, ever hungry kraken.

I hate that phrase — it is what it is. It feels like a waste of air to say. A waste of effort to type. But some things can’t be justified or explained away or beautified. They just are and all you can do is accept them. Exactly as they are. They are undeniably exactly as they seem to be.

The truth about life is we have no control about the path it takes. We make the choices we can and deal with the fallout and the surprises as they come. We take what we are given and try to make something out of it when we can. Other times, it’s all we can do to just try to survive it. To make it from this moment to the next.

In some of my darkest times, I did not even want to survive it. I wanted to give up and die and see my baby again. There were days I prayed for Him to just take me to Heaven. And, just like when I prayed for my baby to just be alive, God said no. And that’s why I’m here today. Because I’m not in control.

I often wonder how my losses have changed me. Am I more patient and more empathetic or just more sad? Do I see others sadness more easily because of my own? Am I more caring and more apt to reach out to those who are hurting? Am I more grateful for what I have or just more sorrowful for what I’ve lost? The truth is I don’t know. Because I don’t get to see who I would have been had I not lost my baby. I just imagine I can sometimes.

But here I am. I am who I am. I try to use my pain for good when I can, if nothing else but to make up for all the times when I feel like it makes me hopeless and helpless and useless. I do what I can when I can because of all the times when I can’t. And I often struggle with the feeling that the can’ts far outweigh the cans. And the feeling that, because of that, I’m failing. And other times, I know I haven’t failed yet because I haven’t given up yet.

But I digress. The question was does it get any better? Any easier? And the answer is I still don’t know. Just like parenting my living children, sometimes I think “I’ve got this.” And other times, I know I’m in over my head and drowning. And it often takes me a minute to consider whether to try to swim or just give in.

It’s been over 2 years for me. And there are still things that take me back to my darkest moments. But for the most part, these days I tend to be happy that in those days, God said no to me being all done.

This life I grieve will always be extra. Like guacamole that I didn’t want. It changes the taste and texture and color of my life in ways I can’t even describe. And I can’t go back. It is a switch that cannot be unflipped. It is tattooed on all of me forever. I am undeniably irrevocably changed forever.

I understand now how Naomi felt when she said “Don’t call me Naomi. Call me Mara; for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, and Yahweh has brought me home again empty.” (Ruth 1:20-21) I understand how a person can be so affected by one event in their life that they feel like a completely different person, so different that they should be called something else entirely. Emptied and depleted and afflicted. It’s like I was someone else before. And I don’t think I would recognize her if I met her on the street now.

And that is the crux of it all. I am not who I was. I don’t know who I was. And I am still trying to learn who I am now.

I have lost the hope that I can ever return to the person that I was. That person was crushed. Obliterated. Like she had never even existed. But I have not lost all hope. My hope now is this — that this life I grieve may be easier if and when I learn who I am now.

I am not there yet. I might never get there. And if I do get there, I might find out I’m wrong. But there is no grief manual and no one told me what I should do to make this better. To learn to live again. To learn to thrive again.

I am feeling my way in the dark. And this is my current path. I feel like sharing it is possibly the blind leading the blind and I wish I had a better answer. I wish I could say “it gets better” or “one day you will wake up cured if you do the following. . .” But I don’t want to feed anyone false hope because I know how damaging that can be.

So all I can offer you is the hope that gets me out of bed each day. That one day I may know myself again. That one day I may recognize the face in the mirror. And that on that day, I may smile at her again.

But today is hard. This life I grieve is hard. I am definitely not where I want to be yet. But I am not quitting or giving up hope. This new me is crushed, but I feel that she is worth getting to know. And I think getting to know her will help me a lot.

I’m not giving up on her yet. But the grief kraken is still her. That is where I am. And I’m not sure if I answered your question at all. But that answer is all I have to offer.

Grieving on. . .

And the good grief cloth diaper award goes to. . .

**Trigger warning, this post mentions a (living) rainbow baby and a stillborn baby, both of which I know can be a trigger depending on where you are in your journey.**

Ok friends. This post is for anyone who has a baby and cloth diapers. anted to share my new favorite CD company and a deal they’re running right now. But first I want to share why I decided to try these diapers.

As y’all know, our Maggie was stillborn in March 2017. As a result, I blog here and I’ve joined a bunch of groups for support because missing her and grief are things I struggle with daily. On one of my groups, I saw a post about a cloth diaper company that has a “God forbid” guarantee, which states that if, God forbid, something happens during your pregnancy or childbirth and you lose your baby, this company will refund your entire purchase. So even though I’m super cheap and generally do not buy new diapers (and if I do they are generally china cheapies that are like $5 each or less or diapers in coops for around that price), this was enough to make me take a second look at this company.

Because I remember coming home to all the stuff we had at home in anticipation of bringing home Maggie. I remember how hard it was to see the stuff. So hard I banished it into a storage room and stopped reading because my bookcases were in there. I could not look at them.

I remember how equally hard it was to let them go, but eventually they had to leave the house. Their presence hurt. So I saved a few things to remember her by, but struggled with what to do with the rest. I finally decided to take back what I could and use the proceeds to buy something for each of her sisters “from her” for Christmas.

I remember crying the whole way to Kohl’s and Target and Walmart and Babies R Us. I remember how hard her things were to let go of. I remember the effort it took to physically unhand them. And I remember being told at each of these places that because I didn’t have the receipt for these beautiful gifts that I would receive a store credit for whatever amount was the cheapest that that item had sold for in the past 6 months. Not that money makes grief better (it doesn’t), but this somehow made it a little worse. It was like they were saying these things that were precious to me because they were for my baby were worth less to these companies because I didn’t have a receipt.

I get it from a business perspective. I could have been scamming them. I could have been buying stuff at clearance prices and trying to return for full price. Except who makes up a dead baby to make a buck? Not me.

And then there were all the things that I had already taken the tags off of and washed and lovingly folded (which might or might not translate to lovingly placed in a laundry basket because I was end-of-pregnancy exhausted) in anticipation of meeting Maggie soon. . . What did I do with these? They had to go. I could not look at them. I could not think. It was a dark time.

Soon enough, God brought someone to mind who had a baby and would be blessed by some baby girl items. And that is where they went. And I was happy for them to go there because they needed to be used and loved by a living baby. That hurt, too, but less.

So long story summarized — I can definitely see the value and beauty and preciousness that is a company who cares if you lose your baby and will refund your purchase of suddenly unneeded items even if you’ve already washed them. Because it doesn’t stop the grief, but it is nice to be able to do something with that money. Like buy something to commemorate your child. Or buy a burial outfit for your child. Or use it to guy gas to drive back and forth to the funeral home to visit your child until their funeral. Or just make it a little easier to have your spouse stay home for a few days and help you when you’ve just given birth and you should be resting but instead you are planning a funeral. Or to pay to eat out so you can stay close to the funeral home and spend as much time with your child as possible. All of these things cost money. Money doesn’t fix grief, but it does help with some of these things.

So I looked at their website and saw that they have a trial diaper deal for only $9.99 including shipping so even though that’s more than I usually spend on diapers, I thought why not try it. My son was already here so I didn’t need the God forbid guarantee but it seemed like a good deal (the diapers are usually $21) and I liked the idea of supporting a company who cares.

I wasn’t sure how well the diaper would work. Tiny guy had no thighs at the time and none of the one size diapers I already had fit him yet, but I figured I could use it later if it didn’t fit now.

I got the diapers quickly, with some extra surprises and a quirky funny personal note. I washed and dried it. And it fit.

And since it’s an AI2, it is pretty much my only diaper and insert that actually dries in one dryer cycle so it gets used every time I wash diapers. And since I just read that the covers are reusable as covers (because 3 months of sleep deprivation means everything has to be spelled out lol), I’ll be using mine as a cover, too, as soon as I wash it again.

So to recap:

  • This company cares.
  • They send you candy and tea and a note that makes you (or at least me) laugh.
  • The diapers are cute and fit tiny-thighed babies at that weird phase when newborn diapers aren’t absorbent enough but one sized diapers don’t fit yet.
  • They stay soft wash after wash.
  • They are trimmer than our one size pockets and still keep my son dry all night long.
  • They can be used as covers with extra inserts or prefolds laid inside.
  • And if you join their mailing list, they will send you funny, witty emails with special deals inside.

For all of these reasons, this is the only diaper I’m willing to spend $20+ on. But I still want to get a good deal on them. So here’s the deal I’m telling you about (and using myself) today — free cloth diaper with purchase of $79 or more with free shipping with the code OVERLOAD.

They also have a quick starter kit that has 3 diapers plus an extra charcoal insert set and an extra bamboo insert set (which I’m excited to try) for $60 and I’m buying a couple extra overnight inserts to get me over that $79. So for $81.84, including my free diaper I’ll be getting 4 covers and 8 insert sets. That’s at least 8 diaper changes per washing cycle and more if I use the shells as covers after I get done using the inserts, which I will definitely be doing from now on.

But wait, there’s more. Because I’m posting this review of a product I genuinely like with a company I feel good about supporting, I’m going to get 5 free bamboo stay dry liners for sharing this review with y’all. So thank you. And you’re welcome.

And thank you, Lil Helper Diaper Company, for being a company that cares about customers who suffer a pregnancy loss. God bless you.

Grieving on. . .

Bereaved Mother’s Day or Cinco de Mayo?

It seems like every day is either a celebratory day or an awareness day for something. For example, today is Cinco de Mayo, an American celebration of Mexican culture and heritage and a Mexican celebration of military victory. It is also Bereaved Mother’s Day. The Sunday before Mother’s Day. When bereaved mother’s remember our child(ren) who are gone from this world but not from our hearts.

Celebrate is not the right word for what you do on Bereaved Mother’s Day, but really neither is raising awareness. Not for us. For we are aware of our loss every moment of every day. And it is not a thing we celebrate.

We are mothers even if our children cannot (all) go forward next week and retrieve a flower for us or go to Sunday school and make us a cute card with their handprints on it. We are mothers from the moment we open our hearts to loving the life that is growing within us. No matter how long that life lasts. Even if that life never breathes outside our bodies. We are mothers every moment after the moment we open our hearts to loving that life. With or without it in our arms. For the rest of our lives.

But Mother’s Day does not quite fit us anymore. We are mothers like no other, but Mother’s Day hurts now. We need a different day to think upon that. To prepare ourselves for the coming day ahead next week. When not all of our babies will be there to celebrate us. And that day will also feel not quite right. So today is our day. Our bereaved Mother’s Day.

I, for one, find it completely appropriate that this year bereaved Mother’s Day falls on a day that is also a celebratory day. It fits with my life at this point, which is largely a salty-sweet combo. It is not uncommon for me to wonder whether to go with the happy or the sad, although it isn’t typically a choice between lighting a candle for my dead babies or eating a taco, like it is today.

Still, it is not unknown for me to feel torn between the happy and the sad on a regular basis. I find so much joy in my living children. Which brings me so much sorrow that I missed all of that with my heaven babies. The sorrow is always there. As is the joy. It is hard to go with both even when both are always there.

So yesterday I tried to write a blog about today. But it just did not come together. And today, I had enchiladas and Mexican rice. And I lit a candle for my babies. And I was thankful for a day when the salty is ok. And I girded my loins for next Sunday when the sweet is all that’s expected. When it’s all about being a mother but no one wants to consider the concept of children that have gone before us.

Which is totally ok because I remember those Mother’s Days before I had lost babies. I remember the innocence and joy of it all. And I would not take that from anyone. But I no longer hold it myself, except as a sweet memory.

So I will blow out my candle now and wish a gentle bereaved Mother’s Day to every heart that beats with a mother’s love. To every mother who misses her child(ren) because they have gone before us to Heaven. To every mother having a salty-sweet day.

I feel you. I feel it with you. And all I want to say is it’s ok not to be ok. It’s ok to miss your Heaven babies. And it’s ok to enjoy the babies you have here with you. It’s ok to do both at the same time. It’s weird and it feels all wrong, but it is the life we have and we do with it the best we can.

And next week, it’s still going to be ok to have a salty sweet day. Even if it seems like everyone around you is enjoying a sweet one. Life is complicated and hard and painful, but it is still good. Even when it hurts. Even when we miss our babies.

Grieving (and loving) on. . .

Arise, my love

I’m wishing you the happiest Easter your heart allows you to feel. And if it doesn’t feel like Easter Sunday in your heart today, that’s ok. Just keep going. We’ll get there one day.

It seems, as time passes, that the sensitive days change, but they don’t stop coming. I feel like no matter where I am, who I’m with or what I’m doing I’m never far from feeling intense grief for my baby. My life is like that 6 degrees of separation show. I’m only ever at most 6 thought steps away from falling apart in grief. And the thoughts that take me down that path change like a kaleidoscope as life twists on. There’s no way to predict what will hurt until it does.

This is our third Easter without Maggie. Even though it has hit me twice before, it feels differently each time. This year, Easter hit my grief bone just wrong in a way that it hasn’t before. It brought tears to my eyes and almost took my breath away.

It was the song they played at church that got me this time — Arise, my love. It’s not a new song to me. I’ve heard it before. I’ve probably even heard it before on Easter. But this time, it got me.

I know it’s about Jesus. But as they sang the lyrics “Arise, my love” I couldn’t help remembering how every moment from when the doctor said “I’m sorry, there is no heartbeat” to the moment her body went into the crematorium my heart screamed for her to arise. My soul begged for a miracle. For God to look down and see my grief and take mercy on me and breathe life back into my child. Arise, my love.

And when they sang “death, where is your sting?” I couldn’t help but think “it’s in my heart.” I no longer scream “arise, my love” because her ashes are in my bedroom and even though I believe God can do whatever he wants, the hope that it might actually happen isn’t there anymore. Death’s sting set up residence in my heart the day we learned she was gone. It grew roots the day we said goodbye. And I don’t expect it to leave until I’m reunited with her in Heaven.

I love Easter with all my soul. I’m so thankful for Jesus dying for my sins. I’m so thankful that sin’s shackles have released me because of Jesus’ sacrifice and obedience, following God’s plan for Him to make a way for us despite the pain He knew He would feel. Then Sunday came and He rose again — whole and pain-free.

But my heart. That is where death’s sting is. That is where suffering is. My mama heart is stuck on Good Friday and it doesn’t feel good. My heart won’t really feel Easter until I pass through Heaven’s gates and see my daughter. Then my heart will be able to sing “Arise, my love.” pain-free. Then there will be no more death’s sting. Then there will be no more suffering.

But today. But my heart. Stuck in the pain. Stuck on Saturday, flashing back to Friday. Repeating it over and over. Feeling it over and over. Never getting to Sunday.

Today is not Easter Sunday in my heart. Today I look forward to Heaven, but I am not there yet. Today I’m thankful that Jesus died for my sins and to make a way for me to get to the place where there is no more death’s sting, no more suffering and no more tears. But I am not there yet. Today I’m thankful that Easter Sunday happened almost 2000 years ago so that when I die my heart will feel what Easter Sunday feels like — no more death’s sting and no more suffering.

But today. But my heart. We aren’t there yet. And that’s ok.

I’m grieving on and life is twisting on. . . And I’m wishing you the happiest Easter your heart allows you to feel. And if it doesn’t feel like Easter Sunday in your heart today, that’s ok. Just keep going. We’ll get there one day.

“When we all get to Heaven,

What a day of rejoicing that will be. . .”

My body betrayed my heart

This is how the conversation goes when I think about my first trimester losses:

Mind: The baby probably had chromosomal abnormalities.

Heart: I don’t care. That was my baby.

Mind: Ten to 25 percent of all known pregnancies end in miscarriage, and up to 70 percent of first-trimester miscarriages are caused by chromosomal anomalies. I read that somewhere.

Heart: I read that, too. It wasn’t comforting then and it isn’t comforting now. I don’t care if my baby would have had chromosomal anomalies. I loved my baby and I wanted to hold this one.

Mind: Up to 70 percent of first-trimester miscarriages, and 20 percent of second-trimester miscarriages, are caused by chromosomal anomalies.

Heart: I don’t care. See above statement. Your statistics are not comforting or reassuring.

Mind: Our body has saved us from difficulty raising an imperfect child.

Heart: No child is perfect. Our body has killed our baby for being imperfect like every other human is. Our body has betrayed us.

Mind: Don’t you want our baby to have the best chance at life? I. E. No chromosomal issues to handicap or retard his or her progress or success.

Heart: I just want our baby to live. I will love our baby no matter what. I will care for our baby no matter what. Or I would have had our body not betrayed us and killed our baby for no reason.

Mind: I’m sure our body had a reason.

Heart: Oh, yeah. How are you sure? Did our body tell you or are you just assuming? Do you know what happens when you assume?

Mind: Yes. I make an ass of us all IF I assume AND I’m wrong.

Heart: We are an ass anyways. An ass and a murderer. Our body betrayed us and killed our baby for no good reason.

Mind: How do you know our body didn’t have a good reason?

Heart: There is no good reason to kill a baby.

Mind: What if the chromosomal abnormality was incompatible with life?

Heart: What if it wasn’t?

Mind: I guess we’ll never know.

Heart: That’s because our body betrayed us and killed our baby before our baby was big enough for us to figure out why our baby died.

Mind: Does it even matter why?

Heart: I guess not. Our body betrayed us and killed our baby. The reason would not redeem the action.

Mind: Why are you so upset? Shouldn’t you be used to losing babies by now? Didn’t you know it was a possibility? This isn’t your first loss.

Heart: I don’t get used to losing. I love my baby. Every baby of mine. So I am grieving and hurting because someone I love died.

Mind: I feel like nothing I say will comfort you or change your mind from feeling like our body has betrayed us.

Heart: I think you are correct about that.

Mind: Why do we even bother to talk?

Heart: Because even though I know nothing will justify this gross betrayal and act of murder, you still try and find a reason so that I will stop hurting.

Mind: It’s because I love you.

Heart: I love our baby. What would you do if our body killed me?

Mind: I’d die. I can’t live without you.

Heart: I know exactly how you feel.

Mind: I don’t feel. I think.

Body: You are both exhausting. It’s nap time now.

Heart: Traitor. We don’t want a nap. Or a dead baby.

Mind: Thanks for saving us from that conversation.

Heart: This is not over. Nothing has been resolved. We will have this conversation until we die. This is the conversation that does not end (sung to the tune of lamchops theme song)

Body and Mind: But it is over for now. Majority rule. Good night.

Heart: It is not a good night. Our baby is dead.

Body: Ugh. Snore.

And you know what, my heart was right. The conversation does not end. And neither does the grief. You can’t reason away that feeling. But my mind still tries. It’s a circular track but it’s the on my body, my heart and my mind run all the time. Except when we are sleeping.

Grieving on. . .

Just holding my baby cuz babies don’t keep

As a mom, I like to let myself think I can do it all because most days that’s my job whether I can do it or not. I’m tasked with everything necessary to keep the tiny people alive and help them process this life thing and figure out how to thrive in it. I’m chauffeur and nanny and chef and cleaner and referee and therapist and a thousand other things with a different hat for each one. And I’m supposed to be able to change hats in a flash without anyone noticing or even wear multiple hats at once on my one head.

And then I’m a wife and daughter and sister and friend on top of all that. And then there is always the regret and sorrow that I’m missing some of my babies and can’t wear hats for them. It’s impossible and it’s exhausting.

Well, I concede failure today.

It’s been a rough weekend. One by one, everyone has fallen prey to a stomach bug. And today, the baby got it. And I just can’t put him down. Every time I do, he either immediately barfs or he makes a pitiful pouty face or he cries. And ever since losing Maggie, the sound of a baby crying and the sight of a sad baby face go straight to my heart.

So this is me today. In a variety of shirts (because he keeps barfing on them), but only one hat — Baby holder.

Because some days being the best mom means doing the most important thing first. And today, that’s holding the sick baby and watching movies with the big sisters who have already survived the stomach bug.

Today, I’m letting go of the pressure I feel to do it all and just doing the one thing because some things can’t be multitasked. Some things have to be prioritized.

Tomorrow, I will clean the mess and take a shower and change my sheets and wash the sick of today off our house (and my shirts). Tomorrow, I’ll be back at it, trying to teach baby no sleep to sleep in his bed. But today, I will be arms deep in it with the tiny human who’s still in the throes of it. Because today it’s my most important job and it must be done alone to be done properly.

Mothering (and grieving) on. . .

And trying to enjoy every moment of it as best I can. Because stomach bug or no stomach bug, it’s a moment I get to spend with my kiddos and a memory we get to make together. And that makes it a precious moment with the ones I love here.

It might sound silly to say it’s a privilege to be barfed on. Because I don’t want to be barfed on. But I would have given anything to be barfed on by my heaven babies just once. I missed that with them. I missed everything with them.

I miss that keenly today, experiencing it with EJ. And it makes me strangely thankful to be barfed on. To be in this moment. To make this memory.

It’s gross. It’s uncomfortable. It’s exhausting. But it’s also beautiful. It’s mothering.

It’s a hard thing — parenting after child loss. And I thank God for it, barf and all.

I don’t have to choose

When I had my first baby, I knew nothing of the capacity for grief that love and parenting would bring with it. I was blissfully ignorant. And also just plain ignorant at the same time. I knew nothing of parenting, either. All I knew was from the moment I saw those two pink lines, I loved the tiny person who had caused them.

In that moment, I knew there was a tiny person there, developing. Not a mass of cells, but a person. A tiny, tiny human who would grow and stretch me, expand me and my universe in ways I couldn’t even imagine.

I would come to learn that the most beautiful thing about the way she would grow and stretch me was this — I did not have to choose her over anyone else. She created her own space. Or rather, God created it for her and she grew to fill it and to grow it and to fill it again. I didn’t really know this then as well as I know it now and I do not really know it as well now as I will later. I’m always growing in my knowledge of this parenting thing and it is always growing me.

I love that I did not have to choose my child over anyone else. When I opened my heart to love her, I didn’t have to cast another person out to create space. When she was born I didn’t have to choose someone else’s birthday to discontinue celebrating. I grew to be able to accommodate her. And it was the same with each of my subsequent children.

When my second daughter was born, I did not stop celebrating my first daughter’s birthday. Nor did I stop celebrating either of my 2 girls when my 3rd was born. I did not stop loving any of them when I started grieving my first loss. I did not stop grieving baby o or loving my girls when my first rainbow was born. Nor did my love for any of my children — living or dead — decrease by any amount with my next 3 losses. Or with the grief those losses brought. Or with the birth of my rainbow boy.

The love I feel continues to grow, whether it is shown in the look on my face when I watch my children dance or the tears that fall when I grieve my lost babies and the fact that I’ll never see them dance. It is all love.

I don’t have to choose. I’m not loving any of my children any less whether I’m celebrate the birthday of one of my living children or commemorating the anniversary of my child’s funeral.

It is all love and the love of one does not diminish the love of the others. God created a special spot in my heart for each of them — a spot that grows as they grow and as my love for them grows. A place that expands to hold limitless love for my tiny humans, loves so limitless they can stretch all the way to heaven, if needed.

Today is a special day for Maggie. It was her due date that then became her funeral date — a day to celebrate her and begin the process of letting her go.

Today, it strikes me that this parenting thing is so much about learning to let go and she is just teaching me about letting go in a different way than my other kids have. I had to let her go differently. I had to let her go physically and forever. And I suck at it.

I’m still trying to learn how to let her go. I haven’t learned it yet. I still call her back every day with my heart.

And that’s ok. Because I love her, my heart calls out to her. And I can love her like this every day without taking away from my other kids at all. Because I don’t have to choose. I can love them all in different ways at the same time.

I don’t have to choose. And that’s beautiful. I can love them all. And that’s good because I can’t help it. I can’t stop it. It just springs from me, whether I want it to or not.

I don’t have to choose. And today, I thank God that I don’t have to choose. I can be sad about the anniversary of my daughter’s funeral and happy to sit here and watch a movie with my living kids at the same time. I love knowing that both are expressions of my love and I love that I don’t have to choose one over the other.

Today I celebrate not having to choose.

Grieving and not choosing on. . . And doing it all in love.