Our Trisomy 18 Journey: Empty Arms

Baby Gabriel’s footprint after passing away from genetic disorder called Trisomy 18.My dad and one of my sister’s came in and honestly, I think at that point, he was still alive.

Shortly after, I had each of my daughter’s come in to meet him, and essentially, to also say goodbye. I kept them separate so that they could each have a special moment with him, without any distraction.

My oldest was nine and it clearly broke her heart, but I think it also provided her with a lot of answers. She touched him and even smiled for a photo. Gabriel also “brought” her and her sister a special teddy bear, which we had him “hug” so that they would always have something tangible that they could hold. (Honestly, I find myself constantly holding their bears, too. It’s one of the last things I have that my baby boy physically touched.)

My younger daughter, who was five, came in after. I don’t think she grasped the idea that he had died, but that is probably for the best. All she knew is that she got to meet her brother and I think she will be eternally grateful for that as she gets older.

I had no intention of letting my four-year-old nephew come in the room, but the baby was so angelic that when his mom asked, it was completely fine by me. It was a honor to share Gabriel with as many family members as possible. I needed people to know just how “real” he was. That I had a son and that while he may have passed away, he was a very real part of our story.  Continue reading

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Battling Grief After the Loss of a Child

Mother grieving after the death of a childFrom my life’s experience, I believe that there is depression and that there is grief. While you certainly can have both at the same time, the two are not interchangeable. I am grieving.

For many years, I struggled with depression and on many occasions, found myself no longer having the will to live. At two distinct points in my life, those emotions were so strong that I attempted to end my life, thankfully to no avail.

I had lived through some of life’s greatest struggles. From difficult break-ups to being cheated on while pregnant, from sexual assaults to nasty custody battles, I had experienced heartache, anxiety, and emotional exhaustion that challenged my very existence.

It wasn’t until the birth of my daughters that I realized that life was so much bigger than me and my day-to-day problems. I understood that my existence here on earth was so much larger than the hardships I faced. I fought to heal myself though a combination of counseling services, medications, and the realization that my success rate for making it through difficult days was 100 percent. While depression and anxiety still sneak up on me from time to time, as they do to everyone, I am much better equipped with the tools, resources, and mindset to find the good in my life and to move forward in a positive, productive way.

But more recently, I was introduced to the most raw form of grief–the loss of a child– and its presence has shaken me to the core. I am not depressed. I am heartbroken and emotionally devastated.

Even just the simple act of crying has changed for me. Continue reading

Dealing with a pregnancy announcement after losing your child

An elated mother-to-be shares pregnancy announcement not realizing the hurt it may cause women who have lost a baby due to miscarriage, stillbirth, or defects I am so very happy for you and your family, but please do not be offended if I need some space right now. Your child is an absolute blessing to this world and I hope to rejoice with you someday soon, but I need some time to heal first.

In light of your pregnancy announcement, please do not be offended or feel as if I do not care if I have to remove myself from your life for awhile. If I stop following your social media feeds, it isn’t because I do not love and care for you. Please don’t feel like I am not thrilled for your new addition. It’s more complicated than that.  Continue reading

Sonia Joseph: A name we all should know

Sonia Joseph. That is a name I want you all to know.

Sonia Joseph is the mother of the late 20-year-old Giovonn Joseph-McDade, who was shot to death by police officers in Kent, Washington last June.

Like any mother who loses a child, especially so unexpectedly, she was shattered.

Today, January 29th, 2018, Sonia’s quiet but brave voice was heard.

In King County, Washington (the largest of the State’s counties), it is now required by law to provide free legal representation to the families of victims killed by the police.  Continue reading