Here is the final items on my list of things that I am thankful for, grateful for, or just plain blessed with in my life.  At the beginning of the month I decided to share my 30 days of Thankfulness.  You can read the first part of my 30 days of Thankfulness by clicking here for 1-6 , here for 7-13, and here for 14-21.

22. Music-with so many songs out there you can find the right song to help uplift your spirits

23. Simple Things- like clothing to wear every day and food to eat

24. Feasts- Thanksgiving is a time to eat, to be with family, and to share stories

25. My Gardens-each year my gardens grow in number, as well as plants.  The flowers are beautiful and bring much joy.

26. My Camera-it gives me the opportuniy to share my perspective on the world through a different lens and angle.

27. Facebook and Email-it gives me the oppotunity to connect with family and friends that are scattered around the world.

28. Time to Learn-I am happy and thankful for the extra time I have to focus on learning, like cooking and photography

29. My Cell Phone-it may be one of the basic, simpliest flip phones but it allows me to keep in touch with those who are important to me.

30. A Good Cup of Coffee & Conversation- I enjoy the chance to sit down with those who are close to me while sipping on coffee as we talk the day away. 

 What are you thankful for?  It’s not to late to start creating your list.  If you aren’t able to do the 30 days of Thankfulness, then I encourage you to create a list of 10.  I look forward to continuing to share mine and I look forward to hearing from you what is on your list.  Share you thoughts below.

 

My week 3 assignment for my Illuminate course consists of two mini assignments rolled into one.  First we were challenged with taking steps, 100 steps to be exact.  We had to walk 100 steps and take a photo using what was available around us at that moment as our focus.  Second, we had to focus our writing on gratefulness.  I went on two different walks where every 100th step I took a photo.  Each walk I went on I combined the collective photos into a video.  So, 100 steps & gratefulness.

When you think about it, 100 steps really isn’t that much.  But there are times when even one step seems like way too much, so to accomplish one hundred is just out of reach and unthinkable.  I’ve been there before.  My husband and I have been together for over 16 years, married for 5 +.  Yes, that makes us high school sweethearts, and then some. We’ve had ups and downs in that time, but  what relationship doesn’t, especially after being together for so many years.  However, we have never hit as low of a point as we did this year when we had to say goodbye to Samantha.  The simplest of tasks became the hardest.  Sometimes, even the difficult steps were just a blur because you walk around so numb.  You move through life, while life around you moves on.  If it weren’t for my husband, I don’t think I would be as strong as I am.

I am grateful for my husband and the relationship we have.  It is a deep relationship, filled with:  love, communication, strength, encouragement, commitment, warmth, and arms to hold you.

Steps can lead you up, down, winding, straight, and even sometimes backwards.  Have I stumbled on my journey, yes I have.  But through it all, I have been learning from it all.  The steps of the path I am and taking currently, are steps I never thought I would take.  Who does?  For most…you grow up, get a job, get married, and decide to have a family.  No where in your thought and plan do you decide to become the parent of child who is in heaven.  Unfortunately, those are the cards I was dealt.  However, as unfortunate as it is, honestly I am able to remain very thankful and grateful.

I am grateful for the life I have.  I am grateful for the blessings I have received.  I am grateful for Samantha.  I may not have planed for this, but this is where I am.  I have learned a lot over the past year about life, probably more in that short of time then over the course of my life up to this point.  I have learned to slow down and take the moment in.  I have learned that not having a plan can be just as good as having a plan.  I am learning to do more of things I love to do instead of just thinking about doing them.

Steps can take you down familiar terrain or it can be like trying to cross a river where some steps are easy to make and some are sunken just below the water causing uneasyness.  When we take familiar steps, we easily fall into a rhythm and often a routine.  It isn’t until those steps take us out of comfort zone, sometimes way out of our comfort zone, that we begin to worry, are fearful, or begin to shut down.  There are times when going out of our comfort zone is good for us.  But it is easier to take it all in when it is our choice to move out of the comfort zone.  When we are tossed out of comfort zone by no choice of our own, that is when it sometimes gets tough.  It is important to have family and friends.

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Family is important to me and always has been.  However, now the importance of family is even more valuable than ever before.  Beyond my husband, my family has been another major support in my life.  I am grateful for the prayers, support, conversations, love, and everything else that come with being a family.

I am grateful for the few close friends I have.  Friends that will join me in having a cup of coffee and good converstation.  Friends who are there and supportive, and genuine.

Steps can be easy or they can be hard.  When you have the things you are most grateful in life for surrounding you, the hard steps become a little easier.  Those hard steps sometimes create the opportunity for us to forget the simple things in life, the things we are grateful for.  I encourage you to slow down and take a step.  If you can, take another and then another.  Break down the big things in life, into smaller steps.  Instead of taking 100 steps, try 50, or even 20.  And if that first step is too hard to take on your own, I encourage you to take the hand of someone who can take that step with you.  Whether it is a spouse, a friend, a family member, or God reach your hand out and say “please go with me, help me take this step”.

 

 

 

I am continuing to share with you what I am thankful for, grateful for, or just plain blessed with in my life.  At the beginning of the month I decided to share my 30 days of Thankfulness.  You can read the first part of my 30 days of Thankfulness by clicking here for 1-6 and here for 7-13.

14.  Support-I am blessed with a tremendous support system that has come out of losing Samantha.  Without that support system, I wouldn’t be able to be where I am today.

15. My new contacts-I know this may sound odd, but I have been trying to get the right ones for the past three months.  Finally, after like the 7th pair they are right.  I can see well during the day and night finally!

16. For an Extra Long Fall-In Minnesota, Fall doesn’t always seem to stick around.  We have been very lucky and very blessed to still have decent weather.

17. My memorial garden-It’s the middle of November and the flowers I planted (Yellow Snapdragons) that are around the memory stone are still blooming.

In Spring, when I first planted everythingSnapdragons still blossoming as of November 19

 

18. The Internet-without there is a lot I wouldn’t be able to do.  With it I am able to easily keep in touch with family and I am able to share my photography, as well as my writings.

19. MyInfantLoss.com-it has been a way for me to reach out to others, hopefully helping them while helping myself through the healing process.

20. My Car-it allows me to go where I need to go, as well as where I want to go.  Without it doing so many of the fun road trips we did this past year wouldn’t have as possible as they were.

21. God-without having the knowledge of God walking beside me and being there, I think times would be a lot tougher and things would be a lot harder to handle.  Even though I may waver, turn away, yell and get angry, He is always there, no matter what.

What are you thankful for?  It’s not to late to start creating your list.  If you aren’t able to do the 30 days of Thankfulness, then I encourage you to create a list of 10.  I look forward to continuing to share mine and I look forward to hearing from you what is on your list.  Share you thoughts below.

 

I took this photo in Spring, just after I placed the stone & planted the flowers.

My week 2 assignment for my Illuminate class is “Finding Your Light”

It has been nearly 10 months since Samantha joined our world and quickly left it.  In the early days, the light and the hope were dim.  It didn’t help that at that time we were on pace to have one of the snowiest winters in a long time.  Plus, we were headed into the coldest time of the year, my husband and I had just gotten over the flu, our furnace had gone out, and I was having to face going back to work.  So, glimpses of hope and light just didn’t seem near.

As the days went by and we slowly got to move into Spring (which didn’t arrive until nearly the end of April) I was ready for the new growth and the freshness that the season would bring.  The warmth, the green, and the flowers.  Little bits of light began to filter through my every day.  Sure, there were still some darker days, but most of the days were becoming more gray than dark with hints of brightness.

As Summer drew in, I was surrounded by warmth.  Warmth from the sun, warmth from friends, and warmth from family.  Each month from Christmas 2010 until this point we had seen our family.  Whether it was a road trip home to celebrate Easter, a wedding shower and wedding, and birthdays or it was family visiting us we got a lot of family time in.  Raun and I surrounded ourselves with our own little road trips, each other, family, and the things that we hold most dear to us.  Life is to short to just sit back and let the days pass you by.  So, we decided to begin doing the things we truly wanted to do and mixed them in with the things we had to do or responsibilities that we had.  I began to realign and look at the things I truly wanted to be a part of my life and what things needed to change.  By the end of the Summer I was seeing things with more color and brightness.  I found myself more and more thankful for the beautiful things around me.

I took this photo the weekend of Samantha's original due date

As Fall began to roll in so did some changes.  One of the biggest change was my job.  I began to realize that my light had mostly gone out and I knew I needed to make a change.  I gave up my classroom and became a building substitute.  This allowed me time, flexibility, and the ability to take care of what I needed (my family, myself, my photography, and myinfantloss.com).  Giving up my classroom lifted a ton of stress and worry off of my shoulders.  The light outside and inside began to shine brighter.  And when my husband began to see the change, we both realized that I had made the right choice.  Fall is one of my favorite times of years and the colors this year were absolutely beautiful.  The changes in the air and the changes in me led me to spend some quiet time at the memorial wall where Samantha’s name is written.  It was there that colors and brightness really began to pop.  It was there that I got the photos that I submitted to Illuminate and allowed me to get this opportunity to expand on ways to help heal.

Shortly, we will be heading into Winter.  We’ve been lucky this Fall, it has last quite some time.  Last year at this time we already were piled up by snow around us.  The daylight is shorter and the days are getting colder.  So, I am going to have to find other ways to bring light and brightness, as well as color into my life.  Fortunately, Christmas time is one of my favorite times of the year to decorate my house.  It is one of the times of year I go all out.  And aside from the Christmas tree & stockings, most of it I am able to leave up through the Winter.  I am looking forward to warmly lit, wonderful smelling candles that will be glowing throughout the house.  I am looking forward to the twinkling of the tree lights.  I am looking forward to the frost on the trees sparkling in the sun.  I will be spending time with family, continuing on with traditions, and adding in a few new ones of our own.

I took this on October 15, 2011 to continue the "Wave of Light"

I know there will still be some tough days ahead, but I also know that with God, my husband, my family, and my friends I will be able to see more light and make it through those tough days a little easier.  And someday, hopefully those tough and dark days will turn into just mere moments.  And the light and happiness will not just be in moments, but in days instead.

 

 

Raun and I have been through many holidays and celebrations since we lost Samantha.  We have faced Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Weddings, and Birthdays.  We are to the point where we have two major holidays to work through…Thanksgiving and Christmas.  These two holidays are filled with families, friends, new experiences, old experiences, and tradition.  So, how does one face these next couple of months?

In my pregnancy and infant loss group this was our topic…How to make it through the Holidays.  This topic is interesting for me,  I learned a lot just by listening to others in the group.  To start we each shared what we were most dreading about the upcoming holiday time.  For most, it seeemed to be family that was causing the most anxiety.  Unfortunately for a lot of people their relationships become strained with their family and their family is not overly supportive on the topic.  They would prefer to push it out and remain inside their comfort zone. 

I am not familiar with this.  Fortunately, for me, for us, I think our relationship with family has become stronger and deeper.  We are lucky to have many hugs, prayers, and words of comfort coming from all over the country.  That, to me, is a big blessing, especially after listening to other’s in the group.

We also began to talk about the things we will do, do not do, or change.  Like parties to attend, people to see, food to make, shopping to do, and so on.  For me, the thing that I took away from this night was not only being thankful for my family, but the idea of doing something special to remember our little one.  I had been thinking on this for a little while.  We are going to include a special something in each of our Christmas cards that we send out this year in memory of our little girl.  Iam also keeping my eye out for a special decoration, ornament, or something that resonates deeply within my heart that we can always put out during the holiday season.

Over the next couple of weeks I am going to post some topics on getting through the holidays.  They will be questions to think about and I will add my own input on what we’ve done on previous holidays or what we plan on doing for the next two.  It is my hope that these will help make it a little easier to get through the holidays and hopefully you will even be able to find a little joy and happiness during this time.  I know it isn’t always easy to find the happier side of things when you’ve lost a child, I have been there.  I am still learning though.  Learning how to make it through, how to move forward, how to take what has happened and help others, and find ways to honor Samantha.

So, I ask you…this upcoming Holiday Season, what is something that you dread? What are you most fearful of or worried about?  On the flip side, what are you most excited about?  What are you most looking forward to doing?  How are you going to find bits of happiness and joy in the season?  I liked to hear your thoughts and ideas.  Together, we can work our way through the holidays.

 

I am continuing to share with you what I am thankful for, grateful for, or just plain blessed with in my life.  At the beginning of the month I decided to share my 30 days of Thankfulness.  You can read the first part of my 30 days of Thankfulness by clicking here.

7. The Chance to Meet New People-This past year I have come into contact with some truly amazing people who bring new aspects to my life. I have met a lot of these people by stepping out of my comfort zone. But I am glad I did because I have learned so much and grown as an individual as well.

8. My Photography-Over the years I have had an interest in photography.  In the last couple of years that has really grown from being an interest to being a major component to my life.  I am grateful my skills have grown over the years and now I am to the point where I can share my photos in a way I only dreamed of.  In the future, I see my photography taking on a different spin.

9. Teaching-even though I do not have a classroom to call my own (which I am thankful for as wel) I am thankful for finding again the reason why I went into teaching.

10. Carly Marie-using her creative talents I have a wonderful photo in rememberance of Samantha that was taken at sunset on a beach with Samantha’s name written in the sand.  It is absolutely beautiful and what Carly does is truly amazing.

  

11. All those who are in the Military-I am thankful for all those who have served in the Military, currently do, and will in the future.  We have family in the Army, Marines, and Airforce.

12. Illuminate & Beryl Young-through a course I am working my way through grief and healing by using photography and journaling.  The assignments are causing me to step out, truly open up, and look at things with a fresh perspective.

13. For Dragonflies-dragonflies bring me a sense of peace and calm when I see them.  They remind me of our baby girl and tell me she is close by.  They seem to show up when I most need the comfort.

What are you thankful for?  It’s not to late to start creating your list.  If you aren’t able to do the 30 days of Thankfulness, then I encourage you to create a list of 10.  I look forward to continuing to share mine and I look forward to hearing from you what is on your list.  Share you thoughts below.

 

 Dear Samantha,

Hi baby girl! You have been on mind a lot this week. I have a story that I want to share with you. It’s about you, my little baby girl. In a few weeks it will be year since we found out about you. In December last year your daddy and I found out we were pregnant for the first time. We were so excited. We shared with all our family that they were receiving an early Christmas present. That present was you!

Things were going well and you were getting bigger and bigger. Daddy and I were getting ready for you to come. We got a crib, made plans for the changing table, and began to plan what your room was going to look like. At Christmas you received a cute little toy in our stocking and I received things to help understand pregnancy better.

Shortly after Christmas I began to feel you moving around. To me, it felt like butterflies fluttering around. On ultrasounds you were a busy little girl, bouncing around inside or maybe even dancing. I would be sitting in the chair and start giggling when I would feel you move around. Daddy would always ask “what?” and I would say “the baby is bouncing around”.

At our first doctor appointment the doctor decided that I needed an ultrasound to see really how big you were. The doctors said one thing, your daddy and I thought another. So, we had our first ultrasound. It was you, me, and the doctors. The ultrasound tech said nothing other than that she needed to go talk to the doctor. I was moved into a room where the doctor talked to me about what the photos showed. I only remember bits and pieces of that talk and that day. We were told that the road ahead was going to be tough. There was extra fluid around your head and the doctor said it was most likely due to Turner’s Syndrome. Just to rule out other possibilities a bunch of test were run and we were sent to the perinatal doctor.

The visit at the perinatal doctor gave us a lot of pictures of you and another chance to watch you moving around. They were unable to do anything else that day, other than say they were pretty sure that you had Turner’s Syndrome. Another appointment was scheduled at a later time to run an amnio. In the meantime we were sent home and brought all of our family up to date on what was going on. We had a busy few weeks. Daddy had a holiday work party that we went to, I had one at my work as well, and we celebrated my teaching achievements at a gala. So you got a chance to be a part of some different things.

We never got a chance to return to the perinatal doctor because in the morning I went to a regular doctor appointment. That is when I found out that you had grown your angel wings. I left the doctor and made a bunch of phone calls. I was told that I needed to go home, get some stuff, and head to the hospital. So, daddy and I packed up some things and headed over to the hospital. That night we had some visitors stop by and then it was just us.

Then next our two, became three when you arrived into the world on January 27, 2011.  You were 17 weeks old, 2.4 ozs., and 5 inches long, a beautiful baby. Daddy and I held you for a while, took some pictures, and got your handprints and footprints. The next day we made your handprints and footprints in clay. That night we went home with a keepsake box (that has now become two boxes) in our arms.

One week later you were buried at Resurrection Cemetery with 25 other little ones. There was a beautiful service and we received a lit candle to honor you. In May your name, Samantha Jean Lauterbach, was written on the children’s memorial garden wall. Every so often I visit you there and you sometimes visit me. You visit me through dragonflies.

You are always in my heart and I wear a special necklace every day that helps me feel closer to you. I miss you baby girl. Some day we will meet again and I will be able to hold you in my arms. I love you!

Love,
Mommy

     

 

I wanted to share that I will be participating in an Illuminate course over the next month or so.  This will give me an opportunity to work through the grief and healing process in another way.  Or should I say, in addition to what I am doing.  It allows me to do two things, take photos and to write as I work through the process.  However, the writing that I will be doing will be on specific topics assigned, as well as the photos I take.  The first assignment is writing a letter to Samantha.  I look forward to working my way through this experience, meeting new people,  and continuing to walk this path while finding new ways to reflect, honor, and cherish.

 

I have decided to take part in Let’s Blogoff.  A few times a month they put out a blog topic, then I get to think on the topic and create a blogpost with my thoughts.  These topics give me a chance to think deeply on topics I normally wouldn’t, expand my horizons, and delve deeper into learning more about myself and where I may be headed in life.  For example, the last topic was entitled “What is Home?”.  It is an opportunity to not give the short and sweet answer to the questions.  Instead, it makes you mull it over and share your thoughts.

This time the topic is “What did you want to be when you grow up?”  This for some can be a fairly simple recall and easy to answer.  Well, I have been thinking on this topic on and off for the past couple of days.  I can get back to the high school years pretty easily, when I can remember coming to the conclusion that I either wanted to be a teacher or be involved in interior decorating.  I also remember having someone tell me that as long as they could remember I always wanted to be a teacher.

Alright, now to look back even farther in the years.  I very vaguely remember playing teacher as a little kid with my friends or family every so often.  I don’t remember ever saying outright, “I want to be ______ when I grow up”.   Thinking about it now, I don’t recall really thinking about it much at all.  In my mind, I was just being a kid, doing kid sort of things.

Well, seven years out of college and I am a teacher.  However, over time I am beginning to change the direction I am going in.  I am changing my focus.  I wonder sometimes what it would have been like if I went down the path of interior decorating.  I get my feet slightly wet in that area by decorating my own house, as well as helping my folks decorate areas of their house.  For me, honestly, getting my feet slightly wet is enough to let me know I made the right choice at the time. 

Looking down the road I am not so sure I will still be a teacher when I grow up.  I am one right now, but I do think that will change as I get older.  So, looking forward…what do I want to be when I grow up?  I want to be a mom and raise our family.  I want to do more with my photography.  Photography is what strongly pulls me now and I want to continue to grow that.  I want to find a way for me to take my experiences from this year of losing our daughter and help others who are walking the path of pregnancy loss & infant loss.  If I can find a way to combine all three of these desires into one goal, then that will be what I want to be when I grow up.

I don’t know exactly where my meandering path is going to lead me, but I do know what direction I am heading in as of now.  So, what did you want to be when you grow up? or what do you want to be when you grow up?

 

A friend of mine gave me an idea…she was doing 30 days of Thankfulness.  All to often we rush through the next couple months getting ready for the holidays.  We get busy getting the house ready, cooking, spending time with family and friends, getting ready for the change in season and spending the last few nice days outside as much as possible, shopping, and the list goes on.  It seems that after Halloween time speeds up and flies by and before we know it we are in a new year.  Well, this year I am going to slow down.  I am going to take the time to share my 30 days of thankfulness over the next several weeks.  I consider these things to be blessings, things I am grateful for, or just plain thankful to have in my life. 

So here goes…We are six days into November and here’s the start of my list.

1. My Husband-honestly I don’t know where I would be without Raun.  He is truly an amazing guy.  We’ve been around each other for the past 16 years, which means we have been through a lot.  He has been there through thick and thin, the good and not so good, all the while giving praises, comfort, support, and inspiration.

2. My Family-both my imediate family and extended family.  We may all be scattered throughout this country, but we are still close to one another.  This creates a strong support for one another, good conversations, fun, and down right togetherness.

3. Our Baby Girl-A quickly as we found out we were pregnant Samantha left our world and grew her angel wings.  She has taught me a lot about my life, faith, me, and family.

4. Close Friends-honestly I do not have tons of friends.  But I am okay with that because the friends that I do have I am very close with.  We would do anything for each other and we are always there for each other.

5. My Cats-I know this may seem odd to some out there, but those two fury little critters bring a lot of joy, comfort, and laughter.  To me, that is truly amazing.  They seem to know when things are good or bad.  When it’s been a tough day they are there waiting  to snuggle on your lap and share a purr of comfort.

      

6. A Home-a place to call our own.  A shelter, a place to come home to and find comfort.

Even though we are already a week into November I encourage you to slow down and take the time to think about about what you are most grateful for this season.  If you aren’t able to do 30 days of thankfulness, then create a list of 10 instead.  What are you most thankful for, blessed with, and greatful for this year? 

Share your lists below!  I look forward to reading yours and I look forward to sharing with you the 24 things on my list.

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