Samantha is a our beautiful little girl who went to heaven on January 27, 2011.  She was 17 weeks old when we experienced a miscarriage.  As parents of a child who went to heaven instead of home with us, we have been finding ways to honor our little girl.  We have been doing different things to honor our little girl.  The sky is the limit of what you can do to honor your little one.  Follow your heart and do what means the most to you.  Do what is special.

 

While at the hospital the nurse made sure that Samantha was weighed, her hand prints & footprints were done, and pictures were taken.  They also made sure we had a keepsake box to take home with us.  That keepsake box has gone from one box to two now.  The next day we were able to press her tiny little hands and feet into clay.

A week later we took part in a memorial service on February 5, 2011.  It was a beautifully done service at Resurrection Cemetery.   Samantha, along with the families of 25 other little one’s gathered on this special day.  Afterwards, we had Samantha’s name written on the memorial wall at the Children’s Memorial Wall and Healing Garden in Resurrection Cemetery.

 

In late Spring I came across Carly Marie and her website.  She lost a little one of her own and now she uses her gift of photography.  She writes names in the sand on Christian’s Beach in Australia and then takes a photo at sunset capturing all the beauty in the water, sky, and your little one’s name.  I decided to have Samantha’s name added to the waiting list and on June 24 (the same day my niece was born and Raun’s birthday as well) I received Samantha’s name photo.  It is truly beautiful!

Shortly after we lost Samantha I had the urge, the need to create a blog and website.  MyInfantLoss.com was created out of this feeling and realizing this is a way I could get our story out there, and hopefully help other’s who are on this path too, as well as connect with them.  Raun had a memorial necklace made for me that: has footprints stamped into a heart shape, Samantha’s initials (SJL) on the back, and two crystals-one is her January birthstone and the other is the July birthstone that represents her due date.  Raun’s mom also gave us a memorial garden stone that in Spring we can make a little memorial garden.  At Christmas time we added a dragonfly, blessing, and poem by me to our Christmas cards.

Many other good things came out of our loss.  Raun began a website talking about living the backyard life-http://www.backyardlifeblog.com.  We now have a completely different perspective on life and we do only what means the most to us.

  

 

What does your heart puzzle look like?  Mine is filled with Raun, Samantha, family, friends, the future, and myself.  What is a heart puzzle?  It is how your heart is divided up.  For those of us who are more visual, like me, think of your heart us a puzzle.  It is made up of different pieces of your life.  Over time those pieces change.  Just like any other puzzle, if a piece is missing it’s not complete.  Likewise, you can not move another piece to fill that spot.  Your heart is complete, whole, no holes.  You may change the number of pieces or what they represent, but no matter what it will still be complete.

Holes, voids call them what you want.  It is that inner feeling that you get when you loose someone close to you.  There is a spot that never feels quite the same.  Over time that void seems to fill back in, but never the same as it was before.  It is forever change, but it fills back in.  No matter what, there is still a part of you, a part of your heart that has been forever touched.

When you are expecting a child, an addition to your life, the pieces of your heart puzzle seem to gain another piece.  When you loose your child through miscarriage, infant loss, or stillbirth you still have that spot.  It is reserved for that special little one.  It is only for them and nothing will replace that spot.  When you grow your family, more pieces are added.  Your heart is complete, ever changing, your life.  The things you yearn for, hope for are what is in your future.  Over time, you will take those things from your future and they will become a spot all their own in your heart puzzle.

When Samantha went to heaven I felt a deep void, a hole if you will.  Over the past few months I have so desperately wanted to be pregnant and grow our family.  To have that void filled back in.  Having another child won’t fill that feeling of void back in.  It will add another piece to the puzzle.  What I realized recently is that in a way, that void has been filled back in.  In the center of it is Samantha and what her little tiny footprints have left behind.  It has been filled in by all that Samantha has taught me, the support that I have around me, and a new perspective on life.  As much as I wanted to have the chance to raise our little girl, I know she is in good hands.  I believe some day soon, I will have the chance to raise our children here on earth and some where in the future we will all meet again.

If you were to fill out your pieces, what would they look like?  Start with you in the middle, make sure there is a spot for future, then fill in the rest with what is most important and brings the most meaning in your life.  So, what is your heart puzzle?

 

 

How true is that statement?

I remember a conversation that occurred shortly after our miscarriage with someone who didn’t know it had happened.  It was the end of my work day and I was up at the front desk chatting with a co-worker, when a parent on their way out stopped at the desk to chat.  She had begun asking my co-worker how her pregnancy was going, and when their conversation ended she turned to me and asked the same question.  I admit, I hesitated for a bit.  To me it seemed like minutes.  I looked at my co-worker, hoping she might say something.  It was at most a week that I had been back at work, but I still wasn’t ready to answer this question.  My response was simple, we lost the baby at 17 weeks.  She asked me how I was doing with it all and my co-worker jumped in saying that I was handling it like a champ.

A champ?  I don’t want to be a champ at this.  It makes me sound like I am a winner.  I understand she meant well by it and not in that context.  It also meant that on the outside at first glance it looked like I was handling it all well, even though on the inside I was falling apart and people didn’t really know the hell I was going through.  But a champ? Not quite.

Just a few weeks ago, I heard another perspective on this.  Instead of the word champ being used, it was the word strong.  I have been told I am strong and I will make it through this.  Someone else I know  was asked “you are so strong though all of this, how do you do it?”  My perspective on this statement, as well as her’s was simple.  I don’t really have a choice.  Life is moving forward with or without me.  It would be easier to just stay in bed, shut the world out, in a way give up, and let the world move forward without me.  Or, I could begin to walk this new path one small step at a time, one foot in front of the other. 

Am I going to stumble?  Am I going to take steps backwards? You bet, but I am going to do my best to move forward.   I am going to have bad days, it is going to be tough, but I am going to do it.  Notice I said, move forward, not move on.  I will never move on from what happened.  It will always be a part of me and my baby girl will always be with me.  Right now she is in good hands and some day I will see her again.  This is what allows me to move forward. 

Am I strong?  Maybe, maybe not.  That’s for you to say, not me.  Am I a champ?  No, I wouldn’t describe myself that way.  What I do know, is that this had made me realize a few things.  1) Life is short, I need to fill it with the things that truly mean the most to me.  2) I need to stand up for myself more and let my voice be heard.  3) I am more comfortable now with who I am then I have ever been.  I am not afraid to truly be me.

 “We don’t know how strong we are until being strong is the only choice we have” – Small Bird Studios

 

Stepping out…what does this mean?  Stepping out the door to take in a breath of fresh air…Stepping out onto a new path-weather it be career, school, big life events…Stepping out of your comfort zone…Stepping out of your normal routine…Stepping out to help someone out…So what does stepping out mean to you?

For me, stepping out means stepping out of my comfort zone.  Admitting that some times, you just can’t go at it alone any more.  You need a little extra help, help that can only come from those who are walking the footsteps you are or have walked those similar steps before.  I am surrounded by a lot of people every day.  But having people who really understand you and will walk with you, instead of people who will only walk with you can go a long way.  I am finding, that being on this new path, I need to have both in my life.

I have no problems opening up to others around me through my blogs or in occassion back and forth on a social media sight.  That’s me, a behind the scenes kind of person.  The struggle comes into play when the thought of putting myself out there with a group of people I don’t know face to face.  Now, that is a whole different story.

However, it is a step deep down I knew I needed to take.  The timing due to my work schedule just didn’t work well and it wasn’t a match.  When I decided to take a step back, give up my classroom, and become a building sub, then the pieces seemed to fall into place better.  Now, I had the time.  But that meant, that now I had to take that step.  With each step, it will get easier and I will get stronger.  One day, the step will not seem like such a big step.  It will merely be a bridge to the next place on my path.

What are you stepping out on?

 

Ever since we moved into the house we have been building our gardens.  I went from having one garden to know having five!  Thanks to my father and his well developed garden, he has been able to give us plants.  Over time, we have split the plants and been able to grow our gardens.  We haven’t bought many plants, just a handful of perenials over the years and several annuals each Summer. 

I remember while growing up I would pick handfulls of flowers around the house and each weekend we went camping.  To some, they were weeds but to me as a child they were a beautiful boquet.  For whatever reason, once I had my own gardens I didn’t pick flowers all that often.  I don’t know why, maybe I used the cats as an excuse.  I didn’t want vases around that would tip over or that they would eat the flowers from.

In the last year, at least since Christmas last year (2010) Raun and I have been back to our hometown almost monthly.  If we weren’t back there, we had family up here.  So far the only months we haven’t been back home or had family to visit has been May and September.  Each time we went home I noticed something at my parent’s house.  There were always bouquets of flowers.  They were in the kitchen, bedrooms, and bathrooms.  Some were bigger and some were small, but it didn’t.  It was pops of color and beauty, as well as life and vibrance added around the home.

So, I decided to start finally picking my own flowers.  I have done a few larger bouquets to have out in our living room to enjoy, as well as a few small ones throughout the Summer up in our bathroom.  Right, now though, I have to wait a little bit more for my late Summer/early Fall flowers to fully blosoom.  I have realized that there are certain times throughout the gardening season that I don’t have much color in the gardens and have to wait to make my own bouquets.  So, instead when I get a chance and find a good deal, like at the farmer’s market, I will by a bouquet.

Here’s to picking flowers, adding bursts of seasonal color & life into the home, and for enjoying the nature all around us.  What do you do to add bursts of color and life into your home?

 

My grandfather turned 95 years old this year.  Our family and a small group of friends helped to celebrate his birthday with a small party, good food, and lots of stories. 

95 years!  Can you imagine all that has been done, seen, and changed in the last 95 years?  Through it all, my grandfather has remained strong in his beliefs and values.  He has a zest for life, never misses a beat, and always has a story to share.  After 95 years, he also has a lot of advice and wisdom to share.  Not to mention a joke or two.  He has done so much throughout his life and hasn’t been afraid to step out of the box to try something new.  He has been a lawyer, to a World War II gunfighter, to being in the House of Represntatives, to starting his own business that is still running today.

Over the years I have learned a lot from my grandfather and I always look forward to my talks with him.   I have great memories from when I was little when we would have family dinners from Arby’s at their house, we would get to have sleep overs where we would play games into the night, and so many more.

Some of the most important things that I have learned I still carry with me today and try to keep them with me where ever my path leads.  First and foremost family comes first.  Even though I live in Minnesota now, my grandfather still checks in on me.  A smile goes a long ways, even towards a total stranger.  Passing a long a smile can make someone’s day, not to mention show a little bit of who you are.  Be a part of your community. It gives you an opportunity to expand your horizons, while providing a sense of accomplishment and value.

I am nearly 30 now, I can’t begin to imagine what the next 65 years will bring in my life.  What I do know is that…as long as I can carry God, my family, my friends, and things that bring true happiness with me always while holding strong to my values I will be headed in the right direction.  I also need to learn from my mistakes and the curve balls that life throws (sometimes hurls) at me, while also being honest with myself and admitting when I can’t go at it alone. 
What words of adivce are keeping you going?  Share your memories and stories below.  I look forward to hearing your story.

 

July 9

Happy Anniversary! It’s been six years. This last year I would have to say has been one of the hardest, just the latter half. It has been filled with so many up and downs and lots of emotions. There have been lots of changes too. However, some things have been good things. It’s amazing how one thing can change some many things.

But today is a good day. On this beautiful day Raun woke me up pointing at me saying get up and get ready for the day. I did and when I was finished I went downstairs with the smell of biscuits filling the air and carrying me to the kitchen. We ate breakfast and then hit the road. We took the great river road Highway 35 south on the Wisconsin side along the Mississippi River. The main destination was Stockholm, WI. However, along the way there we stopped at historical markers and took in the sights along the river. We arrived in Stockholm, a very cute little city. Where we stopped at the pie place and each had a delicious piece of pie. We sat outside enjoying the weather, chatting with the locals, talking with each other and learning about the city. After our yummy pie (Triple Berry for Raun and Peanut Butter Fudge for me) we explored the quaint downtown. We strolled down the main street and went into a few shops. We made a few purchases that I just couldn’t seem to pass up and picked out my anniversary gift from Raun. I picked a beautiful purple pot to add to my other pottery pieces. I also came across a journal/sketchbook that had dragonflies on it. Coincidently, not long before coming across the journal I was telling Raun that I needed to get a notebook. I also picked up a wood plaque that says to “Cherish Life’s Simplest Treasures”.

After we finished exploring Stockholm we continued on to Maiden Rock Winery/Cidery where we took in the views, as well as tasted various wines, hard ciders, and fruit beers and good conversations. To finish out our day excursion we took in the views from a bluff in Alma, WI and then headed back home along the river on the Minnesota side, stopping in Lake City to walk the beach and in Red Wing to eat a yummy Mexican dinner at Fiesta Mexicana.

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