Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Memorial

I am working on a post about our experience creating this memorial, but for the meantime I would like to share some pictures of it in it's completed state. We are so happy with how it turned out.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Taking another beating in silence...

This is a phrase one of my internet friends used once in describing painful feelings caused by an unintentionally offensive situation.

I have found myself "taking another beating in silence" at various times since losing my boys.

The scenario is this: someone makes a comment that is normal, fine and nothing out of the ordinary to a person who has not lost a child. Having lost children, I find the comment hits a sensitive nerve...but knowing it was not intended to wound me, I refrain from making any sort of scene by reacting in a way that others would detect the pain I feel. Then I'm left feeling hurt and alone.

I have heard this kind of story over and over again from other women who have lost babies. It's hard sometimes to hear about pregnancy or be around pregnant people or babies. We all know that it isn't the other people's fault that we feel such pain and anger from innocent situations or comments and that results in adding guilt on top of an already painful situation. I try not to hold a grudge against people simply because they are oblivious and I don't want to cause more hurt feelings and drama by sharing the pain I feel.

I couldn't even type this a couple months ago, but my sister is expecting twins. I want to just feel happy and excited for her. Unfortunately there are times where I not only feel sad and hurt but it is actually hard to be in the same room with her. It all seems so unfair, to me, to her, to everyone involved.

It's hard to share these feelings with those who haven't felt them before. This being the case, I often try to shield myself by not opening up to others unless I feel absolutely comfortable. And when I've opened that door, the honest truth is that I find very few people (at least in my life) are brave enough to willing enter into the emotionally vulnerable space of grief that I often occupy.

Sometimes this leaves me wanting to withdraw from the society of others altogether or at least running to those that I know have sadly also been where I have been. I just want to be in a place where I know I'm not going to end up getting hurt.

And ultimately the best place to go is to God. Luckily, I don't find that He dismisses my feelings. Instead, I've been prompted to see my situation in a better way. Here's a story from another angel mom that beautifully illustrates what I'm talking about.

I have been told that it would be helpful for me to teach people how to treat me as I grieve, but in the case of helping others know what not to say, I find it hard simply because I cannot give a comprehensive list of what subjects or kind of comments are likely to hurt me. They literally hit me out of the blue most of the time and others are too commonplace to banish.

This is the reality of life for angel moms. So next time you notice an angel mom suddenly missing from the room or her mood has suddenly changed from cheerful to somber and you have no idea why...don't embarrass her, give her some space or better yet, find an unobtrusive way to show her you sympathize and recognize she doesn't want to feel the way she does and doesn't blame you either.

Be kind, because life after losing a child is complicated.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Happy 1st Birthday Anniversary to Leif and Erik!

I can't believe it's been a year. Time is weird.

I made a sort of picture video showing the growth over their first year for both of my oldest two children to show at their first birthday parties. As I contemplated the the upcoming anniversary of the birth of Leif and Erik I knew I wanted to make a video for them too. I knew it would be a little different, but I knew I'd make one anyway.

You may be surprised by the song I picked, but the meaning for me is much different than the probable intended meaning of the artist.

Several weeks after Leif and Erik were born I was driving my oldest son to school and I heard "Daylight" for the first time. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I was hearing all the emotion of that one beautiful day we had Leif and Erik with us in this song. Not wanting to say goodbye to my sons, but knowing that I would have to and making the most of the time we had holding them close.

After listening a few times I decided I would have to make a video with this song. I went to Wikipedia to look up any information about the song and found out something interesting. Maroon 5 posted a request on their website for people to share their stories as a way to help create a music video for the song. They called it the "Daylight Project". According to the news source it was posted on 9/18/12. The very day I was experiencing MY story.

Here it is:

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Communities of Support

I thought I'd take a minute to do a post that is a little more upbeat.

There are so many awesome communities of support available to grieving parents. I am so grateful for them. It's hard not to feel alone when you have lost a child.

Personally, I am part of several different groups and they support me in different ways.

First, I have been a member of the forums on (APA) since my very first pregnancy...that's right, going on 7 years. I don't post a lot, but I've learned so much about getting pregnant, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and parenting from all the different perspectives of such a diverse group of women on APA.

Let me tell you, ladies on APA were SO supportive during my pregnancy with my twins. I generally went to them first to be my sounding board with any new news and always felt encouragement and support from them.

On the way to the hospital on the morning the boys were born I thought about how all these women from one end of the country to the other who I had never met in person who were thinking about us and praying for us and it filled my soul with gratitude for the kind of compassion that exists in the world. It still brings tears to my eyes to think about it.

Second, and oh so important to me in my journey were the sensitive and thoughtful women who run the Angel Watch group through Intermountain Healthcare in SLC. The Angel Watch program supports families whose unborn child/ren are given a life-limiting diagnosis.

Carolyn and Kay met with us during my pregnancy to talk with us about difficult things and to give whatever encouragement we needed. They weren't afraid to ask about our fears and hopes. They let us know that the wide range of emotions we were experiencing were normal. They gave us ideas on how to explain what was happening to our older children. Most of all, they came to listen, and I really needed that.

Carolyn and Kay holding Leif and Erik at the hospital.

As part of this program, we are also able to connect on facebook and occasionally in person at support meetings with other parents who have found out that their child was most likely going to die before or shortly after birth.

Third, I now belong to a small private facebook group of families who have conjoined twins. It is wonderful to be able to connect with people who understand my situation in a very unique way. If you are expecting or have had conjoined twins and would like to join this closed, private group you can send me a message.

Lastly, I can not overlook the priceless service of Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. Pictures are SO important to us. My grandma lost her first two babies...she wasn't even allowed to see them! I can't tell you what she would give to have just one picture. I am so grateful that there are photographers out there who are willing to be specially trained and donate there services to provide professional pictures for parents whose opportunity to capture the life of their child is so brief.

I feel so blessed to live in a time where the medical community recognizes the importance of supporting families who want to spend time with a baby no matter how limited it may be. I'm grateful to all the women and families out there who allow themselves to be emotionally vulnerable when the open up and speak about their experiences with losing their babies so that I don't have to feel all alone. Each of you is a gift.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Grief looks different from this side of the fence...

Oy, these posts can be so emotional to write. =)

In light of my last post being somewhat dramatic, I want to address the subject of grief and how it wasn't anything like I expected.

I've lost loved ones before, a grandfather that I was close to and an aunt who was the closest thing I've had in my life to a second mother. One was somewhat expected and the other was somewhat not. I experienced sadness when they died. I still miss them and sometimes I cry when I talk about them.

This is grieving. 

In losing my precious twin sons, however, I have experienced a completely different kind of grief, the kind that comes when you experience a loss that leaves a gaping hole in your life. If my previously losses were like the prick of a pin, this is like a hole made with a sledge hammer. (I may elaborate on this analogy in a later post.)

I don’t know that there is a specific criterion for what kind of loss you have to have to experience this kind of grief, but I do know that most of the mothers I've come in contact with who have experienced the kind of loss I have had feel similar. I also know that when my aunt died, my cousin experienced the same kind of gaping hole in her life. Until you've been through it, it’s hard to understand.

I had different ideas of what this kind of heart-wrenching grief would be like before I experienced it myself (and probably some because of the use of words like "heart-wrenching" and analogies to sledge hammers.) Maybe I pictured more of the heart-broken, teenage-girl variety, where you throw yourself onto your bed and sob for a while and then pine away in your bedroom for days.

And really, it does sound dramatic to hear people say things like, “It’s hard for me to get out of bed every day.” It’s the truth, but it’s not that dramatic. Living with a gaping hole in your life is just so exhausting. It’s hard to get out of bed when you're just tired.

So tired.

In a tired fog.

This was one of the effects I experienced. What I didn't experience was a lot of tear-filled days. Don't get me wrong, I burst into tears at strange times and had an emotional, on-the-verge-of-tears-all-day day every couple weeks. BUT it wasn't every day and even if you put all those days together it wasn't that many.

I think about my twins every day, but I also have plenty to keep me going in all directions (husband, two older kids, housework, church callings, extended family) and so the grief translated into irritability at times. For months, it took a great amount of concentration to get through my daily tasks and so interruptions were frustrating. Also frustrating was any sort of interruption that yanked me out of a deep thought, which was often.

Perhaps more crying would have been better than being short of temper. I have done a lot more yelling than I'd like to admit, but we'll save guilt for another post.

I guess my point in sharing all this is that grief doesn't always look the way we imagine it to look. Sometimes it's hard to recognize when you are experiencing it and sometimes you might not realize when someone else is in a really tough place because their grief doesn't look like you expect it to.

If you're there or someone you love is there, please give yourself or those you love time to figure the grief out and don't beat yourself up if your grief turns out looking different than you expected.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

I think I'm ready...

I put this blog up just weeks after I lost my babies. I thought I would start posting right away. Writing and sharing are good ways to help with grieving. I also wanted to give help to others by sharing my experiences. I am so grateful for the women whose blogs helped me when I was in need.

BUT it didn't happen.

I got back to my own house and taking care of two kids and Ty got back to work. I lived in a sort of fog where I mostly focused on getting done only what was necessary while trying to appear to be dealing well to everyone on the outside of my domicile. I had to try hard not to resent anyone who asked for more than the bare minimum...and that was anything more than the basic needs of my husband and children.

At first this was because of literally months of physical recovery, and then my emotions caught up to me. I had pushed them to the back-burner because it was too hard to deal with grief on top of physical pain.

Still, it was hard to see how poorly I was coping at times. Often because I hid it from others, even my husband. A lot of the time I felt like I was doing really well, just to look back and see how volatile my emotions had really been. I was not in a place to say the encouraging words (without feeling some hypocrisy) I wanted others who were in need to hear.

Nearly 10 months later, I think I am finally to that place (for now) and I hope you will allow me to heal by opening my heart.

Thank you for reading. You help me give more meaning to my sons' lives.

Here are my some of my many inspirations:

This woman lives across the country and her family travels their journey simultaneously with mine. I've directly related to many of her words.

I first found out about this family from a mutual friend. It's one of those small miracles. Their blog helped me to picture what was possible and the beautiful newborn pictures eased my fears.

This family blog gave me inspiration on how to explain things to my older children.

This family had a different experience than ours (though they had the same doctor), but I found her blog when I was trying figure out how to help extended family understand what the day of our sons' birth would look like because I wanted them to feel comfortable participating. I also found inspiration to plan the graveside service from reading about theirs.

Many thanks to these and other families who helped me personally by opening up about their losses on the internet. Sometimes in the middle of the night a restless mind can't resist seeking information by consulting google and it's nice to know that there are friends waiting on the other side of a difficult search to lend an idea you haven't come across before. And it's nice to know you aren't alone.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Our Sweet Day with Leif and Erik

Thank you friends and family for all your prayers. They resulted in a very peaceful and beautiful day with these two precious babes.

They were born September 18th at 8:09 am They weighed, together, 8 lbs 4 oz. Erik is on the left and he measured 17.5 inches. Leif is on the right and he measured 20 inches.

They were not able to breathe very well, but their heart continued to beat for a little over an hour after they were born. It was just long enough for us to join our families in the recovery room and for Tyrel to give them their names by blessing.

First picture with mom and dad. I'm still being sewn up.

Getting my first look at them. It was hard to see their faces at that angle.

 Big brother seeing his baby brothers for the first time.

After getting pictures from NILMDTS we moved to my regular room and all the grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins joined us for birthday cake. We showered these little ones with our love.

After everyone left, Tyrel and I got some special time alone.

This is one of my very favorite pictures. It was taken just before we let the nurses take their bodies away. I felt so close to them.

Our FOREVER family.