I’m that mom

Have you ever been to a playground, play date, daycare, really any place where there is a gathering of children and moms, where there is that ONE mom on the far bench all alone?

The mom that is greeted with hushed whispers and awkward small talk about the weather.

The mom that gets that look. You know the one. The look where the eyebrows go up slightly, the head tilts at an acute angle, one side of their mouth goes up in a forced smile while the other side slightly draws in and into the cheek. Sometimes it is followed by the chin and head going out slightly with maybe a slight pat on the leg or arm.

That look. The look of utter pity. The ‘I have no idea what to say to you, so instead I will give you the same look I give a puppy along the side of the road,’ look.

This happens a lot more than I realized. Even 2 years out and a rainbow ago. I meet new people and I get “The question.”

Is this your first?

I reply with the standard answer. “First Living.”

I leave it opened ended. That way they can decide if they want to pursue what that means, or if they want to ignore it. I leave the ball in their court.

If they pursue, I tell. I get mixed reactions but the majority of the time after, I get the look. Sometimes, I get it every time they see me thereafter.

But that’s ok. I’m not ashamed of my daughters or of who they were or how long they lived. They lived beautiful lives devoid of hate, violence, greed, envy, and sin. They knew nothing but immense love.

So, next group you go to, start up a conversation with ‘That mom.’ Maybe she will share her story with you. You might learn something beautiful. We all have stories.

I’m that mom.

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What I should be doing

What I should be doing, is very different than what I will be doing.

What I should be doing is trying to calm my panic, because in 7 days I will be having a 1 year birthday party for two very rowdy twin girls. I would be no where near ready, and flustered.

What I will be doing is crying. Trying to make it through the day.

I should be baking and creating a beautiful cake in whatever design they seem to be interested in.

What I will be doing is busying a tiny cake to place at their gave sites.

What I should be doing is picking out cute little matching outfits to show off to all our family and friends.

What I will be doing is lighting Chinese sky lanterns in remembrance of them.

What I should be doing in marveling in how big they have become in just one year.

What I will be doing it crying for the children that will never get any bigger.

What I should be doing is sending out invitations for their party.

What I will be doing is hoping family even remember it is their birthday. Remember they were born. They were alive, and they are my children no matter where they are.

 

What I should be doing is very different than what I will be doing.

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We are Strong..

We are strong, stronger than most people could know. If someone sees us crying, broken down, or hurting and think we are weak or judge us… I say this:

Try walking in our shoes living our life, and if you make it as far as we have, then you will KNOW just how damn strong we are.

We are loss, Woman and Men, Mothers and Fathers, who have children we and no one else can see. We can’t hold them in our arms, or rock them to sleep. We are grief, strength, and support. We are the strongest people you will ever know.

Everywhere and Nowhere

After going on vacation with James, I was amazed at how many twins we saw. I even saw several little red headed girls, and I found myself pretending they were my girls. Then we get home, and I can’t even pretend anymore. It is silent here at home by myself, as James has to return to work.

I can’t take the silence anymore. It is eating at my soul. There should be laughs, cries, and screams. It is becoming unbearable and the silence is growing louder and louder with each passing day.

I can see James walking in from a long day at work and picking each of the girls up and giving them a kiss, I can see the outstretched pudgy little hands in the air reaching for Dadda. I can see them crawl to him, uncoordinatedly with their over sized heavy infant heads. They are pulling each other’s curls and telling on one another. “Mommy, make Wilwow stop.” “No, tell Azel to stop.”

I smile at my girls as I walk to them and step on cheerios the whole way there. I can see a toddler running, arms in front of her yelling, “Kitty!” as Isis runs for her life to hide in another room. There is a spaghetti bowl upside down in the kitchen floor, but I don’t even seem to care.

We are at the beach in Michigan, the same place we got our first glimpse into the future. The perfect “Pregnant” on a stick. The twins are covered in sunscreen and so are James and I. little swimmer diapers peek out from under matching bright pink swimsuits. Hazel runs toward the water, as James runs after her. Her toes hit the water and she lets out a squeal, turning and running back to Dadda with her hands flailing wildly and uncontrollably as she giggles.

Willow sits beside me digging her hands into the sand and piling it before her. Hazel always was the more adventurous. Willow is the thinker, the creator. She’s going to have my artistic ability, I can see it now.

It is the middle of the night and I wake up to find James not in the bed with me. I trudge out of our room and can see a nightlight on in the nursery. I peek in to see James holding two very sleepy girls and two bottles propped up just right. He is softly singing them a lullaby. They stretch and yawn between verses.

Little bird, little bird,
Fly through my window,
Little bird, little bird,
Fly through my window,
Little bird, little bird
Fly through my window,
And find molasses candy.

Through my window,
My sugar lump,
Fly through my window,
My sugar lump,
And find molasses candy.

I feel empty. My soul somehow escaped before its time and left with the girls. I feel the emptiness all around, in pictures of James and I, when I sleep, it stabs at me when I try to forget about it. I can feel it when I am happy, and in my voice. It is in my eyes and my tears.

We are here, and they are there. I can feel them everywhere. They are everywhere, but nowhere to be found.

Taken at Willow’s Funeral
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What NOT to say

I recently read a a few excellent posts on “What not to say to a grieving parent.” I have had a lot of people tell me they simply just do not know what to say to James and me. I get that. If the tables were turned, I wouldn’t either. Honestly, to those trying to offer support (and sometimes only accomplishing pissing me off) I don’t know what to say back. Do I say, “Thank you?” Think about it, do you say “Thank you for saying sorry my children are dead?”  Because “Thank you,” really just is the short version of that sentence, isn’t it?

Back to my main point here. I decided to list some of the things not to say. I hope this helps. Link it to family and friends if needed. All below taken from : http://www.babyandinfantloss.com/

Don’t try and offer explanations

  • It happened for a reason. There is no reason that could justify the death of a baby. Would you say to someone that their brother’s death happened for a reason?
  • It wasn’t meant to be. How can you say to someone that their baby was not meant to be? You are talking about the most important thing in their life and that comment is very belittling. No one has the knowledge to determine fate.
  • It was for the best. The best for whom? Never say this, even if you believe it to be true. This is not about your feelings right now, it is about the person suffering the loss. And no one has the right to make this assumption on their behalf.This will contribute nothing to the support they need right now.
  • It could have been worse – imagine if you lost an older child (or its better that it happened now instead of later on). Loss of life at any stage is very painful. Losing someone you have not met yet or have not had the chance to know is different to someone you have gotten to know, but the losses can be equally as painful. Each person is unique in how they grieve and the loss will affect them differently. It is not up to you to tell them what would be better for them.
  • You were only early – it wasn’t a baby yet, just a bunch of cells. A mother can bond with her baby from the moment of conception and even before then because plans, hopes and dreams are made very early on. A baby starts forming from the moment of conception – and they are very real to the mother. Insulting their baby’s appearance is not going to help. The baby had great meaning in her life already.
  • There must have been something wrong with it. Sometimes there are reasons for a miscarriage, and other times there aren’t. Don’t try and be a medical expert as often no one knows the answer to this. Even if there was something “wrong” with the baby, they would be grieving that fact already and would be very saddened that something happened to their baby. Don’t add further insult to their them or their baby.

You can’t ‘replace’ a baby

  • You can try again, or you can have another baby. Even if this is the case, they are grieving the loss of THIS baby. Another baby won’t take away the pain or the memory of the baby that was lost. You cannot “replace” one baby with another. Even if the mother has further children, or lost one twin while the other survived, she will always long for the baby that was lost. That baby is still a life.
  • As least you have another child. Of course the parent would be grateful to have a child already but they will still be grieving the loss of THIS baby, a separate individual. A whole new life. By saying this you are taking away their right to grieve and not acknowledging the pain or the loss of their baby
  • It was God’s will. This is not helpful at all. While some people are more spiritual or religious, others may question their beliefs. Even if you believe there are higher forces at play, no one has the right to speak on God’s behalf and this comment would not make the grieving parent feel better.
  • At least you know you can get pregnant. While that comment may be true in that the person did have a pregnancy – it offers no comfort for the loss of THIS baby. Each experience with a pregnancy and baby is different, as is trying to get pregnant. Having one pregnancy does not mean another pregnancy will definitely happen, and it also doesn’t mean the same outcome will happen again.

Don’t introduce blame or guilt (or any negative feelings)

Never say:

  • It was your fault
  • It happened because you did ….
  • It happened because you didn’t do …..
  • You should have gone to the hospital earlier
  • It was because of  ….. (don’t lay blame on anything or anyone)

Comments like these are not going to help at all and will only make the person feel worse and guilty – which is only going to add to their anguish. Regardless of whether something or someone was at fault, nothing will bring their baby back, so don’t make them feel any worse. Parents will be blaming themselves enough already. You are better of saying nothing at all.

So what can you say?

After reading the above list you may be wondering what there is left to say that won’t offend. The truth is, if you support them and feel for their loss, you can give them sympathy without offering explanations, judgements, opinions or comments. Just say the truth: that you are sorry for their loss, that you are sorry that they have to go through this. Remember that they have lost not only a baby, but their plans, hopes and dreams for the future. Like any disappointment in life, a true friend will be there to support the person who is going through the loss – whatever that loss may be. If a friend’s house burnt down and they lost everything, you would not say it was meant to be.

Speak their baby’s name

If their baby had a name, don’t be afraid to use it in conversation. Again this acknowledges their baby and loss. The parent will appreciate hearing their baby’s name spoken. Avoid using clinical words like embryo or foetus. Using “it” is also not polite. “Your baby” is a nicer way of referring to their baby if they did not have a name.

Other things you can say

  • Can I help you through this?
  • What can I do to help you?
  • Is there anything you need?
  • I’d like to hear more about your baby if you would like to tell me about him/her
  • Can I come over and help you with ….. (be specific with the task you want to help with rather than just saying “Is there anything I can do to help or “let me know if I can help”)
  • I am going to the shops right now, can I get anything for you?
  • How are you really feeling today? Often their reaction will tell you whether they want to talk further
  • I wish you didn’t have to go through this, life can be so unfair
  • I am thinking of you / You are in my thoughts
  • I am going out to…. I know you might not feel up to it but would you like to join me?
  • I will light a candle for your little angel

A last note from Krystal: All that being said, just remember just because our children are no longer here, doesn’t mean we want to hide them from the world. They were still born, they were and are our pride and joy. I want to show off my babies so much, I am so proud of them, but I only have a few precious picture of Willow and it hurts me. I have so many of Hazel and it seems so unfair. I also know it makes some people very uncomfortable to see a baby so small with tubes, IVs, and a ventilator. I don’t care that it makes them uncomfortable, but I don’t want anyone speaking negatively about my little girls either to my face or behind my back. I don’t want to see the looks of shock or horror when I show the pictures. They do not do that with all baby pictures they see. It is a knife to the heart. Even other women in the NICU would look into our room with shock. It hurt, it was supposed to be a safe haven there… but it wasn’t. I’ve said my peace.

A letter to Grieving Parents

Dear Grieving Parent(s),

No words will ever help or make you feel any better, mostly they will hurt. “I’m sorry” cuts like a knife, and “I know how you feel” infuriates you. Even if you and I have gone through the SAME EXACT situation, I can never know how you feel. I can only try and understand what you are going through. Nothing anyone can ever say will bring your angel baby/babies back.

I am going to keep religion out of this, because frankly, you might be confused, lost, or stronger in your faith than ever. I am going to try and give some advice for when you are ready for it. People are going to say, unknowingly to them, mean and cruel things to you to try and make themselves feel better about everything that has happened to you. Best friends are going to become marks of anger, bitterness, and jealously. While casual acquaintances can become a strong pillar to lean on in your darkest hours.

My hope for you is that you can learn to ignore and look past all the “Helpful advice” given by those who couldn’t possibly know or understand how you feel or what you are going through.

Know that it is ok to cry, scream out, and distance yourself from some of the people around you. You lost your child/children, your babies. You deserve to grieve in your own way. Do not let anyone tell you how or how long to grieve. Do so in your own time and your own way.

There are going to be days that are ok, then the next you will be shot right back full swing into your grieving. I wish that I could tell you that time heals all wounds, but it doesn’t. The only advice I can give you here is to keep the wound clean. Don’t let it scab over, or else you will just pick at it or snag it making it fresh all over again. Keeping it clean means not allowing it to fester, let things out, let them breathe. Don’t allow the bitterness to rule your world, but allow it to be there.

Eventually, you will be ready to let the light back in, but that doesn’t mean you will EVER forget about your baby/babies. The hurt will always be there, allow it to be, but don’t let in consume you forever. Make your child/children proud. Be the person, the mother/father they are proud to call mom/dad.

Accept help. If someone wants to help, let them cook a meal for you, clean your living room, or help get groceries. If your angel baby/babies are your only children, stay away from pregnant friends and family members for awhile. They will understand. You don’t want to plant a jealous/bitter seed that will grow and spread past the point of no return.

Most of all, if possible, love your partner. They experienced this life shattering event along with you. Whether they say it or not, they need you, and you need them.

Sincerely,
Krystal Roark
Mommy of Twin Angels
Willow Anne & Hazel Jaymes
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Waiting for Happiness

I am starting my own Infant/Child keepsakes line called “Waiting for Happiness.” Our logo is a WH (taken from Willow & Hazel). I have been searching all the internet to try and find things to buy that remind me of my girls, and I have found one thing: They are many, but usually expensive. So, I wanted to try and make it more affordable for grieving parents. We already have to pay thousands in out of pocket expenses including: funeral, grave site, head stone, hospital bills etc. Why have to dig deeper to remember our child/children in a physical way.

I am making them and honestly the biggest charge is shipping! I charge for the materials, and an additional $2 for my time. Right now all money made will be used to buy supplies for donated items to put in memory bags at the hospital where I lost my girls. That is it. So far I have, these listed below but I am going to be adding more. Possibly stamped metal necklaces (these could be special order).

Angel Feather Keepsake Ornament ($6.50 + Shipping)
Personalized with Name/last name/initials (example shows our logo and the girls’ initials), number of feathers for losses (2 for twins), bow ribbon color (pink/blue/gold/pink&blue), bronze cardstock bearing and additional info you want added on one side (birthday/angelversary/weight etc) and saying on the other side (see below for list of quotes to choose from).
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Snowflake Keepsake Ornament ($5.00 + Shipping)
Ribbon color: Pink/blue/gold/both pink and blue
Personalized on Bronze Cardstock:Name/last name/initials,and additional info you want added on one side (birthday/angelversary/weight etc) and saying on the other side (see below for list of quotes to choose from).
Two designs to choose from (more to come)
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Teddy Bear Memory Keepsake ($10 + Shipping)
A tiny teddy bear on a bed of feathers in a clear case
Personalized on Bronze Cardstock:Name/last name/initials,and additional info you want added on one side (birthday/angelversary/weight etc) and saying on the other side (see below for list of quotes to choose from).
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Funeral Flower Preserved Necklace Pendant ($10 + Shipping)
Clear teardrop shaped resin filled with the funeral flowers from your angel’s ceremony. (flowers must be dried and pressed and mailed along with order)
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I hope that this can help other families with the loss of their child/children as making them helps me to remember my precious girls.

Quotes to choose from:
Custom quote
“A feather from an Angel is one we rarely see. But this one is quite different, And as special as can be. This feather is a reminder of a special Person’s love… Who is now your Guardian Angel, Watching and protecting from above.”
“Each new life,no matter how brief, forever changes the world.”
“It is not the number of breaths you take, but the moments that take your breath away.”
“love knows not it’s own depth until the time of separation.”
“There is no foot too small that it cannot leave an imprint on this world.”
“So little, so loved.”
“I held you every second of your life.” -Stephanie Paige Cole
“Some people believe in angels. I held one in my arms.” (number can be changed for multiples)
“Your tiny footprints forever embedded on our hearts.”
“No one can know how much I love you, because you are the only one who knows what my heart sounds like from the inside.”