*** GIVEAWAY TIME ***
I had the honor of participating in the launch team for Sarah Philpott’s new book, “Loved Baby: 31 Devotions Helping You Grieve and Cherish Your Child After Pregnancy Loss.” From the first page, this book touched a part of my heart that I had closed off since late 2015 – the part that I had “locked down” since I lost two of my own babies in April 2015 and November 2015.
The book features 31 chapters of stories, prayers, ideas, insights, and a “soul work” tips that the reader can use on their road of grieving and remembering their baby in Heaven. From chapters such as “Seeking Medical Answers” & “Words Do Hurt,” this book touched on a lot of subjects that severely affected me in my personal miscarriage experiences. It brought me some peace on my search to find answers as to why they happened and the hurtful words people use to describe my losses.
I wish would have had this book two years ago. It could have saved me a lot of pain. But, I’m glad that it made it’s way to me now. I am so happy to be a part of sending this out into the world. As part of my participation, I was given two copies of the book to giveaway. I gave the first copy to my local hospital, “The Foundation at CVPH” to give to a mom who has recently lost her baby or to pass around the local bereavement group. They were so happy to receive it and I was happy to give it to them too.
I would like to give the second copy away to another mom (or dad) in grief via my blog’s Facebook page. Whether you lost your sweet baby 37 years ago or yesterday, this book can help take some of the pain away. I’d like to ask those that think they could benefit from this book to please private message me either their name or the name of a friend/loved one that they’d like to see the book go to. I will collect all of the names and randomly choose a winner to send a copy to via USPS.
In honor of two babies that I lost – who I refer to as Bayley and Charlee – Bay was due on October 28th, 2015 and I got pregnant with Charlee around that time, I’d like to open the contest starting today and I will pick the winner on Saturday, October 28th – for my two sweet angels.
Please private message me with any questions or with your submissions. Please don’t feel that you have to tell me your full story – just a name (first/last) is acceptable. But, as a mom to two angel babies I am always receptive to hearing stories of other angels that have gone to Heaven too soon. ❤
Everyone else can pickup a copy of “Loved Baby” from the distributors listed below. ❤
I’ve never been one to dwell on the past. I’m the type of person that takes the time in each moment to truly relish in it, and then put it in that part of my brain where memory is stored, and move on. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that I’m not nostalgic, because I am very much. I love looking at old family photo albums, I love American history, and there’s nothing I enjoy more than reminiscing with my siblings. I think the one area in which I wish I could turn back the hands of time, even if just for the day, it would be to spend one more day with my grandmother.
She died the day after my 16th birthday, with me wholeheartedly knowing that she had waited for me. She wouldn’t have wanted me to share my birthday with the day she had died. Her name was Lucretia, but don’t you dare call her that! She drank caffeine free Pepsi, went to bingo regularly, adored John Wayne, and loved Christmas more than anyone I’ve ever met. She was my mother’s mom, my Gram R. She was my favorite person.
I’m so lucky to have had two awesome grandmas. My dad’s mom (Gram B.) holds a very near and dear spot in my heart as well. She is a mean cook, raised nine children, and is one of the best bargain shoppers I’ve ever met! She tells it like it is and you can take it or leave it. I appreciate that. Luckily, she’s still with us. She can’t pronounce my sons’ Irish names correctly, but she tries and that’s all that matters. I love her.
Here are the reasons why grandmas are the best:
They always have candy. Gram R. always had “Fruit Stipes” bubble gum in her purse. She’d give me, my siblings and the neighborhood kids each a piece. Don’t even get me started on Gram B.’s homemade fudge. Not technically candy, but yes please.
They know your parents better than you. If you ever want to hear a good story about your mom or dad, Grandma has the dirt. I remember Gram B. telling me a funny story about my dad getting into a fight with his best friend over a game of marbles as a kid. My stoic father – fighting over something so silly is pretty comical.
They know how to cook. One of my grandmothers makes the best spaghetti sauce you’ll ever taste and the other never made anything I didn’t like. Unfortunately, I didn’t inherit the cooking gene. Oops.
When mom and dad say no, grandma says yes. Oh, the times I got one of my grandmothers on my side to coerce my parents. Like a charm.
They have the best taste. After Gram R. died, she wanted her granddaughters to go through her jewelry and take what we wanted. The lady had some class. The pieces of hers that I have are some of my most prized possessions. I wore one of her rings on my right hand at my wedding because it’s beautiful and I wanted a part of her with me that day.
They will teach you how to love. From the very beginning, some of my earliest memories are of receiving hugs from both of them.
They are treasured time pieces. Is there anything better than sitting with your grandma and hearing a story about something from the past? Even as a young child, I relished in both of their stories.
They know how to have fun. I was never bored anytime I visited either of my grandmothers. Whether I was shopping with Gram B., or berry picking with Gram R., there was never a lack of something to do!
They will teach you how to be strong. Throughout the years, I’ve seen both of them go through so much. I watched Gram R. struggle with cancer, yet still laugh with us all while she cooked dinner on Sundays. Gram B. raised nine children! Need I say more?
They will impact your life, for the rest of your life. Although Gram R. has been gone for over a decade now, she continues to hold a special part of my heart. She always will. I feel lucky to still have Gram B. around. I’m glad one of them got to know me as an adult. She’s given me a lot of lasting advice that I’ve carried into adulthood and motherhood.
I hope you have been as lucky as I have in the grandmother department. If so, I hope you will take a moment to thank her this Mother’s Day, whether it be with a phone call, a trip to her house, or a visit to the cemetery. I’m sure she’ll appreciate it no matter where she is.
This piece was originally published on Her View From Home
The call came on a hot summer afternoon when I was on my way out the door to run some mundane errand. As I went to answer the phone, I noticed on the caller ID that I didn’t recognize the area code but answered it anyway, which I never do. The voice on the other line was a man with a southern accent who confirmed my identity and then uttered several words I’d longed to hear, “We would like you and Sergeant LeBoeuf to join us in Alaska for our last week of the 2014 season.”
We’d been picked. Finally. We were going to Alaska through Samaritan’s Purse. Their project, Operation Heal Our Patriots, ministers to wounded military personnel and their spouses.
Not more than a month later my husband, the aforementioned, Sergeant Kevin LeBoeuf and I stepped off the plane into Ted Stevens International Airport in Anchorage, Alaska. We’d been up since 3:00 AM Eastern Standard Time, had a layover in Chicago, and finished the last leg of our journey with a six-hour plane ride into Anchorage. We were exhausted. We were greeted at baggage claim by the super-sweet Carol Wong, and waited for another couple that was joining us at the week-long marriage enrichment event. We were loaded onto a small bus that was being driven by her equally kind husband, Kent Wong, to a private reception area. We were given a much-needed lunch and got to meet some of the other couples that would be going to Port Alsworth with us. Before too long, two smaller planes arrived that would transport us to the secluded Alaskan town.
As we took off in the small plane, I looked across the aisle at my husband and could see Denali out his window in the distance. The flight to Port Alsworth was something of wonder. As a lover of the state (thanks Life Below Zero), I was amazed to see its beauty firsthand. The chance to go to Alaska was the first reason we had applied for the trip after all. But, as the plane landed at the small runway of Port Alsworth, Alaska, the trip took on an entirely new meaning for me.
When I looked out the small window of the plane, I saw a long line of people with American flags, large signs saying “Welcome Patriots,” and other sentiments of that nature. They were clapping and jumping up and down. That’s when I knew this was going to be something big. As we exited the plane, we were given handshakes and hugs from complete strangers. I couldn’t count the number of thank-yous that were said to my husband, the other veterans and spouses, and even me. It was overwhelming.
At the end of the line we were ushered to our own personal tour guide, who took us around the beautiful community of tiny cabins, a chapel, a dining hall, and a workout facility. It was gorgeous. Then she took us to one of the small cabins that sat right on the lake. We were staying in the Fox cabin. As we entered, I saw fox-themed colors, wall art, and a beautiful view of Lake Clark. The other couples each had their own cabin, with an animal native to Alaska as the theme.
What happened over the course of the following week is really hard to fully explain. That first night, we shared a delicious meal prepared by the late and much beloved staff chef Jean-Claude Mille and we got to meet all of the Operation Heal Our Patriots staff, as well as our fellow military couples. Some were vets, some were still active-duty. Some were from out West, some from the Midwest, the South, and up North like us. All walks of life. We were all different ages, had children of various ages, but we all shared one thing in common. We had either been injured/wounded in the military after the September 11 attacks, or we were married to someone who had.
Operation Heal Our Patriots, a project of Samaritan’s Purse, flies ten former or active military members and their spouses to Alaska, at no charge to the family, each week for 16 weeks every summer. We all participated in a Marriage Resiliency Workshop, led by former military chaplains and their wives. When not attending the classes, couples have the opportunity to go fishing, bear watching, kayaking, hiking, sightseeing, boating, or just relax by taking in the majestic view of Lake Clark at the wilderness center, or Samaritan Lodge Alaska as it’s called.
The workshops and seminars were very rewarding for us. With God as the focus of each lesson, we learned more about one another and acquired skills we could bring back home to use in our marriage. When we weren’t in one of the educational workshops, we were out living out our Alaskan-driven fantasies. I caught a gigantic salmon off of a beautiful 34-foot fishing boat called the Jay Hammond. We hiked to the thunderous Tanalian Falls, where I learned to fly fish for the first time. We flew on another small plane, called The Otter, to Brooks Camp, part of Katmai National Park and Preserve. Envision being not 20 feet away from a 900-pound Alaskan brown bear and watching him as he rips a sockeye salmon to shreds for his lunch!
The best part of the trip was when, one evening, my husband and I sat down with one of the staff members, Chaplain Dan Stephens, in the beautiful dining hall of the retreat. We were told we could request an audience with any of the chaplains or staff members for personal one-on-one counseling at any point. We thought why not, we’re here. We thought we’d discuss with Chaplain Dan some of our issues we’d been going through at home, nothing too serious, but worth addressing. When we sat down, Chaplain Dan gave us some great insight into our issues and offered up a prayer for our marriage, which was very much appreciated. But then, he did something amazing. He asked me if I was a Christian. I replied, “I was raised Catholic.” To which he replied, “I mean do you live in Christ’s way?” The question puzzled me, I didn’t know what he meant. Chaplain Dan went on to explain what it was that Jesus did for us and ways in which we can live like Him in our daily lives. The impact of the conversation is hard to put into words as it was something that really made me think and question everything I’d known as a lapsed Catholic.
In my past religion classes, we were taught about God and his Son Jesus and all of the other Bible stories, but never really shown what it means to be a Christian. That night, in that dining hall, with my husband by my side, and with the help of Chaplain Dan, I accepted Jesus fully into my life and became a true Christian for the first time.
It was the kindness of the Operation Heal Our Patriots staff that had shown me what it means to truly live as a follower of Christ. The trip is something I’ll never forget, including the people I met and the things I got to see and do. It renewed my faith in the Lord and in humanity. It also brought me and my husband closer together and provided us with tools to enrich our marriage. I’ll always be grateful that Samaritan’s Purse selected us to participate in such a memorable experience.
This piece was originally published on Her View From Home
There’s that look again. The same “Oh my God what is wrong with you?” look that I’ve received enough times for me to know what they are thinking. I just told her that I don’t like babies. All while holding my eight-week-old and my four-year-old is running around. People look at me like I have three heads or just told them that I don’t like Tom Hanks or something/someone else everyone else in the world loves.
Yes, I do not like babies.
The look usually is accompanied by a series of questions. “How did you have two of them then?” or “How can you not love babies?” It never takes me long to retort my standard answer, “They are a lot of work.” But, in reality that’s an understatement. In the confines of my own home, with my like-minded husband, we complain to each other almost daily about how much work it is. You could say we were scarred by our first experience as parents. Our older son had one of the worst cases of colic that has probably ever existed. He cried and cried for about six months straight before he even started to calm down. It was awful.
Then, we were crazy enough to do it again four years later. Our current baby is actually what most people would call a “good baby.” He doesn’t cry that much, and if he does it’s because he is wet, hungry, or needs a good burp. But, he’s still a baby. I had forgotten how much work they are. The endless days that turns into endless nights that turn into days again, all without sleep. The not fun parts: constantly washing bottles, trying to get tiny diapers onto a wiggly body, the 7:00 p.m. crying jags, having to constantly carry him around, and the awful smell of newborn baby poop.
This is just my own baby I’m talking about. Forget about other people’s babies. When a friend or family member has a baby I, of course, will go visit or look at their pictures. But, deep down, I’m really not that interested. I’m happy for them to have a new member of their family but I really don’t want to hold them or sit and ooh and awe over them for hours on end.
This is a feeling that goes back as far as I can remember. I was never that little girl that carried around her baby doll or wanted the role of the mommy when playing with friends at school. When my little brother was born when I was eight years old, I really wanted nothing to do with him until he started crawling around and could play with me without being broken.
I know I sound like a monster. I swear I am not. I can appreciate how darn cute they can be. The chubby cheeks that only get chubbier with each passing month. The way they look at you and you just know they are studying your face and associating it with the voice they’ve been hearing for months while in your womb. The quiet little noises they make while they sleep soundly in your arms. I enjoy all of those things. But, I am very realistic in my life and in my parenting. Having a baby is a lot of work! Anyone that says differently is not telling the truth.
I love my children and being a mom is my most beloved role. As a woman that struggled with infertility and lost two babies in that process, I am very grateful for my two healthy boys. But, my oldest is now a four year old and I have to say I love this age. He can tell me what he wants, for the most part is quite independent, and I can walk around my house hands free to do what I want or need to get done. Now with a newborn in tow, my time is limited, as well as my sanity.
My mother-in-law and mom keep telling me to “Cherish this time, it goes by so fast,” and I appreciate their insight, but I’m not going to look back on all of this and wish I was here again. Not the 3:00 a.m. feedings when I’m watching yet another infomercial on no sleep while my husband snores upstairs. Nor carrying the car seat out to the car, alongside the diaper bag, packed with everything except the kitchen sink. No, I’m not going to miss it.
I really look forward to celebrating my son’s first year of life. From there on out is my favorite time. The first year is tough. No matter how good your baby is. I can’t wait for the days of attending karate lessons, events at their schools, and being able to take both of my children out to a restaurant without a crying infant. Until then, I suppose I can try and enjoy the smell of his little head as I rock him to sleep. I can try.
OK, I do enjoy some of it.
This article was originally published on Her View From Home