Details from the Adirondacks

Found these shots in my pile of draft posts and thought I’d go ahead and share! We went up to Lake George for our babymoon weekend September 2015 (I know, that was a while ago!) Here are a few of my favorite shots from that weekend. You’ll notice I was loving blur! I thought they’d make great background photos to place scripture or quotes over. The first shot is actually from the Adirondack Balloon Festival. Enjoy!

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To the Family Who Just Miscarried

Two years ago, my husband and I lost our first baby. I soon learned that miscarriages are very common. Because of this, I made a point to share our story and my journey through grief. Since then, I have had numerous people ask me how to go about helping someone they know who has miscarried. These are my thoughts in response to that question.

First of all, my heart hurts with your family. 

There are a few things that immediately come to mind when I think of what helped me grieve well.

First was when a friend reminded me that he (our baby) was never mine to have in the first place. He always belonged to his Creator. And His Creator has only love for him. As I dwelt on this thought, the Lord changed my whole perspective and I found a deep comfort in this truth.

The idea of my precious child dying tore me to pieces, but my heart was okay with him being held even tighter in his loving Creator’s hands. Proclaiming that he belonged to and was being held by my Good Shepherd was what brought my heart to finally say it was well with my soul.

Secondly, for me, I needed a body to grieve over. I needed a sort of funeral, burial or formal goodbye. Grieving that little life, especially without a body, was so hard. I didn’t miscarry naturally. I didn’t learn I had miscarried by seeing blood or going into labor. I had no symptoms of the loss.

We went to our first doctor’s appointment and there was no heartbeat to be found. Our little peanut’s measurements told us his heart had stopped about 2 weeks before the doctor’s appointment. Because he had already been in there, lifeless, for so long, my doctor wanted me to get a D&C if I didn’t go into labor within a week.  You can’t control when you go into labor and my husband hated the thought of me going into labor and miscarrying our child at home, alone while he was at work.

We decided a D&C was a good option so that we could be together when it happened. But after the D&C, I simply woke up with an empty-womb. I never got to say goodbye. For me, that closure never came until my family dog died and I had a physical body to grieve over. Another thing that I thought might help was burying an ultrasound photo.

After the D&C I was all over the place. I would feel I was grieving well. Then would have a sort of relapse and completely fall apart again.

My advice for those comforting the grieving parents (especially the mama). MANY people said things to me along the lines of, “Oh, you’re so young, you have time, you’ll have more babies. Don’t worry, you’re obviously fertile. You’ll get pregnant again. You’ll have another baby before you know it,” “You know it’s just nature’s way, something was probably wrong with the baby and this was best.” And these were just the worst things anyone could say to me. It was so hurtful, at the time. To me, it was shutting down that there was any reason for me to be grieving. It was like saying this specific child didn’t matter. It wasn’t a child, it was just a thing, a pregnancy. It’s called an “early pregnancy loss” but to me it was the loss of my first child.

I later realized it’s important to acknowledge BOTH the loss of the child and of the experience of pregnancy. Don’t invalidate the family’s experience in your efforts to have something comforting to say. Simply grieve with them, or allow them the space to grieve. Ask for practical ways to help. Maybe you could help by bringing over a meal or simply sitting and hanging out to bring a sense of community and normalcy in their difficult time.

My husband was very understanding and validating of my feelings on the pregnancy and our child. I wanted to talk about him all the time! About pregnancy and about my experience for the one month I did have him in my womb. It was sort of my way of acknowledging he was alive, and wanting others to see him as alive too. I later read this is very normal with a pregnancy loss. Really, it’s normal of any parent. We want to talk about our kids. And the fact that they were never visible to outsiders doesn’t change in our mama hearts that they are indeed our children.

So, as uncomfortable as it can be for other people, I’d encourage her (and your family) to still talk about the baby if that’s what she wants to do. And if she doesn’t, then don’t. But don’t be afraid to talk about him/her, because that can be a way to validate his/her life, your feelings, and process the grief. For me, that often meant writing more than talking. But I still talk about it and that pregnancy just like I would my second pregnancy with my son.

When it comes to scriptures that I went to, I honestly just leaned into the passages that had comforted me in rough times in my past. Especially Psalm 63 and 23.

Psalm 139:16 “Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” This was a verse that spoke to what I said in the first paragraph. It helped me to think his life had purposes only He knew.

One book that really helped me sit with God and keep my heart vulnerable with Him at the time was Shattered Dreams by Larry Crabb (never finished the book but what I did read helped me). Another book I recently found that I wished I had at the time is Grieving the Child I Never Knew by Kathe Wunnenberg. It’s a devotional, and has really great questions for each devotion that are labeled “steps toward healing.” The questions are really, really great.

A few articles that were affirming for me:

Sharing the Silent Grief of Miscarriage

What It’s Like to Have an Early Pregnancy Loss

Don’t Worry You Won’t Remind Me

We Lost a Child and Gained Something Greater

You can read through the writings I’ve posted about my experience with miscarrying our first baby.

To those grieving, take your time, don’t hide from the pain. Lean into the discomfort, walk through this with one breath at a time. Let God be your comfort.

If you ever need someone to talk to or want to talk about your baby with, I’d love to be available to you. Either head on over to the Contact Me page and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

Much love, Jesse

Black and White

Simple and to the point, here’s my most recent photo assignment. A collection of photos in black and white.

 

Now Available on Society6!

IMG_0717-1I’m happy to announce that I have begun the journey of selling fine art prints of my photography! This is something I’ve been encouraged to try for years and am finally taking steps to make it happen.

Click the “Buy Prints” page above to support my endeavor!

My first step is selling on Society 6, and I may try selling at a few festivals this summer. I’m also working on opening an Etsy shop to sell fine art photo prints and products as well as my handmade, crocheted goods! Exciting stuff happening over here!

‘Til next time my friends, Jesse

Words to My Sweet Peanut and on Grieving

27 Oct 2014

Peanut,

There wasn’t a moment of your life when you weren’t wanted. There wasn’t a moment of your life when someone wasn’t thinking fondly of you. For every moment you were alive, I was carrying you. And as close as you were in my womb, my heart carried you closer, warmer. In my heart I was already swaddling you, singing you to sleep at night. I miss you. I miss you so terribly.

Sometimes, I feel like you’re not gone. I look down and yearn to see you. You would’ve been bigger than a lime by now – almost the size of a plum! I might have even been able to start seeing you soon. I could hardly wait to feel the bump you would make inside of me. I’m so sorry this happened to you.

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It’s an emotional roller coaster, for sure. And just because I miscarried earlier than some doesn’t make my loss any less devastating. My baby may have been tinier but he/she was still my baby. My first child. And I have experienced a real loss. I should be free to feel whatever I feel and grieve whatever I need to grieve. (Preaching this to myself, as much to you.)
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I’ve found myself having a difficult time grieving freely because there was no physical baby for other people to see. But my baby was already a person in my mind. A person that I was desperate to know and now terribly miss. I need to grieve all my dreams of what could have been just as much as I need to grieve the death of my first baby. We all grieve in our own ways. And every loss is its own trauma.

Sammy and the Homemade Cat Tree

Meet Sammy, the (mostly) Siamese cat. He’s my fur baby that JD gifted me with this January. He has been a wonderful addition to our little family. His personality fits right in. JD sometimes jokes he’s me in cat form. Sammy has kept me great company the nights JD has had to work late.

I’m glad JD’s current workload is only for a set amount of time, but sometimes the busyness is still difficult. It’s weird to live with someone and feel you barely see them. Weekends have become our favorite.

Recently, we made a creative vision a reality. I had told JD I’d like to make a cat tree for Sammy out of natural materials (unlike the typical carpeted cat trees in retail stores). And this is what he came up with! I’m quite happy with it. The diagonal sticks are from various hiking trips. The platforms, horizontal and vertical sticks are from Michael’s.

Sammy seems to love it; he climbs on it everyday now. The total cost of our supplies was $95, which was around the same price (or a little less) than I saw in stores. For us, the enjoyment of making it together and the aesthetic look is well worth the money.

Live

I don’t remember where I saw this, but I loved it. Enjoy (:

“be present, endlessly loving and compassionate towards others, confront any challenging situation first with a deep breath, wander, before reacting–understand, eat breakfast every morning, find the faces in the flowers, remember what is important to you, treat your body kindly, be honest, don’t feel embarrassed to feel, laugh, cry, sing or love, do what you love, remember that you always have a choice, find joy in what life really is — living.”

Happy 2 Years and Missing Peanut

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All written on March 9th, 2015
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I still tease him about children too often, but I am slowly getting better at returning to a realistic perspective.

I am slowly embracing my roles as his wife, partner and homemaker with grace. I’m learning to release unrealistic expectations and taking up my roles with a relaxed mindset.

I have dreams, visions, ideas about a creative endeavor. I have pinned many business plan worksheets and researched other sellers. I have yet to slow down enough to actually work thru a plan. I plan to take time each week to go thru one plan at a time.

Today marks two years with this hunk. It hardly feels as though we’ve been together that long and yet it feels we’ve always been together.

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3 times a week i drive past the hospital where i lost you. It’s the place where we were separated, where we became no longer one. I think of you everyday. Sometimes I feel incredibly grateful and thank God for allowing me to experience the miracle you were. Somedays i just miss you. I miss having you here with me. I miss the light you brought into my life. I miss the feeling of knowing the miracle of new life was sprouting up inside of me. I miss the love I felt for you and the hopes I had for us as a family. Yes, we hope to add to our little family in a few years, but you were special. You came at a special time for special reasons. You taught me about the nearness of God, and that perspective is everything. I miss wondering about what you were doing inside of me, how big you were and when I would start to feel you. I miss hearing your daddy pray for you at night. I miss talking to you and singing to you as I did housework. I miss you, you sweet, little peanut.

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I’ll refer to an “embryo” and a “fetus” as a baby. I believe that life exists from the moment of fertilization – when the cells start multiplying. My baby’s heart stopped 2 weeks before science would consider him a fetus. For no particular reason, I usually refer to my little peanut as a “him”. The doctors/nurses called him “embryonic tissue.” But, from the moment of conception, I called him our baby, our first child.

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Earlier today, I told JD how I thought I’d realized a positive way to miss and grieve my lil peanut. How I could say I miss him and remember him in a positive light. Remember all the good things and lavish his memory in gratitude for experiencing his life at all. And at group, I heard a child screech blubbery responses to his dad’s silly faces. And I smiled inside and thought, “Ah, what a sweet, sweet sound! What a gift!”

But then I flip open Instagram and see a woman’s baby bump. And I am reminded of the negative ways that I remember our peanut. How I still long to feel his body growing inside of me and longing to feel his presence. How I feel cheated of the experience of pregnancy, birth and motherhood. How I feel rejected, denied that privilege. Every time my lower belly swells from a full bladder, I encase it in my hands, look in the mirror and tell myself, “One day. One day you will house new life again. One day, you will watch him grow. One day, you will have the joy of finally holding your child. It will be good. Now is not that time.” And I don’t know what to do with these thoughts except cry and release them. If I let myself dwell there too long, I can lose myself in the grief, disappointment and unfulfilled longings. But here. Right here. This is where I am right now. Honor Him here. Obey Him here. Praise Him here. Converse with Him here. You don’t need a child inside you to have new life sprouting from within. He brings new life. Not just to your child, but to you. Will you believe there is life inside of you, even after feeling your womb filled with death and darkness? Will you believe that He is the source of all light? Will you believe that He will release radiant beams of light from within you, even while you are not with child?

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Do You Believe in Life After Delivery?

I saw this post on Facebook. The analogy is an absolutely beautiful image that I had never heard before. Definitely worth a read. Enjoy!

In a mother’s womb were two babies. One asked the other: “Do you believe in life after delivery?” The other replied, “Why, of course. There has to be something after delivery. Maybe we are here to prepare ourselves for what we will be later.”
“Nonsense” said the first. “There is no life after delivery. What kind of life would that be?”

The second said, “I don’t know, but there will be more light than here. Maybe we will walk with our legs and eat from our mouths. Maybe we will have other senses that we can’t understand now.”

The first replied, “That is absurd. Walking is impossible. And eating with our mouths? Ridiculous! The umbilical cord supplies nutrition and everything we need. But the umbilical cord is so short. Life after delivery is to be logically excluded.”

The second insisted, “Well I think there is something and maybe it’s different than it is here. Maybe we won’t need this physical cord anymore.”

The first replied, “Nonsense. And moreover if there is life, then why has no one has ever come back from there? Delivery is the end of life, and in the after-delivery there is nothing but darkness and silence and oblivion. It takes us nowhere.”

“Well, I don’t know,” said the second, “but certainly we will meet Mother and she will take care of us.”

The first replied “Mother? You actually believe in Mother? That’s laughable. If Mother exists then where is She now?”

The second said, “She is all around us. We are surrounded by her. We are of Her. It is in Her that we live. Without Her this world would not and could not exist.”

Said the first: “Well I don’t see Her, so it is only logical that She doesn’t exist.”

To which the second replied, “Sometimes, when you’re in silence and you focus and you really listen, you can perceive Her presence, and you can hear Her loving voice, calling down from above.” – Útmutató a Léleknek

Grieving the Loss of My Pregnancy Experience

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It’s called “early pregnancy loss.” And as much as people say it’s losing a pregnancy, I focused on the fact that I was losing a child. My first child. And I would never know him/her. But now, 3 months later, I’m realizing that I never grieved the loss of the pregnancy. The whole experience of the pregnancy. From conception to birth. From watching our little peanut grow from invisible to a bump, to laboriously bringing him into the world. I have recently felt devastated that I never had the experience of giving birth to our first child. I see birth as such a womanly journey. And my pregnancy ended abruptly, just as soon as it had began. I feel robbed of an enriching experience. Just when I thought I was truly coming to terms with our season of life, I painfully realized I’m not as accepting of it yet as I thought I was.

Written January 31, 2015