Nurturing You Part One: TLC For The Weary

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posted on February 14, 2013 by  |  posted under Parenting

TLC for the weary

We have all been there.

At one time or another we have been nurtured, or have nurtured others.

When we are young, we depend on our parents to nurture us.  When we grow up, we have to learn do this for ourselves.  Often times, we as women, or we as parents, are so busy caring for others that we neglect to care for ourselves.  We often don’t think, or realize, that we need to nurture ourselves until we are left with no other choice.  For me, the “no other choice” came shortly after the birth of my second son.  He was born premature.  And as you can see in the photo below, he was kept  in an isolette, effectively putting a barrier between me and my instinct to nurture my child.  I was not allowed to hold him since he couldn’t be removed from his isolette.

TLC for the weary

All of that changed on his 12th day on earth.  And that was only because the steady increase in growth and health he displayed for the first 11 days of his life, ceased on the 12th day.

The doctor informed me and my husband that our son would not survive the night.

And so, we were allowed to rem0ve him from the isolette and hold him for the very first - and very last - time.  I am grateful that I got to spend some time holding him close to me before he took his last breath.  Time to study closely every minute detail of his face.  Time to study his eyes looking into mine.  I wanted to remember his eyes forever.  I studied and stroked his fine, angel soft, beautiful hair.  And each and every finger and toe.  I had time to caress him, and to etch every detail into my mind and memory forever.  And then he was gone.

For nearly a week after, I could barely speak.  I couldn’t eat.  Even with my husband begging me to take in some sustenance, I couldn’t.  It was a very disembodying experience.  I had never before been so completely engulfed in grief.  And I certainly had no idea if that pain would ever end, or how I would begin to go forward from it.  I didn’t think life would ever return to “normal”, as I once knew it, again.  I was sure the heaviness in my heart would never lift.

What follows are some comforting, nurturing methods I employed over the days, weeks, months, and years that followed, to nurture and nurse myself, very slowly, back into a new “normal” life.  And eventually….  Back to JOY.

The layman’s description, according to yourdictionary.com, of nurture is: to feed, train, or help develop someone or something.

Any form of recovery takes feeding, training, and help in developing.  Perhaps your experience of recovering from a traumatic, painful, or even challenging incident was not as dramatic as mine.  Perhaps it was moreso.  What I learned from my experience is: we have no idea what goes on in the life of another, the wounds another has suffered, the depths of the challenges one has faced.  And to therefore, as the saying goes, always be a little kinder than necessary.

 In the healing process, we must begin licking our own wounds so to speak, and learn to give ourselves the care we require.  The very first place I went to vent was into a journal.

TLC for the weary

 In one form or another, I have always journaled.  Whether a notepad, a sketchbook, piece of paper or small tablet of paper, my earliest memories consist of drawing, doodling, and writing.  This was the most instinctive place to go to pour out my frustrations and to record and make sense out of the events of my life.  In the early days following my son’s death, the healing words of others, or the venting of my pain in a journal, were the things that brought me the most comfort.  Expression through words was cathartic.  I needed to do this in order to allow myself to feel again, because my initial reaction to the pain of loss was to erect a barrier between myself and loved ones.  I was afraid to love anyone too much again at that point.

My only living child was 3 years old at the time and unable to comprehend these events (he had never met his brother and was not allowed in the NICU).   I would watch him so carefreely enjoying life and wanting me to participate and to love him.

But I was scared.

It hurt me to not jump in and experience his joy with him.  So I entered back into our time together the best way that I was able.  During much of the healing phase, we were living in Hawaii, so we took a lot of long walks on the beach.  There was often silence between us but he didn’t seem to mind.  It was just being together that counted.

TLC for the weary

Our time in Hawaii provided relief on so many levels.  The most important event by far, just more than a year after my youngest son’s passing, was the birth of our beautiful baby girl.

Despite such a joyous event, there was still more healing to do.  I spent a lot of time observing nature, in silence.  One day I found this sign, posted to a tree.

TLC for the weary

 Observe with the eyes, listen with the ears, don’t talk.  Good advice, and very appropriate at the time.

Healing messages seemed to be everywhere in nature.  Observing the crashing ocean waves, I was reminded of a story shared by an old high school guidance counselor.  He told of an undertow somewhere among the Hawaiian islands that would pull a person right under the water.  If you struggled against it, you would lose the battle.  But, if you would surrender to it, the undertow would spit you out to safety.  I thought of that story a lot in Hawaii, especially on my emotionally challenging days, and how it was a powerful metaphor for my struggle to feel good again.  This process couldn’t be forced, it had to be surrendered to.  The most painful struggles, when instincts kick in to fight, are often the very times we need to let go.

TLC for the weary

Upon seeing this lone tree on a rocky cliff, I wondered how many storms it had weathered and what it may have endured over the years.  Yet, it was still standing.

TLC for the weary

And whenever I saw an orchid, I thought of what an orchid grower once told me, “some species require an extended cold snap in order to induce a bloom”.  She explained how the plant may go through a period where perhaps it feels like it’s dying before it brings forth its greatest beauty.  Hmmm.  I considered the possibility that there might be a process built into humans that works that way too.  And I was encouraged to endure the long, cold feelings in the hopes that someday, I too could bring forth beauty from this tragedy.

TLC for the weary

There were days when I felt more secure than others… that maybe it was safe to relax  a little, and open up.

TLC for the weary

And there were other days where I would want to close down again and retreat a bit from the painful memories.

TLC for the weary

Even in the withdrawn times, when I felt “burned around the edges” like some of the petals in the flower above, I would feel a deeper wisdom guiding my life and sense that there was still beauty – even in the most broken, imperfect places – or perhaps, especially in the broken, imperfect places.

Out the car window, I would occassionally catch a view that would take my breath away.  It reminded me that this life is fleeting and goes by so fast, and to take every opportunity to look for and appreciate the beauty that is always there in some form.

TLC for the weary

The sight of a dandelion reminded me to dare to wish, and hope, and dream again.

TLC for the weary

And the first tentative, yet trusting steps of my little girl reminded me to be patient with my healing process and take baby steps myself.

TLC for the weary

As I watched her “test the waters” of her life literally, I was learning to do this again metaphorically.  It was unchartered territory for me, but this process of finding a “new normal” would have to be explored and trusted with time.

Little things that may have once bothered me took on a different light.  One day, my kids took two worn-out, oversized pillows with seems beginning to split, from their play room and proceeded to tear out all the cotton batting.  In the blink of an eye (or the time it took me to unload the dishwasher) it was spread ALL over the entire floor.  Their unbridled joy was incredible.  They were making trails, “snow” angels, and piling mounds into billowy clouds when I happened upon the scene.   Seeing their jubilation, I couldn’t get angry.  And in the BIG picture, I was learning not to sweat the small stuff.  I was learning slowly but surely, this was “small stuff”.  So instead of getting angry, I got out the camera.

TLC for the weary

My son had spent several years in Alaska so perhaps he missed the snow.  My daughter had never experienced snow, and then again, she hadn’t experienced cotton either!  So we left the cotton batting strewn about the floor for 3 days.  And every day they played in it, well I believe they could’ve convinced just about anyone that this had to be the greatest stuff in the world.  After one long day at the beach, they both came in and snuggled into their own billowy pile of it and fell asleep.  I felt like I was witnessing angels sleeping on clouds.  Had I gotten uptight about the so-called mess (it’s a matter of perspective I guess – is it “mess” or “imagination fodder”?), I would never have witnessed such a precious sight.

My hopes in writing this post is that you don’t wait for life to knock the wind out of your sails with illness, accident, or trauma before you take time for YOU.  To nurture your hurts, hopes and dreams.  Because while the journey into becoming a more healed and whole person takes time, it’s the best gift you can give to yourself and others.  As your own cup fills up it automatically overflows onto others with whatever’s inside of it.  Is it mostly stress that’s inside?  Worry or Fear?  Or is it Joy, Patience, Love and other fruits of the Spirit?  You, and the potential for the blossoming of some amazing gift you may be still holding inside, are worth cultivating and worth nurturing.

In Part Two of Nurturing You: TLC For The Weary, I share some ideas you can employ when you’re feeling weary.  Research has shown these tools to be effective in uplifting a person’s perspective and emotions.  Below is a sneak peek of a few of the proven healing methods and tools in part two.

TLC for the weary

In the meantime, I have some uplifting tools to share on the “Spirit” page of my website and invite you to have a look.

I wish you great Love today, on St. Valentine’s Day, and always.

TLC for the weary Nurturing You Part One TLC For The Weary

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92 Comments
COMMENTS
  1. February 14th, 2013 at 8:09 am
    yeni santiesteban says:
    Thank you for being so real, I cried through the post, but your post made though about how intricately woven is the heart of a mom. You really put in perspective for me those days when the Kids make a MESS. Happpy V day ♥
    • February 14th, 2013 at 12:26 pm
      Stephanie says:
      Thank you so much, Yeni. Your words are very touching. The heart of a mom is so very intricate! Happy Valentine's Day to you, too <3
  2. February 14th, 2013 at 11:03 am
    Ashley says:
    I can not imagine the kind of courage it must have taken you to share this story and these pictures--thank you, thank you, THANK YOU so much for sharing! My trials are not nearly so acute but I know I've been needing to nurture ME a little more lately, too.
    • February 15th, 2013 at 9:37 am
      Stephanie says:
      Thank you Ashley, for acknowledging the courage. The nervous feeling is always there but continues to get better over time. It has taken 5 years before I began to share this story in a public way. It also took me five years before I didn't cry on the anniversary of my son's passing. Time heals eventually, and lots of patience and self-care go hand in hand with it. Thank you, thank you, thank you, for taking the time to read this story. Knowing people care is a big part of the healing too!
  3. February 14th, 2013 at 11:25 am
    olivia says:
    Thank you for sharing a piece of your journey. It is from stories like yours that we all grow...especially when we can relate. Keep on your path...it seems it's taking you right where you need to go! LOVE!
    • February 14th, 2013 at 12:28 pm
      Stephanie says:
      Thank you Olivia, for the encouragement to stay on the path. It means lot! Love to you!
  4. February 14th, 2013 at 11:37 am
    Katie says:
    Beautiful, Stephanie! I'm so sorry for your loss and all that you and your family went through. Thank you for sharing your story. It is so hard to believe that life can go on when sometimes it hurts so much. Your story will certainly be an inspiration for others. Blessings to you and your beautiful family!
    • February 15th, 2013 at 9:38 am
      Stephanie says:
      Thank you so much, Katie! I certainly hope it can help someone else! Thank you for the offering of blessings, <3 .
  5. February 14th, 2013 at 11:46 am
    Emily Emmons says:
    Wow, Steph. Thank you for sharing your story.

    From my earliest memories of you (I think I was about 11) I have always seen you as a glowing light of positive energy.You lite up the room with your smile and always had time for a hug. I looked up to you and your many adventures, hoping I too some day to explore like you did. Never afraid to embrace life, love deep, and cherish the little things. You surrounded yourself with life, and embarrassed every moment.

    Your family loved me, like they did every other child that walked through their door, as if I was one of you. I never doubted it once. With laughter and kindness you all have gone through both joy and pain that others couldn't fathom, and yet you stay untied, strong and loving for one another. What a gift.

    By sharing your story, you are helping countless others survive when they are sure that they can not go on another moment. And not because you are telling people how to grieve unfathomable loss, but because you are giving people a reason to love, nurture and care for ones "self". What a gift. I don't know why us women seem to need permission, or a reminder to love, cherish and care for ones "self", but we do. So thank you for sharing your story and giving us permission to take care of ourselves too.

    With love and admiration,
    Emily
    • February 15th, 2013 at 9:47 am
      Stephanie says:
      It was so sweet of you to share so many heartfelt and beautiful memories, Emily! I am so glad you always felt welcomed and loved in my family. What on earth are we here for if we can't do that for each other!?

      Thanks for helping me cry some happy tears today. It feels pretty good to shed tears because of gratitude and not sadness any more. <3
  6. February 14th, 2013 at 11:51 am
    mary says:
    beautiful steph! i love you!! we were just talking about ethan last night......our little angel....
    • February 15th, 2013 at 9:48 am
      Stephanie says:
      Love you too, Mary. Our angel, always.
  7. February 14th, 2013 at 12:25 pm
    Kelly Davies says:
    Hi Steph,
    I just read your article and I loved it, every word of it! Thank you so much for sharing such a painful yet beautiful story. I am so, so sorry that you had to go through the loss of your son. I can only imagine how devastating that must have been.
    Your children are so beautiful. I bet they bring you joy and ease your pain every day.
    You are an incredible writer. It is so heart felt and genuine. I always read your posts and get great ideas from the links you share so, thank you for that.
    I have to say, once my Dad died and I got myself back in shape and healthy again... I have finally learned that it is okay to take time for me. It is okay to leave my house and walk for an hour and not think about what is going on with the kids. (Okay, I will always wonder what they are doing) I just don't let that get in the way of taking care of myself. I finally realize that I will be a much better mother if I nurture myself.
    I just wanted you to know that you are so inspirational and I am so glad we have connected on FB! I would love to see you in person again someday. Take care of yourself. Keep doing what you do and God Bless!!
    Kelly
    • February 15th, 2013 at 9:55 am
      Stephanie says:
      I'm so glad you shared the story of losing your dad and realizing the importance of your own self care. It is strange, the kinds of things that make us "snap" into a profound realilzation, like your dad leaving you too soon and that you'd better take good care of yourself for your own kids. I'm so proud of you for giving yourself the time and TLC you deserve to be the best you can be. We all have experiences to share that can uplift and be of benefit to another in some way. And I'm grateful you shared yours. Thanks, Kelly! I'm so happy to connect again too and happy to learn that you are finding some value in my other posts as well. Blessings back at ya!
  8. February 14th, 2013 at 12:35 pm
    brittany says:
    Beautiful reminder on a day about love. Tears.
  9. February 14th, 2013 at 1:55 pm
    Katie Spight says:
    Stephanie- this is beautiful- thank you for posting. It's just another (heart touching) reminder of how beautiful life is!
    • February 15th, 2013 at 9:56 am
      Stephanie says:
      Thanks for taking the time to read it! I am grateful!
  10. February 14th, 2013 at 2:22 pm
    Diann Mullani says:
    Dearest Stephanie,
    This was the most beautiful compelling and heart wrenching story I have ever read. Of course, being so close to the whole event with Ethan being our grandchild, and you our daughter in law, this testimony is just so helpful in processing the loss for us as well. A mother and father's loss of a child is undoubtably a pain NO ONE can understand but the parents themselves. However,it reveals and gives such a deeper understanding of the pain you felt, how you processed that pain, and explains some of the feelings I experienced as a grandmother. I am so grateful to God for you Stephanie; for your strength through that dark valley; for making your way back to a place of feeling joy again and not surrending to the fear that could have so easily meant sadness and being trapped in that painful moment of time forever. You have a beautiful story to tell and a beautiful brave heart to want to help others experiencing this kind of loss. Love Mom
    • February 14th, 2013 at 2:30 pm
      Stephanie says:
      Well I wasn't expecting to cry today like this (mom)! Thank you so much for your caring, loving words. I am grateful for your support and the support of so many friends and family. It helps make all the difference in the world. I'm both pleased and surprised that sharing how the pain was processed helped explain feelings within you too. That is my sincere hope! XOXO
    • February 14th, 2013 at 3:59 pm
      Gretchen says:
      Hi Kevin & Stephanie' s mom...you made me cry too! I'm sorry for your loss as well. Thank you for your understanding, love & encouragement to one of the sweetest friends I know!
  11. February 14th, 2013 at 3:15 pm
    Jeffrey E. Famiglieti says:
    My Dearest Stephanie

    I knew the story but not like this. I sometimes wish I had your strength.
    Love Jeff

    Observe with the eyes, listen with the ears, don’t talk. Sounds like Morrnah put up that sign. She was a woman of few words but when she spoke you listened.
    • February 15th, 2013 at 10:00 am
      Stephanie says:
      That was a major "sign" alright! Sometimes they smack you right between the eyes and you know without a shadow of a doubt that you are where you are suppposed to be, and to pay attention! That sign is at the Honolulu Zoo, FYI - by the monkeys :-)
  12. February 14th, 2013 at 3:33 pm
    Nicolette says:
    Very beautiful. Reminds me that life is incredibly fragile and each minute, each second we have with those we love is beautiful. Thanks for sharing.
    • February 14th, 2013 at 4:17 pm
      Stephanie says:
      Thank you, Nicolette!
  13. February 14th, 2013 at 3:56 pm
    Gretchen says:
    So beautifully written Stephanie. My heart aches for you & your family all over again. Thank you for sharing your story of loss & how you have handled finding your new "normal"...something I wish you & others would never have to do!! You are an inspiration & an amazing, strong mother!! Hugs!!!
    • February 15th, 2013 at 10:07 am
      Stephanie says:
      Hugs back at you, Gretchen! I wished it didn't have to be that way too, but since it is the way it is I am determined that the pain won't be in vain. That the ickiness of it will be the fodder and fertilizer for something better - like the caterpillar uses the goo inside the cacoon to turn into a butterfly. I feel like our Creator has built clues into all of creation and if you really do observe, you notice things like how the destructive force of a volcanic eruption will then create the most fertile soil known on earth, providing for the most amazing growth. So I accept that the process must be happening inside me too, and I look forward to the continued growth the process brings. I have learned trust the process. Finally. (We humans can be so stubborn!) xo
  14. February 14th, 2013 at 4:04 pm
    Kelly McIntyre says:
    I have always wondered where you got your strength to move forward and to find and BE joy after such loss. You are inspirational on so many levels. I am not a mother but your journey and message still hits home. I will continue to follow your wisdom. Thank you for being strength to many. Love you.
    • February 15th, 2013 at 10:18 am
      Stephanie says:
      Love you too, Kelly. I'm grateful that the message is universal and has resonant chords that speak to you even if you're not a mom! It's the expeience of pain in general that is so universal. We can't take the pain away, but we can be there for each other and stay open to life, and maybe have a little courage in letting the walls come down to share our "real"ness with each other and put the social constructs aside. People want to know that it's okay to be real and let even the not-so-lovely parts be seen and accepted. Life is full of the not-so-lovely. But if we can embrace that part too, healing can happen.
  15. February 14th, 2013 at 4:30 pm
    julie says:
    BEAUTIFUL POST! made me cry!
    • February 15th, 2013 at 10:20 am
      Stephanie says:
      Thank you Julie, I hope they were good, cleansing tears!
  16. February 14th, 2013 at 5:21 pm
    Bobbi says:
    Such a compelling story and a solemn reminder to cherish the little things and to take some time to nourish ourselves. So important. Thanks for sharing, and I can't wait to read part two!
    • February 14th, 2013 at 5:34 pm
      Stephanie says:
      Thank you Bobbi- for the encouragement and support!
  17. February 14th, 2013 at 8:32 pm
    Audrey says:
    Stephanie, I cried through your entire post. I have no words except thank you for sharing. I'm your newest reader and follower. Have a great evening.
    Audrey
    • February 15th, 2013 at 10:25 am
      Stephanie says:
      I am happy to share and thank you for reading! I really believe that opening up to let out the "ick" can be encouraging for others to open up and let it their own "ick", and then more healing can take place for everyone. Thank you, Audrey, for your words of support and I'm delighted that you're a new reader. Welcome!
  18. February 14th, 2013 at 10:26 pm
    Melinda Morris says:
    I loved your writing, Stephanie. This is a topic that is so hard to even think about. I'm sure you will help many people heal old and deep wounds with writings like this. Everyone that suffers a loss like this so desperately needs to know of people like you; you have rediscovered joy and can enjoy life again.
    Please continue.
    • February 15th, 2013 at 10:40 am
      Stephanie says:
      Thank you so much for the encouragement to continue, Melinda. It really means a lot. It means the journey was not in vain, and that's huge. <3
  19. February 15th, 2013 at 3:00 am
    Nikki says:
    It's been a while since I checked my RSS feed and popped on by to your site. But today of all days I did check it, and without even thinking I clicked the link for this post.

    First my heart broke with the tale of your son. Then I shared your joy at the sight of pillow stuffing bringing such bliss.

    Lastly, I read this 'As your own cup fills up it automatically overflows onto others with whatever’s inside of it.' Oh boy. That's when I cried.

    You have reminded me that just 'getting by' doesn't help myself or my family. They share my stress, worry and anxieties no matter how I try to shield them. Thank you for bringing me back to reality and giving me the nudge I so sorely needed.

    Happiness to you and yours. xx
    • February 15th, 2013 at 10:31 am
      Stephanie says:
      Nikki,

      I am grateful to have been a conduit for the message that hit home with you. Your own words have hit home right back,

      "... just ‘getting by’ doesn’t help myself or my family. They share my stress, worry and anxieties no matter how I try to shield them".

      It's so true. And that's why it's not selfish, but incredibly important, to make sure we are tending to ourselves and what's inside.

      Thanks for sending your own beautiful message today! I am grateful!
  20. February 15th, 2013 at 11:23 am
    Ashley gunson says:
    You have no idea how much I needed to read this today. I love everything about it. Thank you so much Stephanie. Ash
    • February 15th, 2013 at 3:00 pm
      Stephanie says:
      Thank you for letting me know you needed this message and found value in it. That's the best I can wish for. Take care Ashley!
  21. February 15th, 2013 at 1:32 pm
    Patty Mejia Burke says:
    Thank you for sharing your story. My heart aches for you; I can not imagine losing a child. My husband and I were blessed with a son, 27 days after our 12th wedding anniversary. Our miracle is almost 14 years old now.

    My beloved husband has terminal cancer. Every day we have with him is a gift. I get tired some days and feel drained from caring for him, our son and my 75-year old mom, but with God's grace, I carry on.

    Thank you for the reminder to take care of myself.

    Patty
    • February 15th, 2013 at 2:57 pm
      Stephanie says:
      Patty,

      I read your post titled "Beloved", then the one titled "Afraid". You have every right to feel afraid. I am sorry that your family is going through the cancer journey right now and has been for so many years. I remember when my mom had cancer. I was only a teenager too, like your son.

      Also, I hope you don't mind that I said a little prayer for your family, and will continue to do so.

      It's never harder to show yourself some TLC than when you are a caregiver to someone duirng a major illness. I hope you ask for and receive the help and strength you need to get through each day!

      Take care, best that you can,

      Stephanie
  22. February 15th, 2013 at 6:08 pm
    Susan'sStyle says:
    I'm ever so grateful I happen to come across this beautiful story.
    It came in perfect timing for me and a needed reminder to take care of me too.
    Stephanie, my heart aches for your loss. My heart rejoices in each day the pain turns into peace and the ability to find joy in what is here with you now and what will be waiting some sweet day~
    Some little souls are to precious for earth; only heaven is worthy of such~
    • February 16th, 2013 at 11:00 am
      Stephanie says:
      I'm blinking away tears from reading these words:

      "Some little souls are to precious for earth; only heaven is worthy of such~"

      Thank you. So much.
  23. February 15th, 2013 at 10:37 pm
    Dad and Mom says:
    Stephanie,

    What a beautiful article you wrote describing what you and Kevin went through with the loss of your precious Ethan. We remember that day well - a very hard day for us all but especially for you and Kevin and we, as grandparents, never felt such pain as we grieved not only for ourselves but also for our dear daughter and son-in-law. Our hearts were aching as we watched you and Kevin hold on to one another and through many tears and heartche face each new day. We hated to see you guys move to Hawaii but now we know clearly that that was meant to be for you to clear your thoughts and begin a new journey in your healing process. We know you loved it there and felt a peace and slowly the joy was beginning to creep back into your lives. You had a wonderful son, Wyatt, to take care of and soon you welcomed sweet little Anna. We were so thrilled for you. Time really does heal and we will always remember our sweet baby Ethan even though he was on this earth for such a very short time. He is truly our precious little angel in heaven and one day we will all be united.

    We are proud to be your parents and we have enjoyed watching you and Kevin parent your beautiful children. They bring special joy into your lives each and every day and help to remind us all that love endures for ever and ever. We love you all so very much.

    Love,
    Dad and Mom
  24. February 16th, 2013 at 4:51 pm
    Vicki Werner says:
    This story still makes me cry. I'm so grateful to be in your life and the lives of your precious family during the healing of this huge event in your life.
    What a beautiful story.
  25. February 16th, 2013 at 8:41 pm
    Loretta says:
    Oh my goodness. This post is beautiful. One of my nieces passed away very soon after she was born and it's such a wake up call to enjoy the little things that matter most. Thanks so much for sharing your story!
    • February 16th, 2013 at 9:21 pm
      Stephanie says:
      I am honored to be able to share it and I thank you for sharing about your niece. Another mother who lost an infant once said to me, "may you take some small comfort in knowing that you are the mother of an angel". It touched my heart. I have no idea if that sentiment will be of any comfort to pass forward to your family or not, but one never knows which words another will find soothing. Please accept my condolences.
  26. February 18th, 2013 at 11:50 am
    Missy says:
    I really loved reading this (through my tears). Your hope shines through your pain and that is so beautiful. Your gorgeous pictures interspersed through your honest writing make your story poetic. Thank you so much for sharing.
    • February 19th, 2013 at 6:43 pm
      Stephanie says:
      It's a privelege for me to have the message received with such warmth and appreciation and to have it considered poetic is an unexpected bonus!
  27. February 18th, 2013 at 4:26 pm
    Megan says:
    Stephanie,

    It doesn't seem like so long ago that we were in art class in high school, yet look at all that has happened in our lives. Your beautiful story really touched my heart. They way you chose to deal with the biggest heartbreak in life, losing a child, is completely inspirational. I believe the healing that occurred and the things you learned about yourself, life, death and what is truly important in life have made you a better person, mother, wife, friend. I am profoundly sorry for your unbearable loss. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. I am sure you have inspired many.

    Take care old friend
    ❤Megan
    • February 19th, 2013 at 6:51 pm
      Stephanie says:
      I don't know how or why suffering works the way it does but you are right, it has made me a better person. Please know how sorry I am for the loss your family has endured as well. It's difficult to know that there are others (too many) out there who can relate to this type of pain. There is nothing that can prepare us for such trials!

      Thank you Megan, for taking the time to send me such a kind message today.
  28. February 19th, 2013 at 8:48 am
    aaron says:
    Great writing Stephanie! What a challenge to share your experience. Sarah and I met so many great people in the NICU with Greta. We spent 3 months in that unit, meeting parents for one of two days, one or two weeks, and just a few that we were with us almost the entirety of our stay. Some parents were lucky to leave with their newborn, but just as many did not. We felt so lucky to have 6 months with Greta outside of the hospital. Hard to remember how we did any of it now. Great advice and courage! Aaron
    • February 19th, 2013 at 7:01 pm
      Stephanie says:
      9 months is far too short to have with your sweet baby girl. My heart broke for your loss and at the time, I couldn't even imagine how you and Sarah would begin to go forward. Then I had to figure it out too. I am glad we did somehow, finding our own intuitive way and allowing whatever time necessary to heal. Thank you Aaron!
  29. February 19th, 2013 at 1:09 pm
    Nancy says:
    This is beautiful, Stephanie--you've done such a perfect job transforming unimaginable pain and loss into something inspiring and transcendent--in your life and in this article.

    Despite his painfully short life, you and Ethan are making the world a more beautiful, more joyful place with all you both continue to share. I hope to read much more from you! Nancy
  30. February 19th, 2013 at 6:26 pm
    Leah says:
    Wow, absolutely beautiful - and perfect timing for me.
    'When the student is ready the teacher will appear.'
    Wishing you a full life filled with love and laughter.
  31. February 19th, 2013 at 6:51 pm
    willa says:
    Dear, Dear Stephanie
    I sit here sobbing & wish I could give you the biggest hug in the world. We had preemie twins born in October (my first grand babies)and I remember those days of waiting. They're growing like weeds now
    God bless you on your journey
    • February 24th, 2013 at 12:45 pm
      Stephanie says:
      God bless you too, Willa for wanting to send a hug - I accept! After a precarious start, I'm sure your family doesn't take those babies for granted for a minute - Enjoy them to the fullest!
  32. February 19th, 2013 at 8:57 pm
    Heather says:
    What a beautiful post...and a bitter sweet reminder too. I am sorry for your loss. We, too, endured the loss of 6 babies before finally having our little blessing. She spent 80 days in the NICU and I can completely relate on our nurturing trying to kick in through that isolette. I also remember during our years of dealing with losses that I was in a fog...where I didn't know what to do, but pray and have hope. I recall the first loss in which I was so dumb and didn't believe that I could ever smile, laugh again. I remember a dear friend telling me that I need to put it away for an hour a day to give my life some normalcy during that 1 hour and then work to two, etc as I felt comfortable. I can smile now, but the first time we went to the movies...we thought it would be a complete outlet for me and we say that Penguin one (I have blocked the name...) with Morgan Freeman talking. I bawled the entire time as it was about families. It was also very cathartic at the same time. Life does move on...you will smile again, even laugh. Pray, pray, pray for strength and for his plan to shine through. I send you and your family continued blessings.
    • February 20th, 2013 at 10:06 am
      Stephanie says:
      The penguin movie was touching! Some of the little penguin babies didn't make it. I can imagine it would make you cry and also heal, watching the cycle of life from another perspective. I am sorry for the losses you have endured as well, and relate to being in that fog, and just trying to do something normal. When you are in pain you wonder how can people just do "life as usual" - how can they continue to go to the grocery store - don't they know the world (as you knew it) just ended!?!? I wondered how people could smile and laugh... And wondered how long it would take before I would enjoy normal things again. Eventually hours would go by when I didn't think of the loss and somehow, it eventually happened - I had a whole day where I didn't think about him or the pain. Thank you for your testimony as well, with the reminder that eventually, you do get there.
  33. February 19th, 2013 at 11:30 pm
    Linda says:
    I needed a good jolt from God through your transparent testimony and lose. I am so sorry of the lose and Praiseing God for your two special children your able to embrace. Knowing someday you will be able to embrace your other son in Heaven. We have 2 great-granddaughters in Heaven. One was during their 6 month and she had potters syndrome and lived half an hour.They chose to induce and bring her early ; did not want to carry full term the second baby was taken when she chose an abortion at 4 months. We live in different states so we were not down there for the first grandbaby to hold an say goodbye nor the second.

    I was having a pitty party because I am sick again. I was sick in Dec. and spent 23, 24 and part of christmas in the hospital. My immune system is not strong yet to fight off "bugs going around".

    So thank you again , I needed a good jolt and to be thankful even when I am sick. Wasn't applying God's Word to my circumstance today.
    • February 20th, 2013 at 10:12 am
      Stephanie says:
      I'm sorry to hear of your losses, Linda! To have 2 great grandchildren in heaven is a deep heartache. In my heart I know we will all see those tiny angels again some day. Please be good to yourself as you nurture your losses and your body through illness. And finally, thank you for letting me know that this post impacted you in a positive way today.

      Take care,

      Stephanie
  34. February 19th, 2013 at 11:45 pm
    Charlotte says:
    What a beautiful entry Stephanie. Mahalo for sharing your painful story, and the hope that came with it. I am so sorry for your loss, but happy for your journey back to joy - your son and daughter are gorgeous. I have worked for March of Dimes here on Kauai for 7 years so your story certainly hits home. Aloha and I wish you many more blessings.
    • February 21st, 2013 at 10:22 am
      Stephanie says:
      Wow! The work you do sounds amazing. I can only imagine the stories you've seen and heard. To be able to do such beautiful work in such a beautiful place is incredible.
      Hawaii was very good to me during the healing and I miss it every day. To be able to go outside for a walk, barefoot, 365 days a year, was an absolute gift. Those gentle warm breezes, floral fragrances, swaying palms, and rhythmic ocean waves churning - every bit was a delight to my senses. I feel strongly that it was no coincidence that we were placed in Hawaii for my husband's work for 2 years. It had always been my favorite place and felt like the most nurturing and healing environment. There was a Divine hand guiding that placement at that time, without question. Aloha and Mahalo to you for reaching out from the islands - it really makes me smile!!!
  35. February 20th, 2013 at 1:55 am
    Anne says:
    I don't know you but I thank you for your inspiring story.
    • February 21st, 2013 at 10:23 am
      Stephanie says:
      You are so welcome, Anne!
  36. February 20th, 2013 at 3:36 am
    Bre says:
    Thank you so much for sharing your story. It is very hard to explain the feeling of pure devastation, but you did very well through your beautiful writing. I cannot imagine the strength it must have taken to bring your daughter into the world after going through that. You amaze me!
    A message I discovered that spoke to me in a similar way was, "Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly"
    You inspire me and also give me hope that one day I too will be able to enjoy life again...Thank you!
    A new reader :)
    • February 21st, 2013 at 10:30 am
      Stephanie says:
      Thank you for letting me know you were given hope through this post, it means a lot.
      The caterpillar quote is just plain awesome - yet another metaphor built into nature that speaks volumes! If you look, really look with a desire to understand, you will find the messages everywhere.... "Seek and ye shall find"!
      Keep moving towards what brings you Joy... You will find it again if you don't give up!

      xo, Stephanie
  37. February 20th, 2013 at 3:49 am
    Trulie says:
    Stephanie, Thank you so much for sharing your story. After loosing my son a year ago, it helps me to read/hear other peoples stories. I was only 18 weeks pregnant when my little one was born. He lived two very precious minutes and he continues to live within my heart forever. My journal helped me with my grief a great deal as well. Throughout the past year I have had strong urges to "actively BE his mother" or to nurture him. So in my own way I have found things to do to fulfill that yearning. I started with creating and making the programs for his funeral and arranging the flowers for that day. I did a few tribute photos in nature, with his initials strategically placed. I go to his grave as often as I can to place flowers and journal my thoughts. (which is not very often as he is buried in a separate city than my home)This past Christmas I made and donated Remembrance Christmas ornaments to a non-profit organization in my town that specifically helps baby-loss families. I too have a now 4 year old in my home, whom suffered greatly during my worst phase of grief. In order to nurture him and myself, we found a way for me to stay home. This has been the greatest blessing. Not only have I been able to help him recover and re-build a stronger relationship with him, but I have had an easier time nurturing my self as well. We are now expecting another little boy and are happy to report that we have made it to 31 Weeks and counting. I am grateful for him and this pregnancy. I know as I work towards it, I will continue to find new ways to work through my grief, pay tribute to the son I lost and still nurture myself and my living family as well. Thank you again for your story and suggestions.
    • February 21st, 2013 at 10:47 am
      Stephanie says:
      Trulie-
      I am so sorry for your loss - still so fresh. It took me five years before I didn't cry on the anniversary of my son's passing. Maybe it takes longer for some, I don't know another's process and you can't put a time frame on grief and recovery. I only know that we each do the best we can, in our own way, to acknowledge and remember our babies with dignity and respect while at the same time trying to get used to the new normal and figuring out how to move forward.
      It sounds like you have found your own healing processes and ways of honoring your son. I love the remembrance ornaments and seeing how your actions now help you, the strengthening of your family relationships, and others. These are some of the gifts that come out of suffering.
      Finally, I know how scary it is to bring new life into the world after such a loss. You count every day and week that the pregnancy lasts following delivery of a preemie. Congratulations on making it to 31 weeks-a major milestone! This new addition will bring so much joy to your family again.
      All the best to you in your continued healing,
      Stephanie
  38. February 20th, 2013 at 8:21 am
    ANGELA says:
    YOUR CHILDREN ARE BEAUTIFUL AND SEEM VERY HAPPY. YOU ARE BLESSED.
    • February 21st, 2013 at 10:49 am
      Stephanie says:
      Thank you so much Angela, I realize I am blessed now more than ever!
  39. February 20th, 2013 at 8:48 am
    Lindsey Cashion says:
    That was one of the most beautiful testiments I have ever read. You are so brave and inspiring to share such a painful yet uplifting story. Thank you thank you thank you!
    • February 21st, 2013 at 10:53 am
      Stephanie says:
      Thank you, for seeing and feeling the impact. For a long time there was no way I could imagine that this trial could turn into a testimony, so I am grateful for every kind word that lets me know the pain was not in vain!
  40. February 20th, 2013 at 11:25 am
    Shelly Mullani-Moore says:
    Sometimes a person is just meant to read certain things on certain days for certain reasons. As much as I hurt for you both because of this tradegy, please know how deep this rabbit hole goes as far as reaching anyone that is hurting. Thank you for your courage.
    • February 21st, 2013 at 10:55 am
      Stephanie says:
      Beautiful reminder - that we never know who may be reached and touched by our experiences. Thank you!
  41. February 20th, 2013 at 3:48 pm
    Michele says:
    Truly inspiring! Just when we think our life could be better, you write this at a wonderful time. How blessed are we and thankful we SHOULD be for all the we have and have been given. May you continue to bless others as you have blessed me.
  42. February 21st, 2013 at 11:17 am
    sis says:
    Thank you for sharing your story. i have deep hope that my mother will one day be able to "nurse" her self back like you were able to. she had my brother early, and he did not make it 13 months later my mom and dad had to choose the babies or her they chose to let god decide she was life flighted to a hosbital after hours of trying to stabilize they finally got her to the other hosbital that was hours away and she delivered twins yearly the first one died with in hours and the second held on for 3 days as long as he could when my mom and dad felt it was time they held and memorized ever tiny tiny part (as they did for all of them)and gave him back to god. we as her children experienced what you have discribed of a mother who life had been sucked out of her. eventully she to recovered mostly. twenty six years later my parents were able to go to a funeral of a friends twins and as they left my mom and dad were able to talk to each other and how much they have missed raising my 3 brothers and were really connected. as they were coming out of the funeral my dad was called to work and so he went and was killed four hour later. he has been with my brothers now for just over a year and i do not see her pulling out of this one. not quite sure why i am sharing this but thanks>
    • February 22nd, 2013 at 11:05 am
      Stephanie says:
      Your family has endured so much loss it doesn't seem right or fair. I can't blame your mom for having a difficult time after losing 3 children and most recently her husband - your dad. I can't imagine how you are processing the loss as well. I don't konw why life sometimes puts more on our plates than it feels like we can bear. I only know that the heartache of loss is deep and each takes their own time and finds their way to recover, and sometimes people don't really recover from deep loss. I am sending your family hugs and prayers for peace, strength, and any levity to the pain. I'm glad you shared, sometimes just talking and getting pain off our chest eases it a little. Take care, and thank you for sharing!
  43. February 26th, 2013 at 6:46 pm
    Michelle Liimatainen says:
    I am so sorry for your loss. I cannot thank you enough for this post. I am going through a really tough time right now and you really have made me realize that I do need to look around and swallow all that life has to offer. I need to find more good in every day. Thank you so much for sharing your story and writing this beautiful, uplifting, helpful post. God Bless You.
    • February 26th, 2013 at 10:52 pm
      Stephanie says:
      Michelle- I thank you from the bottom of my heart for letting me know this post was beneficial to you. This is one way I know that the pain of the loss was not in vain. In part, going through the pain has helped me to write a message that is helping you in some way now, and that is a gift. God Bless You, Too!
  44. February 27th, 2013 at 6:26 am
    Sarah says:
    I cannot even imagine going through something like this. After having a baby not too long ago, I cannot imagine losing her. You handled this so well, and have turned your grief into ways to help others.
    • March 3rd, 2013 at 10:29 pm
      Stephanie says:
      It's still hard for me to imagine sometimes how I got through it... Baby steps... Enjoy your little girl - hug her lots every single chance you get!
  45. February 28th, 2013 at 6:58 pm
    Kate Walsh says:
    That was a beautiful , you are so brave to have shared , and such a brave strong woman ,mother and loving person. May god bless you and your family always .
    • March 3rd, 2013 at 10:27 pm
      Stephanie says:
      Your words are very kind and your blessings are very much appreciated, Kate! Thank you for taking the time to read this post, and may you be blessed right back.
  46. March 9th, 2013 at 2:12 pm
    Susan Furness says:
    Stephanie, Your post makes me cry - makes me smile - makes me cry.
    Your experience of losing a child breaks any mother's heart while your ideas for self-care and recovery show so much wisdom and grace. I hope your message reaches every other grieving mother, father, sister, brother.
    • March 11th, 2013 at 9:42 am
      Stephanie says:
      Your comment makes me smile and cry - so eloquent and heartfelt! I do wish that the bereaved could find comfort whether in my words or others. Sometimes the right words make all the difference to get through a difficult moment, day, week, etc... Thank you Susan, for your kind words today.
  47. March 11th, 2013 at 5:41 pm
    Dot says:
    As I read, just finding out my daughter had lost the child inside, I knew the fruits of the spirit and so much more were present. Thank you so much for sharing and giving hope whether related to children or other life's trauma's. Dot
    • April 3rd, 2013 at 12:11 pm
      Stephanie says:
      You are so very welcome Dot. I am sorry for your family's loss!
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