Addie’s Anatomy Ultrasound

I know too much. Even though the 20 week anatomy ultrasound went really well in Ginny’s pregnancy, I was scared for what we might learn this time around. There is so much that can go wrong. In fact, when things go right, it feels like a miracle. I know so many people whose anatomy scans were their “before and after” moment. That’s the moment that divides the “before” – when things were all good and the “after” – when they are faced with hardship. I hoped and prayed that this scan would not be our 2nd “before and after” moment (our 1st was when we found out Ginny had died). 

I didn’t want to be scared or to have those thoughts. I wanted what we had with Ginny’s anatomy scan; I wanted to just enjoy seeing my little girl wiggle and see her sweet features for the first time. But I have to face the reality that that isn’t my story anymore. All the positive thinking in the world can’t make me unlearn what I now know, and it can’t magically erase trauma. I’ve lost my naivety. And that’s okay. It’s hard, but it’s okay. 

I rescheduled the ultrasound from Wednesday afternoon to Monday morning. I wouldn’t be able to wait and wanted to get it over with as early in the week as possible. I was eager to see Addie again. I hadn’t had an ultrasound since week 9. I was excited to get pictures and watch Daniel see her move on screen. But mostly I wanted relief in knowing she was developing and growing. Daniel’s parents had been in the room with both Ginny and Chet’s anatomy scans. We wanted to make it 3 out of 3, so they planned their visit here to coincide with the appointment. Daniel’s dad stayed home with Chet while his mom came along to the ultrasound. Unfortunately when we arrived, we were informed she may not be able to come in. The sonographer wanted minimal distractions. This was a high risk ultrasound with very precise measurements and sometimes tricky angles. There were many pictures and measurements required in a limited time. We were reminded that this was not a scan for fun pictures. What was already anticipated to be a really tense appointment felt even more so. 

Ultrasounds can be triggering since it was in an ultrasound that we were given the news that Ginny died. I knew I needed to let the sonographer know from the very beginning that we had a stillbirth so she may have more understanding if things get hard. It is extremely challenging to meet someone new, already be so anxious, be in the same cold, triggering environment you were in when you got the worst news, and speak out loud, “I should tell you that we had a stillborn daughter at 35 weeks.” All that while trying not to break down in tears and being in a very physically vulnerable position on an ultrasound bed with pants off and stomach bare. She told me she already knew of my stillbirth from my chart and then said some sympathetic words. 

She proceeded to start taking measurements. Little by little we saw more and more of Addie’s body – her spine, her abdomen, her legs and arms, her head. We saw her little movements. It was a blessing to see her. But with each angle we saw, I was trying to analyze if everything looked healthy. I was trying to read the screen as well as the body language of the sonographer. I’m unqualified, but she knows what she’s seeing. She just can’t say – good or bad. She kept going back to the heart. In Chet’s anatomy scan I remember so clearly seeing 4 chambers of his heart. I remember feeling relieved because it looked so normal. Now with Addie, I was only seeing 3 chambers. The sonographer said she needed Addie to move positions so she could get a better angle. We tried poking her, turning to my side, even getting up and moving around. Addie wouldn’t cooperate. The sonographer gave us the okay to invite Daniel’s mom back as we tried a few more times. No luck. We would likely have to come back for another ultrasound. My mind was going through all the scenarios. Maybe if we are lucky and she lives, she will need heart surgery right away. Maybe she will eventually need a heart transplant. I just want her to live. 

As we waited to meet with the Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM) doctor who would give us the results, Daniel and I spoke about how we really wished this was more fun. We forgot how nerve wracking the whole process was. We lamented how our minds go to the worst outcomes. I’m glad his mom was there for support. 

The MFM came in and said everything she saw looked really good, but she didn’t have a good picture of the heart. She asked us to follow her into another ultrasound room so she could take a look herself. I laid back down, and she was able to see what she needed to. Everything looked great! Her heart looked good! I was relieved. I’m so grateful for our MFM; she has listened to my concerns and she took the time to do the ultrasound herself. I’m so glad I didn’t have to come back on another day and wait anxiously not knowing if Addie was healthy. 

As relieved as I was that we got a good report, I am not as relieved as I feel I should be. As I mentioned before, Ginny’s anatomy scan also looked great. We are all too aware that things can go wrong in the 2nd half of pregnancy. I am still trusting God with our little girl no matter what. She is His, and His will be done. I really really hope to get to bring her home in September. Everything so far is looking good for that to happen, but I know I won’t feel safe until she’s in my arms. I can’t wait for that day! 

Pregnant with Baby Jones #3

By the grace of God, we have a new member of our family! Baby GIRL Jones is due in September 2023! Her name is Addie Mae Jones, and Chet is so excited to have baby “seeester” Addie. We are unbelievably grateful to have 3 amazing kids to love! We are hopeful to bring Addie home in September, but we are still very much aware that we are not in control. I am not the creator or sustainer of life, so we wait “patiently” for whatever this journey has in store for us. 

I am 15 weeks along, and so far everything has gone smoothly. But I would 100% be lying if I said that it has been easy. It has been incredibly challenging. I underestimated how difficult it would be to be in the 1st trimester during the heavy months of January and February as we waited for Ginny’s death day and birthday. The grief and cold made my body and mind tired; add pregnancy fatigue and I could barely make it through the day. There were days I felt all I could do is sleep. It took all I had to show up to parent Chet every morning. There was a dense fog of nausea and exhaustion all around me. Daniel is wonderful and let me sleep in and took on more of the parenting load. He helps in all the practical ways while being so emotionally supportive. He loves me, Ginny, Chet, and Addie all so well. 

Even though it does help a little to know I am capable of having a living baby and I had surgery to remove my uterine septum, the fear of another loss is ever present. I cannot adequately explain what it feels like to be pregnant after loss. My heart and body feel so vulnerable at all times. My routine is to check for blood at every bathroom break and analyze every twinge or ache of my growing belly. All the prayers I can muster are, “Please let Addie live, but she is yours, not mine. Your will be done.” I am so anxious as I wait for each appointment. Will there be a heartbeat? Will I get bad news? The moment between the doppler wand touching my belly and hearing a heartbeat feels like eternity. All I can do is open my heart and trust God to get me through that moment. Will my heart be shattered again? Thankfully I’ve heard her heartbeat every time. All that I can do the next moment is praise in relief. She’s alive now. That’s the reassurance I needed… for the day. Then I wait a few more weeks for the next appointment to get reassurance for another day. 

This pregnancy has already felt long, but I still have a long way to go. I’m through the 1st trimester, and as spring has arrived, the fog has lifted. The fatigue, nausea, and grief aren’t weighing me down nearly as much as they were in the first months. I have more energy to be the mama I want to be for Chet. I’m so thankful for that. Everyday he talks to my belly and introduces Addie to all his toys. He rocks his baby doll and practices helping. What a wonderful big brother! 

Just as everyone was during Chet’s pregnancy, please be patient with me as I have all the dozens of complex emotions that go along with pregnancy after loss. I wish I could just feel happy and excited. I know that’s all anyone wants for me, but I’m called to a more complicated motherhood journey. I know I am not alone in that. I so appreciate my fellow loss mamas who are also pregnant. It’s an honor to walk this path together and give each other validation and hope! 

Thank you for all your congratulations and prayers! Thank you for celebrating Addie Mae with us! 

“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Corinthians 13:7 

Happy 4th Birthday, Ginny! 

Dear Ginny, 

Happy Birthday, my girl! I love you more than ever, and I miss you more than ever! I think about you all the time. It’s fun to think about what you might be into as you turn 4 years old! Would you like pink and purple and glitter? Would you like animals? Music? Sports? Dolls? I imagine you chasing your brother and making cookies with me. I bet you’d tell Daddy everything. We didn’t know what cake you wanted so Daddy chose chocolate, Chet chose pink candles, and I picked out the sprinkles. I really wanted to design invitations for your birthday party so I did. I’m sad I didn’t send them out and there will be no party with friends. But we will still sing to you and have balloons! 

Daffodils have come up which means the long, gloomy couple months of anticipating your death day is almost over this year. On your birthday we will celebrate you, your life on earth and in heaven, and the coming spring! We will be as happy as we can be without you here to hug! I know you will be celebrating in heaven, and I am so excited to join you one day!

God has blessed us with you! I am amazed how He continues to use you to bless us and others. I know that will continue this next year. I hope you know how much we really really really love you! You are our special girl! I’m so proud to be your mama!

Happy 4th Birthday!

Love, Mommy, Daddy, and Chet

4 Years Ago: The Day of No Heartbeat

“As a pregnant woman about to give birth writhes and cries out in pain, so were we in your presence, Lord. We were with child, we writhed in labor, but we gave birth to wind. We have not brought salvation to the earth, and the people of the world have not come to life. But your dead will live, Lord; their bodies will rise —  let those who dwell in the dust wake up and shout for joy — your dew is like the dew of morning; the earth will give birth to her dead.” Isaiah 26:17-19

Condolences: What to say to a grieving friend

In the days immediately following Ginny’s death and birth, our lives stopped. That time was full of grief and emptiness and churning hearts and not much else. I couldn’t fathom how the world was continuing to turn and how the explosion that was our lives really only impacted our sole townhome. Everyone else was going to work, seeing friends, fixing dinner. We felt isolated and a little crazy. The only things that connected us to the rest of the world were condolences. And how I treasured every single condolence! 

The walk to the mailbox got me outside in the sun and moving my achey postpartum body. I smiled as I counted the pastel colored envelopes. These sympathy cards not only brightened my day, but gave me something to do. Daniel and I slowly opened each one and poured over the encouraging words. These words showed us that we weren’t actually alone, that the impact did affect more than just us, and that Ginny was not nearly forgotten. The words validated that this experience is truly tragic and difficult. We felt all the love, and it helped lift our hearts a little. 

As time went on, the cards came less frequently which actually made them even more meaningful. Some friends even sent more than one card in the months following Ginny’s death. How insightful to know that we would continue to need support and reminders as the condolences started subsiding! We were thought of again on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day and again on Ginny’s 1st birthday. We needed each one of those cards and care packages, and they were all so much appreciated. 

I had never been good at condolences. I don’t think anyone thinks they are good at it; it’s a hard thing that no one teaches you. People don’t like talking about death and are afraid to say the wrong thing. I don’t know how many times I’ve thought of sending a sympathy card but didn’t because I thought “They don’t actually know me that well. It might be weird.”, “Too much time has passed. I missed the window.”, “I don’t even know what I would write.” Now I know I was foolish to think those things. I should’ve 100% sent a card.  As I mentioned before, the cards that came later – even weeks or months later- were even more special because it showed that people were still thinking of us and of Ginny. In the same way, cards that came from acquaintances or friends of friends who we’ve never met were so meaningful. It showed that Ginny’s life and death impacted more than our little circle. Those cards blessed us so much. I vowed to always send a card or a gift anytime I hear of a loss. I haven’t been the best at that, but I want to get better and better. It really is important. 

As far as what to say, I now have many examples of messages that encouraged and supported us in those early days. I want to share a small sample with you in hopes that it will inspire you reach out to those who may be grieving around you. 

Below are a few of the most common, most encouraging, and most thoughtful parts of messages people sent:
“I’m so sorry.”
“There are no words strong enough or big enough to ease the pain, but you have been on my mind.”
“I’m thinking of you and praying for you.”
“I don’t know what to say.”
“My heart is broken for you.”
“I’m here for you if you need to talk or sit in silence.”
“I think of Ginny often.”
“No one can replace her.”
“You are amazing parents.”
“Ginny has changed all of us.”
“I’m proud of you.”
“Ginny’s life was a gift from God.”
“Ginny is blessed to have you as her mom.”
“It is no fair and we don’t understand, but we cling to the promise of a new day and joy to return.”
“Ginny will always be yours, and she will always have a special place in your lives.”
“Everyone who loves you, loves her.”
“Ginny will always be part of us.”
“Jesus grieves with us.”
“You are not alone.”
“Your memories will stay with you.”

I also so appreciated messages that included memories of my pregnancy, scriptures or poems, brief stories of their loss, and anytime someone spoke of Ginny by name. Everyone is different so these may not be as encouraging to everyone, but they sure were to me. 

In addition to cards, we were blessed with flowers, donations to nonprofit organizations in Ginny’s honor, gift cards for food delivery, gift cards to movie theaters, meals, books about grief, handmade blankets and shawls, ornaments, and care packages with treats & self-care items. Any of these would be a wonderful gift to give someone grieving. We also received some very special personalized gifts. One was a stuffed bear made out of one of Ginny’s outfits and weighted to the exact weight she was at birth. We received a Bible with her name on it. We were given handmade baby blankets and hats. Even though we couldn’t wrap Ginny in those blankets, they were still so meaningful. We treasure all these thoughtful gifts. 

We were also sent a special care package from the One Wing Foundation. I know there are a few other organizations that do similar care packages such as Hope Mommies and Kindness for Kaysen. I also love Laurel Box for bereavement gifts and custom care packages. 

We’ve kept all the condolences we were given, and they are still a comfort to look back on. I hope this has given you some good ideas for supporting someone who is grieving and inspired you to reach out even if a lot of time has passed. It really does mean a lot to a grieving person! 

Giving Birth to Death

The first thing I said when Chet was born and placed on my chest was “He’s ALIVE!” I now know what it feels like to give birth to life. It feels miraculous! I’ve heard people say that during childbirth the veil between heaven and earth feels paper-thin. I have to agree. That’s true whether you have a live birth or a stillbirth. But somehow during stillbirth, paper-thin still feels far too wide. Because during stillbirth your baby is on the other side. 

When I was pregnant with Ginny, I was always rubbing my belly. I loved feeling her move and react to my touch. I was always trying to figure out what position she was in. We would talk to her while rubbing my belly to bond with her. I remember when I showered, I would rub my belly and be blown away with the knowledge that my baby girl was growing in there. The morning after we got the news that Ginny had died, I showered before heading to the hospital. As if by muscle memory, I started rubbing my belly. My hands dropped and the first rush of anger fell over me. My baby girl was not growing in there. I felt foolish for rubbing a belly with no life – only death. How could I possible give birth to death? How could I possibly endure the physical and emotional pain? How could I carry the burden of death?

The doctor who confirmed Ginny had died told me that delivering her body was not an emergency. He said that some people want to deliver right away, some people wait a few days, and some people wait up to 2 weeks for their body to go into labor naturally. I chose to wait one day to give time for family to arrive. That one day was excruciating, and I have no idea how anyone could wait 2 weeks, knowing they carried death. What the doctor didn’t mention and what didn’t occur to me until the next day was that the longer  you wait, the more signs of death are present on your child’s body when they are born. During labor my wonderful nurse had to explain this to us. I know it had to be so hard for her to say, and I know it was hard for us to hear. She explained that stillborn babies are born in a variety of conditions depending on how long it has been and the delivery. We should expect her lips to be dark as blood has settled in her head. We should expect her skin to be very fragile, peeling, and easy to tear. As tough as it was to hear, it helped me to hear her describe it. I had no idea what to expect. I asked her to clean Ginny’s body and wrap her in a blanket before handing her to me. It was important to me for Ginny’s body to not be covered in blood when I first saw her. I wanted her to be as pristine as possible; these would be the only visual memories I have of her body.  

The moment Ginny was born – the moment I gave birth to death, I felt relief and heart-wrenching silence and peace and sorrow and love. God was very present in that moment. When the nurse placed Ginny in my arms, she did have dark lips and delicate skin. But I didn’t see only death, I saw her life! I saw physical proof of all those wiggles and kicks. Here was the person I had intimately known for the past 8 months. My heart burst with so much love! It burst again as I saw Daniel hold her. We treated her body so so gently; I didn’t want anything to damage her and my memory of her beautiful self. I wanted her to look as true to who she was alive as possible. Sometimes I wonder if we should have spent more time with her body, but I know each hour we spent with her she would look less and less like herself. I’m happy I have the memories I have. I do wish we would’ve gotten pictures of that moment though. The pictures we do have are from a couple hours after we gave her back to the nurse. The pictures don’t quite match my memory of her. I still deeply treasure them. 

In His nearness during Ginny’s birth, God reminded me that that I did not have to carry the burden of death. Jesus has already carried that burden for me and for Ginny. And when I held her beautiful body in my arms, I was reminded that I did in fact give birth to life. Although her life was short on earth, she is alive in heaven. She’s just on the other side of that paper-thin veil. 

Invisible Daughter

This morning Chet and I were standing among a small group of moms and toddlers whom I hadn’t met before. We were in a park at a playdate that was kindly coordinated by a mom leader in our community to give us something fun to do on a Monday morning. The topic of birthing came up. The moms were swapping stories of epidurals, home births, and whether or not it was actually true that you forget the pain. I could feel my pulse rising. Was I feeling triggered by the topic of birth? No, I don’t think so. I love talking about both Ginny and Chet’s birth stories. I searched my brain for why my body was reacting. I think I was  nervous because I had to decide whether I should drop the bomb of stillbirth on this perfectly pleasant morning. I really wanted to. For me, it wasn’t a bomb; it was my motherhood story. I wanted to talk about my beautiful but invisible daughter. When would be the right time? Maybe I should let everyone else share first. I knew that once I spoke, the faces of laughter would transform into faces of compassion and concern. No one else will want to share their birth stories after that. I could feel my heart beating as I was summoning the courage to drop the bomb. But before I was able, someone changed the subject to carseats or preschool or something else for which I have no Ginny story. I felt both relieved and disappointed. 

One of the hardest parts of leaving North Carolina for Alabama was leaving our friends who were with us when we lost Ginny. With those friends, there is an unspoken (and sometimes spoken) understanding of how our lives were impacted by Ginny’s life and death, and that is comforting. When our NC friends see me as a mother or Daniel as a father, they see as us the parents of both Ginny and Chet. People here in Alabama only see Chet.

Now with each new person we meet, we need to figure out the best way to share our story with them. I love talking about Ginny. I love sharing memories of her pregnancy and birth. I love sharing about how God was with us through our sorrow. I love including her as part of our family. She is such a huge part of who we are. But it is not always an easy topic to bring up. 

One of the first friends we met here has a daughter named Ginny. What a great segue! – “We have a daughter named Ginny too!….” Opportunities don’t normally present themselves that easily. One of the next friends we met was 33 weeks pregnant; that was trickier. Although I don’t believe my story should require a trigger warning, I also want to be sensitive to the heightened hormones and natural fears that pregnancy brings. We held off on telling that friend until after her baby was born. It was hard to wait and sort of felt like lying. 

Being a stay at home mom, I often find myself standing among groups of moms at the playground, in Chet’s nature class, or in our stroller group. The other moms may ask me, “Is he your only one?” or “Is he your first?” I usually hesitate, which is awkward because it shouldn’t be a difficult question. I may have literally met this woman just seconds ago. I try to make a quick assessment based on who else is around, how much time we have, the likelihood I will ever see her again, etc. I may answer a quick “yes” with a smile and return the question. In these moments, my heart breaks just a little more and I feel a tinge of guilt. I feel like I denied Ginny and a huge piece of myself for the sake of comfort or time. I try to give myself grace and remind myself that it is okay to answer this way. Other times I respond by saying, “He’s actually our second. We had a stillborn daughter before him. He has a big sister named Ginny in heaven. We talk about Ginny a lot.” I also deliver this reply with smile. I try to show that we are hopeful and comfortable talking about her. That is completely true, but it also helps minimize their discomfort or regret in asking a usually harmless question. 

The responses I get vary. Most people say, “Oh I’m so so sorry. How hard! I can’t imagine.” This is perfectly appropriate. Some others don’t say anything and might just nod, which is not ideal but understandable. It’s hard to know how to respond, and I am not offended. I love when I get follow up questions about Ginny or my experience. I also love when people share their own stories of loss or friends’ losses. It helps to talk about this to know we aren’t alone and to dampen the stigma.

It’s amazing how much I can tell about people by their response to my sharing Ginny. I can usually quickly tell if this is someone that I will be able to have a deep connection with or someone who may want to stay more surface-level. There’s a place for both types of friendships. I can usually also quickly tell if someone has experienced hardship or sorrow in their own lives. Most of the time, when someone has experienced grief, they receive the gift of empathy. You can sense the difference between true empathy and more common sympathy. When I sense the empathy, I wonder what sorrow that person has had to bear. Sometimes they share, and sometimes they don’t. When I receive sympathy, they remind me of myself four years ago. I’m happy for them that they haven’t had grief, but I also know it will eventually come to them. Maybe my story and the hope I share will help them when it does. 

The more time we spend with our new friends, the closer we get and the more they understand how much Ginny is a part of our lives and hearts. I’m seeing it already. This weekend we had a sweet friend and her little girl over to watch football and play with Chet. We were talking about pregnancy, and she asked me about my pregnancy with Ginny. It meant so much to me to be able to talk freely about my daughter. It made her (and me) feel much less invisible.  


There are two areas that are still really hard for me to talk about with regards to Ginny’s death and my grief. This shows I still have work to do to process my feelings. Both areas are related to regret. In grief, some of the darkest spirals come in the forms of “what if’s” and “should of’s”. Theres no way of knowing what would have happened if we had done something differently. In reality, we made the decisions that we thought were best based on the information we had at the time. With some of the hard decisions, we made the only decisions we could handle. 

The first of these hard topics is wishing we could’ve saved Ginny before it was too late. This starts at my 34 week prenatal appointment when the midwife said my belly was measuring small. She scheduled us for a growth ultrasound for 4 days later. Why didn’t she send us to get the ultrasound immediately? Why didn’t we insist on that? Knowing what we know now about how that ultrasound clinic works, we definitely could’ve gotten an ultrasound that day. Of course we don’t know if that ultrasound would’ve led to the doctors to induce me, send me for an emergency c-section, or do nothing. But if they did deliver her, Ginny could be here. 

I rack my brain over and over again thinking about the weekend after that 34 week appointment. Did her movement decrease and I didn’t realize? Did I even know what baby movement feels like compared to contractions? I remember thinking she had slowed down on that Friday night, so I did kick counts. She passed the kick count in 5 minutes, so I felt reassured. I remember feeling like maybe she wasn’t moving as much on Sunday morning, but we had to get to our childbirth class and I didn’t have time for a kick count. Daniel and I quickly listened to her heartbeat and went to the class (I felt her move while in the class and felt better). I should’ve taken the time to do the kick counts or just gone straight to labor and delivery if something felt off. But I convinced myself that I was just feeling paranoid because the midwife said I was measuring small. If I truly thought she was in danger, I would’ve gone to the hospital. I really believed that nothing bad would happen. I thought she was meant to live; I thought she would be fine and healthy. How I wish I could go back and rush to labor and delivery and give birth to her before it was too late! But again, there’s no way of knowing what would’ve happened. She may have died during delivery or in the NICU, or she could’ve lived. None of that’s what happened, and there is no way to change the past. I need to make peace with knowing we did what we thought was best with what we knew.  

The second tough area is related to decisions we made about Ginny’s body. While I was in labor with her, we had so many hard decisions to make. We had to decide if we wanted an autopsy, tests on her placenta, MRI, bloodwork. On top of those, we also had to decide what to do with her body. We could have her cremated by the hospital – it was the simplest option, but we wouldn’t get her ashes. We could coordinate for a funeral home to either cremate her or bury her. That would likely be expensive, or we might be able to get an organization or funeral home to help with the costs. Would we have a funeral or memorial service for her? I had to make all these decisions while in painful labor, knowing that birthing and holding my child’s dead body was ahead of me. The thought of coordinating anything was too much for me or Daniel to even fathom at that moment. As much as I would have wanted to give her a memorial, most all of our families were across the country, and it felt like too much to ask them to come. We knew we weren’t going to be in North Carolina forever, so burying her there didn’t seem right. Daniel and I had long before talked about how neither of us cared what happened to our bodies after we died. So we both agreed to have the hospital cremate her. We were both good with that decision. But as months went on and I heard more and more stories of stillbirths, I never heard of anyone who made that same decision. It seems everyone else has their baby’s ashes or a burial spot and headstone. Were we bad parents to make that decision? Would people think we didn’t love her? I’ve had people ask about what we did with her body, and some people seem shocked or sad to know we didn’t bury her. One person even questioned my decision, “Aww you don’t even have her ashes? It would be so good if you had her ashes.” – as if she would be able to change my mind. That was a terrible feeling. It’s too late to change my mind; there’s nothing I can do now! I did my best to justify our choice, “We aren’t our bodies. Ginny is in heaven.” I do believe that. Although I am so grateful we were able to hold Ginny’s body and others got to see the proof of her life, she was not in her body. I did not sense her presence while holding her; she was already gone. Daniel and I made the only decision we had the ability to make at the time, and when I think about it for more than a minute, I don’t regret it. It did help that Daniel’s grandma had a stone placed in their family cemetery for Ginny. I love that so much. Now we do have a physical place to go to honor and remember her, even if her body isn’t there. 

I hate that I have to wrestle with these thoughts. I hate that I have to question my decisions after it is too late. I hate that there’s no way of knowing what was best and I just have to face the facts of my reality. It takes a long time to deal with these things. It hurts. I need to lament the loss and pain. I bring it to God, open-palmed and open-hearted. He can take every bit of regret and replace it with hope. 

If you have things in life you wish you could go back and change, know that you are not alone. It does help to think through it, process it, and even talk about it. As part of that, we have to let go of what we can’t change and know there is hope. Jesus is with us in our regrets, sorrows, grief, and fear. He can lift the burdens and make our hearts light. We don’t have to carry regret.

“My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me. But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:20-23

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

“You have kept count of my tossing; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book? Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call. This I know, that God is for me. In God, whose word I praise, in the Lord, whose word I praise, in God I trust I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?” Psalm 56:8-11

“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:8

“Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.”  Proverbs 23:18

Parenting After Loss – The 2nd Year

In the baby loss community, you’ll often hear the phrase “My heart is fuller than my arms.” This is certainly true for me. Don’t get me wrong – one toddler keeps me very busy, but I’m definitely not as busy as I would be if Ginny were also here. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t take my time though. In fact, I spend way more time grieving Ginny three and half years out than I thought I would. She is still in my thoughts all throughout the day everyday, and I still devote hours a week to mourning her. What I’ve learned is that this is healthy and normal life after loss. 

Grief does not resolve on its own. Time itself does not heal. It takes work and devotion and Jesus to heal – and that does also take time. I think of it as tending a garden. If left ignored, the garden of grief will become overgrown with weeds and pests. Nothing fruitful will grow. For me when I ignore my grief, I feel very heavy with tension in my shoulders. I get irritable and irrational; I may lash out at those I love. I am not able to have as much fun or laugh as I normally would. In some others, neglected grief manifests itself in far worse ways such as addiction or violence. To prevent this, I must spend time “mothering Ginny” by mourning her. I tend to my grief garden by journalling, talking to those who care, praying, looking in her memory box, thinking of heaven, walking, reading passage of lament, listening to music or relevant podcasts, and crying. These activities are like pulling weeds, planting seeds, fertilizing, pruning, and watering. It is hard work but the result is peace, hope, and compassion for others. My heart is light and I can be my best for Chet, Daniel, and my community. 

A loss mama does not stop mothering her child once her child dies. So now I’m left trying to figure out how to balance parenting one living child and one child in heaven. As with all of parenting, it takes prioritization and intentionality. I do what I can to parent both kids at once. I tell Chet about Ginny, and we look through the special photo album from her pregnancy together. We thank God for Sister Ginny in our prayers. I think of her on our walks or in the car. I try to devote more time during Chet’s naps, after he is asleep for the night, and on the weekends with Daniel’s help. It’s hard to prioritize time to mourn over doing chores or errands that need to get done. It feels selfish to take this time. So occasionally I will put it on the back burner and focus on other things. Then slowly I feel the weight growing; I become weary and easily frustrated. Daniel sometimes reminds me that I need to take the time alone to mourn. I remember that this isn’t optional. This is a mandatory part of my life. I’m not sure it will require this much time forever, but it does now. It’s not selfish – it’s mothering my sweet Ginny and it is essential to be the mom I want to be for Chet. This is parenting after loss. 

Brain Struggles

Over the past couple months Daniel has been catching up on some of the latest Marvel movies. He mentioned something about Captain Marvel. I literally did not recognize that name. It sounded like a completely new superhero to me. No image popped in my brain. He saw the blank in my face. “You don’t remember Captain Marvel either, do you?” He explained that we went to see the Captain Marvel movie in theaters but he hardly remembered it. Suddenly the image of Bree Larson came of mind. I responded, “Oh yeah I very vaguely remember that.” I couldn’t tell you what it was about at all. We looked it up; it came out March 2019. That was probably the first movie we saw after Ginny died. 

That is not the only memory that is super fuzzy around the time of our loss. I have vivid memories of hearing the news, delivering Ginny’s body, and some moments in the days before and after, but generally the year surrounding Ginny’s death is kind of a blur. From the beginning, it was obvious our brains weren’t working normally.  Short term memory, concentration, and some basic skills and logic were lacking. It felt impossible to focus. Tasks that used to be easy took a ton of effort and were exhausting. I’m so glad I didn’t have to go back to work as an engineer because I’m not sure I could’ve done it. 

I felt for Daniel because he did quickly have to return to work in the lab. He would come home and tell me how he felt he was not at full capacity. It became difficult to follow along as grad students explained their problems. He struggled to give advice that would’ve been second nature before. It took twice the effort to get half as much done. He worked so so hard and quickly grew tired, but he persevered and had a very productive year scientifically. I’m not sure any of his coworkers noticed how much effort it took or if he even remembers all he did, but I admired his determination.  

Since then, I’ve learned that being forgetful and having difficulty focusing are very normal after a traumatic event. I’ve read that our brains automatically change when we experience trauma. These changes make it harder to store memories and to use the portions of our brains in charge of reason and concentration. I don’t know much about this, but I’d like to learn more.

My memory and focus have definitely improved since the early days of grief, but I still don’t think my brain is functioning the way it did before. I’m not sure if it ever will. And I sometimes wonder what other memories I might have forgotten. Have I forgotten any special moments during my pregnancy with Ginny? I want to remember all the time I had with her. I also want to be sure to remember all the love and support we received from family and friends after our loss. I’m happy that I kept all the cards and I journaled so much during those days. I can look back and remember what might have otherwise been forgotten. 

If you’ve experienced memory loss or feel your brain isn’t working at 100% after trauma, please know you are not alone. It is hard not to feel as sharp as you once were, but please give yourself loads of grace.