You Came Back To Me

One of the sessions at the 2014 Stillbirth Summit was a free writing workshop. After such an intense few days of medical research and information I was ready for a creative release. Although I’ve enjoyed writing for quite some time I haven’t really sat down in a creative sense since my days in college. I was shocked at how incredibly freeing it was. I was more shocked at how special it was to write TO my children.

We were asked to read the poem Beloved by Toni Morrison and write in response to a single line that spoke to us. The intention here was to write without ceasing or thought. Simply let the words pour out of you and then step back and see what you have. No editing. No picking apart. Just living with the words that came.

The line that I chose to respond to was, “You came back to me.” This is what came of that session.

You Came Back To Me
by Janelle Wourms

You came back to me.
You were lost and I was lost with you for what felt like forever.
The fog came in and darkened my door.
Closed inside.
Dark.
Alone.
Where are you?
I need you.

The clouds broke one day from the corner window with the shade pulled tight.
Do I open it?
Are you there?
Can I find you once again?

My eternal hope sees you in my arms wrapped tightly.
Safe.
Warm.
Encircled in sunshine.
My break from the storm.

I step out into the darkened door and look for you.
Moments slip by and I see you in ways I never imagined.
The dragonfly darting by.
Three birds on a wire.
Fresh strawberries.
The warm sun on my face.

Wait.
There it is.
Light.
Hope.
The replacing warmth of your memory.
The pieces, fragmented still, but becoming clear.

Walking from the fog and grasping for your hand.
You are there.
You are there.
You are here.
You came back to me.

Butterfly Boxes by Aiden’s Wings

I’m honored to share another beautiful project in memory of a child gone too soon. My friend Jackie Sondrol (brought together through our mutual loss) recently started making these amazing Butterfly Boxes for women who suffer a miscarriage. I’ve felt so called to do something for all forms of baby loss but with the numbers in a larger city it’s a daunting task. Jackie, however, works in a little hospital in Deer River, MN. The smaller facility makes it possible for her to reach more people on every level and I just love that she’s reached out in this way to honor her son Aiden.

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Jackie has also started a Facebook page, Aiden’s Wings of Awareness, to draw attention to information surrounding the loss of babies. I’d love for you to check it out.

Great work Jackie! I’m so proud to call you a friend and honored that we’ve been able to work together to help families in Northern Minnesota.

Read more about Jackie and her inspiration below.

If you’d like to donate to this project please use the Baby Loss Memory Box donation link on my home page and be sure to specific “Butterfly Boxes” in the notes field.

Butterfly Boxes by Aiden’s Wings

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My inspiration behind these boxes came from a wonderful woman, whom I work with, that expressed to me the desire to provide mothers who have had to endure the pain of losing their baby to miscarriage with a remembrance memento.
My passion in bringing this idea to life came from my own son, Aiden, who was stillborn on August 20, 2013. Not a day goes by that we don’t miss our sweet baby boy. I am proud to be Aiden’s Mommy and grateful by how his life has touched so many already.
It is my hope that these mementos will offer families hope, healing and most importantly, to know that their baby is loved, honored and always remembered.
“Every life, no matter how fragile or brief, forever changes the world.” -Author Unknown
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Forest Hill – Fall 2013 – Inspired

It was a beautiful fall day, the sun was shining, I was in the midst of an online art class and felt inspired to dig out the Prismacolors.

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I got in the car and headed to the cemetery to work out some details at. I was dreading it, so I set my heart on inspiration there and not details that revolved mostly around family arguments. I needed something to look forward to. What I found was beautiful.

ForestHill_2013_IMG_1859This is the view sitting in their spot. The pond is the far background.

ForestHill_Sky_2013_IMG_4526This is the view of the sky from their spot.

Thankful for an afternoon smelling the sweet scents of fall, listening to the birds chirp and geese making a fuss in the pond, and taking in God’s beauty all around in me in a place that many people only see death and not life.

 

 

First Birthday in Heaven – Ice Lanterns

I dreaded their first birthday. I got through the holidays with family and plans and the general business of the season. I spent a lot of time trying to remember. What did we do last Christmas? Wait. I was pregnant. What did we do? It bothered me that I couldn’t put even simple memories together. I survived. Then all the busyness stopped and New Years Eve happened.

New Years Eve 2011 I remember sitting snuggled up on the couch with Nate doing nothing but watching movies and enjoying each other’s company. We scrolled through movie credits still trying to come up with three names. January 1, 2012 it all changed. I spent the day in the emergency room and found out I had started to dilate. I spent the first night of 2012 in the hospital under observation and officially began full bed rest. Remembering all of that was hard. The holidays were trying to remember life with them. The new year was the start of letting them go and it felt as if I was right back there again.

The weeks leading up to their first birthday were more painful than the months prior and it snuck up on me. It shocked me. How could that be? I had been doing so well considering. People expected me to pick myself and put myself back together already. Why was this all so hard again? I felt like I was drowning in memories while at the same time doing everything I could to keep them from drifting away.

Nate didn’t want to talk much about celebrating. I, on the other hand, desperately needed something to look forward to. Anything. I remember the day that I realized what made this different from all the days prior since their loss. I had done well grieving them. I hadn’t done well celebrating them. They LIVED. They didn’t just die. Why did it take a year for me to realize this? I changed my focus for the last few weeks before their big day and thought of things that I wanted to do with Nora that I would have loved to do with them. The zoo. The aquarium. Something fun for dinner. I was determined to live the day with JOY.

Then Nora got sick. Such a pure reminder of this job called parenthood where we drop everything and care for our children no matter the circumstance. I don’t even recall the sequence of events leading up to her illness. I just know I was devastated. I laughed before I cried because it seemed impossible that God would take them away and then take away the one day I had to really intentionally celebrate them. Really? REALLY!?

I spent the day before pouting. I asked friends to record the music from church for me, feeling like in some way they’d send me a song. I begged God to make Nora better in time. I woke Sunday morning feeling heavy, remembering how I felt that morning a year prior. Remembering the first labor pains and that feeling in my stomach that knew what was happening even though I fought the thought away.

At the last minute I decided to go to church alone. It didn’t feel right to leave Nate and Nora home alone but Nate insisted it was fine. I put on the shirt that I had worn to the funeral. I hesitated… then felt it was ok. It was “their shirt” and there was no way I was going to feel ok wearing it any other day of the week. It was beautiful and comfortable and it helped me feel close to them.

I got to church late and found no seats left. I found my way to the balcony and was so grateful to realize there was a seat open and of all the people to have been sitting there it was my husband’s brother and his family. Relief. I was safe here. I missed all of the opening songs but was thankful for the message. The closing songs started and I called Nate and let him listen in while tears streamed down my face steadily. It felt so good to just let it all out and praise Him for their lives.

We had a lazy afternoon and by dinner time Nora was feeling better. On a whim we loaded up in the van and drove in the bitter cold to the edge of Lake Superior. Nate had been working on a surprise for weeks. He made ice lanterns.

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We found rocks along the shore and lit three candles with the beautiful cityscape glittering in the background. It was beautiful seeing those little lights flickering in the darkness. Three little lives that mattered, that existed, that were a part of us.

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We drove to the cemetery where they’ll be laid to rest and lit three more candles in ice lanterns in “their spot”.

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Nora stayed snuggled in the car with our lambs while we snapped one quick picture together.

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I’m forever grateful for Nate’s beautiful tribute to them. It was perfect.

First Birthday in Heaven – Thankfulness

It’s been nearly a year since I’ve written. Well, truly written. I’ve shared about the work I’ve done in their name but not truly much about them – or me. As their second birthday nears – only a week away – I realize I’ve still never written about their first birthday. I have folders neatly organized in a folder that says “new posts”. Perhaps I’ll go back and write about them and find a way to post-date. It doesn’t do me much good to have them sitting there. The emotion behind many of the images is gone, drifted in the wind, but the sentiment remains.

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Looking back on their first birthday comes with bittersweet memories. We were blessed with so many unspeakably beautiful, thoughtful, kind gifts. These are the things that have seemed to paralyze me it seems. Since the moment I received our first gift I’ve tried to put words to my thankfulness and I come up empty. Words can’t express what I feel. I took pictures. I set aside ideas of how I’d say just the right things… and then I did nothing.

I realized some time ago that if I didn’t write this post I’d never write again. It seems odd in the comparative of all the hard things I’ve written here that the one about beauty and thankfulness is the one that’s hard to write. Gratitude is a hard thing to put to words when it runs so deep. The same words remain unwritten when it comes to the support we received in the time that we were pregnant and shortly after our loss. Words don’t exist to truly express how we feel.

So with that said, please know, if you’ve sent us a card, a note, a gift, a phone call or email – all of it mattered. We’re forever grateful that you’ve remembered us and most importantly that you’ve remembered Alice, Elliot and Alexis

Here’s a few of the beautiful gifts we received in 2013 for their first birthday.

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Baby Loss Memory Boxes

Featured

SPONSOR A BABY LOSS BEAR or MEMORY BOX or MISCARRIAGE GIFT BAG :
Gladly accepting any amount, however a $20 donation
is asked to sponsor a Memory Box in memory of a child.
I also offer Baby Loss Bears and Miscarriage Gift Bags.

Donate Button with Credit Cards

It’s been a long time coming but I’ve finally put together information about the baby loss memory boxes I’ve been making in memory of my children in Heaven. Many have been asking for details so here they are! I’m excited to share this with you.

I don’t have the words to fully explain what it’s like to give birth to three beautiful children and watch them die in your arms. Mommy misses you Alice, Elliot and Alexis. This is a pain nobody should have to endure and yet too many do. Although I received some of the most beautiful clothes and blankets for my children (thank you Threads of Love) not everyone is blessed with these gifts for their children. I’m forever grateful for what I received yet after meeting other loss parents I realized that there were so many resources that could have helped me during the most painful time of my life. I wanted to give back in memory of Alice, Elliot and Alexis and try to fill the empty arms of other parents leaving that silent hospital room.

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It started with five bags donated on my triplets’ first birthday. I knit a blanket for each similar to the one I had received. I added some soft kleenex, a candle and a few beautiful loss books. Months later I found a sale on photo boxes at Michaels. I had purchased a similar box for my babies’ keepsakes before their funeral. I filled my cart with boxes. I stumbled upon some beautiful ceramic birds and had to have them. I added ribbon, stickers, flower seeds, photo albums and candles to my cart and checked out of the store that day with a mission and hope that I could help another grieving heart.

I started building my boxes and was blessed with help from my friends at church. We gathered one evening and put them all together with love and prayer for each life that those boxes represented. I was able to include the loss book Empty Arms thanks to a donation from author Sherokee Ilse (thank you!). I donated fifteen boxes (including several for multiples like my children) to the hospital where my babies were delivered in time for the one year anniversary of their due date.

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Months later I kept knitting and gathering supplies for more boxes. My sister-in-law Amy graciously offered to make flannel blankets and purchased many of the supplies for the next donation. I came across a video that another beautiful loss mom, Carly Marie from Australia made to show how she makes her memory boxes. Feel free to watch if you’re interested in doing this in your area! She had moisturizer on her list of items to include. What a beautiful idea to have a scent connected with the memory of your child (for me it’s the soap my dear friend had given me for the hospital room while I was on bed rest).

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I reached out to Emilie, creator of Baby Loving Mama and JOHNSON’S® BABY CARES Council member. She contacted Johnson & Johnson with a request for small lotion bottles in their lavender scent. I was so honored to learn that they’d be willing to send a donation for my memory boxes!

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Not only did they send small lotion bottles, they sent some of their disposable washcloths. I didn’t feel like they were quite right for my boxes so I had the opportunity to donate them to our local Lutheran Social Services Crisis Nursery here in Duluth, MN.

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The LSS Crisis Nursery is an early intervention service committed to keeping children safe by providing support services to families and emergency care for children during times of family crisis.

Thank you to all of the family and friends who have helped me put these memory boxes together. Thank you Johnson & Johnson for giving the gift of a beautiful scent to the memories of these grieving parents. I hope you’ll consider continuing this beautiful gift in the future.

Make A Difference : How You Can Help

Tax Deductible Donations:

Have you suffered the devastating loss of a child? I’m so sorry if you have. If you’re able to give $20 (or more), I’d be honored to create a memory box to be donated in memory of a child/ren you’ve lost. Consider making a donation below with a simple click and include the name of your child in the notes. Lindsey Henke from Stillborn and Still Breathing sponsored the beautiful box below for her daughter Nora and even sent a hand written card to be included in the box.

SPONSOR A BABY LOSS BEAR or MEMORY BOX or MISCARRIAGE GIFT BAG :
Gladly accepting any amount, however a $20 donation
is asked to sponsor a Memory Box in memory of a child.
I also offer Baby Loss Bears and Miscarriage Gift Bags.

Donate Button with Credit Cards

BlessedWithMore_MemoryBox

This project is fiscally sponsored by Star Legacy Foundation (a non-profit dedicated to stillbirth research and education) and your donations are tax deductible! I’m hoping to include grief resource books in the future if you’re willing to consider a larger donation for this. Of course if you’re more of a hands-on person you can make some memory boxes of your own and contact your local hospital to drop them off. It’s been a beautifully healing process for me.

Materials Donations:

If you’re in touch with other sponsors (such as the Johnson & Johnson lotion) who might be willing to donate materials or items for these boxes please contact me. I’m also looking for the following items to be included in boxes. Each box is unique but please consider buying in quantities.

  • Good quality photo boxes (I buy mine at Michaels and try to chose a beautiful pattern appropriate for loss. I love the butterflies!)
  • Hand knit/crocheted baby blankets, hats and burial gowns of varying sizes from about 20 weeks to full term (Here is more information from Star Legacy as well as premie sizing and some patterns.) Keep them soft and flexible fabric/yarn. Consider a stretchy or rolled/folded edge on hats so they can be adjusted easily. Gender specific/neutral colors are welcome.
  • Flannel blankets. These can be either store bought or hand sewn. I include as small as 17″x17″ up to full term size. Keep them soft and thin so they can be swaddled and folded if necessary. Please keep fabrics appropriate with small patterns and soft colors so they don’t distract from baby in pictures. Remember this is likely the only item they’ll be photographed in apart from a gown.
  • Sturdy ceramic birds, wooden butterflies/dragonflies or memorial items such as angels.
  • Soothing or unscented candles. Please keep them votive size if possible and enclose in a plastic bag if shipping with fabrics.
  • Forget-me-not flower seed packets. *We’re heading into the winter months and I’m having trouble finding these right now.
  • Small photo albums to encourage families to take pictures.
  • Small stuffed animal.
  • Small soothing lotion.

Please contact me here if you’re able to make a materials donation of any kind.

Remember Your Hospitals:

I fully recognize this is about more than my children and the hospitals in my area. If you’re feeling inspired and want to give back, find a group of friends and consider doing this for a hospital near you! It’s often the smallest gifts that mean the most.

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Disclosure: I received no compensation for this post. All thoughts remain my own. To read more about Emilie and Johnson’s Baby Cares council visit her blog Baby Loving Mama.

Butterfly Dream

Butterfly

Last night I had a vivid dream that left me feeling so peaceful. I’ve prayed for months to get a dream about my babies and until last night I don’t believe that’s happened – that I can remember at least.

Last night I was visited by butterflies. They weren’t your average butterfly though. They were HUGE and they were made of paper with beautiful watercolor paint dripping all over them. I ran through a field and saw just one. Then two more joined them. Then a few more. They landed on my arms. I fell to the ground on my back and suddenly I was surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of watercolor butterflies as far as I could see all fluttering around me.

I stood and ran toward a pond, ran out onto the dock, and watched them all follow with their beautiful pastel wings.

I’m not sure what that means but I loved every moment of it.