In October 2013, there was a beautiful monument dedicated in Manahawkin, NJ. On this monument are names of babies who are gone but never forgotten. They will forever be in our hearts. Brayleigh Elizabeth is on this monument with many other babies who I have gotten to know through their moms with the TEARS Foundation.
Tomorrow is Father’s Day. I am not 100% sure how Sean feels about this. I am sure very similar to how I feel on Mother’s Day. I know it is hard because it wouldn’t be fair to Lorelai for us not to be just as happy as would be before Brayleigh. We will wake up, Lo and I will make breakfast, and celebrate the awesome dad Sean is. But something will be missing. Even though Brayleigh will be missing in person, she will always be with us in spirit.
I think that probably the hardest thing about Father’s Day is finding something for Sean. One of the things I like most are cards. I love getting/giving a card just because, holidays, etc… But trying to find a card in the card isle for a father who lost his second daughter is a lost cause. I know that a lot of people feel like this topic of pregnancy and infant loss is so hush hush. But please know that this is a real thing. 1 out of 4 women will go through what we went through or something very similar. For me I can get a card from Lorelai and add Brayleigh’s name. What about the many women who don’t have other kids? What do they give to the man that has been there for them every step of the way after their loss? What about the father’s that might have lost an older child? I am not saying that there needs to be a huge selection but just something that we can give to the men in our lives that deserve it the most. Something that acknowledges that they have a child in heaven.
I want to wish all the fathers with kids on earth and in heaven a wonderful Father’s Day!
There are few words that hit me like a ton of bricks.
“How many kids do you have?”
How does one answer that when you have a daughter but also had a stillborn baby? Do you say 2, and hope that is the end of the conversation? Do you deal with the guilt and just say one? or Do you put it all out on the table and say 2 one here on earth and a beautiful angel in the sky. I use a mixture of the 3 answers. Usually just saying 2 and changing the subject quick. Sometimes saying 1 and dealing with the instant heartache I feel like I have somehow betrayed Brayleigh. The people who I think will understand I use the last answer. One here on Earth and a beautiful angel in the sky.
“When are you having more?” “Wait til you have another.”
I did have more. I went through almost 9 months of pregnancy, almost 9 months of planning for Lorelai’s little sister, building hopes and dreams, and a c-section. I just didn’t get to bring home a baby. But I had another daughter. A daughter who was too special for Earth. A daughter who will always watch over us.
“Lorelai is so outgoing, wonder what your next will be like?”
You have no idea how much I wonder what my next one would of been like. Yes I have already had my next. She was born sleeping. I didn’t get to see what color eyes she had. I didn’t get to see what kind of personality she would of had.
“Wait til she has a little brother/sister to play with and take care of.”
Lorelai does have a little sister. One that she understands was here with us for a short period of time. She understands that Brayleigh is in Heaven and watches over her. What she doesn’t understand is that her little sister is not here with her everyday like all of her friend’s siblings. I see her take care and play with her baby dolls. She would of taken really good care of Brayleigh. I would give anything to have Brayleigh here to for Lorelai to play with and help me take care of her.
I know I can not expect everyone to know/assume/understand our situation. I do however want more people to understand that every 1 in 4 women will suffer a pregnancy loss. Please help us Break the Silence. More people need to know that this is more common then you would think.
The following is journal entry I wrote to Brayleigh on 4/25/12. Almost a month to the day we lost her. It is about her father.
My Dearest Brayleigh,
Your father has been a strongman. He continues to amaze me everyday. When we were in the hospital he was there every step of the way for me. When he came home from the hospital, he was my nurse, Even though it has been almost a month he continues to be strong for me. I could not imagine my life without him.
Now over a year later. Sean still amazes me. He does so much for our family. He makes sure that we have everything we need to survive and brings a lot of happiness into our lives. I will forever love this man!!
I recently found my journal that I started to write in after we lost Brayleigh. I am going to in the next couple days post them on here. It is amazing to go back and read them. I gives me more to remember on how I felt during the beginning. The first entry I wrote was on my schedule C-section day. 4/16/13
My Dearest Brayleigh Elizabeth,
Today is the day you would of been in my arms. Just 3 weeks away from being here. You were taken away from us at 36 weeks! These past 3 weeks have been the hardest in my life. With so many questions unanswered and so many hopes/dreams gone. Trying to explain to your big sister Lorelai that you are in heaven looking down on us with Grandpa and PopPop. The love and support of our family and friends is what is pulling us through right now. We had services and a burial with just our immediate family. The love and support from your grandparents, aunts and uncles has been above and beyond. They all saw you , got to hold you, and said their goodbyes. They will all hold you in their hearts forever and ever. As for your father, he has been my rock. Without him the loss of my baby girl would be more painful than it is already.
I until the moment we saw you was wanting you to be alive. As I was laying there during the c-section, I was praying you come out crying and breathing just like your sister. It was so hard to go 36 weeks just 3 weeks shy of our meeting day for you to now be gone. You were a mover and never stopped. To this day I sometimes feel like I can still feel you moving.
Love Forever Baby Girl,
If you look above you will see a heading with a title of 100 ways grief checklist. This is an idea that I got from another blog I follow. (stillbornandstillbreathing.com) I posted the checklist and I am going to try to either post pictures or write about each item on the checklist. I will posting the pictures on here and on Instagram so if you want to follow me on Instagram search @tessmullan. Also if you want to follow this journey with me you can post them in the comments and on Instagram make sure you use the #100waysofhealing so all the pictures go together. I will also be writing the date that I post the item. They will not go in order and will probably take some time to get done. Thank you all for sharing in this journey with me.
What to say about Mother’s Day??? I am full of mixed emotions. One side of heart is full of love and hope for Lorelai. On the other side is a longing for a Brayleigh. Would she be as crazy and loving as her sister. I wonder what they would be like together. I would love for Lorelai to have her sister to play with. Someone that she could take care of. She knows she has a sister but I don’t think she understands why her sister is not here to play with her like her friend’s sisters are. In the last week she has become more aware that her little sister is in heaven. From the beginning we have always explained to her the Brayleigh is in heaven and watches over us. We do go to the cemetery to visit Brayleigh and plant flowers. She has recently started to ask when Brayleigh will be coming home and when she will have a sister to play with.
The other day we were driving to school. Lorelai started asking me if we could go see Brayleigh. She said she wanted to visit her where the green, green grass is and the cool black fence. I had no idea what she was talking about. I thought maybe she had a dream about playing with Brayleigh. I asked her if it was in a dream and she said no, you know where all the other Brayleighs are. I said no I do not know and sure enough we go by the cemetery and Lorelai says…there mommy, I want to go there and see Brayleigh. She thinks that all the markers are other Brayleighs. I explained to her that not all of the markers are babies. I said there are a lot of people in there of all ages. This is an extreme conversation to have with a three year old on the way to school but this is our new normal now. I love the fact that deep down in her heart she will grow up with the knowledge that she has a baby sister. As she grows older I feel like she will have more questions and more understanding of this knowledge. She truly amazes me everyday and even though I have a daughter on Earth and one in Heaven, they both fill me heart with joy and love. I also think that Lorelai will forever carry a part of her baby sister in her heart.
I want to wish all the mothers with kids on earth and in heaven a wonderful Mother’s Day.
Have you ever gone through a loss? If could be any loss. The loss of a baby, child, parent. spouse, sibling…the list could go on and on. When you think about this time what do you remember after the loss? One of the things I remember after my dad passed and after Brayleigh passes was the food. Believe me I really couldn’t eat after Brayleigh was born sleeping but I still remember the food. I don’t really remember much about what kind of food we had but I do remember the amount.
When my dad passed I remember for atleast a week someone would deliver a full meal every night for us. It was that food that just brought comfort like mac and cheese and a chicken pot pie. But it wasn’t really about the food itself it was who the people were that made the food and about the thought behind it. It was food made in a mass quantity that could feed many. It was a little different when my dad had passed because my sister and brother were still living with my mom and I so there were more mouths to feed but we all had many people over that were spending time with us. During a time like this it was hard for us to want to “entertain” so to say. Having this food ready to just put out was great.
After we lost Brayleigh, the food came again. It was different people this time but the thought and time that went into it was unbelievable. From trays delivered from the local eatery to homemade soup and mac/cheese. The food still served the same purpose. We had people at the house everyday and it helped so much to just be able to pull the food out and serve.
Now…for what I had originally planned on writing about. Tear Soup. This is a grief book that I have heard about. I personally haven’t read it yet but would like to. Soup is something want when you are not feeling so great. Something you may bring to someone who is ailing. Well Tear Soup is a little different.
First you start off with a pot whatever size you might think goes with your loss/grief. You can start with a big pot and eventually simmer down to a smaller one. You then add your ingredients for your grief. It could be many different things or just a few. The one common ingredient everyone will have is Tears. This is something that you might cook for awhile it might get smaller or it might get bigger. It is however something that you want to keep stirring. You don’t want your tear soup to burn or scorch. Below is my Tear Soup a year into my grief journey. I wish I had done this sooner to see how it might have changed.
Butterfly Dream Soup
countless tears shed
a palmful of guilt
a dash of dreams and hopes lost
a heart that has been smashed and left in piece
a family that has taken that heart and tried hard to put it back together
a bottle of fine wine
a couple handfuls of anger
many nights of no sleep
Tear Soup: a recipe for healing after loss: authors Pat Schwiebert and Chuck DeKlyen
If you have experienced a loss and would like to add your tear soup please comment!!
Normal…what does that even mean. Who has ever been normal in their life? Does normal really even exist? You go through life trying to achieve your goals and dreams. A normal way would be going to college, graduating, finding the love of your life, getting married, and having a family. Well I can tell you that after the graduating part my life would not be normal. I did however find the love of my life, get married, and have a baby but not exactly in that order.
I found the love of my life in college and we had our beautiful daughter Lorelai. After a little time we got engaged and decided that we should try for another child. We got pregnant in the August 2011. We would be having another baby April 16th, 2012. It would have to be a planned c-section because Lorelai was a c-section. We were both excited to be having another baby. We really didn’t care if it was a boy or a girl we were just excited to be having another baby. We found out it was a girl that winter and quickly began our planning. We were all so excited to be having another baby. Lorelai turned 2 that September. She was excited she would be having a little sister to play with. We did have to explain to her multiple times that her sister would be a little baby first and would take some time before she would be able to play with her. We decided on the name Brayleigh Elizabeth. As the time began to tick away and I finally went on maternity leave we were starting to get more and more excited. Then one day the normal that I knew everyday was going to change forever.
On March 27th, 2012 our normal became a new normal, although I am not how normal this life is. At my doctor appointment that day I found out that our baby girl no longer had a heartbeat. We had lost our baby. Although I really do not like to use the word lost. I feel like it means we misplaced her. We were then put on what I like to call a rollercoaster. A rollercoaster of change, grief, and crazy. Our normal went from a family of 3 with a baby on the way to a family of 3 with a baby that was born an angel.
It has officially been a year since Brayleigh was born and we are slowly coming up on the day she was buried. No parent should ever be in that position. Kids are suppose to burry their parents not the other way around. Now I live everyday wondering what she would be like. Would she be crazy outgoing like Lorelai or would she hopefully be a little more calm. I do think that having something tragic like this happen makes you realize how important life and family are.
As I sit on the couch so many memories come to me. I remember sitting in the doctor’s office trying so hard and wishing so hard to hear a heartbeat. With all that wishing and hope there was no longer a heartbeat to be found. I had to make a phone call i never wanted to make to tell my husband that we had lost our precious daughter Brayleigh. Now we sit on the eve of her one year angelveristy and dream of what we would be doing with her right now. How much her older sister Lorelai would love playing with her.
As I think about what my day may bring tomorrow. I feel like wearing a sign to work that says please don’t ask me how I am feeling unless you really want to know. I will write more tomorrow about Brayleigh’s angelveristy.