Simplicity in the New Year

It’s been a while, friends.

Too long, in fact…

You see, these past three years have been not only busy but also focused on adapting to changes. We’ve been adjusting to a new home and growing our family as I’ve made some pretty big changes in my professional life. I left my full-time career of almost 10 years for a part-time position in a different field and went back to school to obtain my Master’s degree. While I am happy to say that I have finally completed the program, the void left from accomplishing a goal that has taken every ounce of mental energy I have left at the end of the day has given me the opportunity to reflect. I realize that it may sound strange to say there’s been a void left but for most of my life I have been working towards a tangible goal that takes years to achieve. These goals have given me direction and purpose, so what is left after you’ve finally reached it?

My family and I have sacrificed a lot to get me to this point. We have been constantly growing and stretching past boundaries, finding new norms as we adapt to constant changes. I fear that these new norms are not what are best for my family in the long-term though. We have done what we have needed to in order to survive these couple of years. We’ve led hectic schedules and added two babies into the family and it’s time to slow down.

My goal for the next chapter of my life is simplicity.

IMG_5052I will no longer commit to things because I feel that I should or because I feel pressured and I will not find the need to make excuses for saying “no.” I need to take the time to identify what brings me joy and do those things specifically. I will dedicate time to reading, journaling and reflection each week as part of this practice. I will not allow myself to be compelled to become involved in activities out of fear of losing touch or worry that my long-term career goals will suffer.

As a mother of three with two littles, my primary focus will be on my family and reconnecting with them and myself. I want to simplify and remove the clutter, the negativity, and the extra (un)necessities from our lives. I want to cultivate love and grow in different ways; and I want to do these things as a family rather than an individual seeking a self-established objective. I want to find the time to really know and enjoy each and every single one of them. This next chapter is not only about simplicity but it is also about family. I worry that my relationships have not been as deep in this past season simply because I haven’t had the mental or emotional energy to invest more. As I learn to simplify, I hope to find that energy again and use it where my relationships have suffered most. I don’t imagine the process will be easy. In fact, I expect some of it will be painful as I look inward and examine the depth of what needs to change but I can honestly say that I am ready for this and most importantly, this is what I need.

Happy New Year, friends. May 2018 bring you all the love you deserve.

The first set of books on my reading list for 2018

Ezra Emmanuel Jason’s Birth Story

This is one that I have been meaning to write for so long but the words and the time to find them had yet to come. However, since it is Mothers Day, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to carve the time and honor my 3rd child by sharing the story of his birth (and of course the pregnancy leading up to it).EzraNewborn-0561.JPG

This was without a doubt an unexpected pregnancy. I found out I was pregnant just a couple of days after Jedidiah’s first birthday. I honestly was in complete denial. We had discussed the possibility of a third at some point but had decided we were content with two. Truthfully, I sort of expected to become pregnant again and for us to have a third because Jason didn’t want to have a vasectomy and I was not willing to be on birth control for health reasons but I thought if it were going to happen, it would be years down the road. Many of you know the backstory of how long we waited for Jedidiah and the heartache we experienced along the way and it didn’t really cross my mind that it could be quite so simple to have another child. Yet, there I was. Staring at a pregnancy test from the day before, which I had thought to be negative at the time, only to realize that I didn’t wait long enough before reading it and it was indeed positive. At first, Jason and I just laughed because it didn’t even seem possible. Then, I panicked for a few weeks. After I allowed myself to let go of the anxiety for fear of what could happen, I settled on denial. Denial worked for me. I spent my days not really paying attention to my growing belly and focused on what was in front of me. Luckily, I had a fairly easy pregnancy, which allowed me to live in this state and it also meant that I didn’t have nearly any of the anxiety that I experienced when pregnant with Jedidiah.

Eventually, I came around to the idea probably somewhere around the third trimester and started making the space for him. Something about this pregnancy felt different but in a way that it should. I realized at one point that this baby was a gift. For the first time, Jason and I were able to experience the joy and anticipation of a baby without any complicated feelings of grief. Keep in mind that with both Tanis and Jedidiah, we experienced significant losses leading up to their births. This baby though was welcomed into a world without tears of sadness and without the overwhelming feeling of loss. Everything about my pregnancy and even birth with him has been textbook perfect.

January 5th, 2017

5:00am I woke up early in the morning with a pretty intense contraction but I didn’t think much of it because I had been having contractions off and on for a couple of weeks. Part of me knew this was different but I focused on getting ready for the day and work instead.

Around noon I was still experiencing stronger contractions than in previous days and more frequent. I called my dear friend and doula, Jess, to let her know that today could be the day.

1:15 pm I had my regularly scheduled OB appointment and asked the nurse practitioner to check me. I was 3cm dilated. This surprised me since I don’t normally dilate unless I’m in labor. However, I also knew that each baby and each labor are different so I didn’t put too much thought into it.

3:00pm As my contractions continue, I call Jason and let him know what’s going on but tell him not to rush home since there was still plenty of time and I wasn’t entirely sure I was even in labor yet. I talk to my mom and she offers to take the kids for the night. I reluctantly agree. Again, I wasn’t sure anything was going to happen and I didn’t want to burden anyone.

5:30pm There is little doubt that I’m in the early stages of labor at this point. I start packing and request take-out Indian food for dinner.

6:45pm As I’m finishing dinner, I receive a phone call from Jess and just as I pick up the phone, my water breaks. (Right on schedule, I guess). I start laughing at myself for doubting that I was in labor and request towels from Jason. There is an ease with this labor already.

7:30pm We go to the hospital and are triaged. Jess meets us there. I am 4cm dilated and 60% effaced and transferred to a delivery room. At some point, my doctor comes in and thankfully, she is the one that is my favorite OB at the practice. We talk about my birth plan and desire for no medication and also my history of having babies without a doctor in the room since I transition quite fast.

8pm – 11:30pm For the next couple of hours, I walk the halls…a lot. I prefer to be physically active during labor but it’s obvious that most women just stay in their rooms. At one point, a woman walking by seemed slightly panicked and asked if I was having my baby. All I could do was laugh and say yes.

During this time, I also discuss something with Jason that I had been thinking about for quite some time. Ezra’s name. We knew since we found out we were having a boy that we would name him Ezra Jason but something didn’t feel quite right yet for me. I felt there was something missing. I had tossed around second middle names in my head and brought two to Jason that night. Emmanuel or Ishmael. After everything we had been through, Ezra was to be our light. Emmanuel means “God is with us” and felt fitting. Jason wasn’t as sure about it as me but I was grateful that he understood.

11:30pm – 1:30am At this point, my labor has become active and my contractions are more intense so I stay in my room. I find comfort in squatting and being on all fours on the floor.

1:30am I am exhausted and feel like it is time to rest. I know this means that I am in transition. I decide to lie down in the hospital bed and take a bit of reprieve between the waves of contractions.

2:00am My contractions have increased in pain significantly and I feel Ezra descending. I let the staff know that he will be arriving soon.

2:10am My doctor checks and I am fully dilated. I am encouraged to keep Ezra in as much as I can to prevent tearing.

2:17am Ezra Emmanuel Jason Keaton joins the world. A perfect 7lbs 13 oz and 20 inches long.

The next 30 minutes or so are qIMG_8163uite painful between the uterine massaging and repairing the tear. I lost a lot of blood and experienced a 2nd degree tear (though not as bad as I did with Jedidiah or Tanis). I was given Pitocin and cytotec to help with the bleeding and thankfully, they worked. Jason cut the umbilical cord and I tried to continue to breathe through the pain. FullSizeRender.jpg-2.jpeg



Afterwards – My recovery was quick and easy physically but mentally it was quite an adjustment. I feel like we’ve finally found our groove (somewhat, since is there such a thing??) and it has become easier. There are certainly many challenges, especially with a 2-year-old that still wakes up at night…but I figure sleep can wait another couple of years or so, right? 😉

So all that to say that our Ezra was born on January 6th, 2017 (Epiphany, by the way) and has indeed been a gift to us and this is his birth story.

I am forever thankful to everyone for their love and support of our family over the past few months. We could not do any of this without you.EzraNewborn-0561.JPGEzraNewborn-0352.JPG

Wave of Light – October 15

“When a child loses his parent, they are called an orphan. When a spouse loses her or his partner, they are called a widow or widower. When parents lose their child, there isn’t a word to describe them.” – Ronald Reagan

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month in the U.S. and October 15th is observed as the day throughout the world when we remember the babies that were lost. Statistically, 1 in 4 women will experience a miscarriage in their lifetime. I am that 1 in 4. I am also grouped in the unfortunate 2% of women that have had two miscarriages in a row. I used to rely on numbers, statistics, and my odds. I found them comforting…until I found myself in the 2% bracket.

Miscarriage is lonely. No one tells you what to expect and even if loved ones offer their support, they can’t go through it for you. No one tells you that it feels like you’re mourning a ghost because in the world’s eyes, your baby never really existed. There is no grave marker, no funeral to lay the baby to rest, and no ceremonial ritual to help with the process of grieving. It feels like you’re the only one that loved this baby, that pictured baby’s first steps and birthday, that knew the joy of having this dream brought to fruition; only to have it ripped away in the matter of seconds.

No one tells you that subsequent pregnancies will be f*#king terrifying. You live each day hoping for the best and expecting the worst. The stretches between doctors’ appointments are anxiety ridden. Heck, I can’t even promise you that you will become pregnant again. Chances are you will. But if you remember, I stopped counting on my odds a long time ago.

Now, some of you may be confused because you’re thinking to yourself, “She has her baby now so why is she even bringing her past miscarriages up?”

I talk about them so others will feel more comfortable talking about theirs. I talk about them because I may have had a baby after 2 miscarriages and 2 years of trying but the pain of them still lingers. I still think about them. I still love them. I still want them.

For those of you that have been lucky enough to not experience miscarriage, please keep the platitudes to yourself when talking to others.

No one needs to hear that they will have another because they still want the one they lost. They don’t need to hear that if they hadn’t lost their baby, then they wouldn’t have the one they have now because that’s just bullshit and does absolutely nothing to ease their loss.

Don’t say it happened because of stress because it didn’t.

Don’t say it will happen again when the timing is right because it was right for them then.

Don’t say it was part of God’s plan because you may be told where you can shove God’s plan.

What you can do is offer your suppIMG_2295ort and condolences. Offer your love, your time, your presence, your compassion, and your grace. That’s the best way to help. And maybe tonight at 7pm, you can join the wave of light by lighting a candle for all the little ones gone from our lives too soon.

A rainbow birth story

Jedidiah’s Birth Story 


I will warn you that this is long and I am including details prior to the labor because the events are so intrinsically connected to the birth of our son. The circle of life was full upon us during this week and it was quite an emotional journey that brought us even closer together. This is the story of my rainbow baby’s entry to the world. For those of you unfamiliar with the term rainbow baby, it’s what many of us that have experienced losing a baby call the baby we actually are able to bring home from the hospital (also called a take-home baby). A rainbow baby comes after the storm has been weathered and brings joy and hope for what’s to come. Jedidiah is our rainbow baby. We lost two others on this two-year journey to have him. The pain and heartache we’ve experienced prior to having him is by no means diminished but he brings beauty and light to our lives through it all.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Jason’s father is admitted to the hospital and the next day diagnosed with acute leukemia. We don’t know it then but there wasn’t much time left for Jason to go back home to visit but we plan for the following weekend when he has a three-day weekend.

Sunday, April 19, 2015 (36.5 weeks pregnant)

I have been experiencing contractions off and on since 34 weeks but they haven’t caused any dilation or effacement so I usually ignore them. This particular day though they had been consistent every 2-5 minutes for hours on end so even though they aren’t terribly painful, I am checked out to make sure I don’t go into labor too soon. I am freaking out because I am nowhere near ready to have a baby and I also desperately want Jason to be able to visit his dad. I had a feeling we were running out of time and I really wanted for Jason to have his father meet his grandson before he passed. I tell Jedidiah that I need him to wait just one more week so Jason can make it home. The doctor tells me that I am not dilating and not to worry. I am reassured that it doesn’t look like I will go into labor any time soon.

This same day, Jason’s dad is admitted to ICU for heart failure on top of the leukemia. Jason has to make the decision for a DNR to be issued if his condition takes a turn for the worst.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Jason finds out that his dad passed. It’s hard watching your partner experience grief and pain that you cannot ease or really even share.

The rest of the week, I am experiencing contractions off and on still so I decide to slow it down since every time I am active, they worsen. I was even scheduled to go to Detroit to conduct an eight-hour training but decide to cancel it given the circumstances.

We find out midweek that the visitation is set for Sunday and the funeral is Monday.

Sunday, April 26, 2015 (37.5 weeks pregnant)

3:00am – I woke up, which wasn’t unusual for me at this point in the pregnancy. After 2 hours I couldn’t get back to sleep and I had a burst of energy and decided to wrap up my final project for my biostatistics class since it was due at the end of the day. I remember thinking to myself, “This is an awful lot of energy for this early in the morning and a lot of women experience this right before labor.” But I pushed that thought out of my head since I was only 37.5 weeks along and feeling not quite ready for Jedidiah to make an appearance.

8:00am – I decide to take a short nap before heading to the store to buy a pair of shoes to wear to Jason’s dad’s funeral. We were planning to leave between noon and 1 for Chicago to go to the visitation that day and funeral the next day.

10:00am – I woke up and felt like I may have leaked a little in my sleep. I got out of bed cautiously and as soon as I stood up, I felt a huge gush and realized my water broke. I was in disbelief. I screamed for Jason to grab towels. He hands me one and I tell him that’s not enough so Tanis comes in with some paper towels. Ha. That definitely wasn’t going to be enough but it was sweet of her to try and help.

As I am trying desperately not to leak everywhere, I hear Tanis in the hallway crying to Jason that she’s not ready and doesn’t know how to be a big sister yet. She felt the weight of this surprise arrival just as much as we did.

Jason comes into the room to try and figure out next steps and all I can do is cry and apologize. I am so ridden with guilt that we were not going to be able to go to Chicago that day. I decide that since Tanis’s labor was only 6 hours, surely this would go by fast, too and I pray that Jason can make it to Chicago the next day for the funeral at least.

12:00pm – Contractions have been about every 5-7 minutes. They aren’t terribly strong yet but I didn’t want to wait too long to go into the hospital given my history with Tanis (I labored with her for only 6 hours and the doctor wasn’t even present because she came so fast at the end). We meet our doula (and my good friend) Jess at the hospital. In triage, the OB resident was on duty and she assessed me and determined I had very little progression. I was only 3 cm dilated and barely effaced. She informed me that I would be admitted and hooked up to IV fluids. I declined the IV and hep lock, to which she balked and asked the nurse, “Can she refuse that?” The nurse responded, “Absolutely.” It was at this point that I realized just how grateful I am for my birth plan, which specifically states that interns and residents are not allowed in the birthing room.

I spent a lot of time (we’re talking HOURS here!) walking the hallways after being admitted. Contractions were picking up when I walked but whenever I rested, they seemed to stall.

4:20pm – I am checked again and I am still only at a 3-4 and not much had changed in effacement either. Jess and I had a conversation about all of the stress I was putting on myself to try and have this baby born in time for Jason to make it to the funeral. I was incredibly anxious and felt awful that Jason was in this predicament. At this point, my mom performed reiki on me, while my sister administered essential oils. This was the first turning point in the labor emotionally as I realized I needed to let my expectations and my need for control go. I began to cry out of the grief that I felt for Jason’s loss.

My contractions were finally picking up in strength and I spent a lot of time walking the halls of the labor and delivery floor and on the birthing ball. I am worried though that we are going to be in for a long night with how long this labor has taken to progress.

8:00pm – I am checked again and only at a 4. Nothing has changed. Now, they are recommending Pitocin to speed up the process and told me my labor has stalled. I asked for an hour or two to try and get labor going on its own, which they were respectful of. I decide to take a long shower to try and relax. When I am finished, Jess, Jason, and I have another conversation, which turns into the pivotal turning point for me emotionally during this labor.

Jess starts the conversation by letting me know that I’m not letting anyone down. Logically, I knew this but I still couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of guilt.

Jason then told me that being at the birth of his son was the best way he could honor his father’s life. He told me that there is nothing he has ever wanted to be more than a father and he wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

That was exactly what I needed to hear. I needed to know that Jason was okay with likely missing his dad’s funeral and that he was okay that our son was being born at what felt like such terrible timing. Upon further reflection, I realized, there is no such thing as good timing or bad timing with the circle of life. It just is. Our circle’s events were just running their course very closely together.

9:50pm – I am hookJason holding handed up to an IV to start Pitocin as there is still no progression and I’m stuck at a 4. I feel defeated but hopeful that the Pitocin will do its job.

The OB hospitalist comes into the room to discuss pain management options with me. I had written on my birth plan that I was having a natural birth but due to the length of time that I had been in labor, he wanted to make sure that I understood my options and potential outcomes of this labor. He explained it all very well but at this point, I was still not interested in an epidural.

The Pitocin really kicks my contractions up several notches and they are right on top of each other. I can barely think and really have to focus my efforts on breathing. They are completely debilitating and I felt nothing like them with my previous labor.

Monday, April 27th, 2015

12:30am – I remember telling Jason that I don’t know how much longer I can take the contractions and that if I haven’t made any progress still, then I’m going to seriously have to consider an epidural. I am feeling exhausted at this point. I let the nurse know what I am considering and she tells me that I have to be hooked up to an IV for fluids for about an hour beforehand anyway before starting an epidural so we can see what happens in the meantime.

1:00am – I ask to be checontractioncked and I am only at a 5. I am wondering how I am going to make it through with a natural birth if this ends up taking several more hours. The pain is intense and the contractions are so close together. I am hooked up to the IV fluids to prep for the epidural.

1:50am – My contractions are even more intense than I thought possible. At the peak of each contraction, I am starting to scream. I have never felt anything like this before. I feel my body bear down now during these contractions and let the nurse know. She checks me and I am at a 7 and 90% effaced and clearly in transition.

I see a couple of other nurses start setting the room up for delivery. It seems that an epidural just wasn’t in the cards for me, which I am grateful for because I really wanted to make it through the labor without one.

1:55am – I tell them my body is bearing down hard now and I am checked again. I am now 9.5cm dilated. They tell me not to push because I have a cervical lip that can swell with pushing. I hear someone say my OB is on the way.First born

1:56am – I feel another strong contraction and I yell, “He’s coming!” My nurse and Jess both look to see that Jedidiah is crowning and by the end of the contraction, he was born. No pushing necessary. There wasn’t even a doctor in the room (this seems to be the Keaton way) and he slid right out onto the bed, where the nurse caught him. In a matter of 6 minutes, I went from a 7 to giving birth.

It was honestly, the most amazing experience of my life. It was much harder than my daughter’s birth but it was incredibly emotional and moving. I have never felt more support or love than I did then. Jason was a phenomenal partner. He encouraged me and was my rock. Jess provided me the guidance I needed and was incredibly supportive. My mom and my sister silently gave me the energy and release I so desperately needed.


I came out of this labor feeling honored and full of gratitude. My marriage feels stronger as a result of Jedidiah’s birth and everything we went through to bring him here with us. I have a newfound sense of appreciation for my husband. There was no way I could have labored without him there. I feel incredibly lucky to have such a strong partner and to be able to feel his love. We made it through such a difficult week with a blessing bestowed upon us. All in all, it may have been a long road to get here and a long 16 hours of labor but I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

A long overdue update – Trigger*

Loss anniversaries are never easy, even if they may get easier over time. 2 years ago we lost a baby to miscarriage and I still grieve his loss to this day. Many of you know that wasn’t our only loss but it was our first and it was the hardest. Since then there have been many changes in our lives and my husband and I have grown even closer. Our daughter is now turning 7 this month and is the light in my life. Some days I just can’t shake the overwhelming sadness though.

I promised an update on our journey a while back but haven’t been able to bring myself to write about it until today. After the 2nd loss in November of 2013, I felt something had to be wrong with me if I kept losing babies. I made an appointment with a different OB because my primary care doctor refused to test my progesterone levels when I found out I was pregnant in early November. I begged her to just check but she wouldn’t and then I went for a second opinion. Unfortunately, that doctor was in the same camp of thinking that if progesterone levels are low, you’ll miscarry anyway. As you know, I lost that one early, just shy of the 6-week mark. So I went to a different OB in January of 2014 to have my levels checked during a “normal” cycle and it appeared I did indeed have naturally low progesterone levels. Whether that was due to the recent miscarriage or it actually is a genuine problem for me, who really knows? She prescribed me supplements and I started taking them in hopes of becoming pregnant again but I was still worried that I was missing something.

I then made an appointment with a reproductive endocrinologist (RE), often referred to as a fertility specialist. She ran a lot of blood work and tests and everything looked pretty good…except for one thing. I have a blood clotting disorder called Factor V Leiden. It’s not always a big deal but for some it can lead to recurrent pregnancy loss, including late term loss and stillbirths. The regimen includes low-dose aspirin and lovenox (a shot similar to heparin) after a positive pregnancy test. I started the low-dose aspirin right away since I knew it wouldn’t hurt. I also took fertility medications to increase my chances of becoming pregnant for a few months. I went right back into the routine of temping and charting and feeling overwhelmed to try and have a baby. It got to be too much and I decided I had to stop the madness for the time being. I also decided there was a deadline – February 2015. If I wasn’t pregnant by then, we would no longer try. It helped knowing there was an end in sight. I started focusing on other things in my life again. Then out of the blue, we had a whirlwind adventure of buying a house early last summer. I didn’t even have time to really think about trying to get pregnant. I still thought about it from time to time but it wasn’t my main focus.

Then, my world was turned upside down on September 2nd. (Trigger starts) I felt off and as a woman who has been trying to conceive for quite sometime, there were always pregnancy tests in the house. So I took one and sure enough, there were 2 pink lines! BFP! (Big fat positive for those not in the trying to conceive world)

I found out incredibly early at just shy of 4 weeks and I was not happy like most would expect. Instead I was terrified. The first few weeks, I would break down and cry because I could not bare the thought of losing another. Then slowly but surely, hope started to seep into my thoughts and being. We shared the news around Halloween and our daughter’s pure elation has been the excitement and hope that I needed to keep me going in moments of doubt or sheer panic. I wish I could say that goes away but even at 30 weeks pregnant, I still think about what I will do if I lose him, too. (Yes, it’s a boy!!)IMG_2739

So here I am today. 30 weeks pregnant and grieving the loss of a baby from 2 years ago. Terrified at moments. Excited during others. I still envy those that announce their pregnancies and I know they don’t think about loss or what it took to have that baby. I spent 18 months trying to get pregnant after the first loss. It’s been such a journey and one now that I am pregnant again has been difficult to talk about, hence the distance over the past several months. I welcome my re-entry back into the world of journaling and blogdom though. Thanks for going on this journey with me.


Letters for Ana

These are letters that have been written to my 15-year-old sister. She committed suicide on January 2nd of 2008. She left nothing but questions and the details that started to unfold after her death are a bit fuzzy and hard to understand. I am sharing them here because I want a place to save them, as they have previously been posted on social media. Surprisingly, I only wrote three. Her death is hard to discuss because it makes people uncomfortable and as a family we don’t talk about her much either. It still stings and always will.


January 3, 2008

It’s 4:30 in the morning and I cannot sleep. I suppose that is normal given the circumstances. I have so much to say to you and ask you; it’s hard to know where to begin.

I feel like there is a lot that I never told you before and in retrospect I wish I had. I have known you since you were 4 years old and even though we are sisters through marriage, you are my sister nontheless and I love you just as I do Jamie. Maybe I never really showed it or said it enough but it’s true. I always felt bad because right around the time that Jamie was really starting to get to know you; you know the age where you were beginning to blossom and and we could actually have conversations with you; well just when that started happening, I moved to Grand Rapids. I feel cheated out of time spent with you.

I tried to be as much of a big sister to you as I could. You and Jamie were closer though and I was okay with that because at least I knew you were talking to someone. I will never understand what you did or why you did it. There are so many unanswered questions that will remain that way. I keep thinking that I must have missed something. I checked your myspace profile frequently just to make sure you were staying out of trouble and I saw that you’ve been sad and I read your headline, and while I was concerned, it seemed to be typical teenage girl angst. Why didn’t I say something?

I didn’t see this coming at all. When I saw you on Christmas Eve(which looking back now, thank God Jamie did lose her job and could make it) you were a little withdrawn but that was typical of you, espeically being around all adults. But what is strange is you seemed excited about some things. Like the ring you got for Christmas, Tanis’s pictures, you were showing us how the keyboard works. Everything seemed normal. I wish you could have said something to someone….anyone.  I never thought I could feel this much pain. Over the past 5 years, there’s been a lot of tragedy in the family but nothing compares to this.

You took away your pain and left us in so much more. My heart aches; my whole body and being aches. Where are you now? What are you doing? Did it hurt? One thing that I would like to make sure of is that you watch over your mother. She lives and breathes for you and now that you’ve taken that away from her, we don’t know what will happen.

I was so excited for you to be an aunt. You still will be, just in a different form. I miss you more than words can explain. Forgive me for being mad at you right now though…I cannot help but feel some anger towards what you did. I think I am more hurt by the fact that you did not even realize how many people love you and are affected by your death.

I can only hope that you feel pain no longer and that you are peaceful. Please remember to check in on us from time to time.

I love you more than you could ever know.

Your big sister,



February 3, 2008

It’s been over a month now since that horrible day. I still cannot believe that you are gone. A month usually seems like such a short amount of time but in this case it feels like we’ve already had to live too long without you in our lives.

I dream of you all the time but they aren’t the dreams I want to have. Jason tells me it’s too soon for you to come to me in my dreams but I wish you would anyways. The only thing I dream of right now is your death and I wake up crying every time.

Part of me is still mad. I am not really sure who to be mad at anymore though. Sometimes it’s you, sometimes it’s God, sometimes my father, myself  or just anyone. None of this is fair and I know how childish that sounds but it’s true. I mean what the hell was God thinking when he took you from us? Didn’t he know you had plans and a life to live yet? And then my thoughts go back to what the hell were you thinking when you did this to all of us??? How could you? I read an essay that you wrote just a little over a month before you killed yourself and you had goals. You wanted something from life and wanted to make a difference and instead you hung yourself from your parents basement. I don’t understand any of it and I will never have my questions answered and that makes everything so much more difficult. You left us all with a piece of our hearts missing. I know mine will never truly be whole again.

Ugghh! It’s all so frustrating and none of it makes any sense. I keep trying to put pieces together as if it were a jigsaw puzzle but nothing fits quite right. I know that you are at peace now but unfortunately, we are not and I am not really sure if we ever will come to terms with your death. It’s too hard.

The tears don’t flow quite as often anymore but the hurt still remains. Everytime I look at your face I reach out to touch it as if it were really you. I miss you. I am so scared that I will start losing pieces of you in my memory. Please don’t let that happen. I love you. I hope you know that.


January 2, 2013

5 years ago my world was turned upside down. 5 years ago you left us in such a hurry that you didn’t even say goodbye.

The grief consumed us whole in a flash flood of tears. I can still recall every detail about when I found out that you had died. I couldn’t believe it was true. Surely, it was a mistake and someone would realize it. But no one called to say it was a mistake. No one could save us from the pain of our hearts breaking.

People said that time would make it better. I wasn’t sure how it would be possible for it to ever be better and maybe better is not the right word, easier and less painful perhaps. That first year was especially difficult. Tanis was born shortly after you died and I struggled with becoming a new mom and dealing with the hurt of you taking your own life. I would find myself crying over anything that brought me joy, like a sunny day, because it didn’t seem fair that you weren’t around to feel the joy of daily life anymore.

But as people did say, time helped. Eventually I started to heal. Though, I mourn for you knowing that I missed out on getting to know an amazing person. I mourn for the 20-year-old woman that should be here today. I think about what you would look like. I see the pictures of your friends and it seems cruel that they are getting older, while you are forever frozen at 15. We have all learned to cope with your death in our own ways. Our hearts may have broken but when we healed our hearts grew bigger, though still scarred.

I wish you could have met your niece and nephew. You would have absolutely adored them both. They are pretty amazing kids. Tanis is a spitfire and hilarious. Jacobi is more laid back and always on the move. You would have enjoyed watching them grow.

One of the hardest parts about your death is suicide is a dirty word in our society. People don’t want to talk about it; maybe because they are afraid. It can be frustrating because others don’t want to hear about it. But for those of us that have lost someone to suicide, we need to talk about it and we want to remember the person we loved so dearly without the stigma.

Oh, Ana. There is so much I could say to you and wish that I did say when you were still alive. You were such a sweet girl and so loving. I wish I could have shown you the amazing person you were before it was too late. You are forever in our hearts, Ana. I love you and miss you.




Lost: Finding and Leaving Benjamin

When I arrived on Benjamin Ave, I was completely lost and broken. I was only 25 years old, married for just over a year and on the verge of a divorce. My 15 -year-old sister, Ana, had killed herself just a year prior and I was still learning to grieve her loss. I was a young mom of a very high-maintenance (though quite lovable) toddler and I had never felt so alone in my entire life. It felt like the weight of the world was crashing down upon me and so my husband and I separated and I moved to Benjamin Ave with our daughter for a fresh start. I didn’t know it then, but that  house on Benjamin would become my refuge – the place where I learned how to be whole again and the place where I learned how to love myself.


The first year I lived there, I remember how big and empty it would feel at times, especially during the lonely nights and days that my daughter spent at her dad’s place. It felt like there was a hole inside me. I started taking classes to fill up the time and the process of finding joy began. Enrolling in these classes gave me some intellectual adult interaction that I very much needed and also reminded me that I am passionate and there’s a much bigger world out there to care about, too.

It was on Benjamin that the tradition of Thursday night dinners began with my best friend. We had been friends since my freshman year of college and used to see each other and talk all the time. Yet as adults, we found life would often get in the way and so we blocked out every Thursday night. Those nights were a truly healing force as we made dinner together and often drank too much wine and stayed up talking way past our bedtimes. We helped each other through some pretty rough patches thanks to Thursday night dinners. Eventually, we opened up the dinners to others and soon it became a gathering of friends. It was pretty amazing for a couple of years. Life changed, my friend moved across the country and my daughter started playing sports and schedules became more chaotic for everyone so the tradition ceased. But those nights will always hold such a special place in my heart and I will forever miss the one-on-one conversations with my best friend in that yellow and brown kitchen on Benjamin.

My friend reading to my daughter after a Thursday night dinner.

My husband and I found our way back to each other during that year and after a full year of separation, he moved in with us. It was by no means easy but marriage never is and we were able to figure it out. I had started to heal some of those gaping wounds and soon ventured out into the community. I met more neighbors and formed true friendships with these amazing people. I didn’t realize how lucky I was to end up on Benjamin and find myself amongst a group of so many like-minded and wonderful individuals and amazingly enough, many of these neighbors also had kids and they became my daughter’s playmates. I found a community where I felt well connected and whole. I filled a hole in my heart and found peace that had been previously lost.

My husband and daughter in our front yard
First day of preschool
Together on Benjamin

We have spent 5 years in this place where my daughter has grown into an amazing and boisterous 6-year-old and where I’ve grown into an adult content with who I am and where I am in life. But it’s time to move on. We’ve packed memories and trinkets into boxes and my husband and I are creating a home together now.

You see, Benjamin has always been kind of mine. My husband moved in because that was one of the conditions of ending our separation but his complaints of the place never really feeling like it was his home are valid. After all, I created this space and allowed the healing to begin there without him. It was what I needed at the time and I do not regret a second of it, not even the separation but the time has come to leave.

We have bought a house, not too far from where we live now, and we will move next week. We will move into a home as a family and make it ours. I will not lie and say I am not sad. I have cried as I’ve placed pictures into cardboard boxes and sifted through our belongings. My heart aches when I think of the little girls next door that we have grown to love and my daughter plays with on almost a daily basis. We will miss the organic flow of the girls traversing back and forth between houses. This place means more to me than anyone will really know and I will remember it quite fondly. But I am also incredibly happy because I know what this move means to us as a family. We will start this new chapter whole – complete and happy, not lost and broken. I can’t imagine it getting any better than that.

Peace at last


Intentional living in the context of your neighborhood

The Eastown Community Association encourages neighbors to intentionally connect through its programs and events. Last year, the ECA constructed raised garden beds with the purpose of renting them out to community members. This garden has given residents the ability to not only grow plants but to grow relationships by getting to know one another through the day-to-day activities that go along with gardening. People are finding common ground with others they never would have even met before. This simple act of cultivating food in close proximity to others creates a bond that would be missed if one chose to merely use their own backyard. The garden additionally brings volunteers together a couple times a year for landscaping and a garden walk.Image

Another event that brings everyone together is the Annual Picnic. Each year dozens of volunteers join in to spruce up the parks in the Eastown neighborhood. After the park clean-up, families come out to enjoy food, music, games, and company. There is something for everyone. This is another example of neighbors intentionally gathering. Watching neighbors come out of hibernation to greet each other after a long winter and new friendships form each year is one of my favorite parts of living in this urban setting in my opinion.

The Eastown Community Association works as a great catalyst for intentional living in our neighborhood through its initiatives and events. Intentional living refers to every action taken being done with purpose, a conscious intent, and fulfilling core values through those actions. When I chose to live in Eastown, I chose it with purpose and a commitment to raising a family in close quarters with others and also with the knowledge that I would have the opportunity to extend my family to my neighbors.

I sometimes ponder if I could move outside of the invisible walls of the village my neighbors and I have constructed for those things that some claim we are missing out on in the city– bigger backyards, neighbors further apart, less noise. But then I would miss out on walks to the local park where everyone seems to gather as soon as the sun starts to shine, children running in, out, and between houses on the street, open doors with open invitations, and community bonds.

I moved into Eastown with the intention of becoming a part of a close-knit community and with the hopes that this community would become like a family. I volunteer with the community association because it brings me closer to that purpose. I become friends with my neighbors and get to know them deeper than a superficial level because it provides nourishment for my soul. We all have our own way of connecting. For some it may be reaching out during hard times and for others it may random acts of kindness shown by mowing the neighbor’s law.

Whether by simply gathering together on front porches with a glass of wine in hand, participating in the events that are organized by the ECA, or coming together as a community unit when a neighbor’s house catches on fire, each person here intentionally choses to connect with each other in one form or another. When a person choses to live in Eastown, they aren’t just buying a house, they are buying into a community.

In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “Our goal is to create a beloved community and this will require a qualitative change in our souls and a quantitative change in our lives.” So now I ask you, what changes are required of you to intentionally connect with your neighbors and build a stronger sense of community?


This article was published on April 29th, 2014 at 



I have a couple of posts I will be adding within the next week that are unrelated to pregnancy loss and then I will share everything that’s happened with testing since I lost the last pregnancy in November. The short of it is, I’m still not pregnant and it may be a longer road for me than for others but I’ve found my happy again. Yes, we are still trying just not so hard at the moment. We are getting ready to move in a couple of weeks and have had lots going on so I’ve been pretty absent here. I’ve appreciated everyone’s love and support over the past few months and I’m looking forward to reconnecting soon. 🙂Image

Remembering Grandpa

ImageTen years ago today, our family lost one of its pillars – my grandpa, Robert F. Welch. To many he was a hard ass and he earned that title but he softened with age. He was the man I looked up to the most in life. Grandpa taught me the value of an education and hard work. I remember sitting around my grandparents’ kitchen table after school and working on my homework. He would make me not double check my math problems, but triple check. If there was a word that I wasn’t sure about, his response was so frequently, “Look it up,” that I learned to keep a dictionary next to me while doing my homework.

Every afternoon at 4:30, he would sit in his chair and watch Jeopardy. I loved that show because of him. He knew so many of the answers that I always thought that he should have been on it. To this day when I watch Jeopardy, I think of him.

My grandfather never went to college, which always amazed me because he was the smartest man I knew. His shelves were filled with books, mostly about history. Grandpa was also probably the only person that I could have a conversation with in our family about aquifers and he would actually find it interesting. 

My grandfather’s love for learning was so great that he found the time to teach my cousin, who suffered from dyslexia, how to read. That was no easy feat for either my cousin or Grandpa. A few years later, he started tutoring children at a local elementary school in reading. He may have been slightly cantankerous at times but the school and the children grew to love him the same way we all did.

ImageThere are times when I find it hard to believe that my husband never even met him or that none of his great grandchildren will know him. I do know that I am eternally grateful that I had the chance to really get to know him, which wouldn’t have happened if my mother hadn’t decided that we should move to Illinois from Georgia when I was in 5th grade.  So thanks, Mom, for giving your daughters the chance to know your father. It was an honor.


We love you and miss you, Grandpa. Image