Walking With You - The Ripples Flow to Our Marriage

Walking With You was created to help support those who have lost a child. Together we share our stories, helpful information, scriptures, encouraging words, prayer requests, and more. Thank you to those of you who have joined us for the past few weeks...for courageously sharing your stories. If you haven't joined us yet, and would like to, you are more than welcome. This week, we are sharing the impact our loss(es) had on our marriage.


For those who don't know our story, Leila was born at 19w5d on May 21, 2009. A complete surprise. We didn't have any advanced warning, or a chance to grieve or plan ahead of time. Our earliest indication was probably 30 minutes before she came into this world.

I have so many horrible memories from that night. But one that haunts me so much is hearing my husband sobbing in the bathroom while Nikki, my nurse, was cleaning me up. I remember this overwhelming urge to get out of that bed and go to him, to comfort him. It's the first time I've ever heard him so distraught. And it was scary.

Yasar and I are blessed in our marriage. We have a love for each other that stems from years of struggles, compromise, and mutual respect. He is my gift from God. My rock. Truly the completion of me.

So when we came home from the hospital, I really expected that we'd grieve our way through this together. It got very hard when, a few weeks later, he no longer understood me. Or understands me. Lots of angry words were thrown around. Accusations and recriminations. It's hurt me so much that we can't grieve together. That he's not grieving, and not very accepting of my grieving.

My husband's Syrian. A WAY different culture than ours. A culture likes to shove this kind of situation under the carpet as fast as possible. They don't acknowledge it, and they certainly don't grieve for miscarriages. I'm pretty sure they're convinced that grief is something invented by American therapists to keep them in business.

My in-laws gave me a wonderful gift a few days ago. The phone service is spotty in Syria, so we don't get to talk to them often. In fact, Yasar last spoke to them to give them the bad news. So he called to chat with them for a bit, and they talked to him about his sister and her three stillbirths. And how grief can make it hard for a woman to get through each day. They validated my feelings for my husband, and I think now he understands a little better.

We're probably not going to emerge from this without war wounds. But God has a way of taking our scars and using them for His Glory - He's been doing it for the 11 years we've been together.


My Email Account Hates Me

Finding out you're pregnant. It's an amazing time, full of congratulations. From everyone. Including the makers of Similac, Huggies, Pampers, on and on.

And, once they know where to congratulate you, they keep on sending you emails.

How can they not know your dream has turned into your worst nightmare? Why don't they leave you alone?

As if you need to open your email, praying for one supportive, uplifting email. And there it is.

"What Your Baby Looks Like Today"

My baby? She looks like a depressingly small pile of grey ash.

I don't know if it's better or worse, but those "Your Pregnancy Week By Week" at least have a tiny, tiny link at the bottom. "If you've suffered a loss, click here".

You click on it, and it unsubscribes you and takes you into dead baby land, all at the same time.

Where everyone has a dead baby. And surely everyone wants to talk to a group of strangers about it, right?

Oy vey...


Healing, v. 2

I'm so grateful. Periods of normalcy are starting to peek through the clouds of pain. These last two days, I've actually been happy. Unburdened.

I guard that jealously. It's been so long since hugging my son was more than a duty, a going-through-the-motions thing. That I've gone to the store early to open (the only little bit of alone time I can carve out for myself) and not used that time to cry. That tears have not been One Wrong Word away.

Two days have sparked an addiction. I covet that feeling. I did and didn't know how much I missed laughing, and having energy. I want more of it.

The one thing that is still aching, my last hurtle (ironic, that it's called a hurt-le), is my fear of going back to church. Not of church, I've been back twice since Leila died. It's more about seeing the babies again. Two in particular, Piper and Lucy. Their mommies are my friends, and we were all pregnant together, having little girls. Now we've all had our babies, and I'm no longer part of that club. I've graduated to a new club...lucky me. I'm afraid that I'll see these two women with their two beautiful little girls, and just lose it. Just thinking about it, I'm crying. How much worse will it be to stand there with them, chatting away, desperately trying to pretend I'm not dying inside?

And Yasar doesn't understand. He's a patient man, but he really, really wants to go to church. He's gone without me a few times, but mostly if I don't go, he stays home, too.

This weekend I breathe a sigh of relief. We'll be out of town, so the pressure of church won't loom on me. I'll get to practice my new happiness, hopefully get so familiar with it that ~maybe~ I'll barely remember my grief?

Yeah, wishful thinking. But it doesn't hurt to try.


Beauty From Pain

The lights go out all around me
One last candle to keep out the night
And then the darkness surrounds me
I know i'm alive but i feel like i've died
And all that's left is to accept that it's over
My dreams ran like sand through the fists that i made
I try to keep warm but i just grow colder
I feel like i'm slipping away

After all this has passed, i still will remain
After i've cried my last, there'll be beauty from pain
Though it won't be today,
Someday i'll hope again
And there'll be beauty from pain
You will bring beauty from my pain

My whole world is the pain inside me
The best i can do is just get through the day
When life before is only a memory
I'll wonder why God lets me walk through this place
And though i can't understand why this happened
I know that i will when i look back someday
And see how you've brought beauty from ashes
And made me as gold purified through these flames

After all this has passed, i still will remain
After i've cried my last, there'll be beauty from pain
Though it won't be today,
Someday i'll hope again
And there'll be beauty from pain
You will bring beauty from my pain

Here i am, at the end of me
Tryin to hold to what i can't see
I forgot how to hope
This night's been so long
I cling to Your promise
There will be a dawn

After all this has passed, i still will remain
After i've cried my last, there'll be beauty from pain
Though it won't be today,
Someday i'll hope again
And there'll be beauty from pain
You will bring beauty from my pain



A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes...

...when you're fast asleep.

Last night my pregnancy test came back positive. In my sleep. When I woke from that dream, I prayed so hard. I want this so badly. A healthy pregnancy, an addition to our family.

My friend Christine new baby is almost 3 months old. I hear her talk about the trials of having a newborn - lack of sleep and colic being her primary issues - and I feel completely undeterred. I want that, warts and all.

There are other DBM bloggers out there who are struggling through a pregnancy on top of a loss. I'm not blind, I know it'd be so hard. The second that test came back positive, I'd march into my OB's office and have her call me in a prescription for progesterone suppositories. Reaching 20 weeks, I'd be on high alert all the time. Freaking out with any sign of bleeding. Or conracting. Reaching that magical 24-week viability date and not feeling any comfort because nothing's guaranteed.

And I question why I want it. Before we got pregnant with Leila, I was perfectly happy (read "resigned") to being a one-child household. I looked at newly-pregnant Christine and thought her a fool - I LIKE my sleep right where it is, thank you. And I was convinced that Andrew's too old to be able to adapt to a sibling now.

Why did all that change? Why can't I recall those feelings and put them back into place? Leila's 5 months on this earth has shaken everything I've held true.

It seems I'm not the only one dreaming of positive pregnancy tests, either. Christine had that same dream for me a few weeks ago.

God, hear my prayer.....


The Question I Was Afraid To Ask

Wednesday at the store brought a very special visitor. Anita, the OB nurse who took Leila's photographs, stopped in to say Hi and see how we were doing. My unlikely friend. She's kept up with me for these last two months, calling and leaving messages that she's praying for us. Listening when I just needed to talk. Another example of the many earthly blessings Leila has brought me.

Anita isn't just a talented photographer, or a very caring nurse. She also unbelievably gifted in the art of listening. I should say the dying art of listening. She got me talking about what I would have done differently, hindsight being what it is.

Regrets, I have a few. Things I wish I would have done with Leila. Like brought something personal for her, and have her pictures taken with it. To have been more present, and fought off the numbness. Slept with her. Held her through the night. To have insisted on the nurse breaking the amniotic sac and give her to me as soon as she was born.

All this time, I'd been under the impression that Leila was a live birth, and died on the warmer. Alone, wrapped in a towel.

And I said as much to Anita. I wished I would have held her until she went Home.

Anita dropped the bomb on me. Leila was stillborn.

I don't know how to feel about that. Betrayed, that my body killed her by putting her through labor when she was clearly too small to survive the contractions?

Or relieved, that I was holding her as she went to Jesus. True, not in my arms. But she was never alone.

Anita's a cancer survivor, and she has an amazing faith in God. She left me with these beautiful laminated cards with the precious scriptures that got her through her recovery, to help me get through mine. I treasure them, they stay in my purse so I'm never far from them. They're always at the ready when I need a dose of comfort.

Thank you, Anita. God bless you.


Walking With You - The Sea of Grief

Walking With You was created to help support those who have lost a child. Together we share our stories, helpful information, scriptures, encouraging words, prayer requests, and more. This week, we are sharing our first steps into the sea of grief.

Email sent 5/22 11:15am to family and close friends:

"I just don't have the energy to make all the phone calls, and cry over and over. I hope you'll forgive me for dropping this on you via email. Leila Mae Wasouf was born last night around 10:30. She survived for a few minutes, then passed. She was just beautiful, with my nose, Yasar's toes, and Andrew's pointy chin.

We had a very nice photographer come in and take pictures, which I'll be happy to share if you're interested.

We're arranging a private burial for her remains.

And we're just trying to deal with this now. I know everyone wants to reach out and help, or offer their condolences. And we appreciate that. But I think we just need some time to process and grieve.


Reason number one of why it sucks to own your own business: there's no such thing as "time off". Every Friday during the school year we made upwards of 60 pizzas for student's lunches. This has always been something Yasar and I did together. But that Friday, he headed to the store, and I went home with Andrew. Alone.

I don't remember much of those first hours. But the graduation from tissues to a dishcloth stands out. Kleenex never really had a chance. And I was advised to not walk up stairs. Yet I hauled all the baby clothes, the pack & play, the swings, everything upstairs to the spare bedroom, where it remains even today.

And I remember our pastor showing up at the door, and just wishing he would go away. That everyone would just go away and leave me to my crying.

Two months later, and I still feel that way much of the time.

I'm not much for reading my Bible. It's a holdover from a bad Christian school experience, but I find it almost impossible to draw anything from scriptures. Thank God for His messages through music. I spent so much of those early days with my mp3 player plugged into my ears. Sobbing. Feeling so empty. Praying for Him to fill my hollow heart. Praising Him for Leila's life.

My computer became my second best friend. Reaching out to others going through this journey, and being so warmly embraced. You've all become my lifeline. Defining the new "normal". Praying for me. Sending e-hugs. Understanding. I hope you know how much that's helped me limp through this process.

My brother told me the other day that grief is not linear. And it got me started thinking about these stages, where I've been, where I've yet to go.

I'm afraid I've just dipped my toe into the sea of grief. Will I drown? Will God throw me a life preserver? Will I become a strong swimmer, and a lifeguard myself? I can't say, I haven't read the final chapter of this book yet.

The Test

Yesterday we had a customer at the store with what I will swear on a stack of Bibles was the world's most polite 11-year old ever. I was complimenting dad, asking how he managed to raise such a great child.

His question to us? "How many kids do you have?"

Me? "Just one......"

I hate that that was my gut reaction. No, I don't have "just one". I have three. Andrew, Leila, and one I never give a second thought - my seven week miscarriage. Which Jess has really opened my eyes that (s)he was a life, too. And then discrediting my baby girl, too. What's wrong with me?

You know how you replay the conversation in your head afterward? What I wish I'd said is "I'm raising one, Jesus is raising the other two." But wouldn't that make the other person uncomfortable? Would it require a lengthy explanation? Is there such a thing as TMI when it comes to our heavenly children?

How have you handled this? Did you go for broke and let it all out? Did you do what I did, then feel that immense guilt?


Calling Me Out

For some reason I can't email people through their blogger profiles (maybe it's an Outlook thing). I got this comment from Jess, and wanted her to see my response:

I want to start by saying I'm very sorry for your loss. My brother's daughter was recently born at 20 weeks and only lived for a few minutes. I know how raw my pain is and I'm only her aunt. I can't imagine how much stronger your pain is as the mother.

I found your blog through anothers and a comment you wrote really upset me. I don't want to hurt your feelings or offend you, but I do want to bring up a point and whether or not you care is not the point. I want to clarify one thing.

You wrote:
A few weeks ago I told the girl down the street about losing my Leila. Her response? "well, I had three m/cs, you'll get through it." Huh? I know the world considers my 19w5d baby a m/c. But I felt her moving. We knew she was a girl. She wasn't a 5wk blob of tissue, so please don't confuse her for that. Stupid cow."

The girl who told you that was ignorant, rude and down right cold. There is no comparison between a miscarriage and losing a baby at 19 weeks; however, a life is a life regardless of how small. And calling a baby a blob of tissue is just as ignorant as her comparing her miscarriage to your loss. I lost four little ones before 8 weeks (all had heartbeats and in my opinion little souls) and to me they were my babies not a "blob of tissue". Now you may not view them as babies just as that girl did not consider your 19 week old a baby.

Jess, you're absolutely right to call me out on my comment. I'm duly chastened. It was wrong of me to call them "blobs of tissue". I have to say I was pretty angry about this interaction with the neighbor, because I've had a 7 week m/c also, and we're taught to almost EXPECT something to go wrong in the first trimester - 25% of pregnancies never make it beyond that magical 12 week point. There's no guarantees. But after 12 weeks, well, we breathe a sigh of relief. Personally, I didn't get too invested in my "blob of tissue", it was basically a positive pregnancy test. No other documented proof of the life I had before it was gone. Just heartbreak and hormones. Something I got over relatively quickly. I guess, had it happened over and over, or if I'd known that a long battle with infertility was about to begin, I probably would have left it take on more significance in my life. But the OB said, "well, at least now we know you can get pregnant." And I used it as a sign of hope.

I want to apologize to you. That was insensitive, and I'm sorry. I'll never again belittle someone else's pain. I also want to thank you for calling me to the mats on this. I'm grateful for your dose of reality, and maybe somewhere down the road, your insight will have stopped me from hurting someone deeply. So thank you, Jess. :)

My Top Ten

Platitude: You're young, you can have more children.
Reply: Seriously? Did you know we tried for years to get pregnant before giving up? Do you think having another child would erase the pain we're feeling now? Do you think we can have a replacement child?

Question: Did she have a soul?
Reply: Uhhh....did you just ask a grieving mother if her baby's going to be in heaven? Wow, that wasn't thoughtless.

Statement: Oh, I had 3 miscarriages. You'll be okay.
Reply: Oh, I've had a miscarriage before, too. Let me say that the two experiences are apples and oranges.

Statement: I hate to sound like a jerk, but you need to move on or you life will be one tear after another and never happy.
Reply: I'm unfriending you on Facebook. See ya...

Platitude: There's a reason for this. Someday we'll understand.
Reply: No sh*t. She wouldn't be dead for NO reason, would she?

Statement: Well, if you're not going to be buried, you can bury her ashes with me. (from a very close family member).
Reply: Don't you think I want my daughter's ashes with ME? If I wanted her buried, I would have done that instead of having her cremated!

Platitude: She's with the angels now.
Reply: none. At least someone's trying to comfort, and this is something I know to be true. I appreciate their effort.

Here's the lesson in this post, folks. If you want to help someone who is going through this, the best thing you can do is close your mouth and open your arms. Let the grief do the talking, and be sensitive. After hearing when the DBM/DBD says, you'll kind of know what kind of help to offer them. ***Platitudes and thoughtless statements do more harm than good***

Also, don't forget about us as time passes. It's been 2 months today since Leila went home to Jesus, and I can say for certain I need more help and support now than I did right after we came home without her. The unfortunate circumstance is that people expect me to be further along in the grief process than I actually am or should be, and the offers have completely dried up - except by my closest friends and those compassionate souls who are familiar with this process. What I would give to have a trusted friend come and take Andrew away for an afternoon so I could sit in the house, alone, and face my grief head-on. Pour over Leila's pictures. Cuddle with the lamb. Cry. Pray. Heal.

I guess I don't have ten examples of thoughtless things people say. God has been good to me, He hasn't let many people say what's really on their minds. Unfortuately, by the time this process is through, I'll likely have a list of the top 25.



It doesn't take much to break me these days.

The reality of my loss is so much bigger now.

And meaner.

The pictures of Leila, the ones that used to comfort me, they just hurt so bad.


On an intellectual level, I know it doesn't do any good to have a tantrum.

Yet it seems to be all that I can do.

Holding her urn to my belly and curling around it, feeling my heart break.

Sobbing so hard no noise comes out.

Seeing myself in the mirror scares me.

True grief is ugly.


Precious Moments

Kelly over at A Little Messed Up is a nosy broad. She wants to know what's going on in my photo folder, so she tagged me for a photo story. The rules are to go to your first photo folder and select the 10th photo to post along with a story. Here goes...

November 28, 2005. Fulton Farms. We just got done chopping down our very first Christmas tree to adorn our very first home. After strapping it onto the roof of the Saab, Yasar noticed a pen of sorts off to the side. Since the weather was awesome for that time of year, he decided to check it out with (then 2-year-old) Andrew. Why Fulton Farms has deer, no idea. And who knew deer love to eat Ritz crackers? It was a sweet moment between father and son, and a picture I love to look at (look how much smaller Andrew was! And Yasar's forehead! LOL!).

It's my duty and honor to tag 5 of you. So who's next?

Shannon at Mourning Into Dancing

Melissa at The MacMommy

Heather at It Only Hurts When I Breathe

Julie at Tales From the Eurovan (please come back to our bloggy-world! we miss you!)

and Pooji at Indian Thoughts

Can't wait to see what you all come up with! :)

For Genevive

Sending out a request to all. Please visit Genevive's website here, and, if you can, contribute something to her headstone (there's a button on my blog for ChipIn, or you can visit her ChipIn page here).

In a nutshell, Genevive and Lily were premature twins. Lily thrived, while Genevive was struck down with a necrotic bowel. Mom and dad are dealing with new parenthood, grief, and financial hardship all at the same time. Mom's greatest wish is to give Genevive the headstone she deserves.

My greatest wish for Genevive's mom is that she doesn't feel hopeless about her daughter's unadorned cemetary plot anymore.

If you can, if God leads you, please join me.

God Responds

I got in the car this morning, heading out to pick up the morning paper (no, not church. The last thing I want to do is cry my way through the service). And I prayed for an answer, for God to speak. Turned on K-Love, and this is what I got...

...and I've questioned everything that I believe.
Still even here, in this gray darkness
Comfort and hope come breaking through,
As I can say, in life or death, God, we belong to you!

We are Yours, God
Yours, God
Everything is Yours
From the stars in the sky, to the depths of the ocean floor.
It's all Yours, God
Yours, God
Everything is Yours
All the greatness and power, glory and splendor and majesty
Everything is Yours
It's all Yours!

My pain, my immense grief. Every tear. Leila's life, her memories.

The victory we will someday celebrate over this evil.

It's all Yours. I guess I really needded to be reminded of that. Thank you, God.


And, as a side note, Yasar was just asking me about my God-Bomb before I got in the car. I don't think I've written about this, but God spoke to me about a month ago. While I was absorbed in painful thoughts, watching other children play at the Cincy Childrens Museum and grieving that our chance at having another child was gone, He told me we were not done. Yasar was asking me if I was sure it was God, and not Satan playing on our emotions. Which makes joining that song at that particular moment even more meaningful to me. I believe He will give us another healthy child. I won't waiver, I won't question it.


Why, God?

Why did You do this to me?

What did I do to You to deserve this all-consuming pain?

Why would You dangle THE ONE THING You knew I truly wanted in front of me, teasing me with it, only to yank it away?

Why will You offer me no escape now?

You know I have too many reasons to stay here on this earth. No matter how badly I want to leave.

You know I've never entertained thoughts of taking my own life before.

Why won't You come and take this cup from my lips? Why do you give me this reason to suffer, and then give me no consolation?

You've chosen to leave me hollow again this month. Take that little bit of hope I had and crush it under Your heel. Thanks for that, I really needed it.

You saw fit to bring Lazarus back from the dead. Was he more important than my baby? Why can't I sign up for that?

Bring her back, or take me. Please. I just can't do this anymore.

My Karate Kid

Way cuter than Ralph Macchio, don't you think?


The Unwanted Reunion

This last 24 hours has been so difficult. It seems like my world is falling in on itself, and I'm just praying to be buried underneath it.

For those who aren't familiar with my background, here's a refresher. Getting pregnant with Andrew? No problem. We weren't even trying. After Andrew was born, we waited about 18 months to start working on giving him a sibling - never suspecting that we'd deal with infertility. After a confirmed and a suspected miscarriage, and almost two years of fertility treatments and disappointments, we threw up our hands and considered ourselves a one-child household. My final act was to sell/give away all my baby stuff. A few months after that, we turn up pregnant. A few months after that, we become grieving parents of a glory baby.

Since the postpartum bleeding stopped, we'd been back at it. Mostly having fun, "not trying but not not trying." But, for me, one of the worst parts of losing Leila was trying to convince myself that we could go back to being a one-child household. Now that I've seriously considered, even almost had it in my hands, being a larger family. And the word around the campfire is that a woman is more fertile after delivery. So we've been trying to capitalize on these hormone surges.

Combine those hormone surges with my getting off the antidepressants, and the stage was set for a whopper of a fight between Yasar and I. Without going into detail, it was very, very ugly. Nothing physical, but words still hurt. I ended up leaving the house last night, bent on sleeping in my car rather than be in the same square mile as him.

(I ended up coming home around midnight, when the heat and screaming kids got the best of me)

And this morning? My horrible Aunt Flo showed up. Unannounced, unexpected, and completely unwanted. The arsenic icing on my putrid cake.

I haven't cried that hard since the days after losing Leila. Why would something as natural as my period rip the scabs right off everything? I was opening the store this morning, sobbing all over the place. The pain is so intense. I want to throw up, curl into a ball, die.
Can I look forward to this every month?

Lord, just bring me home! Please!


Walking With You - Naming Our Babies

Walking With You was created to help support those who have lost a child. Together we share our stories, helpful information, scriptures, encouraging words, prayer requests, and more. Thank you to those of you who have joined us for the past few weeks...for courageously sharing your stories. If you haven't joined us yet, and would like to, you are more than welcome.

This week, we are sharing how we chose the names for our babies and any special meaning behind them.

My husband and I have always had problems coming up with baby names. He's from Syria, and it's no secret that he's been brought up in an antisemitic environment - though I have to say he's come a long way from his roots in his 15 years here. And the bulk of American names are based in the Jewish faith. Andrew was actually going to be Nathan, until someone in Yasar's family enlightened him on that name's origins.

When we first found out we were expecting, we started tossing around different names. Our first round was Laurel Edith and Oliver Philip, respectively. That lasted a few months, then, right before we found out that we had the female version cooking in the oven.

And then we came up with Leila. Leila (pronounced Lay-la) is of Persian origin, meaning "dark beauty". Since my daughter was destined to have dark brown hair, and a 50/50 shot at having my brown eyes, we thought it would be the perfect, beautiful name for her.

Her middle name, Mae, was meant to honor both my mother (middle name May) and grandmother (Edith May, where we thought to transfer the "e" into Mae). Viola! The perfect name for our little girl. Leila Mae.

As a side note, a few weeks after we lost her, my husband asked me if we could use the name again. We both loved it so much! I hate to say this, but I actually, for about a minute, considered saving that name - just in case. But no, it belonged to Leila, and it will never be used again.

Leila Mae Wasouf. A beautiful name for a beautiful soul.

My Very Best Day

Many on this earth won't understand. My very best day would be their very worst. The day that starts with dying.

I'm rooting for a "she never felt a thing" demise, but in the end it won't really matter.

In the blink of an eye, I'm standing at those pearly gates. God looks at me with a giant smile on His face and says "welcome home, daughter!" He puts His Arm around me and leads me into paradise.

The crowd goes wild. They're singing and dancing, confetti and fireworks flying all around. Everyone is celebrating my homecoming.

My gremom walks strongly out of the throng, the first of my family to greet me. She tells me how she's missed me, and watched over me. I want to cry, but no tears are allowed in heaven. So I swallow the lump in my throat and wrap her in a giant embrace.

She says there's someone who'd like to meet me. I get excited, is it Leila? No, Leila's off chasing rainbows right now. But gremom hands me this perfect little baby. The baby I miscarried at 7 weeks in August of 2006. Is it a boy? A girl? That no longer matters. This child clutches my hand and coos at me, and I'm in love.

We start to walk down the beautiful golden streets, away from the noise of the crowd (yet it still follows us). Paradise is beautiful. Fig trees, watermelon plants, tomatoes, marigolds, all my favorite things are growing by the side of the road. Cobalt blue butterflies light from flower to flower. In the distance, I can see the mansions.

Gremom is telling me all about how her life has gone since her death. She's been busy, caring for my two precious children, learning to play the harp, and singing in the choir. But every once in awhile she's been allowed a vacation (a vacation from heaven, isn't that funny?) to swoop down to earth and comfort me. She said mostly God did that Himself, but a few times she talked Him into letting her do it. Her eyes are shining, she's delighted that she can tell me how she's comforted me. Me? I'm just so glad she's been there to care for the darling baby nestled in my arms. And for my Leila, who I'm so anxious to see.

We round a corner, and here's my new home. Beautiful, alabaster walls, a marble entryway, morning glories climbing the veranda. And a porch swing. I settle my (ohmygoodness, smaller!) behind on the seat, pat the place next to me in invitation to gremom. She joins me, still talking animatedly.

And then I hear it. "MOOOMMMMMEEEEEEEEE!" I hand the baby in my arms to gremom just as my little girl comes tearing around the side of the house.

And I run to her.


How does your Very Best Day play out in your dreams?


A Precious Goodbye

Walking With You was created by Kelly of Sufficient Grace Ministries to help support those who have lost a child. Together we share our stories, helpful information, scriptures, encouraging words, prayer requests, and more. To join in on Walking With You please visit Kelly's blog.

This 4th week, we are sharing about saying goodbye and experiencing the memorial service or funeral if applicable.


You know, I say goodbye to Leila every day. I don't regret cremating her and keeping her
remains with me, not for a second. But the knowledge that she's gone is always right there. The ash container I see first thing every morning, and stop to kiss on my way out of the bedroom into a new day.... (shown here with the blanket she left the hospital in)

Or the satin memory box under my bed that holds all the sweet mementos I have of her life and death,

from sympathy cards to the journal I kept while carrying her. From pregnancy tests:

to photo albums:

To ultrasound pictures and hospital bracelets.


Our Weekend

1. Andrew and Gianni, cousins and BFF's!
2. Me and the love of my life.
3. Yasar, Beth, and Andrew hanging out at Nolde's North Pond.
4. Joy and Anthony's Nuptials.
5. And an impromptu lesson in nature - if you feed raccoons out the back of your gas station, they keep coming back (no lie, here was something like 20 of them there!)



My body is out to get me.

Last night we took my son and his friend to the park. I was spinning them on the merry-go-round, and decided to jump on. I ended up getting dragged halfway around, and have the sprained ankle to prove it.

About a week ago I was chasing Andrew around the house. Went to cut a turn, my body went "uh-UH!" and I slammed into the wall. Got some carpet burn from that one.

When did my body stop reacting the way I expect it to?

Oh, and the ultimate treason. Pushing my little girl into the world too early. Sabotaging my happiness and emotional state. Making me hate the skin I live in.

I feel like I don't know myself anymore. My reflexes no longer cater to my whims.

I'd like my heavenly body now. Please?


My DBM Necklace

This is the necklace my husband bought for me right after we lost Leila. It has her name and birthday inscribed on the bottom. I'm glad I have something of hers to wear with me everywhere I go. :)

Joy and Pain

I'm really looking forward to this weekend. My oldest friend Joy is getting married Sunday to her soulmate Anthony, and then we're all going to a picnic (read: potluck) reception! Awesome!

So I've been cooking up a storm. I've got caramel cashew blondies in the oven right now, and little brownie cups in the freezer, ready to be iced and decorated at my mom's house. I'll also be working my pepperbeef sandwiches in the crockpot. Honestly, it feels so good to be cooking and looking forward to a nice, enjoyable, relaxing weekend in old Reading, PA.

My only question, as I'm making the list of things to pack, is what about Leila? Is it normal to feel this drive to bring your daughter's ashes with you wherever you go? I feel like, if I don't, I'm leaving her behind. I guess I should be grateful for those feelings, to me it means that I've at least touched on the acceptance step of grief, that I know that my daughter is gone, and those ashes are all I have left.

I don't want to be that weird lady who can't let go. But right now I can't let go. I'm going to sneak her memory box into my suitcase. Even if I never get it out and give my girl a kiss, at least I can know she's with me.


Leila's Butterfly

My girl Bree over at My Baby Butterfly Ella is such a blessing. This is my little Leila's butterfly, one of a kind, created by Bree. I love how it's not somber like most memorials are. It's colorful and happy, as I know my daughter is right now, in heaven.

Thank you so much, Bree. People like you make this journey a little less difficult. You're awesome!


Why I Love My OB

Isn't this a thoughtful gift? This came in the mail for me yesterday, a gift from my OB/GYN's office. Do I need to tell you I cried?


Glutton for Punishment

What on earth possessed me to look up 27 weeks pregnant on Google?

My little Leila would be almost 2 lbs.

I'd be measuring 3 inches about the bellybutton.

I'd be starting to wane in the energy department as I wound out the second trimester.

She'd have an 80% chance of survival had she lived this long.

God, that hurts so bad!


Lessons Learned from Losing Leila

April over at Life Through Logic and Faith wrote this amazing post that really got my gears turning. What good things have come from losing my daughter? And how can I even think about that?

Losing Leila gave me a whole new relationship with my Creator. I'm a Christian. Have been since I was 12. But I never truly learned to lean on God until this experience. I never put all my cares into His Hands. I never completely gave it all up. But losing my daughter has shown me a whole new level of dependence on God. I cannot get through this without Him. I need Him so desperately to get through today, and tomorrow, and the tomorrow after that.

Losing Leila exposed the structure of my marriage. Yasar and I have been together for eleven years now. We've come from very different backgrounds, and it's still a work in progress when it comes to compromising with each other. The death of our child has opened up some challenges we'd never had the occasion to face before. Like how I've taken on a parental role in this marriage, when I need to learn to come to him to support me the same way he does with me. And how we react to grief in opposite ways. It's been a learning experience for both of us. Personally, it's deepened my respect for the man God provided me.

Losing Leila has influenced the way I parent. Andrew has always been the light of my life, and now more than ever. While I want to cling to him more closely now, I find myself being sensitive to his growing need for independence. And I also don't candy-coat real life for him as much anymore. When he asks a question, I answer it very much as I would to an adult, just using simpler terminology. After seeing his dead sister, what possible damage can my words do?

Losing Leila taught me about myself. I give constantly to my family at my own expense. Grieving Leila has been an exercise in putting on my own oxygen mask before assisting others. I'm entitled to my feelings. They don't always have to be logical. They're mine, God created me to have them, and I no longer offer apology for them.

There are more lessons from losing Leila, when it comes to evaluating my friendships and relationships with family, as well as my interactions with my fellow church members and at work. So much we've learned these past 6 weeks! Leila, I can't believe what I'd be missing without your influence.

Now I Know I'm a Country Mouse


Walking With You - Meeting Our Babies

Walking With You was created by Kelly of Sufficient Grace Ministries to help support those who have lost a child. Together we share our stories, helpful information, scriptures, encouraging words, prayer requests, and more. To join in on Walking With You please visit Kelly's blog.

This 3rd week we will be sharing about the birth of our babies and the moments we spent with our children after they were born.

Wow. It's not easy to relive those moments. Especially with the benefit of knowing the outcome. But I feel grateful to have this opportunity for you to glimpse those precious moments of Leila's birth.

It was a Thursday. Six weeks ago yesterday. May 21, 2009. I was 19 weeks, 5 days pregnant.

My husband owns a
franchise, and we had set up to do a pizza-making activity with about 15 mentally challenged teens and their staff at our local MR/DD school. I hadn't been feeling well, actually had been on the fence about canceling for that night and rescheduling. But I couldn't disappoint those kids.

They had an amazing time. Everyone made some pretty cool pizzas, and they were outside enjoying them in the sun. When I realized that the recurring pain I'd been experiencing for the last hour or so was my body contracting. I thought, "Braxton Hicks, no biggie. I'll go home and lay down." On the drive home, I started timing them and realized they were about every 3 minutes. I walked in the house, opened my dog-eared copy of What to Expect, and saw that it said "if you're having more than four contractions an hour, call the doctor". So I paged Dr. O, she said to have her called when I got to the hospital's maternity department.

I grabbed my library book, Your Best Birth by Ricki Lake, and off I went. The hospital's only a 5-minute drive. I called Yasar and let him know what was going on. I sang along with Blessed Be Your Name on K-Love. I checked in to the hospital, oblivious.

Nikki and her student nurse got me comfortable and situated in a room. I remember her putting the fetal monitor on my tummy and chuckling at how my little girl was kicking it. The contractions were still coming, and I was trying to breathe my way through them. Dr. O got there, checked me, and said the most wonderful words..."You're still closed." Oh, how I thanked God for that! Not that I ever really thought anything could happen to me, those kinds of tragedies only happen to other people, right?

They tortured me a little. I mean, put the IV into my arm, then into my hand. The ultrasound tech came in. And them the bomb dropped. "You're 50% effaced. You have a 45% chance of walking out of the hospital still pregnant." No, it wasn't put to me that abruptly, but that's what it boiled down to. Nikki suggested I call Yasar and have him come in. I called, aske
d him to drop Andrew off with my friend, and get in here. And then I prayed. I prayed so hard.

Yasar got there. Dr. O went home. Nikki checked me and I was 4cm dilated. I don't remember how much longer it took, but fast forward to a contraction that turned me on my side. I reached down and felt the bulge, and yelled at Yasar to get Nikki, the baby was coming now. He couldn't find her, so I called her on the phone. She came in, and my body betrayed me. Pushed my Leila out into the world way too early. 10:54pm. Everything came out at once - Leila trapped in her
unbroken amniotic sac, the placenta, all at once. Nikki wrapped everything up into a towel, put her on the unwarming warmer, and started cleaning me up. Yasar was sobbing in the bathroom. I was numb. Nikki was crying. Dr. O came back and lookedd at Leila with tears in her eyes. And yet, I couldn't cry for my daughter. Even after they cleaned her up and I got to hold her, I couldn't cry.

But I couldn't get over how beautiful she was. What a miracle. Tiny hands, complete with fingernails. A sweet little mouth. My son's nose. Yasar's big, flat toes. Perfection. Just too soon.

Around 1am, I sent Yasar to pick up Andrew from my friend Christine's house and take him home to sleep. I called her once Yasar had left and gave her the news, still utterly calm. Told her that Yasar would be there shortly, thanked her for watching my son. I remember her being terribly upset, and comforting her. Nikki came back into the room and asked if I needed anything. I told her I was hungry, could she find some food? She found some Pop-Tarts, oreos, a sandwich. I ate the sandwich. I called my friend Melissa, a night owl who lives in Arizona, but I was shaking so bad that I couldn't really talk. I passed out. An hour later, I woke up to vomit up the sandwich.

Around 3am, Nikki came back with Anita, another OB nurse and an amazingly talented photographer. They brought Leila back to me to take some pictures of us together. I was still numb.

4am, I woke up to go potty. And it hit me like a herd of elephants. My daughter was gone. I sat in that bathroom, sobbing, my heart splitting into tinier and tinier pieces. I went back to bed and spent the rest of the night crying and listening the doors open and close all around me as others made their way towards their happy endings.

Yasar came back around 8:30 with Andrew. Seeing Andrew was the best thing in the world, he made me switch gears from Leila's grieving mommy to Andrew's in-control mommy. Darla, my morning nurse, brought Leila back in so Andrew could see her. He was sad for about 10 seconds, and then found all the neat buttons on the bed. I'm so glad he had the chance to hold his little sister.

And then came the "what do we do with Leila now?" conversation. I wasn't sure - she was below the 20 week cutoff where you had to make arrangements for her remains. Yasar and I were at odds with how to handle this, but I knew, once Darla told me what would happen to her if we'd turn her over to the hospital, that we wouldn't be treating our flesh and blood like bio-waste. And I'm eternally indebted to Darla for her gentle insistence that I don't want to turn Leila over to the hospital. Without her guidance, I probably would have made the biggest mistake of my life, and would be aching over it now and forever.

Dr. O came in and cleared me to leave (a good thing, since I probably would have left AMA anyway). I went home with my son, called the funeral home, and sent a mass email out to friends and family. And then I fell apart.

I don't know why God chose this road for my family. But I know I'm at ease with His decisions. As hard as this was for us, to lose this amazing gift, I've never stopped thanking Him for her short life. He's definitely used this experience to bring me closer to Him. And I'm so thankful to know my Savior, to have Him living in my heart, and to know that, because of his sacrifice on the cross for my sins, someday I will get to skate on a snowflake with my daughter. I will see if those eyes came out my somber brown or her daddy's sparkling green. I may not have her on this earth, but soon I will spend all of eternity with her. Thank you, God.


My 6-Week Checkup

Can it possibly be 6 weeks since I last saw Leila? Time is fleeting...

I wish I had something exciting to report. But outside a pap smear, a normal BP, and a much lower number on the scale, it was a pretty ho-hum experience.

My OB is a wonderful and very sympathetic woman. She said, if I'm not pregnant in the next 3 months, to come back and she'll start me on Clomid. I'm pretty sure I could have cajoled her into doing it now, but it's not really something to anticipate. It's been a few years since taking it, but I remember Clomid making me feel completely drained of energy, and it had me stuffing so much protein in my mouth I gained something like 30 lbs. in two months.

Hopefully we don't have to take that route. Hopefully it'll just happen naturally.

I also took Leila's pictures in to show the staff. Dr. O said that Anita, the talented nurse who took the pictures, was just asking about us and how we're doing. Six weeks later, we've not been forgotten by these wonderful women working in the OB unit at the hospital. Amazing to find a support system in an unexpected place.

That's all that's new here. Other than my hubby begging me to dye the grey out of my hair (Never!), and Andrew getting another wobbly baby tooth, things are pretty quiet on the homefront.

Quiet's good. Right?