Walking With You- Week 3

If you are just coming here for the first time, I am participating in a weekly series right now hosted by Sufficient Grace Ministries along with other moms who have also lost a child.

Share about your first steps back into life. What helped you survive in the world outside as you took those first tender steps? Are there still tender areas for you today, living in a world that doesn’t embrace or understand the loss of a baby/child? How do you cope with those struggles? What advice would you offer those new to this walk to encourage and bring hope? How has this changed for you from the beginning? If you are in early grief, what do you fear/struggle with as you try to navigate a new normal….life without your baby?

I remember the steps I had to take walking out of the hospital with empty arms. Literal steps. With my older 4 kids, they had always taken me out of the hospital in a wheelchair but after I had Noah, they didn't do that. I had to take those painful steps on my own, carrying nothing but the plaster molds of his hands and feet, while the tears streamed down my face, leaving behind the only place my son lived.

Steps into life around me proved to be just as painful in the following weeks and months. I didn't leave the house for 3 weeks after Noah's funeral. During those couple of weeks, people brought meals, helped with mowing & took the kids out occasionally to do activities. But after those few weeks, it seemed like everyone forgot. Most people avoided me and other than 3 friends who had also lost baby's, no one else came along side of me to "help" me or even just to sit with me at times or help mother my broken heart. I have never felt so alone in my life. There was definitely a lack of support, sadly from those who I thought would've been there for us the most. 

I really do think the lack of support made getting back into life much more difficult for me. I was forced to get back into some semblance of routine after a few weeks. Before having Noah, I had been babysitting a little boy and his mom had a baby 2 weeks before I had Noah. So just 3 weeks after Noah died, I was back into full-time babysitting. I suppose on one hand it was good to force myself back into doing something but on the other hand I do think I should've taken more time off. At this same time, we had to start up with homeschooling again (as we start in August). But other than these 2 things, I still didn't leave the house more than I had to. I couldn't handle being in crowds of people or around people who were always so happy when I was so broken. 

Exactly 2 months after Noah died, our homeschool co-op started. This was about the only group of people I felt "safe" around, though I still struggled for several weeks getting used to it all again. I was thankful for these gals as they often asked how I was doing, and truly wanted to know. They cried with me and most of all, the acknowledged & remembered Noah. It felt good to be around people who truly cared!! 

It took me 4 months to be able to start going back to church, again mainly due to crowds of people and there's just something about being there that easily brought me to tears. Memories of Noah's funeral, knowing he was buried just outside, the words in the songs, etc.

Since physical support in real life was lacking, I found some of the best support was online. Being able to talk to others moms who understood helped me tremendously. Mainly to know that was I was thinking & feeling was "normal" in the world of babyloss. I needed that especially because by this point, there were people in my life that tried to imply that what I was experiencing wasn't normal. Blogging about what I was going through was another way I found to help me as well.

While this time of my life felt so lonesome, I knew God was holding me up. He was also using this time to refine me. People I thought were friends up and left me, other people stepped in and became close as we were now connected in ways that most aren't. He also reminded me to not live for others but keep my focus on Him no matter what others opinions were.

Another difficult thing I found when trying to get back into life, was when people asked about my kids. If all of them weren't with me when I was asked how many I had, it wasn't too bad to say how many I had as there weren't heads to count. But those times when my 4 living kids were with me, and someone asked about my kids and I said I had 5, there came the inevitable question. Many times in those early days I'd tear up, which I was ok with but I know most weren't. I always wear one of my "Noah" necklaces everyday and often get stopped by someone asking it about. I can finally say I don't tear up as often now when asked but answer instead with a smile on my face, sharing how old Noah would be if he were here in my arms.

I can see I was able to get a bit more adapted into life around me but it's been a long road. Though there are times I'd also say I've just gotten better at hiding my grief from most around me as well. I still do have times even now I just can't be around groups of people or just have to say no to things, it's just one of many ways I'm not the "old" me, nor will I ever be. I still feel isolated at times and it still stings when others don't remember Noah. I don't know if that tenderness will ever go away. I have just learned to surround myself with those who do care & remember.

If you are new to this journey, remember, there is no timetable. There is no right or wrong despite what those around you may try to imply. Don't force yourself or let others force yourself back into life around you. Focus on you & your immediate family (ie, spouse/kids). Find at least one person you can completely release everything to, whether it's a real life friend or an online friend. Do only what you need to do for now and just rely on Jesus to get through each minute or hour of your day. 

My previous weeks posts:
Week 1
Week 2


A friend of mine recently gave me a gift of some Scentsy products. Before this, I had never tried any. I do have to say I am loving my warmer & scents that I have (and there's a ton of them you can choose from!)

While there are more products than just these bars, I only have experience so far with them. I have to say I love the fact that each little square you see last 10 hours in the warmer. And there are 8 to a pack, so for $5, you have 80 hours of scent. I turn mine on for a bit, smell up the house, then turn it off and the scent lingers for quite awhile.

I decided to hold an online Scentsy party since I am really digging these right now. So I invite you all to check out my party, and if you see something you like, you are welcome to purchase directly through my party link.  My party close January 30th. Thank you in advance if you do make a purchase! 

Money Saving Monday

Hey friends, so sorry I missed last week with money saving tips. Sometimes life just gets in the way!

Two weeks ago I shared how having a garden can cut down on grocery costs and I also shared with you my laundry soap recipe.

This weeks tip is going to be a short one (again, it's been crazy busy here). But I am sharing with you one of the greatest cleaning recipes ever!

This recipe is awesome for cleaning all over the house. From counters, to bathrooms to removing stains on clothing and everything in between!!!

Seriously, this is ALL I use anymore to clean. I used to be a cleaning snob when it came to my bathrooms and the one thing I'd pay full price for and get name brand was scrubbing bubbles for the tub & shower. I was sure this was the only thing to remove soap scum.

I was wrong.

I still had to scrub a bit even after applying scrubbing bubbles. That is, until I discovered this awesome concoction! Seriously this stuff is amazing! I spray my entire shower down with it and let it set at least 20 minutes. Then I come back and spray it again and let it set for a few minutes. It then effortlessly cleans up like you wouldn't believe. WAY better than my scrubbing bubbles ever did! AND it's SOOO cheap and  less chemicals to deal with as well! Win win!!! (I was tempted to take a before & after shower pic but decided to spare you lol. I have 3 full bathrooms so shower cleaning isn't on the top of my daily list sadly)

So what is this miracle cleaning & stain spray??

Are you ready for how simple this is??

Vinegar & dish soap......that's IT!!!

money saving ideas
There are no cats used in the making of this recipe.

Apparently Oreo thought he had to make an appearance as I took this pic. lol Anyway, the recipe is super easy.

Equal parts vinegar & "dawn" dish soap. Reason I quoted that is because I have often actually used walmarts  generic version of this soap, as long as it's the blue kind (I only have dawn right now due to some great deals I've gotten). I heat up the vinegar for about a minute in the microwave before adding the soap just to make sure it blends well. If you've never researched how healthy vinegar is, I'd encourage you to research it. It's amazing what you can do with it! And if you don't like the smell of vinegar, just add a few drops of essential oil to the mix for a more pleasant smell.

But from there, just blend the 2 things in a spray bottle. Use it to disinfect your kitchen counters, sprinkle some baking soda in your sink then spray this to scrub out your sink, spray it on tough stains on clothes (I've seriously removed stains that I thought was set and a gonner with this stuff).

Between this cheap cleaner/stainer remover and my laundry soap, talk about cutting major costs yet being extremely efficient!!!! 

Don't forget, if you have a great money saving tip, please email me! I'll be happy to share it with everyone in a future money saving post!

Walking With You-Cling in the Pit

If you are just catching this series, I am joining up with Sufficient Grace Ministries in their walking with you series. Last week was our intro.

-Week 2
Whether or not you are new to loss, talk a bit about early grief. What was it like, clinging for hope in the pits of despair? What did you cling to for hope? How did you survive the early days? What helped? What do you wish you could share with someone new to this walk, clinging in the pit? If you’re in the pit, currently, share your struggles. What can others do to encourage you?
Oh the pit. 

The most horrid place I have ever been in my life. I'd say I started on the downward slope when we received Noah's fatal diagnosis. The first week afterwards, I found myself really grieving and in shock at what we were facing. I didn't fall into the pit completely at this point though. Once I realized that at any point our son could die, I set out to make the most of the time we had together. I got online and researched as much as I could and found other moms to talk to & ask questions. I strived to create as many memories with Noah & the kids as I could in the time we had. I found that giving myself purpose in those days helped keep the worst of the grief at bay. I also knew we were really being lifted in prayer by so many which I have no doubt is what also gave me the strength to get out of bed the rest of my pregnancy. 

I experienced a lot of fear in that time. There were so many unknowns, not knowing if Noah would be born still or alive and if he was born alive would we only have minutes together or days, what would it be like watching my son die and how would I react, etc. Truly the fear of the unknown in some ways was worse than things that actually did happen. During that time, I did my best to cling to hope, His promises and prayed for the best possible outcome yet I always knew in the back of my mind what the worse case scenario was as well.

I reached a point towards the end of my pregnancy that I finally felt I was ready for the next step, whatever it was. Living in the land of the unknown was mentally & emotionally draining. I think at this point, God gave me the peace to move forward. Though when I realized I was going into labor and when the Dr finally told me I needed to go to the hospital, I could see the edge of the pit in that moment coming into view and felt the sinking in my stomach.

Once again though, just when I didn't know how I was going to be able to go through it all, God gave me the most perfect peace during the rest of my labor. I have never experienced such a calmness. It's true, God gives you what you need, when you need it and not a moment sooner. That peace continued to be with me when Noah was born alive and during his 9 hours of life with us. In fact, when we were told his heart was slowing, I shed a few tears but then was able to smile & rejoice in all we got to experience with him that we were told wouldn't happen. When he was ushered into Heaven, it felt as if Jesus himself was physically hugging us all in that moment. It seemed as if for just that brief time, Heaven & our hospital room intersected and we were given a glimpse of what we'll feel some day in eternity.

I wish I could say that feeling lasted but it didn't. Once the funeral home came to pick up Noah, I went descending into the pit head first. Ugh, just thinking back on it now makes me shudder & cry. There are no words to explain how those early days felt. 

After Noah's funeral, I didn't leave the house for 3 weeks. I stayed in bed a lot of that time, partially due to recovering after child birth and partly because I had no desire to face each day. I welcomed sleep as it would mean I'd get a break from the dark, depressing wave of grief that was threatening to drown me. I felt so utterly alone. We received cards & notes but it seemed no one knew what to say to me so most everyone stayed away except those who had been down this road & knew what it felt like. It seemed like most people forgot Noah & moved on. My older 4 children were my lifeline. They picked up the slack around the house when I couldn't function and they would check on me those days I couldn't get out of bed. Unfortunately Kevin was only given one day off from work after the funeral so even he wasn't around to help.  I know it was only by the prayers of many & the support of a few that helped keep my head above water.

I eventually started to try to piece together my new normal. I learned to stop trying to please others & their expectations and worked on focusing on where God had me. Sadly, some walked out of my life after Noah & I experienced a lot of criticism not only in those early months but even now still from some who judge my grief.. In those early months, I had read a really good devotional that made me realize that there are times God has us in the valley and the more we fight to get out of it, the worse it can be. I began to accept the fact that it was ok to be in the pit of grief and that I was allowed to feel & experience it all as that is where God had placed me at that time. I learned that it was ok to just live one hour at a time or one day at a time, whatever it took to get through each moment.

It took me several months before I could go back to church though it wasn't because I was angry at God, I never experienced that. I found it hard to be around crowds of people (this still happens at times now).  Plus knowing the last time I was there, was to bury my son, I knew it would be hard & emotional.  Once I finally started attending again, it was difficult. I couldn't walk through the doors without crying. I couldn't sing the praise & worship music for quite a long time. Even now there are times I still tear up being at church or hearing the music. I'll occasionally leave the service during those moments to go sit outside at Noah's grave alone.

I don't know exactly when the gradual change happened, but somewhere along the lines I began to experience more "good" days than bad and felt like I wasn't in the darkest part of the pit like I had been. Looking back I can see how going through all this showed me that God is the only one who will truly ever be there for me. Many people I thought I could rely on left me but He was the only one I could cry out to that would listen & understand. I began to fully feel & understand in a new way some of the verses in the Bible I had always read but that held a deeper meaning for me now. I know it's only by the grace of God I got to the point I am today. Trying to keep my focus on Heaven & knowing I'll see Noah again helps me as well.

While I haven't descended into the deepest part of the pit since the earlier days, I still do trip & fall into it and find myself landing on a ledge with a view of the light. In fact, it took me awhile to write this post as I am just climbing out right now as I found myself alone on that ledge for  a day or so again this week. It's in these times I find myself needing grace, support & compassion from those around me. I can't help it when these "tough" days hit as usually they come out of nowhere, they are now a part of who I am, my new normal. I am thankful they don't last as long as they used to but I can't say that they are any easier to deal with as time passes. I'm learning just to roll with it as a view of the pit will always be a part of my life. 

Guest Post!

Morning everyone! Just wanted to quick let you know to go over and check out Lori's blog, At The Fence, where she so graciously asked me to guest post. She hosts "Meeting Mondays" so go check out the little bit I shared! :-) Later today, I'll share some more "Money-Saving Monday" tips!

~My ability to handle lifes storms rests upon my ability to give them to God~

2 1/2 and 1 1/2

Where has the time gone?? Today Noah is 2 1/2 and Olivia is 1 1/2.

Dear Noah,
I can't believe it's been 2 1/2 years since your miraculous birth! Some days it feels like it was just yesterday we held our breath as you came out, wondering if you were alive or not. Listening to your cry & seeing you move on video tape still gives us chills! On the other hand, I can't believe it's been 2 1/2 long years since I held your warm body against mine, soaking in every detail of you.

Most days as I go about my daily activities, I catch myself wondering what you'd be like today. I wonder if you'd be potty trained by now as Erik was by his 2nd birthday. I wonder how much you would be talking and if you'd have any cute mispronounced words you'd say. As I see Olivia exploring her world, I wonder just how much trouble the two of you would be getting into together!

Oh the things I've missed these last 2 1/2 years......all the hugs & slobbery kisses, being able to wipe away your tears, hearing you say "mommy" and all the other million things I've missed out on. There are days when the tears come & the ache hits even stronger from how much I miss you, it still takes my breath away!

I wish I could get a glimpse into what your life in Heaven is like. While it hurts each passing day that takes me further from when you were here, I know that each day brings me closer to seeing you again! Oh what a glorious reunion we will have, never to be separated again!!!

I love you so very much Noah and am SO thankful God made me your mommy!! You've made such an impact on so many and have made me very proud!


Dear Olivia,

Wow, you are 1 1/2 already!!! Though to look at you, you are the size of a 3-6 month old (yes that's the size clothes you are finally wearing) yet you act like you are several years old!!  You have such a sweet personality and are such a comedian! You love making us laugh.

You are saying several words, my favorite being the way you are saying moooommy in a sing-song voice, too cute! You are starting to make several cute animal sounds. One of your favorite games right now is to play Just Dance on the Wii. You love getting the remote & start dancing to tell us you want to play. The song called "Wild Wild West" on the game you have named "Wa Wa Wah". What's even funnier is you are starting to actually score on the game, you sure do pick up on things fast!

You've been helping us with little chores around house like putting things away or pushing the chair up to the sink when we do dishes so you can "help" put the clean ones in to dry. You love to get on the computer to watch your favorite Elmo songs and it's so adorable the way you insist on holding the laptop on your lap.

When it's time for nap or bed, you wave & "nigh-nigh" to everyone while blowing kisses, sometimes you even walk back to your room yourself. You still cuddle up with one or 2 animals to sleep with. Some mornings when you wake up, you want to hold Noah's bear before even leaving your room. Oh how that melts my heart! I wish your big brother was here as I think the 2 of you would be the best of friends.

I'm so thankful for your tender heart at even such a young age. The moments I have tears from missing Noah, you seem to know and you just cuddle me & give me kisses and let me hold you as long as I need to. I'm so greatful God has blessed us with you, our own rainbow in the midst of a storm, reminding us of God's promises. Because of Noah, we know to cherish each milestone you reach, each smile you give us, and yes, even the times you need extra snuggling in the middle of the night. Each precious minute you are here is a gift and one that we won't take for granted.

I love you my sweet girl and am so thankful for you!!!


Walking With You- Intro & Where we are now

Over the last almost 2 years, I've mentioned on here about Sufficient Grace Ministries and the wonderful ministry they have. Right now, they are running a once a week series called Walking With You as a way for baby loss moms to come together, to support & minister to each other. I realize not all my followers of my blog are baby loss families but in those cases, I feel in sharing openly, it can help educate those who haven't walked this path as chances are you know someone who has experienced a miscarriage, stillbirth or infant loss.

This is week 1 and we are to introduce ourselves & share where are now.

For those who don't know me, my name is Jenn. I'm a child of the King, a wife to Kevin for over 14 years and a homeschooling mom to six (soon to be 7) precious children, living in Pa.

Our journey started in October 2009 when we found out we were expecting our 5th child. We were all ecstatic! I was feeling good, almost too good at times I commented, but I brushed that off. My pregnancy progressed well. I stayed active in running & even long distance biking up close to the end. I had been with an OB up until 18 weeks but then decided to switch to a midwife for a homebirth. So other than an early ultrasound to get a due date, I didn't have any other ones done.

My cousin & her husband owned a 3D ultrasound business,  one of those places you go for the "fun" ultrasound. So at 30 weeks, we went in for a glimpse of our baby. We didn't want to know the gender, just more or less see some face pictures. Of course baby was being stubborn & had hands held right in front of their face. So we decided to go back in a few weeks to try again.

At our next appointment, yet again the hands were in front of the face. After much poking & prodding, baby finally started to move the hands, and in those seconds, I caught my breath. I could tell right away our baby had a cleft lip. Of course seeing something physically wrong with your child is heartbreaking and I had this sickening feeling that there was more going on despite people telling us things would be fine.

Long story short (you can read more details under May 2010), we went back to the OB, who sent us to maternal fetal medicine for an in-depth ultrasound. Between that & an amnio, we were given the diagnosis that our son was "incompatible with life" and had Trisomy 13. From that point on, our lives were drastically changed forever. There is a lot more to Noah's amazing birth & our time together you are welcome to read and see how God's hand held our family during that time especially.

It's been 909 days since Noah died. And it certainly has not been an easy road since then. Many people (read, those who haven't lost a child) said with time, the pain will lessen. I don't think that is true. With time, I'm learning how to live with the Noah-size shaped hole in my life, and I don't think I will fully master it until the day I die. I'm learning how to incorporate my grief as a part of me just as if I was missing an arm. You can't ever get a new arm, you have to learn how to live differently with a part of you missing. And at times, that is hard work.

I think as time passes, I realize even more how much I miss Noah. You lose so much when your child dies. I miss seeing the relationship he would've had with his siblings, I am missing out on him discovering his world around him as an inquisitive 2 year old. So the times when those moments hit me, it makes me want to cry out in the unfairness of it all.

The tears still come & the grief still hits me, sometimes out of nowhere. Thankfully the good days outweigh the tough ones, but they are still there. Noah is a part of our everyday life, from talking about what he'd be doing today, to seeing his pictures around the house, to recalling how he felt in my arms, to including his picture when we take family pictures, he is ALWAYS a part of our family!

Though despite the pain & heartache I will always have, the only reason I am where I am today is the because of the hope I have in Jesus. I know my son is living today, just waiting for the day when we are all together again in Heaven. I know God placed our family on this path for a special reason and I am striving to use Noah's testimony & our journey for HIS glory!