Friday, April 26, 2013

Friday Thoughts

After pouring all my emotions & thoughts into this week's post, I'm just here with some note-worthy links from the last week.

  • One of the blogs that has been both a resource & a comfort for me after Charlotte's passing has been In This Wonderful Life.  Megan is a mom of three - boy/girl twins and an angel in heaven.  This week she shared a powerful video about the importance of newborn screening, which is even more prominent because of what she went through with her first child.  I'd recommend everyone to watch this & share with anyone who might have a baby in the future.
  • Another post that touched close to home this week was Diana's post about the grieving and how difficult that can be.  She said it perfectly when she said, "I am tired of the process of grieving, the energy it takes. Yet I look back and realize just how far I’ve come in nearly a year. I made it. I survived." and that's just the kind of hope I need when I feel like the grief has taken over my life for good.
  • My friend Lindsey (who I can't wait to meet in person this September!) wrote a great post on fear this week that felt like the words were taken right from my heart.  Looking back over the last few years, I can see where fear has taken over my life in some situations and now I realize that that's not a life I want to live.  It's comforting to know that I am not alone in these struggles too.

So that’s what I’m thinking about this week.  What's grabbed your attention this week.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


From the day I announced I was pregnant, it felt like everyone had questions: 

How are you feeling?
Is this your first?
Do you know what you’re having? 

All of which usually resulted in an “aw”, a smile, and/or some sort of unsolicited advice.

However when we found out about Charlotte’s diagnosis, my whole world flipped upside down and I was no longer sure what our future held so I chose to keep everything fairly private.  Besides close friends & family, most of the people I met/saw on a daily basis probably thought my pregnancy was pretty normal and uneventful, while inside our minds raced because we didn't even know what the days after Charlotte's birth would look like, if we got any at all...  

After Charlotte passed, accepting what had happened was still really hard.  I avoided unwanted conversations where questions could arise by either hidding out at home or ignoring my phone, but the more time that passed, the more I knew that I'd have to face the outside world again, but how? 

How would their questions make me feel?
How would I answer their questions?
How would they feel after I answered their questions? 

The more I thought about it (and sometimes I thought about it enough that I’d made myself sick with worry), the more I realized I had two options: 1. I could either be brief with a one-word answer & hope that that was enough for them or 2. I could be vulnerable & open myself up for the world to see.

And to be honest, neither option is very comfortable.

While I have spent time working on my answers (both for me and the unsuspecting person asking the question), I continue to come away without the right words to say.

Yet regardless of what I say, I am slowly realizing the importance of sharing our past with others.  It isn’t always pretty, but in the end all of those events have led me to where I am today.  My childhood. My parent’s divorceMy college experiences.  My marriage.  And now my daughter’s short life.

As for the future, we’re taking it one day at a time.  We both long to be parents more than we ever thought we would and hope to grow our family sometime soon.  It’s hard not to live in the past or the future all the time, so I keep trying to remind myself to live in the moment as much as I can. 

Thank you to those who have followed this little three-part series this month.  Not only has it been therapeutic for me to share my thoughts, but I pray for those who find this blog after eexperiencing a loss might find comfort or understanding through my sharing.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Friday Thoughts

If I could describe the past week with one word, it would be: sick! 

Between a nasty head cold over the weekend to an unbearable headache a couple nights ago, I’m thankful to be (finally!) feeling on the mend today.

Maybe that’s one of the reasons I didn’t actually run my 5k last weekend…

I did, however, attend a Influence Network class on dSLR basics, which was so easy to understand that I may even spend some time this weekend practicing off of automatic!

My body may have been physically recovering this week, but once again, the Internet has been refreshing both spiritually & emotionally, with special thanks to these posts:

  • First, my friend Rhi wrote a post about her journey to become a mom this week and I seriously cried tears of joy for her as I read this post!  I've been reading her blog for the last four years at least and am so encouraged by what amazing things can happy even when you're in a darkest of times.  Beautiful!
  • I love the Influence Network for a number of reasons, but mostly for the connection to other amazing blogs, like Lindsay's.  This week she wrote about life experiences and whether they are worth it or not and what I loved most was the reminder that God is going through these experiences with us and that they make us who we are (which I find myself needing to remember often).
  • Along similar lines, Bo Stern, author of Beautiful Battlefields, wrote a simple post around Psalm 23:1 and what to do with that "wanting" feeling.  It isn't a long post, but it's another great reminder that God is with us, always!

So that’s what I’m thinking about this week.  What's grabbed your attention this week?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Run a 5k*: Check!

Last year, one of the items on my leap list was running a 5k and while I truly thought this one would be an easy one to cross off my list, my year quickly changed its course (got pregnant, lost all my energy, received devastating news about our daughter’s condition, etc.) and I forgot all about my leap list.

So when this year rolled around, I figured why not put a 5k back on my goals list and knock it out before the year gets too busy or something takes my focus once again.

Not only did this race meet my short list of requirements (5k, early in the year, close location), it also looked like a lot of fun, which was good for someone (me!) who hadn’t participated in any sort of organized run before.

After finding just the right 5k, the next piece of business was to see if anyone else wanted to join me and thankfully, my SIL stepped right up to the plate.

Before we knew it, the race was upon us and we were ready to see what all the hype was about. 

With our white shirts (with our team name on them) and our running shoes on, we braved the starting line with hundreds of other people, waiting for our first burst of color and whatever else the race had in store for us.

Let it be said, from the first throw of color to the last, the whole event was pretty awesome. Honestly, I can't remember the last time I smiled so big while exercising - it was that fun! 

The course weaved through some beautiful areas on Eugene and every half a mile or so we were covered with more colored cornstarch to complete our look.  

And by the end of the race, we looked like we had stepped right out of a rainbow or something :)

If you're looking for a fun run, this is the one for you!  One of the phrases that I heard the announcers say was, "This run isn’t timed; we just want you to have the time of your lives!” and that is pretty much how I felt!

Thank you Color Me Rad for making my first 5k an entertaining one, to say the least!

This post was not sponsored by Color Me Rad or anyone else; I just really liked the race!

*Please note: I had every intention of actually training to run this race, but, sadly, that didn't happen. While I wish it did, in the end, I’m just happy I followed through with it nonetheless.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Friday Thoughts

Hello Friday.

Between the wedding we shot last weekend and a head cold that has taken over the last couple days, I'm just happy I made it to the end of the week.

However, today marks four months since Charlotte's birth - let's hope the day goes easy on me...

But regardless how I'm feeling physically & emotionally, I'm really trying to look forward to the weekend because my SIL & I are running (and/or walking) the Color Me Rad race in Eugene on Saturday.

We even made matching shirts!

Stay tuned for an update next week...

Week after week, I'm continuously encouraged by the posts in my reader.  Not only do they make me think about things from a different point of view, but they make me want to be a better writer too.

  • First, I have loved the refresh series put together by Naptime Diaries, The Tiny Twig, and The Kubly Girl.  From outer beauty to inner, these three have spent the week sharing their hearts & tips that everyone can relate to.  If you're in need of any sort of refresh, I'd suggest checking out each of their posts from this week.
  • Another post that really resonated with me this week was one on being intentional (written by my Influence Conference roomie, Ashton!) and the need for seeking out God instead of waiting for life to just be handed to you.
  • This last post felt like every word was taken from my own heart, which isn't uncommon with Diana from Hormonal Imbalances' posts.  This week, Diana shared about her internal struggle between faith & trust and her thoughts around why God would intervene on some occasions and not others, which is something I think about almost daily.  Her strength in life & faith is amazing and I appreciate her honesty after all she's been through!

So that’s what I’m thinking about this week.  What's grabbed your attention this week?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A Mother without a Child

A few months back, I wrote about some of the good reminders that I had noticed while coping with the loss of Charlotte, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that recording the not-so-good ones were important too.   

Before we left for the hospital, our home was ready with everything we might need in the case that Charlotte would be miraculously heeled and come home with us.  We left hoping for the best, but we’re still trying to prepare ourselves for the worst just in case.  And as you know, the worst happened.

If you've spent anytime talking to me over the last several months, you might notice that I don't refer to myself as a mother mainly because I don't have anything to show that I am one.  Some of these reminders below are the reason I don't feel like a mother and while it feels pretty difficult to convince me otherwise, I'm slowly understanding that that's not necessarily true.

1. The nursery. 

Despite Charlotte’s diagnosis, Sam & I decided to try to stay positive and hope for the best through the rest of the pregnancy.  As the months passed, our house began to fill up with all the necessities one might need/want to take care of a baby, so when we returned from the hospital empty handed, reminders of what our new lives should have looked like where everywhere we looked.

Within the first week or so, Sam and I began to pack up everything that we had received for Charlotte. Many people offered to help take care of this for us, but the desire to be in the room we prepared for our daughter was so strong that I knew I had to do it myself or it might be harder on us (me, especially) later on.

Since then, I've actually surprised myself by wandering into the room and just thinking & praying by myself. 

2. Milk supply.

One of the hardest reminders of Charlotte was my milk supply.  While still in the hospital, I began pumping and finally understanding what all the hype was about after actually supplying milk to my child in the NICU.  But the empty feeling I felt inside after losing Charlotte was even more difficult due to my milk supply continuing to come in as if I had a week old baby to care for.

Because I didn't get a lot of guidance from the hospital in regards to weaning off of pumping, I continued to, tearfully, fill up my freezer and pray that my supply would just dry up.  Thankfully, I had family & friends who supported me in every way they could. 

It wasn't until my best friend told me about someone she knew who was in search of breast milk for her son that I finally got some answers.  Within a week's time, I was connected to this mother and had given her a couple hundred ounces that I had pumped thus far.  And almost a month after I had started pumping, I had weaned down & ended my supply without any physical pain on my part and providing breast milk to someone who could use it.

3. Empty Arms.
To be honest, this one is still something I struggle with every day.  I touched on this a little a couple months back, but I'm a firm believer in the "empty arm syndrome" and sometimes still wake up worrying that I've forgotten my baby somewhere.

When we first came home, the feeling was so strong.  I carried a teddy bear that my MIL had given us in hopes that that would help, and while it did, it didn't take away the pain in my heart.  Less than a week after we left the hospital, we had to go back up to the NICU and honestly, there are no words to describe the feeling I had to walk through the NICU doors into the room we spent over a week in and expect to hold my baby girl and know that I couldn't.  That she wouldn't be there.  That was the first time (of many) that it felt like this wasn't just a bad dream.

Now, I still long to hold my baby girl in my arms, but don't feel like it's as constant as before.

I know I’m not alone in this title or sentiment – a mother without a child – and my heart breaks thinking about each & every family who has gone through a similar situation.  My words will never do this feeling justice and I know we were "lucky" enough to have both some time to prepare and even a few days* with our precious baby, but I'm here to say that no amount of time would ever be enough be enough to make this whole experience understandable.

And I'm so sorry to those who have experienced these reminders before...

*Please know how incredible thankful we are for the nine days we got to spend with Charlotte. I'd take 30,000 more, but I will forever hold those nine close to my heart forever.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Friday Thoughts

For some reason, I’m having a hard time believing it is Friday already.

Maybe it’s because we had Monday off so my days are kind of thrown off a little.  Or maybe the week was just so busy it flew by. 

Regardless, I’ll take it!

If you’re here reading this post, you might notice a couple changes to this space:
  1. A new web address – I went from ‘’ to ‘’ after I realized the link & title of my blog just really didn’t link together in anyway.  The change was pretty easy (just an update through Blogger’s settings), but that means that if you normally read my blog through some sort of reader, you will need to update the new web address.
  2. A new design – along with the new streamlined web address, I thought an updated design would be nice.  And thanks to Caked Designs on Etsy, Grable Tales got an updated look that is both simple & pretty to look at (in my opinion).
What do you think of the changes?

Not only did I update my blog this week, but I also streamlined the rest of my social media outlets as well.  Part of the reason for all this change was to make it easier for followers to find me if they wanted (same name(s) everywhere), but the change also came about because... I will be attending my first blogging conference in September!   That’s right, after talking, thinking, praying about it for the last month, I purchased my ticket for the Influence Conference.  To find out a little more about it, check out their conference FAQ post.

In other news…

Several months back, Sam was approached to photograph his first wedding and after some thought, decided to take the job.  Well, the wedding is on Saturday (as in tomorrow!) and while he appears pretty calm, cool, & collected about all of it, I (his designated second shooter) am anxiously praying that everything goes smoothly and we’re able to get all the shots we want to.  Will you say a little prayer for us?

In normal Friday fashion, here are a few of the blog posts that caught my attention this week:

  • I’m a sucker for good food photography and Jenna at Eat, Live, Run has me drooling all over my keyboard with every post.  This week, she shared her recipe for thin mint cookies and as someone who missed the Girl Scouts this year (sort of on purpose), I might have to give this recipe a try just to get my fix!
  • This isn’t new or original, but I am really into the chambray/denim trend lately, but am not always sure I can pull it off.  Insert Lindsey from The Kubly Girl.  Not only is she adorable in whatever she puts on, she also shares secrets that help others look cute too!  This week she posted on rolling your sleeves like a J.Crew model, which is not only stylish, but a lot easier to do than I thought.  Maybe following her steps will give me more confidence with this trend…
  • Lastly, Ashlee from Where My Heart Resides wrote a post this week on a topic that has been on my mind for the last couple years – friendships and fighting for them.  It was a very well-written piece and I’d encourage everyone to check it out if they’ve every hurt a friend or been hurt by one.

So that’s what I’m thinking about this week.  What's grabbed your attention this week?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Holidays Now

For as long as I can remember, I have always looked forward to the holidays.  Whether we’re celebrating with our immediate family or a house full of extended family & friends, I’m always overcome by the magic of it all.

One of the first things I remember doing after I found out I was pregnant with Charlotte was calculate my due date and as I realized we would expecting a Christmas baby, my mind began to wonder what magic the holidays would hold as we saw things through this new baby's eyes.

Unfortunately, we didn't get that chance with our baby girl.

Just a few days after Charlotte’s passing, we found ourselves at a family gathering to celebrate Christmas.  While we chose to attend, in hopes that surrounding ourselves with loved ones would be better than being alone, the pain of it all was still in the forefront of our minds as we realized that instead of celebrating our child's first holiday, we were mourning the first one without her.

Since then, each holiday has looked pretty similar to that Christmas (food, people, gifts), even down to the same question I ask myself, over and over again, as I watch everyone celebrate the occasion – what would this day look like if Charlotte was still with us?

Sometimes, I wonder about the special outfit(s) we would have dressed her in.  Or the joy I would feel as our family doted all over her.  But honestly, most of the time I just find myself thinking about holding her in my arms.  Watching her take in the surroundings.  Experiencing the magic I had as a child.  And the realization that I'll never be able to share that with her devastates me.

Sure, it’s only been a few months so I don’t claim to have it all figured out (in fact, I know I don't), but a few of the things that I have found necessary in order to now attend holidays or family gatherings have been:

  • Having a compassionate family who knows when a hug means more than words; 
  • Finding a quiet place to escape to when things become too much;
  • And, if all else fails, turning my worries, sadness, and anxious thoughts over to God.

Pretty simple, right?  

To most, probably.  And to others, it might seem better to just hide away and avoid these situations all together.  But as someone who loves her family and doesn't want to watch as life passes her by, these simple tasks have truly saved me at the last few family gatherings, while still allowing me room to process if needed.

I don't believe the sadness over losing Charlotte will ever go away and that's just something I will have to accept.  Ever since December 21, 2012, life has looked different in every way and that won't change.  However, I do hope & pray that future family gatherings, especially holidays, will slowly become easier and something maybe I'll look forward to someday..