Allow beauty to shatter you regularly.
The loveliest people are those who have been burnt and broken and torn at the seams yet still send their open hearts into the world to mend with love again and again and again.
You must allow yourself to feel your life while you are in it.
Hi my little mouse,
From the moment you were placed on my chest I knew you absolutely belonged here with us in this crazy beautiful family. You are the sweetest of sweet. So quick to smile. And I anticipate seeing who you will become and what personality will emerge.
These last three months have flown by in a flurry of feedings, sleepless nights, bronchitis, family trips etc.
You have not been what is called an “easy” baby. Lucky for you, neither was your brother. All of the things that shocked me about Jude have been accepted much faster with you this second time around. You cry to go to sleep. You only nap for more than twenty minutes in arms. You are up often in the night, though sometimes you surprise up with glorious three hour stretches. About a million times a day I think to myself, “well, this is life!”. It is so hard Remi bear. But I want the beauty of this family and so here we all are, showing up for life every day, no matter what.
Thanks for taking this ride with us. You are so loved, so cared for. And you belong here with us.
I could feel my body transitioning into the toughest part of labor as I leaned against our living room couch. Because of how fast Remi was coming, Andrea was on the phone with the 911 operator asking them to dispatch to our house. Mark was getting supplies for delivery. And for this one short moment I was alone. I couldn’t think of anything but the pain and breathing. But then, I thought of Lily.
And I cried. I cried for how much pain I was in. I cried because I wanted to hold her and never would. I cried because I couldn’t wait to hold this baby.
When Remi was a few hours old, Mark and I took some time to ourselves to check in with each other and our own hearts as to what this baby’s name was.
Remi means remedy. I remember reading that many months before and it taking my breath away. I knew I needed this baby’s name to honour and acknowledge our journey with Lily. We knew he was Remi. Later on that week, a friend of ours from Nigeria emailed saying that Remi is also a name in a tribe in Nigeria. He said it means, “the end of our grief”.
This week marks one year since we lost our baby.
In reality, my grief over losing Lily has not ended. I will always miss her. Always wonder. But some grieving is over. We have a second living, breathing child. In reality, there is no complete remedy for this loss. But when I look into Remi’s sweet face I feel some healing happen, parts being restored. Since Remi was born, I cannot think of his name without thinking about what it means. And I can’t think about what it means without thinking of Lily. And I find myself in awe over how intertwined their stories will always be, these two babies of mine.
This morning I walked into the kitchen and poured myself a cup of coffee. I looked at the time on the oven: 11:10am. Four weeks ago today at 11:10am Mark was handing me our tiny, fresh, beautiful baby boy, Remi. And that moment is etched into my mind so deeply and I hope it never fades.
I was so shocked at how painful labor was when I delivered Jude that when they put him on my chest I thought primarily: how am I still alive. Going into my delivery with Remi, I had repeated many mantras to myself. Reminders that it may feel like death, but the pain will pass. That my body knows what it is doing. Having gone through this process before was my most helpful mental tool. And, as a result, I was not surprised by the pain.
And so in that moment when I held my second son for the very first time, I felt as though I could actually see the moment and feel the moment. I felt like I was soaking everything in. How fast he came. How I knew the midwives wouldn’t make it on time. How calm Andrea, Mark & I were in spite of this. How Mark got me into position to deliver as though he had done that hundreds of times. How Angeline, our doula, arrived just as I was delivering Remi. How she said to me, “Amy your baby’s head is born”. How relieved I felt when Mark placed his body on mine. How cute Remi looked. How the low winter sun was pouring through our huge windows. How I heard the song, “Awake My Soul” playing on our computer as I stared at the freshest face on earth.
When it comes to parenting, the practice of framing mothers and fathers as good or bad is both rampant and corrosive- it turns parenting into a shame minefield. The real questions for parents should be: “Are you engaged? Are you paying attention?” If so, plan to make lots of mistakes and bad decisions. Imperfect parenting moments turn into gifts as our children watch us try to figure out what went wrong and how we can do better next time. The mandate is not to be perfect and raise happy children. Perfection doesn’t exist, and I’ve found that what makes children happy doesn’t always prepare them to be courageous, engaged adults.
Daring Greatly p.15 (Brene Brown)
I am mulling over these words today and endless other thoughts as I transition into my third trimester with this baby. I have felt mostly anxiety this last week with what this transition means: less energy, less motivation, less patience. It looks like feeling out of control. It looks like having a messy house and freaking out about that internally. It looks like eating bowl after bowl of noodle soup because no one is cooking. It looks like four am wake ups every night and panic about caring for and loving my boy on so little sleep.
I think I am being invited to make space. For Jude I need to make space for more media (without guilt), simpler meals (without guilt), even mostly carb centered white flour meals. For myself I think my invitation is to breath deep and surrender to a new stage of life. I am not pre-pregnancy Amy. I am 30 weeks pregnant Amy. I may just not get the mudroom painted before December. I may not even get the dishes done for the third day in a row. All okay. I think my invitation is to practice calm amidst the emotional and physical upheaval of normal life.
Am I engaged? Am I paying attention? Yes, both to myself and my family. Engaged looks a whole lot different than “put together”. A clean house and clean laundry is not a pre-requisite for being an engaged mom.
Today I am grateful for tools. For all of the gifts and insights that have been given to me over the years that remind me that I am not what I feel.
Today I am grateful for a bath, taken alone.
Today I am grateful for breathing.
When the reality sets in on what is all required to love and care for your new baby, here are some things for you to remember:
Lack of sleep is incredibly difficult to live with. Expect very little of yourself practically or emotionally on those days when you feel exhausted. If anything find a way to turn up the volume on the part of you speaking kindly. Listen to what that part is saying and try not to hold on too tightly to much else. Because here is what’s true: Regardless of how you feel you are an incredible mom. Caring, feeding, loving your baby even when you don’t have the energy to feel it. Try not to compare yourselves to mom’s experiencing happy baby hormones. Actually, try not to compare yourself to anyone, period. You were given your story to own. That is hard but liberating work.
You can survive on little sleep. You are not a victim and it is not a crisis. It is a normal part of life with a newborn. This stage will not last forever. You have been through this before and you will get through this again. Also, ask for lots of help.
Amy, it is okay that you didn’t enjoy breastfeeding with Jude. You might like it this time, but if you don’t, let yourself off the hook with things like bottles, formula, scheduled feedings. These things may all be vehicles to your sanity. Try to give yourself permission to make room for them.
If you feel the clouds and fog descend you can remind yourself that it is okay. You have navigated this path before and almost two years later you have a very attached and beautiful relationship with your little boy. You may not be able to think or work your way out of this fog so don’t try too hard to feel differently. It may just take time. A mantra for the journey: Today I feel foggy and overwhelmed. That is okay. Today I need ___________ and can ask for help by ________.
When you feel fear creeping up over these next ten weeks, take a deep breath. You have so many tools to walk out difficult journeys. You are brave in feeling, brave in vulnerability… qualities of a great mom and person. And also, who knows. You are different than two years ago and life is different. Be ready to be surprised.
Around here we are enjoying the long warm days of summer. We are doing summery things like beach days and outdoor meals with friends and family.
Around here I am feeling a little person move every single day inside my tummy. This little person is ten inches long and getting bigger by the day. I love to look at myself in the mirror and see the evidence of this. Yesterday I looked down and put my hand on my belly and said, “You are the best part of my life right now”. Truly the second trimester is amazing.
Around here Jude is recovering from an ear infection and endless teething. His sleep patterns are all off, which causes great panic for me, as are his moods. He seemed to be turning a corner yesterday and both Mark and I commented after a good day and a full nights sleep how stinking cute he was this morning. How incredibly intertwined those things are.
Around here I am wanting to carve out more time for writing and music. So good for my soul and so hard to prioritize.
Around here our to-do lists, for the most, part only get longer. For the task oriented among us (me) this provides endless opportunities for letting go, for breathing deep, for letting our house be less clean and less perfect than I would like it.
Around here we are spending lots of time together as a family which is my most favourite thing. I feel so at home when it is the three of us: running errands, biking Mark to work, eating out etc. I am grateful daily that Mark is around so much.
Around here so much is growing. Jude eats raspberries by the handful and stains his clothes and his skin and our wood floor in the process. We are picking some food from our garden but mostly getting hand-me-down veggies from family and the market this year. There are beans waiting to be cut, herbs to be picked, and today soup to be made.
Almost eight weeks ago we gathered around a deep hole in our front yard on a foggy and sunny Sunday morning, surrounded by our family, our friends, and in a small wooden box, tied with twine and flowers, our tiny and beloved Lily.
We buried our child and planted her in the soil following the tears and words of those who loved her. We added our letters of love and loss to that hole and her brother’s placenta, a part of him, helping us feel that she might not be so alone. Lastly, we added a tree… a Corageous Apple Tree, we later realized it was called. And then Lily’s auntie said a prayer; and it was a prayer of thanks for a baby we all desperately wanted to know… for a baby who would be forever loved and never forgotten.
It was a sad, beautiful day.
And now I look out my window and see Lily’s tree and I feel she is safe, held, cared for.
Mark painted me a card today to celebrate Mother’s Day. It is a picture of a mama bird feeding her three little baby birds. That is such a surreal image to me that I almost cannot feel the weight of it. Jude, my biggest little bird; Lily, my sweet soul who is not with us anymore; and a new life in me that I am minute by minute begging God will be a healthy growing baby that I will meet in December, and no sooner.
In these five weeks that we have known we are pregnant I have tried to dig deep, to work with all of the fear that I am so readily experiencing. But some days it feels like my work is to simply say: I am scared. And then to cry and to miss Lily. And then to picture this baby… and the vision of conception and pregnancy coming to full term. It is the most vulnerable and unreal thing to picture right now, me holding my baby in December, but I keep planting my heart in hope, at least for a moment.
After we lost Lily we talked about the hope of another pregnancy and how if that came to pass we would actively celebrate that little life as much as we could. Who knows how long we would have to care for this child? We wouldn’t waste a moment. I don’t feel like I enter into celebration when I am so consumed by fear but I know that I want to. So, a letter to my newest and beloved baby:
Hi sweet baby.
It’s your mom, writing to you on Mother’s Day. You are almost nine weeks old, in utero, and taking up so much space in our minds and hearts in spite of your tiny size. Every single day I am hoping that you are growing and living… heart beating. And every day I am aware that I have no control over that process. So, regardless of how the next eight months look, here is what I want you to know: It is my privilege to care for you for as long as you are given to me. You are so wanted in this family of ours and our hearts are full of love for you. This pregnancy with you has felt the most vulnerable of my three pregnancies. And so you being here is reminding us to feel, to lean into grief and joy, and also to let go. Each of our kids: our greatest teachers. And you are no exception. Right now I am most anticipating hearing your heartbeat. I think about that sound constantly…
With hope and so much love,
Jude Warren George,
Two years ago today I found out you existed. It terrified and elated me. I thought you were a girl for approximately forty weeks and then they put you on my chest and you were YOU and that was the best surprise ever.
Two years ago I could not have imagined the fullness that you would bring. It is such a deep sense of meaning that you add to my life I can hardly put words to it. Two years ago I had no clue how love could feel so deep that it would cause my heart to ache.
These days you are rocking my world with your exuberance for life. Your quick smile and your desire to laugh and be silly. These days you are driving me crazy with how messy you eat and how grumpy you are when you are teething. You spend your days avoiding your toys and destroying the rest of the house. Yesterday you took bites out of six unpeeled bananas. (When did you learn to reach that far onto the table??) Yesterday your favourite toys were glass jars with lids that you would take on and off, a container of screws, and lip balm. The destruction drives me crazy and I also think it is the best.
The other day it hit me that we have a whole life together. Little boy and school age and teenager etc. Or at least I hope we do, more than anything.
Thank you for getting us up every morning… for helping us prioritize what matters. For being our joy amidst grief that keeps us grateful every single day.
You are so cute and so loveable. And for the record, I am kind of crazy about you.